Colombia’s reputation definitely doesn’t make it a popular family vacation destination but as more and more adventurous family are finding, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. In the past decade Colombia has changed dramatically and is now considered by many to be as safe as most other Latin American countries.
If you are thinking of taking your kids to Colombia, you’ll likely be surprised by how much this small country has to offer – from Caribbean beaches to the lush, green coffee region to the cosmopolitan city of Bogota. While the country is growing as a tourist destination, it is still not the easiest place to travel and if you are thinking about taking a trip with your kids, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind.
Colombia has very good trade relations with the United States and in most cases, you can find the same or very similar products and brands in Colombia for everything from diapers to baby formula. Baby food is a bit harder to find but Colombian food in general is very simple with mild flavors and shouldn’t be a problem for older kids. You will also be able to easily find all your kids favorite treats – from international fast food restaurants to mom-and-pop pizza places. If you do have picky eaters, turn that into a positive by having the children learn a few phrases in Spanish before they go so they can ask for what they like.
You are also better off bring your own car seat if you are doing any long distance trips by bus or car. You can find them in Colombia but they are usually much more expensive than similar ones you can buy back home. Strollers are also great and in Colombia’s major cities and towns the sidewalks are usually pretty decent.
The same precautions you’d take on any family trip should of course apply to Colombia. On top of that, you should also treat traffic with a higher degree of caution in Colombia as drivers can be a bit reckless and accidents are common. It is also a good idea to skip the country’s long distance bus trips. In the past these routes where dangerous due to rebels but now the only real danger is accidents, which are all to common on Colombia’s windy mountain roads.
While you should technically be able to drink the water from the tap in most major Colombian cities, if your kids have sensitive tummies, you’ll easily find bottled water. Again, food isn’t usually an issue in Colombia but in smaller towns, you’re better off visiting the popular national brand restaurants like Crepes & Waffles. Lastly, the best way to stay safe in Colombia is to just do a bit of research ahead of time. In Bogota’s nicest neighborhoods, you’ll feel as safe as you do back home but wander a few blocks down the wrong street or book a hotel in the bad side of town and you might have problems. To avoid any issues, don’t wander around at night and leave the valuables at home.
As long as you come prepared and follow basic safety guidelines, you and your family are sure to have a good time in Colombia. Colombians are very family-oriented and children are welcomed almost anywhere. Besides doing the normal tours and seeing the major sites, also give your kids some time to play at the local park. The nicer neighborhoods in Bogota and Medellin have great parks with modern playsets and Colombian children are not shy about making new friends.