Q: Destinations with an under 2. Would love to see good long haul destinations that are family friendly at the other end, as well as European destinations. Often you miss out on nightlife or big trips because tours won’t take under 5’s, like in India due to insurance. So we end up discarding half formed plans…
Q: Hi guys,
My husband and I are looking to book a holiday in 2024. Our daughter will turn 2 next January, so we are looking for somewhere that's very toddler friendly (but not Italy, as we are already going this year) and safe. My husband worries about scams and safety when travelling, so a little bit of expert advice would go along way!
Q: What's the best part of Mauritius for a couple with a 13-month-old who want to do some solid relaxing (and maybe some stargazing), but also have a cocktail every couple of nights? Thanks!
We’re sensing a recurring theme here, readers! So many of you are ready to get away on holiday with your future globetrotters, but choosing the right destination for their first big trip is understandably a little daunting.
Exactly one year ago today, we covered a similar topic (spooky!) and picked out Tokyo and the Canary Islands as two of the best spots to choose for trips with young kids. And now that travel to Japan is actually on the cards again, you can start getting your hopes up!
But our work here is not done. This time you asked for advice specifically on travelling with toddlers, so here’s what else we’d like to add to the mix, one year on.
Starting with the last question first, let’s head to Mauritius.
Just the name evokes pure relaxation - blue skies, turquoise waters and white, sandy beaches. The trick is knowing which area is right for young kids, i.e. where is the water calm, the sand smooth, and the shade plentiful?
The answer is Pereybere Beach in the north of the island. It’s known for a family-friendly atmosphere and shallow waters, with the swathes of coconut trees lining the beach offering respite from the sun. Its reputation does mean that it gets particularly busy at weekends, plus at only 150 metres-long, you’ll want to arrive early in the day to have your pick of the sun loungers.
Pereybere village is around 1.5 miles away from the busier tourist area of Grand Baie. Overall, you’ll find the village much quieter, but it’s still within easy reach of plentiful dining options and boat excursions, as well as bus connections and tours to kid-friendly spots like the SSR Botanic Garden or the Odysseo Oceanarium in Port Louis.
For those well-deserved cocktails you requested, Pereybere has a rooftop cocktail and tapas bar overlooking the bay for a cheeky sundowner or two. According to TripAdvisor, they even offer high chairs so that little ones can soak up the nice sunset view - if they’re invited, of course!
Several family-friendly hotels and guest houses in the area offer family rooms, although many of them don’t actually provide amenities specifically for children, like babysitting or kids’ activities. And weirdly, some only accept children over 7 years of age.
The LUX* Grand Baie between Pereybere and Grand Baie is one of the few in the area that offers the full package for kids of any age - a dedicated children’s pool, babysitting and an outdoor play area. As ideal as it sounds, booking a stay there definitely falls into the “splashing out” category.
Hibiscus Boutique Hotel is a good alternative, and located right on Pereybere Beach. What it lacks in kid’s pool, it sure makes up for with a private beach area and much less gob-smacking prices. There’s also Coin de Mire Attitude to the north of the village. It’s located 20 yards from Bain Boeuf Beach (which translates loosely as “Cow Bath Beach”), where you can pick up a well-rated SEXYBOY boat trip to see turtles and dolphins. Yep, those are real names, we won’t say them again.
And for that bit of stargazing, the night skies are pretty impressive across the island - especially if you manage to find a west-facing beach away from street lights. The Milky Way is frequently visible, too, with June-October offering the best conditions. For a guaranteed night or two under the stars, though, you should pop over to the exquisite Île aux Cerfs for an eco-friendly Bubble Lodge experience. We’ll meet you there!
Okay, so Costa Rica has a reputation for adventure, backpacking and surfing holidays. But it’s actually pretty accessible for youngsters, too! It’s consistently named the safest country in Central America, and it’s one of the happiest nations in the world. The beauty of a Costa Rica trip is that you don’t have to stick to choose between beaches and rainforests - they’re all right there.
