Travel

Modern ideas for a family vacation

You've done Disney (twice!) and are ready to plan your next great escape. Where to now? Check out these 5 modern vacation ideas, from the blue mountains of Jamaica to Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Ali Jenning
Ali Jenning

Ali Jennings is a freelance writer, house sitter, and teacher currently residing in the UK.

Modern ideas for a family vacation

It doesn’t seem that long ago that family travel meant booking an all-inclusive package to a sunny holiday resort with plenty of activities for the children. But times have changed and now families are looking for more meaningful and exciting types of vacation. That being said, it can be difficult deciding on the perfect destination for you and your family; you need somewhere which has lots of activities so your brood doesn’t get bored but at the same time a place which is easy to get around and has lots of food options, especially for those kids who tend to be pretty fussy. So if you’re a family who are looking for somewhere that little bit different to take your next vacation, take a look at this list of modern ideas for a family holiday.

1. Vietnam

Vietnamese boat travel in Ho Chi Minh city

Photo: Denis Moskvinov/Shutterstock

While Thailand has long been a favorite of families traveling to South-East Asia, Vietnam is now the up-and-coming destination in this region. It has the same perfect mix of culture, nature, and fun as Thailand, but despite Vietnam becoming slightly more developed in recent years, it’s still relatively uncommercial in comparison, making it a more authentic South-East Asian experience for you and your family.

As Vietnam isn’t the easiest country to get around, taking one of the many family tours on offer is highly recommended. And it’s not all sightseeing and beaches: while these can form part of your Vietnam tour, you could also find yourselves floating along the Mekong Delta, kayaking in Halong Bay, cycling in Tam Coc, or hiking to tribal villages in Sapa.

If you’re a family of foodies, Vietnam is an amazing place to come as it has such a wonderful culinary culture. There’s a fantastic selection of street food vendors, casual eateries, and stylish, modern restaurants, particularly in the major urban areas. You can even take traditional cooking classes so your kids can learn how these delicious dishes are made.

2. Jamaica

A river in Jamaica

Photo: Yves Alarie/Unsplash

Everyone loves a tropical paradise and the one which is hot for families right now in Jamaica. While it might seem like a destination primarily for honeymooners, Jamaica actually has plenty for children and teenagers to enjoy. Of course, the beaches form a substantial part of any trip to Jamaica, and you’ll find that they rarely get overcrowded like in other popular seaside destinations, meaning your kids have more room to play and have fun.

However, a trip to Jamaica isn’t just about playing in the sand. The country has a whole host of fun activities and attractions which will keep you all busy for the duration of your trip. If your kids are a bit older and love exploring, you can head into the swathes of lush rainforest which cover much of the island.

The Blue Mountains are particularly popular with travelers: the area has the best hiking trails in the country along with a number of cute little villages and coffee plantations. For more excitement, you can visit one of the many adventure parks for zip lining, rafting, and bobsledding, plus there are many water parks where you can get up-close and personal with marine creatures such as dolphins.

3. South Africa

Leopard crossing road in south Africa safari

Photo: Sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

A wildlife safari is the dream of many young intrepid travelers and South Africa is the ideal place to take your children to realize this dream. Kruger National Park is a very family-friendly safari destination with a wide variety of accommodation options on offer, from inexpensive campsites to luxury lodges that welcome children of all ages.

You’ll get the chance to see the elusive Big Five alongside countless other species and many of the accommodation options here, including the campsites, have plenty of facilities to keep your kids entertained in-between safari drives, such as swimming pools. The national parks aren’t the only places to interact with wildlife in South Africa.

Whale watching, shark cage diving, and ostrich riding are all possible here, offering visitors some of the most unique experiences in the world and something you and your family will never forget. Once you’ve had your fill of animals, you can explore the vibrant cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, learn about apartheid on Robben Island, and marvel at the stunning natural scenery of Table Mountain, Boulders Beach, and the Drakensberg Mountains.

4. Antarctica

An Iceberg in Pleneau Bay, Port Charcot, Antarctica

Photo: Robert Mcgillivray/Shutterstock

For the ultimate family adventure, you can’t get much better than Antarctica. Combining both excitement and education, sailing to Antarctica really is one of the last frontiers of adventure travel. The most common way of getting to this remote part of the world is by expedition cruise from South America, a journey of almost 1,000 kilometers; while the journey itself is long, it’s all part of the fun and definitely worth the trip. Once you arrive in Antarctica, you’ll be blown away by the dramatic, awe-inspiring landscapes of icebergs and mountains, and the myriad wildlife you can see here, including penguins, seals, and whales.

When you’re not onshore, your kids can make use of the onboard libraries with books and games, and then have fun at the evening entertainment. If you do plan on taking an Antarctic cruise with your family, bear in mind that departures only take place between November and March each year. Despite the relatively short time you have to take this kind of trip, because of the region’s growing popularity, there are now a wide variety of companies and itineraries to choose from.

5. Austria

Children hiking in Alps mountains - Austria

Photo: FamVeld/Shutterstock

When it comes to European cultural trips, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain usually top the list. However, there is a country in Central Europe which can fill all your needs and more – Austria. The country’s capital Vienna is generally seen as a city that the older generations would enjoy more, but there’s actually plenty here that kids will adore. The great thing about holidaying in Austria is that it has everything, from beautiful cities to stretches of green countryside, and because of the country’s relatively small size and fantastic infrastructure, it’s possible to enjoy it all within a two-week trip.

Most visitors to Austria start their vacation in the capital Vienna, where you can visit lots of fun and interesting museums and attractions. However, if you and your family are fans of the movie The Sound of Music, you should include Salzburg in your Austria itinerary. Many of the locations in the movie can still be visited today, such as Mirabell Gardens and St. Peter’s Cemetery. If you want to get active, you can opt to take a cycling tour of von Trapp’s hometown. Other amazing places to visit in Austria with your family include Austrian Tyrol, where you can experience the best of the country’s nature, and Carinthia, which combines stunning lakes and mountains with charming towns.

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to mean visiting the same type of places and missing out on all the adventure and fun that the world has to offer. As you can see from this list, there are some really fabulous destinations around the globe ideal for all types of families, from those looking for culture and history to those who want to spend their time getting active.

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