Can family travel and relaxation really go hand in hand?
I must admit I am having my doubts lately! We have recently returned from a wonderful but exhausting trip around Cambodia and Vietnam. Fun – yes; educational – absolutely; relaxing… we tried to feed this into our plans with best intentions.
However, with three children aged six and under and a lack of babysitting options, relaxing family travel was always going to be a battle on this occasion.
Of course, not all travel is meant to be relaxing – but if you really want to let your hair down, unwind and have a HOLIDAY, it can be done! – with careful planning of your destination and the activities available when you get there.
Our family travel bloggers have been hard at work again this month to bring you the best collection of Relaxing Destinations to consider for your next family break.
You can find more ideas from our family travel blogger community over on our “Best Destinations” homepage
Ultimate relaxing family destinations – A Beach Break
“For our family, the ultimate relaxation happens at the beach, and just about any beach will do. The kids have always enjoyed digging in the sand, making sandcastles, collecting seashells, and jumping in the waves. My husband and I are happy to kick back in a beach chair with a cold brew in hand.
While the great blue ocean is often our choice destination, from time to time, we enjoy a smaller lake-side beach where we can get active on a canoe, kayak, or paddle-board and return for a picnic. While I know we can do all of that in the ocean, I don’t feel the kids are strong enough to venture out too far in a kayak or paddleboard just yet.
We like beaches that are small towns or locals’ beaches. We prefer areas that are not filled with high-rise hotels yet still have a few beach-side restaurants we can wander into for fresh seafood.
We also like to stick with family-friendly beaches to avoid spring break crowds. Our Florida beach favorites include Indian Rocks Beach and Sanibel Island – both great for seashells. Siesta Key has terrific powdery sand, perfect for a Florida family vacation.
Outside of Florida, we fell in love with the clear aquamarine waters in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
Every summer, we spend two weeks on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan, which has the best sand beaches and sunsets in the world.“
You can read more about Great Lake destinations in the US over here.
The key to a relaxing holiday is planning & research
Sally-Ann from Toddlers on Tour thinks it’s not necessarily the destination but taking the time to properly research and plan that is key;
I think the secret is taking the time to research and plan our family travel. I’ve managed to find the perfect accommodation for our family and sprinkle in a couple of fun family day trips.
With no chance of “I’m bored” being uttered, we all relaxed, allowing for us to then thoroughly enjoy going out to explore the Bali Safari and Marine Park and take the Green Bike Cycle Tour.
To me it’s all about finding things that all of us enjoy, resulting in us all being happy and relaxed.”
So let’s see what other relaxing destinations our Family Travel Blogger team have come up with:
Kevin from Wandering Wagars
My family and I just returned from what was probably our most relaxing family trip of all time in beautiful Bermuda.
I knew the country was gorgeous from seeing so many photos splashed across my computer screen during our research, but nothing prepared me for the bluest waters I had ever seen or beaches so soft that it felt like my feet were buried in soft pillows.
The island offers enough adventure to keep you excited, from boat rentals, scuba diving, cave adventures and the beautiful local towns full of pirate history, while offering stunning beaches to relax on, luxurious spas and incredible local dining.
Bermuda offers something for the whole family and will leave you wanting for more.
Clare from Suitcases and Sandcastles
For my family, there is nowhere more relaxing on earth than the Greek Islands. It’s the place I dream of escaping to every summer.
We love the laid-back vibe of the quieter islands, where the pace of life is slow, and the atmosphere so chilled that the whole family relaxes.
So much of Greece is how I imagine the Mediterranean was in the 1950s. In the summer, it’s much less crowded than in many parts of France, Italy or Spain. There are busy resorts if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s not difficult to find that picture-perfect little harbour with a beach, a smattering of fishing boats and a couple of tavernas.
You’ll wander around a village and find men playing backgammon in the square and old women dressed in black sitting over their lacework. The place will be like a ghost town in the afternoon because everyone is having a siesta.
In Greece, we completely wind down, whether we’re walking in the White Mountains of Crete, sailing into Ithaca or watching the fishermen unloading their catch at Kini harbour on the island of Syros.
