5 Interesting Destinations for Flashpackers Who Have Started a Family

kidsmainAfter my first son was born, the idea of traveling with him and sharing new experiences together was exciting to me. Many new parents tend to debate whether or not they should wait to travel with their new children until they’re older and can take more in, whether or not all the stimulus and schedule change is fair for the children, whether or not it is safe to travel, and whether or not it is worth the anxiety of the travel to and from the destination. This was never a debate for me.  I wanted to jump right into travel mode with my son.  However, I did have the following questions which I think are typical of new parents: Would my son be too young to take any of it in? Would we be able to survive the flight thinking about the poor passengers around us having to listen to a crying baby? How long a flight could we handle? What medical items should we pack in case of an emergency? How would a hotel work out with a baby?

Our new family took quite a few road trips along the eastern seaboard before embarking on an airplane journey. In the car, our son slept well most of the time, as most babies do. We just pulled over every so often to feed him and change him. The hotel stays were easy enough also, so now it was just a flight experience we needed to conquer to prove to ourselves that travelling was something that need not be put on hold because a new being has entered our life. Rather, travelling with a wee one is something to embrace as your view of the world takes on a whole new perspective when you see it through your child’s eyes. At the 2-6 month stage, we lucked out with our son sleeping soundly to the engines humming on 6-7 hour flights from Boston to California and to Ireland. The only bump I recall is when my husband was stuck changing a “poopy explosion” diaper in the lavatory as the plane was on its final approach for landing!  Once on land, there was a lot of napping in the baby carrier and stroller (including at a nighttime jaunt to the pub in Ireland).

With our son nearly 2 years old, my family braved the flights from Boston to Brisbane, Australia and a drive onwards to Byron Bay. Again, we more than survived the journey.  In fact, it was surprisingly smooth and uneventful. There happened to be a few other kids of similar age hovering around the plane and we seemed to congregate for short “playdates” near the bathrooms every so often. Not bad at all (keep in mind that the mind is very good at remembering the good and forgetting the bad). I don’t know when a child’s memory goes from none at all to bits and pieces of memory. My now four year old son seems to remember parts of this trip to Oz. I like to think that travelling as a child is like learning a language. The younger the child learns, the quicker and easier it is for that child catch on.

Based on our own experiences, I’ve decided to create a list of five interesting trips for flashpackers who have recently started a family. Really, I think you can go to any location with the right attitude and with a bit of preparation and tap into endless walks, sights and activities.  These five just happen to be some of our personal favorites.

Washington, D.C. is a great walking city with lots for kids to see and do. There are lots of free museums like the Smithsonian to take advantage of. The museums are great for taking in while your child naps. If you have an older child, you can always create a hide and seek type of game. Show the kids a photo from the museum brochure and have them search the museum for the painting or sculpture.  One cool museum, which is only free if you’re under 5 years old, is the International Spy Museum.  It’s right by Ford’s Theater and worth a visit, especially if you have older children.  Of course, if you go when the weather is nice, there are endless monuments to visit and historic locations throughout D.C. to see by foot with a napping baby in tow.

San Diego, California is a great place to play on the beach, spend a day at the world famous San Diego Zoo or Seaworld, and break at numerous playgrounds. View the seals in their natural habitat in La Jolla and visit the museums at Balboa Park. San Diego has a very casual atmosphere with an endless amount of activities for young children and adults alike.  One book on the area that my husband and I loved to use when we lived there is Afoot and Afield in San Diego County.  This book has lots of great hikes and walks if you’re up for the baby carrier or baby backpacking experience.

Ireland is another great place to take children. The numerous castles are great for the imagination, exploring and picture taking. Renting a car and driving around this Emerald Isle is great for naptime. The colorful towns dotting the island will intrigue a tiny tot. Of course a trip to Ireland is not complete without frequenting the pubs. Thankfully, the pubs are family friendly, so you can have some hardy Irish grub while enjoying a pint and perhaps a “sippy cup o’water“.

Dubrovnik, Croatia is a magical place with lots of walking and exploring opportunities. If you can manage a baby carrier, this is the best way to go as there are lots of cobbled walkways and lots of stairs for exploring the medieval, walled city. We saw many families congregating in the plazas; tots on trikes while mom and dad sipped their coffees. The sounds of the city’s numerous bells make you feel like you’re in a storybook. When you’re ready to leave the shiny, limestone streets (which look like polished marble) of Dubrovnik, hop aboard a boat to visit some of the Dalmatian islands to see picturesque settlements and enchanting vineyards.

