The best off-peak long-haul holiday destinations for families
Thinking of taking your toddler or baby on a long-haul holiday? Travelling out of season with small children can often mean quieter destinations – no wasting precious relaxation time squabbling over sun loungers – and some serious savings. Many distant destinations offer the best weather outside of the traditional school holiday period too – so take advantage of your baby’s long sleeping hours and spread your wings
Thanks to its great food, the fact that English is widely-spoken and incredibly friendly locals, Sri Lanka is surprisingly easy to navigate for families with young children. Resorts offer plenty to keep children and adults busy in the midday heat, including kids’ clubs, fitness classes and evening shows, plus the essential please-all buffet restaurant..
For wildlife lovers, Sri Lanka is home to a number of breathtaking national parks. Yala National Park in the south west holds some 30 Sri Lankan leopards while Udawalawe National Park offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to view over 500 Asian elephants in the wild. Hiring a driver is an affordable and easy mode of transport if you’re planning excursions with children – just be sure to take your own car seat and check ahead that your car will have seatbelts.
Top tip: “A visit to the tea plantations is really interesting, and it is much cooler in the mountains so will come as a welcome respite from the heat.”
Tucked away on the country’s west coast, Goa has long been the destination of choice for tourists looking to take in the gorgeous beaches, stunning weather and diverse history of India. South Goa, with a more relaxed, chilled-out vibe than its Northern counterpart, is filled with family-friendly resorts offering Western-influenced food, kids' clubs and creches as well as idyllic beaches with cafes and bars providing snacks, drinks and some much-appreciated shade.
Hotels in South Goa favour luxury: expect tennis courts, archery ranges, supersized swimming pools and al fresco Jacuzzis and spa treatments. Many of the area's gorgeous cathedrals are easily accessible with a buggy and local markets are the perfect place to test your haggling skills, try local delicacies and pick up unexpected treasures.
Top tip: “Bottled water is widely available and I would probably give ice cubes a miss with the little ones. Fussy eaters will be well catered for and a lot of places will make meals not on the menu if you ask.”
The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc is ideal for holidaymakers looking for an all-round family trip, with secluded beaches, 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.
The island is dominated by luscious scenery with many resorts just seconds from the beach, providing the perfect setting for a slow, tranquil trip for families with young babies. For those craving a culture hit, the island is home to a number of coastal fishing communities, fascinating markets and historical places of worship. The vast and varied history of mainland Vietnam is also just a ferry trip away.
Top tip: “The food is generally great for kids as it is not spicy.”
While Thailand might be best known as the home of teenage gap years and full moon parties, the country has plenty to offer families too. Most resorts in the area of Phuket are all-inclusive, with meals, snacks and drinks covered within the price of your stay, and many offer toddler-friendly activities such as kids’ clubs, pool games, cookery classes and film nights.
If you do grow bored of endless white beaches, there is plenty to visit on the island, including Baan Teelanka, a quirky upside down house straight out of a Roald Dahl story, as well as the Phuket Aquarium. Alternatively, a day trip to the island of Phi Phi, complete with monkeys hanging from trees and the Viking Cave to explore, is sure to keep even the most bored toddler entertained.
Top tip: “Hotels will provide you with mosquito nets if necessary, and it’s also common for villas and hotels to light mosquito coils in the evening.”