Toddlers are pretty wild travel companions, so as a parent it can often pay dividends to choose a destination that caters to your needs as a family. In short: not too far away, lots of interesting things to do for little ones, and some good family-friendly dining options.
A huge analysis of more than 200,000 Trip Advisor reviews from parents who holidayed with their toddlers in the last year have unearthed some pretty fascinating findings about the best places to go.
The analysis, by British Airways, revealed that Kraków in Poland is the top holiday destination for British parents travelling with toddlers, scoring 99 out of 100. (Each place was ranked out of 100, based on how it scored for local accommodation, restaurants, and activities and attractions.)
In addition to its rich historical heritage, Kraków also offers plenty for parents to enjoy with young children, including the theme park Energylandia, and History Land which is an interactive museum that uses LEGO and virtual reality to tell stories about Poland’s history.
In what’ll come as welcome news to parents who want to avoid long flights with their toddler at all costs, eight of the top 10 destinations are located in Europe.
For the braver (see also: richer) folk among us, Dubai and New York also made the cut.
Toddler-friendly holiday destinations
1. Kraków, Poland
Old Town in Krakow, Poland.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
3. Dubai, UAE
4. New York, USA
Street performers dressed as the Statue of Liberty in New York
5. Madeira, Portugal
6. Tenerife, Spain
Playa de las Americas, Tenerife.
8. Lanzarote, Spain
Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote.
9. Barcelona, Spain
10. Alicante, Spain
Tips for travelling with toddlers
Travel experts at British Airways also shared their top tips for travelling with toddlers – from ensuring you pack all the medicine you need, to remembering to add your kid to your travel insurance, here’s what you need to know.
1. Research the destination
When researching your getaway, find out what attractions, family activities and restaurants are available there. Don’t forget to check amenities at resorts — do they have playgrounds or pool areas just for little ones?
Remember to check how safe your destination is too. Take a look at the UK Government’s travel advice website, and don’t forget to browse country guides and travel blogs about the area you’re interested in.
2. Medicine and hydration
Young children are more likely to be exposed to illnesses during travel due to their tendency to explore with their hands and mouth.
Packing a first aid kit is essential. Keeping your little one hydrated and making sure their nasal passages are clear with a saline nasal spray will also help them to avoid severe colds that are easily transmitted on public transport.
Make sure to also ask your GP for a doctor’s note or letter if your child is prescribed any medication, especially for liquids that are over 100ml.
3. Vaccinations and visas
Ensure your toddler is up-to-date with their recommended vaccinations and ask your doctor if there are any extra vaccinations required for the destination you plan to visit.
You may also need a visa to enter some countries. Generally, the visa process is the same for parents and children. You will need to fill out a questionnaire and pay a fee.
A tourist visa is required by many countries, so if you don’t submit the paperwork on time, you may be turned away.
4. Remember to add your child to travel insurance and loyalty clubs
Don’t forget to add your child to any extras like travel insurance policies and airline loyalty programmes when planning your holiday.
Taking out travel insurance is not mandatory, but it’s highly recommended as it can help protect you and your family if you encounter any issues while overseas. You can add your child to an existing policy or cover the entire family with a family policy.
5. Think about nap time
You’ll want to schedule your activities around your child’s nap times to minimise disruption to their routine when you’re on holiday.
Whenever you take your toddler out and about, sunshades for the buggy will help your toddler sleep more comfortably throughout the day.
Nap times differ from mealtimes and it’s common for restaurants in certain countries, such as in Italy, to only open between noon and 2pm. Check ahead for these opening times so that your little one’s nap can fit in around your new routine.
6. Check whether your car rental includes a car seat
It is important to book a car seat in advance if you plan to add it as an extra upon arrival, otherwise you risk there not being one available.
When renting a car seat isn’t possible, you may need to buy a lightweight, easy-to-transport car seat instead. It’s best if the seat can also be used on a plane.
7. Is your destination better suited to a buggy or carrier?
You should consider whether your destination is suitable for buggy users before travelling abroad. More historical destinations, such as Krakow or Venice, may be better suited to using a carrier or sling to navigate with your child through their narrow streets. Some parents of older toddlers swear by products like TushBaby.
Research your destination and the quality of its public transport and judge it against your itinerary to decide on what will be the best mode of transport for your young children.
8. Bring their home comforts and entertainment with you
Toddlers want to explore and they’ll let you know when they aren’t happy. At the same time, they can be easily overwhelmed by crowds, loud noise and a more general change in routine — three inevitable features of a holiday.
Every parent will know what works best to pacify their children at home, so be sure to bring the same items and practices abroad to comfort your child with familiarity.
Whether you’re waiting for your flight, on the plane, or relaxing by the pool, expect to have to keep your toddler distracted and entertained for much of your trip. Be sure to have entertainment options to hand so that they don’t become too bored or restless during these moments.
For those who forget to pack toys and games, most airlines and hotels provide kids’ entertainment packs and TV channels with cartoons and kids’ movies.