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Best long-haul destinations for families for an off-peak trip

Looking to discover a faraway part of the world with your baby or toddler? Take a look at our round-up of the best, long-haul destinations for families.

By Louise Baty | Last updated Aug 15, 2022


If you’re planning a trip for you and your baby or toddler, and want to venture further afield than the usual destinations, you might want to consider a long-haul holiday.

Typically, long-haul is defined as six hours flying time or more. Travelling to far flung destinations with preschoolers may seem a somewhat leftfield suggestion, especially when even a trip to the supermarket with a demanding toddler in tow can feel like a major excursion but it can be worth it, honestly.

First things first - the drawbacks to long journeys with kids. Well, it takes a fair bit of organisation and you’ll need to keep them occupied during the flight. There’s also jetlag to consider, when your normal sleep pattern is disturbed after a long flight. It usually improves within a few days as your body adjusts to the new time zone and, given that your preschooler probably has at least one nap a day, they may cope better than most adults. There’s also the issue of climate change and the environmental impact of long-haul flights - more on this later, in our booking guide.

If you can overcome your reservations about travelling a long way with your baby in tow, then there are infinite adventures to be had. There are also numerous benefits to travelling with little ones during term time, when all the older kids are generally at school.

To start with, you can enjoy quieter destinations so no more wasting precious relaxation time squabbling over sun loungers. There are also some serious savings to be found. For a start, most airlines allow passengers under the age of two to sit on a parent’s lap for free. Theme parks may offer free admission to anyone under the age of two.

And, with many distant destinations offering the best weather outside of the traditional school holiday period too, you could do a lot worse than to take advantage of your baby’s easy portability and long sleeping hours and spread your wings to discover the best long-haul destinations for 2022.

All the suggestions in our line-up have come via recommendations from Mumsnetters, who are a well travelled lot. In fact, we reckon that the travel experts on our boards have tried and tested every long-haul holiday destination you could imagine. With over 10 million users each month, that’s an awful lot of travel expertise.

What are the best long haul travel destinations for families?

  1. Vietnam

  2. Goa, India

  3. Barbados

  4. Koh Samui, Thailand

  5. The Maldives

1. Vietnam


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“Vietnam is a fabulous destination. Hanoi deserves a few days and from there you can travel to Halong Bay.” Rua13

“I did a tour a few years ago, including a beach stint on Phu Quoc which was paradise.” Chocbuttonsandredwine

The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc is ideal for holidaymakers in search of an all-round family sunshine break, with stunning and secluded beaches, clear blue waters and unmissable culture and World Heritage sites. Like the rest of Vietnam, the island’s dry season runs from November to March, with temperatures a few degrees cooler than that on the mainland, so you can get some great term time deals if you’re travelling with tots under five.

Phu Quoc is dominated by luscious scenery with many resorts just seconds from the beach, providing the perfect setting for a ‘go slow’ trip for families with toddlers and babies. Culture wise, you won’t find art galleries and museums, but the vast and varied history of mainland Vietnam is only a ferry trip away. Also, Phu Quoc still offers some sightseeing opportunities, with the island being home to a number of coastal fishing communities, fascinating markets and historical places of worship.

Mumsnetters also recommend the city of Hanoi as a wonderful destination filled with sights, smells and sounds - the buzzing night market is a sight to behold. You can fly into Hanoi and spend a few days there before travelling on to Halong Bay, around 3 hours drive away, for your beach fix. Bear in mind that the flight time to Vietnam from the UK is around 14 hours -  not one for the faint of heart.

2. Goa, India


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“I’ve spent a lot of time in India. Goa is pretty safe and tourist friendly now. Very easy to travel with kids and children are very welcomed. Yes, I would still be careful with the water but other than that, fine.” Poorlykitten

Tucked away on the country’s southwestern coast, Goa has long been the destination of choice for tourists looking to take in the gorgeous beaches and stunning weather. South Goa generally has a more relaxed, chilled-out vibe than its Northern counterpart. There are family-friendly resorts aplenty. offering Western-influenced food, kids' clubs and creches as well as picture perfect beaches with cafes and bars providing snacks, drinks and some much-appreciated shade.