There’s something sublimely relaxing about the Mediterranean climate. We all feel calmer and take pleasure in the little things. There’s time to read a book while the boys build a sandcastle on the beach. We’ll take a picnic on a boat to a deserted island for the day.
The four of us will enjoy talking at mealtimes as we all share fresh seafood and mezze at one of the unstuffy tavernas. We visit a different island on every trip. With over 227 inhabited islands to choose from, why wouldn’t you? There’s always something new to discover in the Greek Islands.
The Italian Dolomites
Marta from Learning Escapes
Our most relaxing family holiday to date is one we took a few years ago in the Italian Dolomites, in a small valley called Val Fiscalina or Fishleinthal.
This secluded valley is located near the border between Italy and Austria; for us, it’s a small corner of paradise. High peaks enclose wide green fields, crystal clear brooks tumble down the mountains, their soft murmur audible in the quiet of the surroundings, and easy-to-explore woods cover gentle slopes.
We stayed in a hotel called Dolomitenhof, in an incredible location just at the entrance of the valley. We originally chose it because of the many activities on offer in its proximity (petting farms, easy hikes, petting zoos, you name it), but we soon discovered that its ground were all we needed to keep the kids happy!
The hotel overlooks the valley and has a gorgeous open-air cafe and restaurant on the border of a wide lawn (in the photo). Here, the kids were free to run around to their heart’s content, climb up the frames of the small playground and spot the fish in the brook.
The best part? While they did so, us parents could supervise them while sitting (sitting!) in the sunny terrace, sipping delicious cappuccino and apfelstrudel. Family holidays don’t come much better than that!
Mayan Riviera, Mexico
Amy from Passports & Pigtails
When it comes to relaxation, the Mayan Riviera, Mexico, has concocted the perfect formula. Miles of white sand beaches dotted by swaying palm trees, filled with languages from around the globe, all speaking of the beauty of the Caribbean Sea.
The Mayan Riviera has mastered the art of the All-Inclusive Resort, making it a haven for families looking to recharge and reconnect.
Beautifully maintained resorts and friendly, hard-working staff provide an environment that fulfils every possible need of guests. From gourmet a la cartes, massive buffets and bars in the pool to daily housekeeping services and golf cart shuttles, the all-inclusive ensures that the biggest effort for parents is deciding which suit to wear and whether to eat dessert before or after the fresh salsa and guacamole.
Most AI’s also include fantastic children’s activities like kids clubs, teen rooms, babysitting ($$) and evening entertainment so that parents are able to slip away to enjoy a massage, Spanish lessons, a private beach dinner or even a nap next to the waves.
Families can enjoy the peaceful underwater world of snorkelling with the world’s second-largest barrier reef at their fingertips.
Most resorts have their own shopping haciendas, and many offer services such as Catholic Mass, golf, dolphin swimming, parasailing, kayaking and even a special moment to enjoy turtles coming ashore to lay eggs. All this without even leaving the resort!
The Mayan Riviera is the place where the earth’s natural beauty has been paired with sprawling resorts to create the perfect family getaway. It is a place to relax, enjoy a Cerveza and simply breathe. Hola!”
Learn more about the best family beaches in Mexico for a relaxation vacation
Save this for later
Still not convinced it’s possible? Even if your whole trip is not “relaxing”, there are many ways to work in couple and alone time, too; this post highlights 7 different ways that parents can get the downtime that they deserve.
I must admit, we all struggled to answer this one quickly! The immediate benefits of family travel from an educational and adventurous standpoint obviously stand out in front of mind for many of us, but relaxation time is also essential to everyone too.
Build-in couple time, build-in YOU time, friend time, family time and kid time and go with the flow.
As everyone keeps reminding us, IT DOES GET EASIER!
Looking for Family Travel Destination Ideas? Click Here for the Best of the Best
Footnote – now that our kids are in the “tween years“, the relaxing moments are coming thick and fast. Don’t doubt it; little kids are tough travel companions! We’re by no means saying don’t travel with your littles; just remember everyone’s needs change over time, and it WILL get easier!
© Our Globetrotters | All images © to respective contributors | Feature image Freeartist via Getty Images/Canva | This post was originally published in 2016 and updated in August 2022.