Please sign in to post.

Where would you go with a family of 5, with free airfare anywhere in the world?

Hello everyone,
I’m in a particularly, lucky situation. My husband travels a crazy amount for work, ( I mean a lot!). We therefore, can usually all fly to Europe, for between 3-4 weeks, each year, for free, on points.
By using short term rentals ( VRBO, HomeAway), we have usually found cheap ways to stay. And this usually means we can eat at least half our meals in the rental. I’m trying to stress, that just because we can fly for free, we can’t afford to live lavishly while away, nor would we like to (anyone read “Europe through the backdoor” by the awesomest Rick Steves?)
My children therefore, have been to most European countries. All Mediterranean, and Baltic countries.
This year, my husband traveled even more, and we basically have enough to travel anywhere. That’s right, anywhere in the world. We are trying to plan a summer vacation for approx 4 weeks ( I know that summer is peak season, most everywhere, but summer is when my husband can take his vacation, plus the kids are out of school)
My kids are 11, 9, and 4. They have been to most of Europe, and a lot of North America. Where do you think we should go, this summer, given our limitations... we can fly free anywhere in the world, with youngish kids, but can’t afford to live lavishly once there. I would love any advice!
And Go....

Posted by
2361 posts

Disneyland & the beach! Seeing your kids’ ages, they would have a fantastic time.

Posted by
11107 posts

Maybe New Zealand? (I don't have kids, so what do I know?)

Come to think of it, that would be a dreadfully long flight, so maybe not such a wonderful idea.

Posted by
9991 posts

Summer here is winter in New Zealand. Not a good destination unless you want to ski.

So you say you have been to all Mediterranean and Baltic countries. What about Scotland, or Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Slovenia?

Posted by
1680 posts

Mountains or lake region of Austria? Azores? Basque area of Spain/France? Scotland?

Posted by
1927 posts

How about somewhere in southern or eastern Africa for a family safari, like Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana or South Africa, or thereabouts?

Australia/New Zealand?

Or go to a part of Europe you enjoyed & explore more thoroughly? Central Europe maybe? Or an in-depth look at France & Germany? So much to discover and can be done relatively cheaply (even camping).

I though somewhere in Africa to start with but think safari tends to be expensive

Posted by
11544 posts

Australia and New Zealand. Right now the exchange rates are favorable for US$ - I recently talked with an Aussie friend who was bemoaning the state of her finances. Also, it's winter there. While most of Australia is very hot in summer, winters are pleasant. New Zealand is cooler, but no frigid temps or snow and lots to see (Maori culture, hot springs, glow worm caves, beautiful seashores and mountains too) with small distances to cover. You will want to fly between Sydney and Melbourne and Auckland.

I have no experience with South America, but it's winter there too, but not far enough south for cold weather..

Posted by
2511 posts

Australian food prices are very high. My brother lives there and has just been back to the UK for Christmas and he was surprised how cheap the supermarkets were. A bowl of soup or a cappuccino in a cafe is at least 50% more expensive in OZ. Car fuel is cheaper.

Safaris are not cheap anywhere and are best saved for when your youngest can appreciate them more.

I would head to Asia, as with 4 weeks, you could live cheaply in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia etc and the culture would be different to what you have experienced plus your children would benefit from seeing a new part of the world. Research would be needed weather wise as to which parts to visit in the summer.

South America would be another option. I enjoyed Peru. You don’t want to be too far south in the summer, as it’s their winter.

If you want to be in Europe - have you been to Croatia? You could have a few days in Dubrovnik, a week on Korcula, a week on Hvar, a few days in Split then a week in Istria.

You may have “been to most of Europe”, but there must be much that you haven’t seen. I live in England and can’t profess to have seen all of the UK, much less other countries. Have you visited the New Forest, Northumberland, the north Norfolk coast, Rutland, the Llangollen area, the Cairngorms or Dumfries and Galloway in the UK? All places worthy of a visit.

Posted by
7424 posts

The OP asked a similar question in November 2014 at which time the children were said to be 5, 7 and 10. Now, four years later they are 4, 9 and 11.

Posted by
1799 posts

Norma, 7+4=11, 5+4=9, 10 months +4= almost 5
No discrepancies on the age.

Posted by
7424 posts

You are absolutely right, Carol. I missed the word "months". My apologies to all.

