Plenty of families stick to old favorites like Disneyland or the closest beach resort for their family vacations, year after year. That might work for them but for plenty of other families, mine included, it sounds a bit dull. Why not add a little adventure to your holiday and head off to somewhere more exotic?
South America, running from the rugged mountains and glacier of Patagonia to the Caribbean beaches of Colombia, is filled with great family adventures just waiting to be enjoyed. Traveling with kids in South America can seem a bit scary or difficult but with some good research and a few tips, the continent can be the perfect place for your next family vacation.
The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a family trip to South America is that as a whole, the continent is very kid-friendly. Family is important here and children are welcome almost anywhere. Most major cities in South America have great children’s museum and nice parks with modern playsets. On public transportation, it is common for adults to give up their seats to families with young children and South Americans are very good about watching out for each others kids.
Health & Safety
Before traveling to South America, be sure your kids are up to date on all their shots and it might also be a good idea to see a travel doctor as well. Depending on where you go, you might need to consider a Yellow Fever shot or malaria pills, which are both recommended if traveling in jungle regions. Once in South America, make sure you know your options when it comes to hospital or doctor visits. If your insurance will cover it, the best service in South America is almost always found at private clinics rather than the public hospitals.
Deciding Where to Go
South America is a very large continent and there are literally thousands of great places to visit with kids. Your best option, both for safety and comfort, is to stick to the more popular tourist hotspots. Don’t worry though, even the most popular places in South America are rarely crowded.
Kid and family favorites include – Machu Picchu in Peru, the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. Consider what is important to your family before narrowing down your choices. It is also helpful to think about how much “culture shock” or adventure your family is up for. In general, the easiest places to travel as a family are usually in Chile or Argentina where things are run more similar to back home – with modern hospitals, shopping malls, even theme parks – while Bolivia sits on the opposite end of the spectrum, with all the culture shock of a third world country.
Make it Educational!
One last tip to make traveling in South America with kids a bit easier is for the whole family to think about taking some Spanish lessons, either before your trip or as part of your trip. Not only will it help to make the trip an education experience for everyone, it will also make traveling much easier. English is spoken more frequently in popular tourist destinations but outside of the hotspots like Cusco or Buenos Aires, Spanish will definitely come in handy. Not only that, knowing a bit of Spanish will also help your kids connect more with the local culture, understand more of what they are seeing, and maybe even make a few local friends.