It’s safe to say that 2016 has been an interesting year although perhaps not always for the right reasons. Nevertheless, it has still been a good year for family travel with more and more families taking time off for both short-term trips and longer-term travel. For globetotting, 2016 was a year of new travels and new destinations. We have also been adding to our travel wish lists, aided in part by our collaborative article on the Best Places to Visit with Kids in 2017. In this post, 29 family travel bloggers shared their top family travel destinations for the coming year. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it was one of our most popular posts of 2016.
We hope you enjoy our round-up of where we’ve been and what we’ve seen during these last 12 months. Here it is, our globetotting Year in Review!
The start of the 2016 saw my eldest son and I travel to Quebec to experience the magical Winter Festival. We spent three brilliant, magical and chilly days exploring the city and discovering this 63-year old festival which is a calendar highlight both for locals and international visitors. La Carnaval de Quebec is held annually over 17 days from the end of January through to February and welcomes some 500,000 visitors every year, with nearly half of those arriving from outside Québec City. During our stay we also got to visit the incredible Hôtel de Glace, the only hotel in North America made entirely of ice and snow. Modelled on Sweden’s Ice Hotel, this frozen palace is created from 500 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow every year, a process that takes some 50 very talented people around six weeks at a cost of around $1M.
In March, Victoria and her family headed to Cuba and enjoyed a 10-day trip experiencing some of the country’s highlights. Rather than head to the coastal town of Varadero, as many travel guides recommend when travelling to Cuba with kids, they decided to steer clear of the beach resorts and discover the interior instead. Over 10-days they walked the streets of Havana (and took a trip in a classic car, of course!) rode horses and explored caves in Vinales, got stuck in a time warp in Trinidad, swam under waterfalls in El Nicho and much more.
My family and I stayed closer to home and in need of some serious rest and relaxation, we headed to the Mexican coastal town of Ixtapa and Club Med. This all-inclusive resort is a great choice for families. It’s one of two Club Med resorts in Mexico (the other is in Cancun) and is located on the country’s Pacific coast, in a pretty palm-tree setting overlooking the ocean. The accommodation is large and very family-friendly, there are four restaurants and two bars and you have direct access to a private beach. But that’s just the start of it. Club Med has so much to offer parents and children that’s it’s regularly been voted in the top three best family hotels in Mexico.
Later in the year, Victoria and family headed to Nicaragua to discover what this Central American country had to offer families. It turns out, this is an excellent destination for parents and kids! Nicaragua is often compared to Costa Rica and visitors say that the country is what its southerly neighbour was like before its big tourism boom. That said, visitor numbers to Nicaragua are rising with more and more people – and families – drawn by its natural beauty, its undeveloped beaches, its historic colonial cities and its safe reputation. Often referred to as the ‘Land of Lakes and Volcanoes’ this friendly country offers a wide range of adventures for families, surfers, history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts.
As the summer months approached, I travelled to Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan province with five blogger friends to experience the amazing hospitality of Hacienda Petac. This beautifully restored 17th-century estate is one of many haciendas surrounding the city Mérida, once one of the richest cities in the world. The source of all this wealth was ‘Green Gold’, henequen fiber from the agave plant that was harvested to make rope. Large haciendas were built on the outskirts of town to produce and manufacture henequen (also known as sisal) and many remain today, although many are in varying states of disrepair. Over the past few years, however, artists, designers and overseas buyers, have been snapping up these sprawling old haciendas and transforming them into luxury retreats. One such example is Hacienda Petac. I enjoyed three nights at this luxury retreat and during this time also explore some of the area’s highlights. It’s a wonderful destination for families and I can’t wait to return.
During the school summer holidays Victoria headed back to Spain, where her husband is from and where they have a house in the south of the country. I travelled to the UK to see my family and we enjoyed time in France and Morocco to celebrate a “significant” birthday for my mum. Victoria and I managed to meet up in Stockholm, Sweden for the annual European TBEX event. TBEX is a huge travel bloggers and social media gathering and this time we had the chance to explore some of wonderful Stockholm as well. Victoria even managed to check-out a family-friendly spa!
Mexico City, Mexico
In October, Victoria and her two children came to visit us in Mexico City and we had the most wonderful few days. Despite running globetotting together, we don’t actually see each other very much. And, our children who were great friends when we all lived in Delhi, India, had not seen each other for some five years! Fortunately they all picked up where they had left off and we had a fantastic time watching the Day of the Dead parade, exploring the capital’s historic centre and eating lots of churros!
Closer to home, Victoria continued to share travel tales from her hometown of Panama City and around, including the time she was trapped in a cave by a deadly snake! More recently, she’s written about the capital’s fabulous BioMuseo, which celebrates Panama’s incredible biodiversity and is amazing for kids. Can you believe that Panama, which has roughly the same land mass as Ireland, has more species of birds and animals (insects included) than the United States and Canada combined!
We’ve also enjoyed a number of really excellent guest posts throughout the year covering everywhere from Paris to The Philippines. The following are some of our most popular:
There are lots of things to do in Manila with kids but sometimes you just need to escape the city. Manila resident and Philippines family travel expert Philippa, shared her favourite day trips from the capital with kids.
What do you do in Paris once you’ve seen the Eiffel Tower and eaten your fill of croissants? Paris native Laurence Vuillemin, owner of Paris-Toujours, shared her top tips on things to do with kids in the French capital (and only one of them involves pastries!).
Anna and her son Oscar ploughed the city streets of Berlin discovering all the best things to do with kids. What they came up with might not include the usual tourist hot spots, but their top 10 list of local favourites does include rockets, pirate ships and lunch with a monkey. Oh, and the best ice cream in town!
Many families would balk at the idea of a long road trip with kids but not Guiomar Barbi Ochoa! Having enjoyed long road trips when she was a kid, Guiomar decided to take her two children on a drive from Washington D.C. to the Florida Keys. Their journey took them to St. Simons Island, Georgia, Miami, Florida, Key Largo and Key West in the Florida Keys.
As I finish writing this post I’m also packing my bags to head to Guatemala. Coincidentally, Victoria is there now with her family. We overlap for a day in Antigua so we’re hoping to catch up. At this point, all that’s left to do is to wish you a very happy 2017 and happy family travels for the coming year. Tell us where your travels will take you first!
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