Many hotels in South Goa favour luxury: expect tennis courts, archery ranges, supersized swimming pools and al fresco Jacuzzis and spa treatments. For culture, the area’s gorgeous cathedrals are generally easily accessible with a buggy and local markets are the perfect place to pick up handicrafts and try local delicacies such as vegetable pakora, prawn balchão and spiced rice.

Wise Mumsnetters who’ve holidayed in Goa advise that, although the area is a low risk for malaria, there are still mosquitoes and therefore a risk of malaria and dengue. For that reason, you’ll need to take child safe repellant and a mosquito net to fit over cots and beds, if your hotel doesn’t provide them. Although tourists flock to India in winter and spring to avoid the stifling heat of the summer months, you could dodge the hordes and high costs by planning a trip in September, straight after monsoon season finishes.

Take the stress out of planning a long-haul escape by booking a bespoke holiday with Take the Family

Looking to book a long-haul escape but keen for someone else to take charge of flights, hotels, attractions, tours and fiddly itineraries? Mumsnet has partnered with Take the Family, a travel agency that specialises in putting together memorable trips for families. Using a travel agent can take the stress out of booking holidays and offers ATOL protection for peace of mind. As an added incentive, Take the Family is offering Mumsnet users a £5 John Lewis voucher (for every £1000 of holiday value). Speak to a family travel expert to get a bespoke long-haul holiday quote.

3. Barbados


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“It’s lovely but not cheap. Fab food and beautiful beaches. East coast is much rougher seas and more dramatic waves. We hired a car and drove around for a day which was fun.” Twilightstarbright 

Crystal warm waters lapping powdery white sand, beach bars serving liberal measures of Bajan rum punch and delicious food including rice and peas and frozen coconut soup….this beautiful Caribbean island certainly has a lot going for it.

Opt for one of the all-inclusive family-focused resorts on the Western coast, where seas are gentler and more conducive to supervised paddling and splashing. This stretch is known as the Platinum Coast and includes family-friendly beaches such as Alleynes Bay and Paynes Bay.

With many hotels offering accomodation in luxury apartments right on the beachfront, you’ll feel like you’ve found a little piece of paradise.  The flight is just over eight hours - still a long stretch with little ones but not quite so arduous a journey as some of the faraway destinations on our list.

Take your little animal lover to Barbados Wildlife Reserve, where they can come face to face with native wildlife including iguanas and green monkeys, iguanas and tortoises. You could also visit the underground limestone Harrison’s Cave on a fascinating guided tour.

4. Koh Samui, Thailand


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“Koh Samui is great for families. Lots of safe beaches and decent accommodation. You could always do a week on Samui and then a week in Koh Pangan, a simple ferry ride away. Had Yao is nice.” indeed

Thailand may be eternally popular with gap year travellers, thanks to its fabled full moon beach parties, it has loads to offer families too. Many resorts in the area of Koh Samui are all-inclusive, with meals, snacks and drinks covered within the price of your stay, and will also offer toddler-friendly activities such as kids’ clubs, pool games, cookery classes and film nights.

There’s plenty to do and see on the island too, such as the magical Secret Buddha Garden - an oasis of tranquillity set in the mountains, with a stream, waterfall and lush vegetation, and the Samui Elephant Sanctuary, where you can see rescued eles bathing in cool water.

Although Koh Samui is not a malaria-risk area, hotels will generally provide mosquito nets and light mosquito coils in the evening. Remember to take child-friendly bug spray and make sure you use it during your trip, although if you run out you will be able to stock up on the island.

Food wise, you’re in for a treat in Thailand with myriad delicious looking and smelling dishes to try. Some Thai food can be spicy but treats such as satay chicken skewers and Thai fried rice usually go down a storm with even the pickiest of eaters.

Avoid Thailand’s rainy season (July to October) by travelling in our winter months, preferably in term time to get the best deals.

