Family Vacation Ideas

We’re Dreaming Big! Our 2012 Bucket List

Bandos Maldives

Bandos, Maldives. Photo courtesy of Nattu on Flickr

Something about moving into a new year and staring at an empty calendar gets my mind spinning about travel — where to go in 2012?

The first item of business is blocking off precious vacation days. Once that task is complete, the fun work begins. What places are top of mind year? I put the question to Amie, Dana, Anna and Kristi, as well as to my children.

As my kids are getting older, their input has become more valuable. When I asked them what places are on their bucket list and I was surprised and interested by their thoughtful responses. Their answers ranged from tracking our family heritage through the Ukraine and Poland, to exploring Mayan history in Belize. Additionally, they were ready to take on more physical challenges with a multi-sport or biking trip.

Here’s are a few of our kid-friendly vacation ideas — we’d also love to hear from you. What’s on your 2012 bucket list? When we posted the question the other day on our FaceBook page, we got great feedback. Keep it coming!

Kid-Friendly Vacation Ideas

Nancy (kids 12, 11, 8, 4)

Resort at Paws Up Montana

Glamping at Paw’s Up in Greenough, Montana

Belize: My older daughter is very interested in exploring the Mayan ruins and would love to go to Belize.  Sun, sea, animals, and history — sounds like a great trip to me!

Croatia: The multi-sport Backroad’s Family Tour of Croatia looks amazing. Croatia seems a bit daunting to plan, so a perfect solution is to let the experts handle the details. I’ve consistently heard great feedback from families who’ve used Backroads.

Southeast Asia: Laos, Cambodia and Thailand offer an interesting culture, lush landscapes, friendly people and thrilling elephant trekking — all the makings for a wonderful adventure. We have been waiting for our youngest child to be a little older to go. Now that she’s almost 5, we are good to go in the near future. The excellent information featured on My Little Swans has my attention.

Farm Stay in Tuscany: I’ve been dying to do a week in Tuscany at a farm.  My concern with renting an independent house is that it will be too isolated.

I’m looking for a way to experience the simplicity Tuscan village and farm life. A family-friendly working farm, with a luxurious pool of course and delicious food, fits the bill.  Our Tuscany portfolio has many agriturismo options —  I’m on the hunt for just the right place.

Glamping: Saying that my husband is not a “happy camper” is an understatement.  Yet these two “glamping” (glamour-camping) resorts, El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara and Paws Up in Montana, look like they could do the trick.  Comfort and the outdoors all rolled into one.

Dana (kids 11 and 13)

For the record, I consider myself way too young to have a bucket list.  But as the mother of a teen and tween, I definitely have a list of places (in no particular order) I think would be especially fun to go with my girls.

Oia Santorini Greece

Oia in Santorini, Greece. Photo courtesy of Adrian Zweger on Flickr

Australia : Since my first scuba dive in the Florida Keys, it’s been a dream to dive in Australia. With warm water, and incredible scenery above and below the sea, it’s a dream trip. Both of my girls are strong swimmers and will soon be old enough to dive as well, so it shouldn’t be much longer.

Christmas Markets or “Weihnachtsmarkt” in Germany: I imagine them as everything I like wrapped up in a pretty package. Beautiful lights and decorations, artists’ wares and delicious foods I’ll never find at home.

Greece: Too many historical sights to mention, warm water, sandy beaches, and white washed villages. Greece is my kind of vacation — plenty to do and explore, followed by great beaches to escape to and do nothing.

Grand Canyon: Remember than Brady Bunch episode?  I’ve put off this trip because I wanted the girls to be old enough to ride a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the Colorado River and spend the night. Now I just need to find time on the calendar to make it happen.

Alaska Cruise: Whales, eagles, seals, glaciers and so much more. Everything about the Alaska wilderness sounds incredible. Catching a glimpse of the aurora borealis, or the northern lights, would be part of the itinerary.

Kristi (kids 7 and 9)

Blue Footed Booby Galapagos

Blue Footed Booby in Galapagos Islands. Photo courtesy of Derek Keats on Flickr

Wisconsin: I spend a couple of weeks in Wisconsin every year visiting family but I’ve never experienced the top family-friendly resorts in the area.  I have my eye on the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva. It has a year round waterpark and a ski hill in the winter.  The Kids are Grand program has scheduled programs for kids ages 4- 17 every day of the week.

Yosemite National Park: Yosemite will be our first national park visit as a family and hopefully the beginning of a life-long love affair with the US National Park system.

Galapagos Islands: I went on a Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) cruise with my parents when I was a study abroad student in Quito; it was the most memorable trip that we took together. The wildlife and natural rugged beauty of the Islands is unforgettable. I’m ready to share this adventure with my kids!

Anna (kids 8 and 6)

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere Lyon France

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon, France. Photo courtesy of Amie O’Shaughnessy

Lyon: The city of Lyon in France is a fabulous base for winter skiing and also an amazing city break. My kids will love exploring the Traboules, secret passages that criss-cross the city, and Lyon has wonderful parks and museums.

Rhodes: You don’t visit the Greek island of Rhodes for the beaches, but it has some fantastic luxury family resort hotels, and is within a few minutes of Rhodes town, a pretty ancient walled city. This looks like a great place to catch some soft European winter sun.

Amie (kid 9)

Nancy is right. There is something about the start of a new year that gets all of us thinking about new destinations. As usual, I’m going big.

Kids Skiing Davos Klosters Switzerland

Skiing in Davos Klosters, Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Davos Klosters tourism

Botswana: After our incredible family safari experience in Kenya and Tanzania last year, I’m ready for another animal adventure. Botswana has an extremely diverse and rich ecosystem. The trick is finding kid-friendly lodging and service providers. Stay tuned!

Davos Klosters: We’re heading to this iconic Swiss ski mecca in March. Rumor has it that in Davos Klosters the skiing and activities are as fantastic for kids as they are for adults.

Dubai: While we are living in Europe, a visit to Dubai is a must. Sand skiing? Not your average family activity. I can’t show Devon pictures of the waterslides yet because that will be that — I’ll never hear the end of it until the trip is planned!

The hotel choice is overwhelming and many seem closer to amusement parks than hotels. The Ritz-Carlton is more our speed and the brand does a great job with kids. I heard all about the Ritz-Carlton Dubai’s extensive kids program at ILTM this year. All sound fabulous!

Maldives: The Maldives has been a steady entry on my bucket list every year. Monique’s post about her Four Seasons stay pushed it back to the top of the list. The blue and clear water looks absolutely insane. Plus, there are those nasty predictions that it might disappear forever in the not-to-distant future. Time is of the essence.

Sardinia: This is one of he few popular tourist destinations in Italy we haven’t covered on Ciao Bambino. Sardinia is rumored to be gorgeous (hopefully the environment will not suffer ill effects from the recent Costa Concordia disaster).

I’ve struggled with hotel research in the past but I have what looks like two excellent candidates to visit on my list: Forte Village Resort and Chia Laguna Resort.

Start a Discussion

  • Whoa! Way too many great places to check out. My travel daydreaming is on overload right now. Happily we have some of our own great travel plans to look forward to with our 2 year old and his yet-to-arrive baby brother. Maybe I’ll use this list for our 2013 travel bucket list 😉

  • The glamping in Montana looks divine… We’ll get to Lyon and Santorini sometime…
    For us, with three busy kids aged 6 to 12, summer will be a success if we make it tent camping in California’s Sierra Nevadas. Spring break may take us to Canon Beach, Oregon, and we’ll visit Evergreen, Colorado, at the tail end of the year. Reservations, reservations, reservations!

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