Byron Bay, Australia boasts miles of sandy beaches, outdoor markets, plenty of playground time and numerous adventures to be had. Our then 20 month old hiked the entire way up to the famous lighthouse from Wategos below. This was a great adventure for him and tuckered him out for a good nights rest.  On this particular trip, we rented a great house that provided us with a crib, beach toys, games and all kinds of kid friendly perks.  We used this house at Tallows beach as our base and explored from there.  For the avid surfer, the location was great as you could walk your board over to the beach for a surf at anytime.  We even took advantage of local activities such as visiting a local firehouse on a day for kids and watching our son dance to a digeridoo at the farmers market.

Do you have a great destination that you’ve experienced with with children? Please share your tips.


7 thoughts on “5 Interesting Destinations for Flashpackers Who Have Started a Family

  • Great article! Recently we took our daughter to Brisbane Australia on our Australia trip. We loved walking around the city together, taking the ferry at night along the river to Southbank and wandering through the market, watching the Wheel of Brisbane (like the London eye) being built (should be done by now)and having Chinese dinner in Wangs.
    We also loved our 2 day trips to Moreton Island and Whalewatching.
    Brisbane is a beautiful city and we did it in the winter – so I can imagine how great it would be in the summer!

  • Wonderful article! Too many people look at me so strangely that we actually travel with our children. It really is what they are used to and how the parents deal with us. We plan ahead of time but are laid back too, realizing that plans may change. I can’t even count how many times our three year old has flown, let alone the older one! And yes, at 16 months, she slept from security in Honolulu until we got off the plane in Newark, and there have been so not so wonderful 2.5 hour flights to Florida. What can you do? I always tell people if we want to go places, when you choose to have kids, they’re part of the deal. And as for them being little and not remembering….it’s amazing what they actually do remember, they love looking at the pictures and I love seeing that light go off when they see something in a magazine or on tv and they can say “I’ve been there!” or “I’ve seen that.” And, I remember their enjoyment and expressions through theses great family experiences!!! Memories….

  • Thanks for tweeting me about this post & I am flattered that we inspired it. I agree 100% that any place can be great for family travel! Love those places and what a cute kiddo!

    As you know we are into our 3rd year of an open ended world tour & have been to 4 continents, 29 countries & over 75,000 miles, most of it by land or sea and we have not found one place that was not wonderful!

    My daughter did her first travel and stayed in her first hotel at just 2 weeks old, but we mostly did road trips in the early years as there is much to see in our beautiful state of California. We took her to Tahoe at 3 months just to see the snow ( oh and a grandparent lives near by so we got two for one!). San Diego is a great place for kids and we have spent lots of time there and all around our state.

    My daughter did not take her first plane trip until she was 5 when we started our open ended world tour. We prefer slow travel and really immersing so take few flights ( which also saves us a lot of money).

    My daughter walked well at 6 months and was running faster than me by 9 months and absolutely hated the car seat so we had plenty of challenges, but found ways around them like driving at night once she was in a deep sleep. We never used a stroller with her and her high energy really works well on our world tour as she can out walk and out bicycle both her parents!

    I think the key to traveling with kids is always pack light, travel slow, bring healthy snacks and a book with you always and always leave time for self directed play & fun!

    Seeing the world through your child’s eyes and bonding through such amazing adventures are simply priceless and a gift that will last a lifetime!


  • Thank you for this post. We are always looking for new places to travel with our kids. There is nothing like the looks on their faces when we travel somewhere new. I will always look back on these times with my family as the best in my life!

  • Hey Chris!!!
    How are you ?!?! We miss you guys! Great pic of little Nick! I’m sending someone your way shortly.


  • Great post! It made me laugh when you said that the mind remembers good! We have had a few trips that I vaguely recall saying I would never do it again only to pack up and hit the road a few months later. One of our favorite “kid-friendly” cities was Amsterdam surprisingly enough. Everyone was so welcoming of our child at places to eat, museums, public transportation, etc. It is one of our fondest memories from our Europe trips.

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