Posted by
143 posts

Where would you go with a family of 5, with free airfare anywhere in the world?

I would either go to Thaiti, Bora Bora, Maldives . or France.

Posted by
4741 posts

South America or Asia, both chockfull of interesting places to see (I would pick South America due to cooler weather). I don't think it matters too much whether the airfare is free or not - the point is picking a place that really sparks your interest. If it's a place that's hard or unusually expensive to get to, that's a bonus. I would also think that exposing your kids to a very different culture (not overly Westernized or similar to Europe and North America) would be a plus too.

Posted by
1158 posts

New Zealand, which should be on everyone's bucket list.
The North Island is the more tropical so winter temps there will be quite moderate, ie daily highs in the low 60's. South Island will be colder the further south you go but the Canterbury Plain (Christchurch area) still sees winter temps in the 50's. Point being that you don't need to be a skiier to enjoy the outdoors in what's probably the most beautiful country on earth, and their national parks are world class.
All of the Lord of the Rings lore and film locations will be a treat for the kids. The total flight time to get there from the west coast is about the same as a one stopper to Europe, and for an extra treat you could break up the trip with a stopover in Hawaii for several days.

Posted by
818 posts

Ecuador is affordable and close enough to the Equator to not be so cold. If you don't have Spanish, consider family Spanish lessons. However, flights are quite affordable from US, so consider New Zealand (best seen by motor home or similar), Australia or SEAsia. Africa would be another on my list. South Africa, though cool, is pretty much malaria free and you can self drive Kruger Nat Park for a safari experience making it more affordable than a private bespoke safari.

Posted by
1739 posts

Go somewhere with expensive flights to make the most of your free tickets!
If it were me I’d look into weather in Argentina (Buenos Aires and Iguazu falls) or South Africa
(Cape Town, wine, and safari animals) But it’s winter in thr Southern Hemisphere so maybe not. Some climate research is in order.

So....
Japan?
Hawaii?

Posted by
234 posts

When we were younger my father used to take us on long vacations every other year. We camped a lot. I think your kids would have a great time if you flew to Vancouver, BC, and rented an RV and drove down the West Coast to Los Angeles or San Diego. Another option would be Hawaii, spending a week on each of the main islands. The thing is, in summer that's not exactly cheap.

Have you considered driving across the south of Canada and flying home? There's lots to do in Canada in the summer. And every kid should see as much of their country as possible.

Posted by
9883 posts

Consider Switzerland. Although some things there are famously expensive (particularly restaurants and museums), apartment rentals and supermarkets are very reasonable. And children travel free if adults get rail passes. So, if you only go to restaurants occasionally, and focus on the outdoors (easy in summer), Switzerland need not be expensive for a family.

Scandinavia is also expensive, but summer is a great time to go. I don't know the particulars, but I assume it's similar to Switzerland - there are probably ways to economize if you rent apartments and utilize supermarkets as much as possible.

Scotland is not expensive compared to those two, and again, summer is a good time to go. Edinburgh and Glasgow alone will keep you busy for a while, and then there are all those castles, hikes, lakes, islands, etc.

Posted by
4121 posts

Cuba. India. China. Africa.

See some poverty and be grateful you can fly anywhere in the world for free.

Posted by
79 posts

I vote for Japan! The Japanese love children! There are so many activities geared toward children you will have more than enough to do and sightseeing to occupy your time there. Get the Japanese Rail Pass and you can go almost anywhere. From origami, to paper making, to manga, to no melt ice cream, to the Nara deer petting park (polite deer), to Hiroshima and Nagasaki (in the south), to geishas, arcades buildings, I could go on. Do not take my word for it, just Google Japan and children activities. You will love it as much as your children. The Japanese are polite, quiet, respectful and for the most part very honest. They are a very giving society so make room for lots of unplanned/unpurchased souvenirs. Having said all that, have you asked your children where they would like to go?

Best of travels where ever you choose to land!

Posted by
531 posts

We are in the same boat. My husband is Diamond on Delta every year. We have a 3 and 4, almost 5 year old. Right now we base everything on what the youngest can handle. He’s a super active boy, NOT fit for more than 2 hours on a plane. My eldest daughter I’m taking to Paris in April for her 5th birthday. She’s content watching movies and coloring the whole way. I’m sure you know this but I’d base it on that. Hopefully you are one of the few without that restriction. I’ve seen them and they do exist :) We are beach and Disneyworld people until my boy can handle a flight longer than 2 hours. We are going to test it early summer with a two flight 5 hour trip to the Caribbean. Thankfully those miles don’t expire and we can save them for when the time is right. That said, we are saving our miles for Nairobi, Kenya and the Masai hopefully in a few years and breaking up the flight with a few days each way in Europe.

