6 Alternative Family Vacation Destinations

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The world is not in your books and maps; it's out there.


You may have gotten a glimpse of the culture and practices of a place in a book or video, but that's not where you'll discover and appreciate its beauty and charm. As The Hobbit's famous wizard said, you must get out and see it for yourself.

Unusual family holiday ideas can take you to unique places. These colorful woven baskets are in a local outdoor market.

It may seem like a vacation to idly walk about the house doing nothing, but a true vacation is more than that. That's what public holidays are for.

We're not talking about spending 2 weeks at Grandma's house, either.

We're talking about traveling to a place you've never been to before. The challenge and change of scenery will feed and nurture your soul. Try it just once and we're sure you'll agree.

If you have ever had an inkling to see somewhere new, then why not run the idea by your whole family. It probably won't take much convincing for everyone to start suggesting ideas for where to go for an unforgettable family vacation.

To give you a place to start, here are six best places to visit that are not your usual suspects. Our suggestions are a bit off the beaten track, which can work to your favor.

Unusual family holiday destinations will be more budget-friendly and less crowded than places like London or Paris. We're all for avoiding tourist crowds and saving money when we travel!

Here are our favorite travel ideas, from all over the planet.

TIP: We've included the estimated cost per person per day at each of these travel destinations, courtesy of BudgetYourTrip.com. For comparison, the average daily cost for an Orlando vacation is $240.

1. Europe: Slovakia

Average per day: $76

When it comes to travel destinations in Central Europe, people usually search for famous countries like Hungary, Poland, Austria, or the Czech Republic. More often than not, they completely overlook Slovakia, the country situated in the middle.

That's a shame, because Slovakia is filled with beautiful and interesting places worth visiting. Here are some favorite tourist attractions:

  • High Tatras Mountains. Although Slovakia is full of mountain ranges, the country is probably most proud of is their High Tatras Mountains. The place is picture-perfect, with its jagged mountains, breathtaking emerald-green lakes, and rocky hiking trails that can challenge even the most avid climber. If you're an adventure-seeker, then Slovakia would be the perfect destination for you.
  • Amazing caves. Slovakia is filled with thousands of caves, and you can visit at least twelve of them. Three of the most famous caves that tourists can explore are the Dobsinska Ice Cave, Ochtinska Cave, and Cave Domica.
  • Dreamy castles and châteaux. When it comes to Slovakian architecture, Spis Castle is the number one recommended place to visit. Locals say it is the most majestic of all the hundreds of castles scattered around the country. For another must-visit, look into Bojnice, which looks like it was taken out from our favorite childhood fairy tales.

2. Asia: Sri Lanka

Average per day: $37

What if Europe doesn't sound as interesting as Asia? For affordability, consider South Asia. It's super affordable and quite doable, even if you're an American with a two week vacation allotment.

Sri Lanka is known as “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean” for a reason. It is full of majestic beaches, vast wildlife, and breathtaking mountain trails. And the culture is fantastic!

TIP: Start with our article 10 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka to get a taste of what to do on your family's Sri Lankan adventure vacation.

Here is a sampling of some of the best things to do in Sri Lanka:

  • Arugam Bay. Arugam Bay is, by far, the most famous surfing beach in the country. Whether you are a neophyte or a pro in surfing those waves, this is the perfect place for you to hone your craft.
  • Minneriya National Park. If you love wildlife, definitely don't miss a safari to Minneriya National Park. Here you'll be able to witness the astonishing view of hundreds of elephants gathering together to eat, interact, and play.
  • Demodara railway hike. Aside from enjoying the scenic view of the surroundings while walking the rails, hikers look forward to watching the trains as they cross the Nine Arch Bridge.

3. Central America: Costa Rica

Average per day: $72

When you travel to Costa Rica, most likely locals will greet you, not with the usual “Hi, hello” but with the phrase “pura vida” (“pure life”). Essentially, it means “Don't worry, take it slow, everything will be all right.

This is their way of life – a life of simplicity and full of appreciation of its people and surroundings.

You wouldn't want to miss a tranquil place like Costa Rica. After all, you go on vacation to relax and have peace of mind.

Aside from the inner peace that you can get from visiting the country, here are some of the other reasons to include Costa Rica on your bucket list.