The Guanacaste Province on the Pacific Coast is frankly overrun with beautiful, calm beaches suitable for adventurous toddlers. Beyond that, it’s also home to Costa Rica Wildlife Sanctuary, which is part of the Diamante Eco Adventure Park. The park is best known for its nearly mile-long zip line, but somehow we think spending the day with sloths, pumas and butterflies might be more suitable in this instance.
There’s an absurd choice of family-friendly accommodation nearby, too, so if you’re looking for the odd evening out alone, Expedia’s handy “hotels with babysitting services” filter will help you whittle it down!
To fully immerse yourself in one of Costa Rica’s famous cloud forests for all or part of your trip, Monteverde is the answer. These forests are rare, with a cool, humid and - unsurprisingly - cloudy environment. The Monteverde Reserve is the best-known, with an accessible Sky Tram that’ll let you take in the views while avoiding finding yourself stuck halfway up a mountain with a screaming toddler. Or for a taste of trekking and bird watching without the muddy boots, the Santa Elena Reserve does have a paved, pushchair-friendly trail.
Cottages and eco lodges make up the majority of nearby accommodation. Rates vary wildly, but there are child-friendly options for all budgets. Then again, if you want to make your cloud forest visit unforgettable, a night or two in a family glamping pod overlooking the treetops (complete with kids’ chute and a hot tub) may well be worth it.
It’s generally considered safe for tourists to hire a car and drive in these areas, however you’ll need some cojones, because the driving style is… different. On top of that, it’s worth buying your own car seat, as the ones provided by car hire companies are often worn and unsupportive. Aaaand you’ll probably want a 4x4 with extra recovery insurance because some of the roads aren’t in the best condition… But it’s an adventure you’ll never forget, right?!
Our first two suggestions were glorious, far-flung, tropical destinations, however we mustn’t overlook the veritable children’s paradise right on our European doorstep. Denmark is the home of LEGO and Hans Christian Andersen, of hot dogs and liquorice (okay, that one divides us). If you want your kid’s imagination to run wild, this is the place.
Copenhagen is a great starting point for your fairytale adventure. Tivoli Gardens is the world’s oldest amusement park, with light shows, fireworks displays and screams (hopefully) of joy creating a magical atmosphere.
There are more than enough shows and rides suitable for little ones - the Ferris Wheel, dragon boats, carousel to name a few. And if you have a companion to watch the little one for ten minutes, The Demon will serve up adults-only adrenaline kicks and some great city views… if you can keep your eyes open!
A well-deserved hot dog (aka pølse) should be on the menu after all the excitement. While you could just grab inside Tivoli, you might as well hunt down one that will excite you as much as your kiddo. John’s Hot Dog Deli is a legendary spot in the Vesterbro district that is frequented by Michelin-starred chefs, and they just happen to have a conveniently-placed cart right beside the park. It’d be rude not to!
Other sights sure to enchant youngsters include ByOasen (“City Oasis”), a kind of urban petting zoo with goats, rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens, and watching the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace. After all, some free entertainment never hurts when you’re visiting a country known for being a little pricey.
Outside Copenhagen, LEGOLAND Billund is an obvious choice. Toddlers can immerse themselves in the Imagination Zone, full of shipwrecks, treasure and fish, while Duplo Land has colourful rides and playgrounds tailored to tiny thrill seekers.
Take the opportunity to explore more of Jutland (that’s the bit of Denmark attached to mainland Europe), especially if you’re there over summer. The very north, where the Baltic meets the North Sea, is home to artsy holiday towns, rolling dunes and glorious beaches, while a trip to Aarhus gives you the chance to do a bit of early-1900s role-play at Den Gamle By. Or, for a little more “aaaargh!” in your history, pop down to Ribe for the full Viking experience. Sure, you might not want to get your toddler stuck into combat training just yet, but the falconry show and Viking playground should be right up their street!
For more tips and resources to help you hit the ground running when travelling with a toddler, take a look back at this edition of The Detour from August last year.
We hope that’s given you a few ideas, and you all have an amazing trip, no matter where you choose to go!
What would you like to see in The Detour? Let us know!
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