Posted by
29261 posts

kristy,

With free airfare anywhere, that leaves lots of possibilities. A few thoughts......

  • What do the children like to do - beach time, amusement parks or other? Ideally it should be a location that will have something for all of you.
  • Are there any countries in Europe that you haven't been to?
  • Are there any countries that you feel that you didn't see enough of, and would like to return to?
  • Iceland, Greenland and the Scandinavian countries are probably not a good choice as they tend to be expensive.
  • If you decide to try a country a bit off the beaten path, I would highly recommend checking the Government of Canada website to determine if there are any risks in travelling to that country (as you might have heard on the news recently, Burkina Faso and Syria should definitely NOT be on the list).
  • Be sure to check both the "safety aspect" as well as possible medical issues in less developed countries. This sort of thing can be a problem especially in tropical countries.
  • Some countries may not be a good choice in summer. Cuba is one example, but this could apply to other countries in the Caribbean....

"Hurricane season officially runs from 1 June to 30 November, but the chances of a tropical storm impacting on your holiday are highly unlikely in June or July."

One option to consider would be to find one or two small towns in countries you've enjoyed in the past (France, Italy, Switzerland?) and use those as "home bases" and live like locals. If you can find an apartment or small house at a reasonable rate, costs for food should be quite reasonable. If your children are in French Immersion at home, France would be a good place to get some practice.

Good luck with your choice!

Posted by
786 posts

We were in Cambodia and Vietnam in April 2018. It was extremely hot and humid. I can’t imagine what it would be like in the summer.

Posted by
3570 posts

We were in Cambodia and Vietnam in April 2018. It was extremely hot and humid. I can’t imagine what it would be like in the summer.

No need to imagine anything. You experienced it. April IS the height of 'summer' there (the hottest month)...so close to the equator, the "seasons" that those of us who live in more temperate climates think of don't really correspond to anything there.

There's a reason that Thailand's traditional "New Year" -- Songkran holiday -- (mid-April) is celebrated by throwing water on everybody you encounter on the street. It's bloody hot then! Of course, by most of our standards, it's pretty intensely hot and humid there year 'round....but the heat/humidity peaks in April.

Posted by
713 posts

I'd vote for Costa Rica. It's very eco-conscious. There is so much biodiversity to see and experience. You have wildlife, hanging bridges, volcanoes, beaches & really good, inexpensive food. Plus, the US $ is accepted almost everywhere.

Posted by
726 posts

South-east Asia.

I can only vouch for Thailand out of personal experience, but Vietnam should be on it's way up.

Make the most of your free airfare and stay in cheap Thailand - or half as expensive Vietnam.

Posted by
2024 posts

How about somewhere in southern or eastern Africa for a family safari, like Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana or South Africa, or thereabouts?

I would visit Africa since normally travel is so expensive to that part of the world. Or Australia featuring Cairns and Ayres Rock since that is the season, also Sydney is always in season, but your points would have to cover internal flights. Brazil works if you can deal with the crime uncertainty.

About NZ: It's a great location and especially for kids, but having just returned it isn't particularly cheap as implied above, but less than a lot of Europe. Fuel is double the cost of Canada, food a bit more and the roads aren't great (sometimes worse than the Scottish Highlands) so it takes a long, long time to drive around much of the South Island and even parts of the North Island like the Coromandal Peninsula.

Check out this main highway, Hwy 6, for a section it's not even 1 proper lane wide.
https://www.google.com/maps/@-41.8645892,171.7791733,3a,75y,103.07h,91.49t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfuBBWFf5Km0k6T1pMR6O9g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Also, what pool of points are we talking about? Star Alliance points get you to New Zealand (relatively) fast via Chicago or Houston nonstops, Skyteam or Oneworld wouldn't work as well since would have to detour to the West Coast first, or Australia, or both. But if you have a lot of points the lie flat seats on the 15 hour flights would be great for kids. Edit: There are no good flights from Ottawa to connect to the Chicago or Houston nonstops.