20 Safe Travel Destinations Your Kids Will Love

Traveling with young children means watching as your kids are exposed to new cultures, new foods, and new activities. These trips early on will no-doubt have a positive effect on the rest of their lives.

Safety becomes a main concern when considering where to take your traveling tot. What are the safest travel destinations in the world? If a country is considered safe enough that you and your family can take normal travel precautions, are there things to do there with young kids?

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report (2017) and the Institute for Economics and Peace’s (IEP) Global Peace Index (2018), these are the world’s safest countries.

These rankings are supplemented by data from the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories page and the “Crime and Criminal Justice” section of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) website to illustrate their suitability for tourists.

To top it off, we’ve added helpful resources to each country listing that will provide you with international travel safety tips and ideas for family-friendly activities to keep your youngsters entertained.

1. Finland

Finland

This Nordic country tops the “Safety and Security” index in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, and ranks 15th in the IEP Global Peace Index. With bustling cities and a vast countryside, you’ll only have to worry about how many experiences you can fit into a single trip! Your kids will definitely want to meet Santa Claus in the winter, but there are plenty of child-friendly activities to do in the summer as well.

Resources for Families Traveling to Finland

Crime Rates in Finland Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 - 28.40
  • Kidnapping: 2015 - 0.02
  • Theft: 2015 - 1,770.96
  • Robbery: 2015 - 28.16
  • Burglary: 2015 - 510.97

U.S. Department of State

2. United Arab Emirates

UAE

Although most people envision unstable governments when they think of the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates ranks #2 for “Safety and Security” on the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. Heeding the U.S. Department of State’s cautions below, this destination promises a mix of architectural feats and rolling dunes guaranteed to amaze even the smallest of travelers. 

Resources For Families Traveling to the United Arab Emirates

Helen Maffini is the director of the blog Family Travel Scoop. She offers these words of wisdom about traveling in the United Arab Emirates:

UAE is a very safe country. Wear modest clothing – although the UAE is a modern country, it is a Muslim country, and you must wear modest clothing (meaning shoulders covered, knee length skirts, etc.). Book tours and guides from reliable companies. Don’t go off with people on tours if you are not 100% sure they are regulated tour guides.”


Crime Rates in the United Arab Emirates Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 - 3.49
  • Kidnapping: 2015 - 0.90
  • Theft: 2015 - 67.83
  • Robbery: 2015 - 9.02
  • Burglary: 2015 - 17.01

U.S. Department of State

In regards to terrorism, U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness, even though law enforcement units have effectively demonstrated the capacity to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism. This concern is caused by the global threat of terrorism, including the possibility of terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula.

Historical and current information suggests that ISIS, al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks on Western targets. Maintain a low profile, varying routes and times of travel, and treating unfamiliar mail and packages with caution.

Know that the Iranian Coast Guard has frequently detained small, expatriate, recreational boaters in past years, due to a long-standing dispute concerning the jurisdiction of Abu Musa between the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Fishing or sailing in these waters may result in seizure of vessels and detention of passengers and crew in Iran.

U.S. citizens, and especially women, should take precautions against the possibility of verbal and physical harassment or sexual assault when walking alone, consuming alcohol, and riding in a taxi cab.

3. Iceland

Iceland

It’s no surprise that Iceland is at the top of this list. In this country “Icelanders feel safe letting their children roam free,” so you can rest assured that Iceland is one of the safest travel destinations, as well as a great destination for your kids. What’s more, this island (which also ranks 1st on the Global Peace Index) is a nature-lover’s dream, with natural sights and experiences to go around.