5. Maldives


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“Kuramathi is great. The house reef is amazing as is the two bedroom beach villa (they are also close to the swimming pool). With teens definitely choose a larger island like Kuramathi with pools, activities and go all inclusive. It’s worth it as everything is very expensive outside of AI. And you are on an island so no choices.” AdriannaP

If you have a vision of paradise, odds are that the Maldives would come close to your mental image. Sugar white sand, turquoise waters, sheltered lagoons and holiday lodges balancing in the water on stilts so you feel completely at one with nature….

Holidays with kids may not generally be particularly, ahem, relaxing but with even the busiest of toddlers, you’re sure to find some peace here in some of the world’s most tranquil resorts, where the deals are usually all-inclusive so you won’t have to lift a finger.

With over 1,000 coral islands to enjoy, you won’t be bored. If you manage to carve out some precious child free time, you can try your hand at water sports including diving, surfing and kayaking. Mumsnetters particularly recommend Kuramathi - the largest of six islands belonging to a small natural lagoon. You and your little nature lover can spend happy hours spotting tropical marine life in the clear waters, including angelfish, butterflyfish, manta rays, parrotfish, sea turtles, sharks and even unicorn fish.

There’s no getting away with the fact that to reach paradise, you need to put in the hours. Flights from London to the Maldives take between 10 and 13 hours and Kuramathi is then reached via a 20-minute sea plane flight or a 90-minute boat transfer from the capital city, Male.

To avoid the monsoon season, visit between November and April. The months of March and April, excluding the Easter holidays, are more reasonably priced and offer hot, dry weather and quieter beaches. For guidance on the best hotels, check out our article.

6. Toronto and Vancouver, Canada


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“We had a fabulous holiday in Canada a few years ago. Toronto, Niagara, Bruce Peninsula (great lakes), Algonquin national park, white water rafting, Ottawa and Montreal.” NotRainingToday

“Canada is great if you like nature. Also they have a lot of accommodation which works well for families with kitchenettes. Vancouver Island has the city, nature, wildlife and native culture is not ignored, and is the size of the Netherlands!” EwwSprouts

If you prefer action packed holidays to lazing on the beach, Canada could be the long-haul destination for you.  It boasts a wealth of delights to discover - mountain ranges and ski resorts, forests, valleys and lakes along with cosmopolitan cities.

Whether you fancy hiking through the famous Rockies, your baby nestled in a babycarrier, or exploring Canada’s history and culture in the fast-paced urban areas of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. Vancouver Island is known for

Mumsnetters recommend a trip to Vancouver Island, which boasts secluded beaches and opportunities for hiking, camping, and paddling along with golf courses and vineyards to explore. Also recommended is a day trip to Niagara Falls, which marks the border between New York and Ontario, Canada. Unlike some destinations on our list, there isn’t really a specific season for visiting Canada as it’s so vast and wide ranging. However, it’s worth knowing that winters here are long and harsh with some temperatures dipping to -40°C (-40°F).

7. New York and Florida, USA


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“New York was fab with 2 5 year olds and an 8 year old.” NeedAHoliday2021

Dreams are made of this… Walt Disney World® Resort Florida is probably top of the ‘must do’ list for most kids. Florida is a once in a lifetime type of destination - it’s eye wateringly expensive but unforgettable too. The flight time is around nine hours.

Preschoolers are likely to enter fully into the spirit of Disney and believe that they’ve just met ‘the real Elsa and Olaf’. One drawback of taking younger kids to theme parks is that they won’t be able to experience all of the rides but there’s loads more to keep them busy here, including toddler-friendly rides, shows and character meets. The good news is that the park offers free admission to anyone under the age of two.

Alternatively, you may prefer to take in the culture and buzz of the Big Apple while your kids are small, portable and too young to demand all the things from all the shops. New York has loads to offer and it doesn’t all cost the earth either. Take your toddler on long walks around stunning Central Park and for a trip on the free Staten island ferry, which offers amazing views of Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and Governors Island. Junior train spotters are certain to love the grandeur of Central station. The city that never sleeps is a relatively short flight too - between seven and eight hours from the UK.

