Did you know: as much as 67% of the Canadian population holds a valid passport? There's a good reason why the stereotype of the Canadian snowbird exists: we love to explore the world and discover other cultures.
One of the greatest joys for many people is getting to share this experience with their families. Introducing your children to the wonders of the world (both official and unofficial) is a way to make lifelong memories together and broaden their horizons.
So what are some of the best exotic vacations you should be considering for 2021? Where will give you some much-needed sun while also providing a safe adventure you can take the kids to?
Read on for our guide on where to go, what to do, and how to make the most of each destination.
1. Italy - Pizza, Culture, and More Pizza
One of the best family vacation destinations in the world has to be Italy. It's a great choice for children because even the pickiest eaters won't be able to turn down lasagne, margarita pizzas, and gelato!
For a relatively small country, Italy is full of culture, history, and mesmerizing landscapes. Direct flights from Canada to Italy are hard to come by, but most journeys from Toronto and Montreal have a speedy second leg after layovers in Amsterdam or Paris. The time difference is six hours from EST, and nine hours from PST.
Any vacation to Italy should not neglect its capital, Rome, otherwise known as The Eternal City. There are so many things to do in this vibrant city, but visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Trevi Fountain should be at the top of your list. Five days in Rome should be enough before you move elsewhere and escape the hustle and bustle.
One of the best things about visiting Italy is its efficient and affordable train service. This makes it easy to get around the country without having to rent a car. It also means you can avoid negotiating the road alongside Italian drivers!
After ticking off Rome, we'd suggest choosing between the north and south. Northern Italy boasts fantastic locations such as Milan, Venice, and the jaw-dropping Cinque Terre coastline. Meanwhile, the south is home to Sicily, Naples, and the Amalfi coast.
Rest assured that whichever you choose, the kids will be begging to return to Italy soon for another trip!
2. New Zealand - Visit Nature's Finest
Our next exotic location idea for your family trip is New Zealand. This is truly one of the finest gems our planet has to offer. Let's explore why New Zealand is well worth the 17-hour (or more) flight time.
One of the most remarkable features of New Zealand is the myriad of landscapes within this country less than half the size of Manitoba. In close proximity, you'll find beaches that remind you of the Caribbean, sand dunes, rainforests, and stunning mountains. Which other country has such a diverse backdrop in such a small area?
What makes New Zealand great for vacationing families is the safety and the friendliness of the people here. New Zealanders will welcome you with open arms, and it doesn't hurt that there isn't a language barrier for anglophone Canadians. You can relax and enjoy your trip without keeping a watchful eye over the children every second of the day.
Any New Zealand itinerary will likely start in Auckland, the capital. From here, we suggest heading north to the Bay of Islands, before looping back down to Lake Taupo, Wellington, and then exploring the South Island.
With its location in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand is a firm favourite for Canadian snowbirds. The peak of their summer coincides perfectly with the bitter temperatures of January and February. If you're tempted to whisk your family away for an extended period that isn't covered by your regular travel insurance, check out Insurdinary's snowbird travel insurance comparison.
3. Mexico - Cheap Exotic Holidays
Perhaps your family doesn't have enough time to jet off to the other side of the world. In that case, let's turn our attention a little closer to home, and explore one of the favourite vacation destinations for Canadians: Mexico. As little as 5 hours by plane (from Toronto to Mexico City), Mexico is a great choice for families wanting to squeeze in some sun.
The Mexican coastline is full of treasures. From Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Escondido on the Pacific coast, to Tulum and Merida on the Caribbean, there is an endless list of locations where you can enjoy the sun, sea, and sand. While the more luxurious hotels will inevitably cost more, the cost of living in Mexico is generally quite cheap.
Mexico may have a reputation for being dangerous, in particular the large cities such as Mexico City. But in reality, there is no more crime than in any other sizeable metropolitan area, such as Vancouver, London, or Paris. The vast majority of Canadians who visit Mexico have perfectly safe and enjoyable stays here.
It's worth remembering that there is more to Mexico than its stunning beaches. Inland, you'll find a culture rich in history and customs, such as the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. If you want to avoid the crowds, we'd recommend visiting the lesser-known spots of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Izamal.
While in Mexico, get your fill of its delicious cuisine: tacos, flautas, quesadillas, and tortillas!
4. Japan - Explore Another World
Another of the best places for family travel in 2021 is breathtaking Japan. Fly from Vancouver to Tokyo in as few as eight and a half hours, and prepare yourselves for a mysterious and astonishing vacation.
Japan is a great choice for family holidays because it is incredibly safe and full of entertainment for children. From the ingenious bathroom facilities (which kids won't love singing toilets?) to the super-fast bullet train, Japan will inspire a life-long love for travel in your little ones.