  • They have some of the happiest people in the world. This is no wonder because of their “Pura Vida” culture. The locals of Costa Rica are amiable and kind. They are more than willing to help you have the best travel experience with your family.
  • They have several national parks. There are lots of national parks for you here. If you're an animal lover, you may opt to watch sea turtles in Tortuguero National Park or the wildlife in Braulio Carrillo National Park. Beach lovers will savor the beauty of Manuel Antonio National Park and Corcovado National Park. Or, if volcanoes are your thing, then you may go visit the Irazu Volcano National Park, Rincón de la Vieja National Park, or Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • Costa Rican coffee is some of the best. For coffee lovers, then Costa Rica is the perfect haven for you. They offer arguably the best tasting coffee in the world as well as tours to artisan coffee plantations.
Coffee plants with ripe berries ready for harvest.

4. U.K.: Wales

Average per day: $105

A less-traveled part of the United Kingdom, Wales is one of the more unusual family holiday destinations, as they say in Britain. Three of its sites have earned UNESCO world heritage status, including its castles and town walls.

And here are three other reasons to put Wales on your travel radar:

  • Fun festivals. If your family is inclined to musical destinations, then Wales may be the best vacation destination for you. They aren't called “The Land of Song” for nothing. They have several festivals to celebrate music all year round.
  • The starry sky. Stargazers looking for a perfect place to marvel at the night sky should head to Wales. Few places are more perfect for those who just want to appreciate the beauty of the stars and the universe.
  • Fun sports. Sports lovers may want to watch favorite games like soccer (locally called football), cricket, and rugby live in action while on your vacation. Also, you don't have to miss playing golf just because you are in a foreign country for a vacation. Should you be a golf lover looking scenic Welsh golf holidays, this little country also has well-maintained and beautiful golf courses to try.

5. Middle East: Israel

Average per day: $99

If your faith or religion is important to you, we recommend Israel as the perfect vacation getaway. Christians, Muslims, and Jews will all find something interesting here.

And yes, it's safe to visit.

Here are some of the most-recommended activities to try in the country:

  • Visit Bethlehem and the Tomb of Jesus Christ. It is a very humbling experience to visit Bethlehem, the place where Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach in Hebrew) is said to have been born. Even more so if you also go to the Garden Tomb, where he was laid to rest.
  • Visit Jerusalem. From food to culture, there is so much to see and do in this ancient city. Each of Jerusalem's four quarters has its own character: Christian, Armenian, Jewish and Arab. While there, be sure to visit the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall, see the megalithic stones in the Kotel Tunnel, and fill up on all the fresh delicacies in Jerusalem's varied local markets!
  • Float in the Dead Sea. Who would not be intrigued by a sea where you cannot swim? Israel is home to the famous Dead Sea, where you can only float in its salty waters but can never swim. The mineral-rich water is well known as a beauty treatment – slather its mud onto your body and you'll leave with super-soft skin.
Floating in the dead sea

6. Africa: Morocco

Average per day: $41 ($57 in Marrakech)

And then there's Morocco, which is one of the best places to visit in all of Africa. This north African country offers fantastic scenery, delectable food, and dozens of worthwhile experiences. The airfare may cost a bit more, but the country itself is affordable. So it's worth every penny spent.

Here are some of the activities we can personally recommend:

  • Try out the local dishes. You know us: We love trying the local food. Moroccan foods are flavorful and rich. The country is famous for its flavorful cuisines because spices are abundant here. Couscous and tagines are some of the most popular dishes – don't miss trying them!
Delicious Moroccan chicken
  • Enjoy an expedition in the Sahara Desert. A trip into the legendary Sahara desert is a memorable experience that you and your family shouldn’t miss. You may opt to travel over the dunes on foot, riding a camel or horse, or you can also try the four-wheel drive.
Camel riding in the Sahara Desert
  • Stay in a riad. Imagine staying in a traditional Moroccan house! Many have been turned into hotels. When you decide to visit Morocco, staying in a riad will add another dimension to your trip. They are usually built around a fantastic interior garden and are a welcome and peaceful retreat from the midday heat.

TIP: In Marrakech, we had thoroughly enjoyable and comfortable stays at Dar Taliwint and Riad Safa. Both are located in different parts of the Medina. Book now | Compare prices for later | Read TripAdvisor reviews

There you have it. With the list given above, you sure have a place in mind already where you could picture out yourself traveling into.

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Written by Dan

Professional photographer specializing in street, food and travel shots at As We Saw It travel blog. “Photography is unique in that it captures light in all forms, and since the Bible says YHVH (God) is light, photography captures Him in many forms.”

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