8. Dominican Republic


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“I’ve travelled to DR last year with my DC alone. I would go for no less than 10 nights as it’s a long flight plus getting to the hotel. It’s definitely worth it. My DC was 4 though we experienced jet lag when we come home and it took a couple of weeks for me to adjust but I’d do it all again. At 11 months you should be fine and hopefully your child will have a sleep. DR is beautiful I loved it I hope you have a fab time.” Greenlorry

Sun, sea, sand and more sun….tempted? Dominican Republic offers soft golden beaches and warm, clear waters, primed for taking plenty of Instagram-worthy family holiday photos. Located in the Caribbean, south of Florida.

Aside from all the beautiful beach days you can enjoy, you can experience some fascinating culture and history too, such as the Unesco World Heritage Site of Santo Domingo, founded by Christopher Columbus after he landed on the island in 1492.

The flight time is around 8 hours 30 minutes so it’s a little more straightforward than some of the further flung destinations on our list such as India and Vietnam. Also, with experts saying that jet lag tends to hit worse when you travel east rather than west, you may not suffer quite so much with it during your holiday to western long-haul destinations such as the Dominican Republic.

Good months to visit out of season are May and November. Although November is the last official month of hurricane season, many travellers say this is the best time because prices are lower than the peak winter months, beaches are quiet and there’s still lots of sunshine and only the occasional rain shower.

9. Mexico, North America


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“By FAR the best hotel I've stayed in is The Paradisus in Playa del Carmen. Gorgeous resort, great food. They have a playroom, kids pool and kids clubs too. I highly recommend the family concierge rooms if you can stretch to it. It's like a mini resort within a resort - there's a family only restaurant and family only pool.” allfurcoatnoknickers

A paradise of beaches and ancient culture, Mexico offers more than your bog standard beach holiday. The Riviera Maya boasts plenty of family-friendly resorts, with easy access to Playa del Carmen and the Tulum ruins.

All-inclusive resorts are king here so you won’t need to worry about cooking or cleaning - bliss. Famous for its coral reefs and picture perfect palm-lined beaches, it offers a buzzing atmosphere with loads of boutiques, bars and restaurants.

The dry seasons of November to March offer the balmiest weather but tend to be busy.

Also, bear in mind that while you may be going out of season for UK school holidays, US term times differ so, depending on when you book, you may still find Mexican resorts jam-packed with families. To fly from the UK takes just under 11 hours.

10. Japan


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“Japan is fab and you will have a great time. Personally, I'd do a week in Kansai using Osaka as a base and doing day trips to Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, Hiroshima, Kobe, etc. and a week in Tokyo and see all the sights there including Tokyo Disneyland. Some hotels have a washitsu (Japanese tatami room) with futons so you can all share a room together. I think it's much nicer when your kids are young. A lot of restaurants in japan do lunch specials for around 1,000 yen which are great value, then you can eat a bento and buy some beers to eat/drink back at your hotel room in the evening. This would save you a lot of money, I think.” MoonlightWanderer

With a flight time of over 11 hours, it’s not an easy journey but Japan is well worth the effort. It’s such a vast country, with so much to do, there’s no specific best time to visit. However, travelling towards the end of March for cherry blossom season is generally considered pretty magical.

May is also ideal as temperatures are comfortable and tourist spots aren’t too busy, while October and November offer mild temperatures and for the autumn colours. There’s so much to see here from tranquil temples and lush bamboo forests and ultra modern skyscrapers.

Tokyo is generally considered a ‘must see’ - it’s a family-friendly, modern city with loads to do - including the fascinating National Museum of Nature and Science , the madcap Cup of Noodles Museum in Yokohama.You could even meet Mickey and friends at Tokyo Disney Resort.

Like many capital cities, Tokyo is rather expensive. Cut your holiday costs by choosing self-catered or ‘room only’ accommodation and eating from one of the many reasonably priced restaurants and food markets such as Ameya Yokocho, which is one of the biggest permanent food markets in the city.

What is the best long-haul family holiday destination?

The best long-haul family holiday destination is the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc. This beautiful location offers jaw dropping beaches, turquoise seas and lots of culture. Like the rest of Vietnam, the island’s dry season runs from November to March.

What are the cheapest long-haul family holiday destinations?