In fact, many tourists would argue visiting Japan with children enriches the experience. Locals are more likely to approach you and offer suggestions if you've got a stumbling toddler in tow.
What's more, Japanese cities are incredibly clean and full of unusual quirks. Any family vacation to Japan should include visits to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. However, there is more to Japan than its thriving cities. It is also home to the majestic Mount Fuji which is a must-see for all trips here.
Finally, there are also many stunning temples that will teach the whole family about the fascinating history of Japan. Kyoto in particular is home to more than a thousand temples and pagodas, and their unique architecture will leave the family enthralled.
For more information about planning the perfect vacation to Japan with your family, check out this blog.
5. Morocco - Your Next Adventure
For the more adventurous families out there we present to you... Morocco. Some may consider Morocco a dangerous country, and not suitable for bringing children to, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Far more common than crime here are people trying to scam you. But common sense and a direct "no thank you" is all you need to avoid these tourist traps.
Many families visiting Morocco choose to organize their trip with an agency. There are great benefits to doing this, as it is a stress-free and more luxurious way to get to know the country. Be sure to opt for a package that includes trips to Marrakech, Chefchaouen, and Rabat.
The bigger cities such as Marrakech often have large, European markets that stock snacks and ingredients that will keep fussy eaters happy. For the more daring diners, the cuisine alone is a good enough reason to visit Morocco.
Families with teenagers should also incorporate the Sahara desert and the Atlas mountains into their trip. A trip to the Sahara, in particular, is a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from Wi-Fi, and get a spectacular view of the milky way at night. The camel rides will undoubtedly become a classic family story you tell and retell!
When planning your vacation, no matter where you travel to, be sure to take a careful look at your travel insurance. Make sure your policy covers you in the case of trip cancellation and trip interruption. In the era of Covid-19, this is more important than ever.
6. Argentina - You'll Never Want to Leave
Next, one of the best teenage vacation spots is surely Argentina. Believe it or not, there are flights available that go direct from Toronto to Buenos Aires. But the cheaper airfare will usually involve one layover, and the flight time is approximately 13 hours.
To start your Argentinian adventure, we recommend using Buenos Aires as your base. From here, you can explore the cities of Rosario and Córdoba, as well as the beach resort of Mar del Plata. However, the one place that families visiting Argentina cannot leave without visiting is the Iguazu Falls.
The Iguazu Falls are one of the 'New 7 Wonders of Nature', and words cannot do this spectacular site justice. Located at the meeting point of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, this is the largest waterfall in the world. The national park where the falls are found can get busy with tourists, as you'd imagine. But it's well worth waiting your turn in line for the most magnificent family selfie you could hope to take!
Families with older children and teenagers might also want to venture further south to Patagonia. Often referred to as "the end of the world" this is the perfect area to explore with your family. Get closer to nature and say goodbye to cell phones as you take part in activities such as kayaking, snowshoeing, and rafting.
Lastly, make sure you get a good dose of Argentinian culture while you visit. Take in some tango, football, and horseback riding with gauchos!
7. Laos - the Vacation the Kids Took Over
The final location on our list of places for exotic holidays with the family is Laos. This is the perfect spot for cheap international family vacations and once you get over the initial jet lag, it will become your new favourite destination.
Unfortunately, getting here from Canada typically requires two stopovers and at least 24 hours flight time. But, this is a great excuse to get to know one of your stopover locations - perhaps Hanoi, in Vietnam? Ultimately, Laos is the place to choose if you want to take your family off the beaten track, and discover somewhere relatively untouched by tourism.
The top spots to visit in Laos are Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, and Huay Xai. Laos is home to beautiful temples, mountains, rainforests, and waterfalls that are just waiting to be explored. It's a great opportunity to open your children's eyes to Buddhist culture and to go wildlife-spotting on a tour of one of their gorgeous national parks.
The Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park is home to all sorts of interesting flora and fauna. Kids will jump at the chance to spot an elusive tiger!
If you're wondering whether you really need travel insurance for your family vacation, the short answer is yes. For more information about how travel insurance works and what different policies typically cover, check out our guide.
Which of These Top Exotic Vacations Will You Choose?
Whether it's south to the beautiful beaches of Mexico, or east to sand dunes of Morocco, each of these destinations will gift your family with an unforgettable vacation. After the tough year that the coronavirus pandemic has given to us all, it's time to spend some quality time together somewhere magnificent.
The question is: which of these exotic vacations will you take first?
When packing your suitcase, don't forget your travel insurance. Simply fill out a quick form to get a free quote for your travel insurance from our team at Insurdinary.
Travel Pulse - 'Travel Habits of Canadians: Where We Go and What We Do'
The Culture Trip - 'The Top 10 Things To Do And See In Rome'
WildJunket - 'Japan with Kids: How to Plan the Perfect Japan Family Trip'
N7W.com - 'New 7 Wonders of Nature'