Resources for Families Traveling to Iceland

Crime Rates in Iceland Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 25.8
  • Kidnapping: no data
  • Theft: 2015 – 1,223.95
  • Robbery: 2015 – 16.09
  • Burglary: 2015 – 43

U.S. Department of State

Eric, co-founder of Iceland With Kids, knows a thing or two about safety in Iceland:

You’re responsible for your own safety while you’re in the beautiful Icelandic outdoors. Tourists from the United States may be used to any unsafe areas being physically inaccessible—blocked by a fence or other barricade. In Iceland, you may only get a warning sign; take that warning sign seriously! For example, consider the black sand beach Reynisfjara. There is a sign warning you about the "sneaker waves"—occasionally, one wave is dramatically more powerful than any recent wave.Those waves can knock you off your feet, or push you into the rocks behind. Make sure you stay well away from the water—much further than you would think necessary!
Bring lots of Cell phones. Your kids may or may not have cell phones to use at home. But because Iceland is so safe, you may want to let your kids walk around by themselves. During a walking tour of Reykjavik, our tour guide mentioned how her 8-year-old loves spending time by himself in the city! And our kids loved the freedom to walk to the local hot dog stand and buy food with Icelandic cash.But you’ll want them to have their own cell phones. Bring an unlocked phone and buy an Icelandic SIM card. Or see if your carrier offers reasonable international plans. See more details here.
Make sure you understand F roads. F roads are mountain paths, only open in the summer, and only accessible to 4 wheel drive vehicles. Many tourists don’t venture on to F roads—there’s more than enough to see on the regular roads!But, Google Maps and most other mapping programs don’t know about F roads. Ask for a route to, say, Þórsmörk, and Google Maps will happily show you the way. But the roads it takes you on are closed most the year, and impassible for almost all vehicles. Be sure to check the route before you go!"

4. Oman

Oman

Just like UAE, Oman is located on the Arabian Peninsula, which travelers often think of as unsafe given its neighboring countries (Yemen and Saudi Arabia). But, keeping in mind the U.S. Department of State’s notes on safety and security below, Oman is a family-friendly oasis on the Peninsula, with warm waters and sandy deserts that make for an adventure-filled family vacation.

Resources for Families Traveling to Oman

Crime Rates in Oman Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2008 – 78.54
  • Kidnapping: 2008 – 0.34
  • Theft: 2008 – 207.93
  • Robbery: 2008 – 9.61
  • Burglary: no data

U.S. Department of State

While there have been no terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens in Oman, regionally, terrorists continue to target U.S. and Western interests in the Middle East and North Africa.

According to the United States Maritime Administration, U.S. flag vessels in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions face an elevated risk of attacks by violent extremists.

5. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

According to the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, Hong Kong is the fifth safest country in the world. An international city generally popular with business travelers, Hong Kong has many kid-friendly attractions. With multiple amusement parks, including Hong Kong Disneyland, this Asian destination is sure to please both parents and kids.

Resources for Families Traveling to Hong Kong

Katie Dillon, author of luxury travel blog La Jolla Mom, offers her advice for staying safe with kids in Hong Kong:

Hong Kong is a fantastic family vacation destination. The advice I have for staying safe in Hong Kong is similar to the advice I'd give families traveling to any big city. The sidewalks and crosswalks can be crowded, so it's especially important to keep kids from wandering too far ahead or behind.

It also helps to forward-think transportation in Hong Kong. Car seats aren't required in taxis, so families may want to carry a small travel booster seat or opt for the MTR trains and walking to get around. I do also quite like temporary ID bracelets or tattoos that allow parents to mark contact information on the kids in case of separation. I also would put hotel information on there, too.”

Crime Rates in Hong Kong Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2013 – 92.45
  • Kidnapping: 2013 – 0.01
  • Theft: 2013 – 441.07
  • Robbery: 2013 – 6.98
  • Burglary: 2013 – 49.87

U.S. Department of State

6. Singapore

Singapore

Widely recognized as a clean, safe country, Singapore is a great destination for a family vacation. Singapore offers a unique mix of “concrete jungle and real jungle” and plenty of kid-friendly activities, like educational tours, science centers, and zoos. Want an added bit of assurance? It’s ranked 8th on the Global Peace Index.

