With 38 flights covering close to 90,000 km and 10 countries in Asia, Europe and North America, 2016 was a year full of discovery, connection, and learning. From miles of memories, these are our top family travel experiences of 2016.
Venturing in Hanoi, Vietnam
In Vietnam’s capital city, there are almost as many motorcycles as households, and traffic is unruly – at least by North American standards. Here crossing the street often means stepping off the curb into a tide of oncoming motorcycles. I didn’t believe it was survivable, but it is – we tried it many times! Maintain a steady pace in a predictable direction (don’t dramatically alter your course) while crossing the street, the bikes accelerate or decelerate and move around the pedestrians. It’s incredible.
Where to Stay in Hanoi, Vietnam
Discovering Hong Kong
It didn’t take me long to wonder why I hadn’t been to Hong Kong sooner. A city that according to one of my children, “looks so modern, but is so old” has become one of my favourite destinations. The shimmering skyscrapers, melt-in-your-mouth egg tarts, and leafy Victoria Peak are just a few reasons to visit this former British colony. Here are a few more of the things I love about Hong Kong.
Where to Stay Hong Kong
Staying in Maui’s Kapalua Bay Resort
I have visited but never stayed in Maui’s Kapalua Bay Resort area, located on the north-west part of the island, until this past year. I discovered an old Hawaii vibe, spectacular beaches, and a variety of hiking trails of 2016. This is an excellent family vacation destination.
Where to Stay in Kapalua Bay
Rediscovering Four Seasons Lanai
Lana’i is one of the smallest inhabited islands in Hawaii, with 30 miles of paved roads and not a single stop light. We began visiting Lana’i in 2005, shortly after Four Seasons began managing the two resorts on the island.
This year we returned to the recently renovated beachfront Four Seasons Resort Lana’i and were thrilled to discover that the thoughtfully redesigned property is more authentic and better than ever.
Where to Stay on Lanai
Learning at the Tower of London
We took the boys to London for the first time in June 2016. A highlight was touring the Tower of London with Context Travel – it was the perfect way to slip in some learning while exploring a London landmark.
Where to Stay in London
Mountain Biking in Santa Eulària, Ibiza
On Ibiza, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, we cycled past chest-high wild rosemary bushes, through pine-scented forests, and along oceanside trails. It was one of our top family travel experiences ever.
Where to Stay in Santa Eulària, Ibiza
We stayed in two different properties on Ibiza – one in the country and one at the beach. They were both ok, but not hotels I recommend. My best advice is to rent a private villa on the island or visit an official tourism website like this one.
Walking on Christo’s Floating Piers
For 16 days, Lake Iseo, located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, was transformed by Christo’s spectacular art installation – The Floating Piers. I expect this is the closest we will ever come to walking on water.
Making Cheese in Vorarlberg, Austria
In the westernmost part of Austria, we walked through flower-filled mountain pastures to Alpe Wildmoos, an alpine dairy where aromatic silo-free milk is processed into handmade products using traditional methods. Here we heard all about the cheese production process, visited the aromatic cheese cellar, and sampled many local delicacies.
Where to Stay in Vorarlberg, Austria
Boating in Zurich, Switzerland
We love Zurich in the summer and often begin or end our European vacation in this lakefront city. A highlight is often renting a four-person pedalo (pedal-operated boat) on Lake Zurich. The kids drive the boat, and we soak up the sun with a cold beverage (available for purchase at the boat rental). On a sunny summer day, it is easily one of our top family travel experiences.
Where to Stay in Zurich, Switzerland
Flying SWISS First Class
Soaking up the Sun in Scottsdale, Arizona
For a last blast of summer, we spent a week hiking, biking and soaking up Scottsdale’s abundant sunshine. This wasn’t the first time we visited Arizona during late summer and I hope it wasn’t the last! Sun-filled days followed by star-filled nights – it is a fabulous family vacation.
Where to Stay in Scottsdale, Arizona
Experiencing Angkor Wat
Siem Reap, Cambodia was our last stop in 2016. Here we walked among ancient Khmer temples in Angkor Park, home to famous Angkor Wat and over 400 other temples.
Kayaking on Tonle Sap Lake
Leaving the tourists behind at busy Angkor Park, we joined Smiling Albino, who offer tailored adventures in Asia, and kayaked on Tonle Sap Lake. We paddled through floating villages and learnt about life in rural Cambodia. The contrast between urban living and life on Tonle Sap Lake provided a thought-provoking conclusion to a year of memorable family travel experiences.
After celebrating the arrival of 2017 in Cambodia, we traveled to Vietnam and Hong Kong before returning home to Canada. Now I am busy planning our travels for 2017 and hoping for many more top family travel experiences! Do you any recommendations on places we should visit in 2017?