Destinations such as Thailand and Vietnam offer great value for money, thanks to low living expenses once you’re there. And while accommodation in Japan is expensive, you can cut costs by eating at reasonably priced restaurants and food markets during your stay.

What is the environmental impact of long-haul family holidays?

When it comes to booking your family holiday, there’s the issue of climate change to consider. In fact, it would be irresponsible to discuss long-haul flights without mentioning the environmental impact.

However, numerous research from NASA and The University of San Francisco has found that up to 30% of aeroplane emissions occur during take-off and landing. Meaning, if you take a lot of short-haul flights, you will tend to have a higher carbon footprint than if you take one long flight. The longer the distance, the more efficient flying becomes, because the cruising stage requires less fuel than any other sort of flying.

That said, we wouldn’t encourage you to take scores of unnecessary flights and would assume that if you’re considering a long-haul holiday, it’s your main family holiday this year.

What are the best long-haul destinations for families (month-by-month)

How to save money on long-haul destinations with kids

Travel out of season

If you have preschoolers and aren’t yet confined to school holidays, make the most of it! Airfares and accommodation tariffs are higher during peak travel times so if you can be flexible with your dates and travel during term times.

Plan ahead

Before you travel, have a loose plan of what you’d like to do at your destination - if there are particular sights you want to see or places you’d like to visit, get on money saving sites like Groupon to see if there are any vouchers you can download to save money on admission fees. The seasoned travellers on our Talk Forums often have great money saving holiday tips too!

Don’t overspend on trinkets

You know that old saying ‘take only memories, leave only footprints’? Live by it. Don’t fill your suitcase with hundreds of pebbles and shells and don’t splurge all of your hard-earned money in the local bazaars and markets.

Honestly, do you need an entire shelf of handicrafts or would one or two suffice?

One benefit of travelling with tiny kids is that they haven’t yet learned the art of pester power and don’t have the skills to nag for yet another ice cream/soft toy/beach ball… Make the most of this precious time before they’re fleecing you for cash the minute you step out of the hotel room.

Tips for travelling with toddlers/kids for long-haul destinations

  • Make sure your passports are all valid when you book your holiday! For more info on applying for and renewing UK passports, check the official government website.

  • Check what vaccinations and other medical precautions you may need to take prior to travelling on the official NHS site.

  • Ensure you know the visa requirements/covid regulations before travel along with other important information here.

  • Avoid being on the plane too long by not being first to board and having to sit around waiting for take off.

  • Don’t be afraid to do a bit of ‘aisle walking’ with your toddler to break up the journey - if they need to toddle, let them.

  • Pack light and only have one cabin bag for the whole family so you’re not scrabbling around looking for that all-important soft toy but can't remember which bag you stashed it in.

  • Pack a travel potty or toilet training seat and plenty of nappies and wipes.

  • Take plenty of soft cotton muslins - amazing multi-taskers, they make great hot weather blankets, sunshades and cloths.

  • Take plenty of healthy ‘on the go’ snacks.

  • Take some travel toys.

  • Use screen time to your advantage by taking a child-friendly tablet.

  • Factor in jet lag - you may all struggle with disturbed sleep patterns for a few days, especially if you’re travelling east (jet lag is generally considered worse travelling west to east). If you feel wiped out, sleep when you need to sleep and let your baby or toddler do the same.

How we chose our recommendations

Holidays are special times and they tend to cost a lot too, so we understand that it’s vital to get it right when selecting your next long-haul family trip.

To find the best long haul holiday deals, we first reviewed travel expert sites, looking at their recommendations for the best long haul holiday destinations. We then consulted the well-travelled Mumsnetters on Mumsnet forums to see which destinations they rated for long-haul family holidays and which ones they’d avoid.

Next, we collated this information and looked at other independent online reviews to see how consumers rated various long haul holidays for families with babies and toddlers. Finally, we cross-referenced all that information to compile a definitive list of the best long haul travel destinations for families. We also consulted the official NHS and UK government sites for additional guidance and information.

Here are the best long-haul destinations for families for 2022, as recommended and reviewed by families.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.