Resources for Families Traveling to Singapore

Crime Rates in Singapore Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 8.44
  • Kidnapping: no data
  • Theft: 2015 – 265.98
  • Robbery: 2015 – 2.19
  • Burglary: 2015 – 4.46

U.S. Department of State

7. Norway

Norway

Another Nordic country at the top for “Safety and Security” in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and the Global Peace Index is Norway. Norwegian tourism is centered on the assumption that domestic tourists are traveling as families, making it that much more family-friendly for international visitors.  With an abundance of beautiful Fjords and world-class museums, Norway is a perfect destination to expose your child to both nature and culture.

Resources for Families Traveling to Norway

Crime Rates in Norway Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2014 – 46.17
  • Kidnapping: no data
  • Theft: 2014 – 2,193.66
  • Robbery: 2014 – 20.65
  • Burglary: 2014 – 289.24

U.S. Department of State

8. Switzerland

Switzerland

Filled with gorgeous mountains and enchanting villages, Switzerland is one of the safest countries in Europe. It ranks in the top 10 for “Safety and Security,” according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, and 12th on the Global Peace Index. Cheap train travel for kids and close proximity to popular European destinations makes Switzerland a perfect stop for families of all ages.

Resources for Families Traveling to Switzerland

Crime Rates in Switzerland Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 7.42
  • Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.05
  • Theft: 2015 – 1,759.63
  • Robbery: 2015 – 51
  • Burglary: 2015 – 633.46

U.S. Department of State

9. Rwanda

Rwanda

Rwanda is often associated with genocide and instability. However, in the 20+ years since the Rwandan genocide, it has become a much safer destination, according to the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.

Travel and Leisure highlights that, although Rwanda doesn’t have the lowest terrorism index or rate of homicide, police response is reliable, the business cost of terrorism is low, and so are the business costs of crime and violence. Paying attention to the U.S. Department of State’s notes below, this African destination is a place you shouldn’t feel the need to shy away from, and it provides kids with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like going on safari.

Resources for Families Traveling to Rwanda

Crime Rates in Rwanda Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2013 – 29.78
  • Kidnapping: 2013 – 0.19
  • Theft: no data
  • Robbery: 2013 – 25.02
  • Burglary: 2012 – 21.86

U.S. Department of State

Borders in Rwanda may close without notice. Travelers should beware of the following security conditions:

  • Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo Border: Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers continue combat operations against rebel and militia groups in North and South Kivu provinces. Violence, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging targeting civilians sporadically occurs. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda operates in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, near the border.
  • Volcanoes National Park/Nyungwe Forest: Armed groups operate on the Democratic Republic of Congo side of the park (Virunga). Exercise extreme caution, as the border may not be clearly marked. Additionally, you should obtain a permit from the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks before entering.

Avoid demonstrations and remain vigilant while traveling, especially outside of cities and along border areas. Most reported incidents of crime involve petty theft and residential and hotel room robberies. Avoid walking alone after dark, do not display cash and valuables, drive with the doors locked and windows closed, and always carry a copy of your passport and visa, with original documents in a secure location.

10. Qatar

Qatar

Rounding out the top 10 on the “Safety and Security” index in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, Qatar is a Gulf nation that illustrates true Arabian hospitality. Acknowledging the U.S. Department of State’s safety suggestions below, this family-oriented country boasts a variety of cuisines, beaches, and adventures, making it an exhilarating destination for families of all ages.

Resources for Families Traveling to Qatar

Crime Rates in Qatar Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: no data
  • Kidnapping: no data
  • Theft: no data
  • Robbery: no data
  • Burglary: no data

U.S. Department of State

Terrorist groups are very active in the Middle East and North Africa, and there is concern about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests in the region. Government officials in the region are concerned about the potential return of foreign fighters following ISIS’s territorial losses in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. ISIS, al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations reportedly continue to plan attacks within the region against Westerners.

Practice personal security measures at all times. Monitor local media broadcasts and consular messages, vary travel routes and times when possible, and be aware of your surroundings and local events. You should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, labor or work camps, and venues and events frequented by Westerners.

11. Portugal

Portugal

Ranked 11th for “Safety and Security” by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and 4th on the Global Peace Index, Portugal is one of the safest destinations, which makes it perfect for your next trip with the kids. Portugal has a range of sights and activities that will keep your kids entertained for days. Visit the Algarve for a bounty of beaches, zoos, and water parks, or Lisbon, which is home to castles that will inspire the imaginations of your traveling toddlers.

