Mark Twain once wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” If you want your little ones to grow up free from these undesirable characteristics, it pays to get their wee passports stamped.
Where should you go? Here are nine of the best countries to visit with kids. With travel deals abounding and COVID-19 vaccines coming soon, you can start planning your next trek today.
1. The USA
The United States is one country — but if you grew up on the east coast, the American southwest’s rugged landscape could look more like the surface of Mars. If germs still make you hesitate to board a plane, why not load up the family truckster and take a road trip?
The beauty of this travel idea is not having to drain your savings account to afford it. You can house the whole gang at one of the nation’s top glamping locations on the cheap while enjoying much more luxury than you get in a standard tent.
Once the borders reopen, please don’t overlook the USA’s friendly neighbor to the north. If you live in New England or one of the northernmost midwestern states, you might not have to drive all that far to see the northern lights — although you will likely need chains on your tires.
The Canadian side of Niagara Falls, for example, bustles with restaurants and nightlife. You can take your kids to a hockey match or learn how to tap trees to get maple syrup.
Do you like it hot — when it comes to both climate and food? If so, head south of the border with your family.
Although contiguous with the U.S., Mexican towns’ architecture explodes with vibrant colors and dramatic features seldom seen stateside. You can save a bundle on food and souvenirs, too, by skipping the hotel shop and venturing to the street, where vendors live to haggle with “honeymooners,” and children peddle small carved turtles.
Once you feel comfortable flying with your family, why not head to the other side of the globe? Japan has a fascinating culture to explore — and you’ll never look at an unassuming bowl of ramen in quite the same way.
While there, why not expand your culinary expertise by taking a cooking class or going on a food tour? You can learn how to make the beloved springy noodles from scratch and feel less sketchy about the stuff that comes out of packets when you return stateside.
If you live for yoga, you have to book a retreat to its birthplace in India. Don’t worry — many centers offer family-friendly programs that include more activities than transforming yourself into a pretzel.
While you are there, make sure you take time away from your mat to go on a culinary adventure. Some of India’s best street fare costs little but takes your taste buds on a journey all their own.
If your family adheres to many of the world’s primary western faiths, they will feel at home in Israel. With Jerusalem at its center, the Holy Land is the primary tourist attraction in this Middle Eastern nation, drawing visitors from Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
While there, you can walk the Via Dolorosa, which is the path that Christians believe Jesus followed during his crucifixion. At only half a mile in length, you won’t need to carry the tiniest tots in your entourage very far.
If your junior high student is reading “Romeo and Juliet,” wouldn’t their classmates squeal when they brought in pictures of the real Globe theater? It remains an open-air venue, so please dress appropriately for the weather.
There’s much to do in merry old England — you can even recreate the roundabout scene from “European Vacation.” Nearly everyone goes to see Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard. Teens older than 16 will delight in learning that they can order an ale at the pub — with your permission, of course.
8. New Zealand
You might have to wait a bit to visit New Zealand, as the island nation took COVID-19 restrictions seriously — with impressive results. However, once there, you and your family can have the Middle Earth adventure of a lifetime.
If you have a hefty bankroll, you can visit all of the “Lord of the Rings” filming locations — there are more than 150 in all. Those with limited time can book one of the myriad tours specializing in all things Gandalf.
Is your little one obsessed with lions or giraffes? Envision their look of wonder when you take them to see the genuine thing — and not behind zoo bars.
Please don’t think your child must meet a minimum age requirement — many tours require no such details. You might want to wait until they get old enough to remember their journey, though.
Visit These 9 Countries With Your Children
When planning your next family vacation, consider visiting the nine countries above with your children. They’ll grow up with a greater appreciation of cultural diversity and how magical the world can be.