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I've visited 93 countries, 57 of them with kids. These 5 underrated spots are great places to enjoy with your family.

Alcynna Lloyd   

I've visited 93 countries, 57 of them with kids. These 5 underrated spots are great places to enjoy with your family.
  • Karen Edwards has traveled to 93 countries, and 57 of them have been with her young children.
  • Edwards said that her family has had more fun exploring underrated spots than the popular ones.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Karen Edwards, who blogs about her family's travels around the world. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Since 2000, I've visited 93 countries and 57 of them have been with my four children who are all under the age of 10.

I am a nurse by background, but I have been blogging about traveling with my husband and kids since 2014. I cover a lot of off-the-beaten-track destinations and write itineraries for places I've been to, explaining how they work for families with children.

Many popular family destinations tend to be overcrowded. They're usually the ones that get a lot of media exposure or are shown in viral videos on social media. In America, it'd be places like Disneyland in California or Disney World in Florida, while for Europeans, it might be some of the Spanish resort areas.

Although my family and I have visited these places, we have always come away disappointed. They often lack educational experiences, feeling like pointless affairs.

I think traveling to underrated spots makes trips feel more exclusive and you can learn more about the cultures of the countries you visit — it also keeps you away from tourist traps.

We went on a safari tour in Tanzania

Our family visited Tanzania in 2019 in collaboration with a tourism brand. We were there for 12 days.

Our flights to the country were kind of expensive; we paid about $9,000 for our then-family of four, including a stop in Zanzibar at the end of the trip for a few days. However, overall, the entire trip didn't end up costing us that much.

We had some really unique experiences in Tanzania. We went to Mto Wa Mbu village, which is beneath a banana plantation, and we went on a safari tour in its Lake Manyara National Park.

Interestingly, Tanzania is one of the few places in the world where lions are known to climb trees. I remember seeing them sit in tall trees; it was quite unusual, but my kids really enjoyed how close they were to the animals.

Throughout our trip, we actually felt like we were experiencing life in Tanzania. Our campsite was on a river's edge in the depths of nature. It was nice not to feel surrounded by tourists.

My kids fell in love with Abu Dhabi's culture

Many people mistakenly believe that Dubai is a country, but in reality, it's a city in the United Arab Emirates, with Abu Dhabi being its capital.

My family and I moved to Abu Dhabi in 2021 and lived there for 18 months. The city does have a lot of similarities to glitzy and glam Dubai, but you get a more down-to-earth experience.

There are amazing festivals in Abu Dhabi where they display their culture in different formats, whether that be through local food or crafts. It does feel authentic because it's usually mainly locals participating and organizing them.

The city sits at the foot of Jebel Hafeet, one of the tallest mountains in the region. Along the way up, you'll find many ancient artifacts, such as beehive huts, which have been there for thousands of years. At the top, you can watch incredible sunsets.

The city also has the Al Ain Oasis, which uses an ancient irrigation system. It has these beautiful paved pathways that look like cobbled streets.

My kids loved Abu Dhabi and are constantly asking me to go back — they really liked all the cultural celebrations.

We love Sri Lanka so much, we're building a villa there

In 2022, my family and I moved to Sri Lanka from Abu Dhabi. We thought we'd have more family time here, and it was going to be an affordable place to live.

We're building a family-friendly villa here that should be completed by August. The area where we are building has a lot of nice cafes, bars, and restaurants nearby.

Overall, Sri Lanka is an amazing country that has so many diverse experiences. There are tea plantations, mountains, and beaches. As for wildlife, their national parks have loads of elephants and leopards.

On one occasion, we went on a safari boat tour to an isolated national park where we watched elephants swim across a lake and onto a tiny island. It was amazing.

The beaches in Sri Lanka are pristine. They have beautiful scenery with swaying coconut palm trees, clear water, and perfect waves. Our favorite is Kabalana Beach.

Because we're always on the beach, my children have learned how to surf. I think it's the most fun thing that we do on the weekends as a family.

The ski resorts and spas are amazing in Andorra

We visited Andorra in 2018 for about six days. It's a tiny country nestled in the Pyrenees between Spain. It's a two-hour drive from Barcelona and three hours from Toulouse, France.

The city has a unique fusion of cultures, though I think Catalonian is the strongest influence. During our trip, my family and I toured many ancient churches.

We also went to some amazing spas and resorts in Andorra. The hotel and ski system there is really family-friendly.

During our visit to the Grandvalira ski resort, my daughter learned how to ski and my husband got to snowboard — the resort has a kindergarten at the foot of its mountain, where kids can play or ski.

Andorra also has amazing spa facilities that are suitable for families and are sectioned off for different age groups.

Our trip was in collaboration with Andorra's tourism board, but I feel like it wasn't overly expensive in comparison to some other places around the world.

I was treated like family in Macedonia

Macedonia is a Balkan country just north of Greece. I haven't been there with children, but I wouldn't have any issues taking my kids there.

It has many beautiful small villages and it's great for skiing too.

The country is also home to one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe named Lake Orchid, which borders Albania. There's this beautiful, small village on the lake that has charming restaurant and a lovely atmosphere for relaxing and enjoying good food.

I visited the country in 2008, and then again in 2012 with my then-boyfriend and now-husband.

The first time I visited, I went with two girlfriends, and we were backpackers. We arrived in the middle of the night by bus and had no idea what we were doing. The bus driver just made a call, and a stranger came and picked us up in his car — I thought I was going to die.

The opposite happened. He took us back to his home with his family, and we stayed there with them for a few days. We ended up extending the trip because he and his family were so amazing.

They didn't speak a word of English, and we couldn't speak a word of their language either. We'd just gesture at each other, and they'd give us food and red wine.

I just totally fell in love with them and their country.



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