Resources for Families Traveling to Portugal

Crime Rates in Portugal Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 4.53
  • Kidnapping: 2015 – 3.57
  • Theft: 2015 – 834.96
  • Robbery: 2015 – 149.49
  • Burglary: 2015 – 283.93

U.S. Department of State

12. Luxembourg

Luxembourg

The tiny country of Luxembourg is considered extremely safe, as well as child friendly (Luxembourg has hundreds of specially conceived play areas just for kids). The Last Grand Duchy in the world, this tiny European country offers close proximity to other top European destinations, as well as a diverse cultural experience. Kids can enjoy castles, museums, and an impressive amount of playgrounds.

Resources for Families Traveling to Luxembourg

Crime Rates in Luxembourg Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2014 – 572.61
  • Kidnapping: 2014 – 9.34
  • Theft: 2014 – 1,843.24
  • Robbery: 2014 – 110.50
  • Burglary: 2014 – 784.80

U.S. Department of State

13. New Zealand

New Zealand

Coming in as the 13th safest country, according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, New Zealand is a dream for families. With a second-place ranking on the Global Peace Index, a moderate climate, and far fewer critters that can bite and sting compared to its neighbor, Australia, New Zealand is perfect for young travelers. This country is ripe with wildlife parks and nature-focused activities that will certainly introduce your kids to the wonders of the natural world.

Resources for Families Traveling to New Zealand

Crime Rates in New Zealand Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2014 – 220.12
  • Kidnapping: 2014 –5.23
  • Theft: 2013 – 2,280.13
  • Robbery: 2014 – 44.85
  • Burglary: 2013 – 1,170.07

U.S. Department of State

14. Austria

Austria

This central European country is an ideal destination for safe international travel with kids. With its top-5 ranking on the Global Peace Index, pedestrian-friendly cities, and an abundance of kid-oriented activities, you’ll be singing Austria’s safety praises like the Von Trapp family in no time.

Resources for Families Traveling to Austria

Crime Rates in Austria Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 40.51
  • Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.04
  • Theft: 2015 – 1,630.94
  • Robbery: 2015 – 39.98
  • Burglary: 2015 – 748.58

U.S. Department of State

15. Estonia

Estonia

Far beyond its involvement as a Soviet Socialist Republic, Estonia is now a member of the European Union. The country also ranks 15th for “Safety and Security,” according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. While this country’s unique history is a draw for older travelers, there are plenty of ways to keep your younger kids entertained on vacation to this Baltic State. Estonia is home to interactive museums, plenty of castles, and toddler-friendly beaches.

Resources for Families Traveling to Estonia

Crime Rates in Estonia Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 7.47
  • Kidnapping: 2015 – 0
  • Theft: 2015 – 865.03
  • Robbery: 2015 – 25.68
  • Burglary: no data

U.S. Department of State

16. Sweden

Sweden

This Scandinavian country is known for being safe and especially kid-friendly. Just like its neighbor Norway, Sweden’s domestic travel industry is curated around children’s interests. Most museums in Sweden are free for kids under 18, and activities are generally designed with kids in mind, making it particularly easy to explore with young kids.

Resources for Families Traveling to Sweden

Crime Rates in Sweden Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 47.36
  • Kidnapping: no data
  • Theft: 2015 – 3,815.46
  • Robbery: 2015 – 86.52
  • Burglary: 2015 – 920.90

U.S. Department of State

17. Slovenia

Slovenia

This Central European country ranks 17th for “Safety and Security” on the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and 11th on the Global Peace Index. But its friendly locals and breadth of kid-friendly attractions are what make Slovenia a great family destination. The country is home to plenty of outdoor activities, interactive museums, and both beaches and mountains dying to be explored.

