10 Destinations That Prove Travel is the Best Gift of All
With travel, adventure, conflict and learning coalesce into shared memories to last a lifetime, making it the gift that keeps on giving. To whet the imagination, and in no particular order, here are ten trips from ten points around the globe at various price points. Grab your kids and scram-in style.
At this spectacularly picturesque, increasingly mellow and family friendly town in Laos, you can inner tube or kayak on the Nam Sung river, explore nearby caves and climb karsts (Google it!). The gorgeous jungle bungalows at Lao Valhalla are situated near the center of town but far enough away to insure the peace and quiet your children will interrupt. An on site restaurant eases logistics and the resort’s resident animals—dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, are always a hit with kids. Each bungalow sleeps two, at the unfathomably low price of $20/night, which includes wifi, breakfast and bicycles.
By train! But not your average train. The Grand Hibernian offers two fine dining carriages and ensuite, luxuriously appointed cabins with wardrobes, writing desks and oversized windows. The route begins in Dublin and stops off for excursions at Cork, Killarney, Galway, Westport, Dublin, Belfast, Portrush before returning to Dublin. Seven days, six nights, $8,500/per person.
This three-bedroom 15th century farm house, Villa Il Vento, has a pool, a fireplace and a patio overlooking the hills of Florence perfect for al fresco dining. Part of the Tuscany Now & More collection, it comes with a crib, a high chair and maid service, and is only about five minutes away from the “leading contemporary internationally known butcher” Dario Cecchini and an 18-hole golf course. Rates start at $325/night.
This super luxe trip with Belmond Safaris contrasts the spectacular deserts and mountains of Namibia with a grand safari in Botswana. The list of possible animal sightings is practically endless and includes Oryx, Ostrich, Zebra, Elephants, Aardvarks, Baboons, Rhinos, Giraffe and a vast assortment of rare frogs, toads, snakes and birds. All which would send my family into ecstatic uncontrollable fits of joy over and over and over again. Rates start at $855/per person per night in a shared luxury tent.
This beautifully renovated, child-friendly 1923 houseboat has fantastic views of the Amsterdam Docklands. The water is clean enough for swimming and the jetty features a playhouse, sandbox and swing. $214/night.
Families are welcome only on select weeks at the normally adults-only private island resort Turtle Island in the Yasawa archipelago, where every child under six gets his or her own nanny, and every child above the age of six gets set up with a local playmate, a “Bula Buddy.” This frees you up for things like lobster and champagne picnics on one of the island’s fourteen private islands. The average rate is $2,499/per night per couple, plus $200 per day per kid.
My mother has been traveling to Haiti regularly for more than 25 years to work at a hospital in Deschapelles, and to explore vacation spots. Cap Haitian features the Citadelle, a UN World Heritage site reached on horse and full of children’s delights like cannon balls and dungeons. The local airport is small and calm a direct flight from Miami. For parents traveling with kids she recommends the very family friendly Cormier Plage Hotel, which can arrange for local drivers and tour guides. $150/night, breakfast and dinner included.
Apart from the farms, hiking and artisanal everything so abundant in this neck of the woods, there’s an extraordinary trio of contemporary art institutions all within spitting distance of each other. Storm King, the world renown sculpture park, DIA: Beacon, the contemporary art museum and Manitoga, the lush natural retreat of famed designer Russell Wright, are each sublime. Shameless plug: I rent a three-bedroom house on five woodsy acres in nearby Blooming Grove with crib, high chair and bins of toys. $250/night.
My favorite city in the world. Amazing food, design and temples. Easily maneuverable and simultaneously full of mystery. This spare, newly renovated two-bedroom apartment starts at $141/night, has a zen garden and comes with bicycles to explore nearby Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Butterfield and Robinson
does a 10 day tour of Japan for families that includes Tokyo, Hiroshima, Hakone and Kyoto. Kids can visit a ninja dojo, try fencing and archery and take part in a tea ceremony. $9,995/per person.
A car-free island off the coast of Brazil boasting some of the prettiest beaches in the world. This stylish house is actually two houses and sleeps 8 plus 1 toddler and 1 baby—enough to share the cost and adventure with another family. A sixty second walk to the beach, it’s complete with child-friendly necessities like cribs and high chairs, with some fabulous extras, like a trampoline and a mule, and housekeepers are available for babysitting. $500/night.