Family travel destinations: The first 3 countries we visited and WHY we chose them

3 main principles guide our family travel destinations

There are so many reasons people pick where and why they travel to certain countries. Sometimes it’s for a love of the culture, or maybe family history and ancestry. In our case, we’ve focused our family travel destinations around 3 main factors:

  1. Family friendly culture
  2. Vibrant urban and natural spaces
  3. Culture of good food and drink

As you can also imagine, following these 3 simple guidelines leaves us with the teeny tiny problem of having lots and lots of amazing places to visit.

Still. Every traveling family has to start somewhere. So, when we left our home in August 2022, we knew where we were going for our first two countries. Or so we thought. It turns out that one country also kinda snuck in there.

While waiting for our connecting flight in Bangkok, Thailand’s Don Mueang Airport, we got to thinking about how our first family travel destinations and what went into those decisions. Here are the first three countries we visited, and why we chose them. We might even drop a little hint as to where we’re off to next…

Canada

Why did we choose Canada as one of our first three family travel destinations? Because it was there! Along with travels in Washington State, we wound up with a can’t-miss opportunity to overnight in Victoria, BC from Seattle. Even though it was only for 36 hours, Canada became the first country all 4 of us visited together.

That bit of serendipity guides a lot of our travels too. With Canada, it showed the kids that we can already know what we want to do, and still make constructive changes on the fly. 

Not only did it give Aster and Connor a taste of how a country can be both similar and different, we got to practice travel particulars, like managing our passports and letting the adults do the talking when going through immigration. And above all… we got our first family passport stamps!

Mexico

While Canada was serendipity, Mexico was exactly where we had first planned to go. It would give the kids experience being in a country where a different language was dominant, and where they could make new food and drink choices. We’d also get to practice some travel smarts, such as being mindful of our drinking water, or negotiating taxi fares.

October and November can be amazing times to visit Oaxaca. The weather is lovely, but you’re still outside the big tourism season, when people flock down from Canada and other wintry climes. Plus, we could sample Oaxaca’s incredible food and drink, while sticking to our family friendly travel budget. We also timed our visit for important occasions, such as Día de Muertos, where we got to experience this national event in a family’s home as well as the largest cemetery in Huatulco.

Mexico helped the whole family practice our Spanish not just in Duolingo, but in everyday interactions and conversations. The kids got familiar with different currency, learned about traditions such as Día de Muertos, and got to release baby sea turtles into the ocean. Not a bad way to spend a month and a half!

Thailand

Canada and the USA are very similar. Mexico is still part of North America, and we’d been training up on our Spanish long before we got our Mexico arrival stamps in our passports. By the time we were ready to leave Oaxaca, we could tell the kids were ready for a really new experience. Crossing the Pacific to Thailand, they learned how to navigate long-haul flights, persevere even when exhausted in a long immigration line, and get used to being in a place where the written and spoken language was completely different from anything they’d ever known.

Our month in the Land of Smiles has indeed brought lots of big grins. Being in a completely different culture and environment can be challenging, but it can also be inspiring. Whether being adventurous with new foods at night markets or cooking classes, or figuring out how to sit in a tuk-tuk and make the most of touring Buddhist temples, both kids are finishing up our time in Thailand with a foundational understanding of this incredible country.

The friendliness and sense of fun inherent in Thai culture has made for an inspiring (and delicious) past few weeks. We’ll even be returning to Thailand later this winter. Already the kids are talking about how they can’t wait to see more of Bangkok, not to mention some of Southern Thailand.

BONUS: Country no. 4

“But,” you’re thinking, “y’all said you were at the airport. Where are you going now?”

Ah, country no. 4! That’s right. As we write this, we are getting ready for somewhere Anthony’s been excited to go back to, and show the kids:

 🇰🇭 Cambodia!

We’ll be visiting Siem Reap, learning about Khmer culture and, above all, touring Angkor for a couple of days.

Oh, gotta go—time to head to the gate for our flight! Where do you think we’ll go to after Cambodia? Tell us in the comments!

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.

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