Resources for Families Traveling to Slovenia

Sarah-Jane Begonja of Chasing the Donkey calls attention to some things to look out for while traveling in Slovenia:

Slovenia is as safe as houses for all kinds of travelers - all year round. That being said, traveling to any new place requires you to be conscious of a few things. One stand out about Slovenia is that it can get hectic in the old town of Ljubljana. Be wary of keeping your bags close by and your children in sight, as it’s a small place with many tourists, and it's easy to be pickpocketed by scrupulous thieves taking advantage of day trippers. Other than that, enjoy all that Slovenia has to offer.”

Crime Rates in Slovenia Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 74.49
  • Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.15
  • Theft: 2015 – 1,102.67
  • Robbery: 2015 – 11.22
  • Burglary: 2015 – 495.81

U.S. Department of State

18. Spain

Spain

Spain has a high “Safety and Security” ranking and a top 30 placement on the Global Peace Index. This European country has easily-accessible transportation and food that will satisfy all ages. Plus, it is filled with family-friendly activities, like beautiful beaches and museums that regularly offer free admission to children under 5.

Be warned – though this destination is generally family-friendly, dinner in Spain often takes place late at night. Make sure to give your little ones a nap during the day, and some snacks to tide them over until it’s time to eat. 

Resources for Families Traveling to Spain

Crime Rates in Spain Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 63
  • Kidnapping: 2015 – 0.20
  • Theft: 2015 – 446.10
  • Robbery: 2015 – 140.02
  • Burglary: 2015 – 428.06

U.S. Department of State

19. Netherlands

Netherlands

With a laid-back family feel, the Netherlands is perfect for a family vacation. Ranking 19th for “Safety and Security” in the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report and 23rd on the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands offers kids of all ages a safe way to experience enchanting windmills, renowned museums, and a theme park specifically based on children’s fairytales.

Resources for Families Traveling to Netherlands

Crime Rates in the Netherlands Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2015 – 281.80
  • Kidnapping: 2015 – 2.45
  • Theft: 2015 – 3,214.78
  • Robbery: 2015 – 56.81
  • Burglary: 2015 – 1,347.92

U.S. Department of State

20. Morocco

Morocco

Rounding out our list of safe countries (and how to visit them as a family) is Morocco. Respecting the U.S. Department of State’s notes below, this northern African country prides itself on tolerance and openness, and children are always a welcome sight. Due to its combination of climates, Morocco offers unique experiences for families unlike any other country on this list, like walks through lush gardens, exciting camel treks, and relaxing afternoons on the Mediterranean coast.

Resources for Families Traveling to Morocco

Crime Rates in Morocco Per 100,000 Population

  • Assault: 2013 – 202.56
  • Kidnapping: 2013 – 2.91
  • Theft: 2013 – 322.32
  • Robbery: 2013 – 44.41
  • Burglary: 2013 – 26.49

U.S. Department of State

There is potential for terrorist violence against U.S. interests and citizens in Morocco. Moroccan authorities continue to disrupt groups seeking to attack U.S. or Western-affiliated and Moroccan government targets. It is important for U.S. citizens to be aware of their surroundings and adhere to security practices, such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile.

Establishments identifiable with the United States are potential targets for attacks. All U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments.

The issue of legal territory status and sovereignty in the Western Sahara remains unsolved. A cease-fire has been in effect between the Moroccan government and the POLISARIO Front since 1991 in the UN-administered area. However, there are thousands of unexploded mines in the Western Sahara and in areas of Mauritania adjacent to the Western Saharan border.

Additional Tips & Resources

To further enhance your feeling of security while traveling with your kids, consider enrolling in the U.S. Department of State’s S.T.E.P. program. This Safe Traveler Enrollment Program allows U.S. citizens to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to get important safety information regarding their destination. It also helps the Embassy or Consulate contact you in case of an emergency involving natural disaster, civil unrest, or your family members back home.

For additional warnings on travel conditions for specific countries, you can also check out the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories. The U.S. Department of State categorizes countries based on levels of precaution that should be taken when traveling to a certain country. Level 1 means you should exercise normal travel precautions, whereas Level 4 indicates you should not travel to that country at this time.

The U.S. Department of State also encourages you to check your health insurance to determine whether you’re covered abroad.

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