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5 Spring Break Family Vacations Abroad Worth Taking in 2024

family with outstretched arms on a scenic cliff overlooking the ocean

Spring break is knocking on the door, and if you’re staring at the calendar wondering where the time went, you’re not alone. For parents in the sprint to plan a last-minute getaway that’s better than the cookie-cutter vacation ideas, this guide is your treasure map to spots where adventure and relaxation collide.

And if the passport situation is more “pending” than “ready to go,” don’t fret—we’ve got the expert advice to navigate you through getting those passports in record time.

1. Riviera Maya, Mexico – Where Adventures, History, and Family Fun Unfold

family sitting poolside looking at the Gulf of Mexico from their Riviera Maya hotel

Riviera Maya serves up history and adventure with a side of natural beauty that’s hard to beat. What’s more, it is within driving distance of a wide variety of sites and activities your whole family will enjoy.

Family-Friendly Things to See and Do:

  • Nohoch Mul Pyramid – You and your family can ascend the Nohoch Mul pyramid at Coba — it’s like a stairway to the heavens, except it leads to breathtaking views of the jungle. It’s hands-on history, with a view that makes the climb totally worth it.

    If you’re looking for a respite after your expedition, there are plenty of quality resorts and spas nearby that can help give you a quick rejuvenation before your return to Riviera Maya.
  • El Castillo pyramid – A 2-hour drive away from Riviera Maya is Chichen Itza. There, the El Castillo pyramid stands as a monumental tribute to the Mayans’ architectural and astronomical prowess. With or without the special effects of celestial events, this pyramid captivates visitors with its imposing size and intricate design.

    Walking around this ancient wonder, you’re immersed in the world of the Mayans, where architecture wasn’t just about building structures but also about capturing the universe’s mysteries. The precision and scale of El Castillo are enough to make anyone appreciate the advanced skills of its builders, showcasing a civilization far ahead of its time.
  • The Great Maya Reef – Any diving enthusiast will tell you, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive in the Great Maya Reef. Everywhere you look, fish dart around in technicolor and coral formations tell tales of an incredible underwater world. It’s a live-action Discovery Channel, no subscription required.
  • Xcaret Eco-Park – The Xcaret Eco-Park is a cultural kaleidoscope, offering a peek into Mexico’s rich heritage and breathtaking environments. From the gravity-defying “Voladores” performance to the tranquil rivers winding through ancient forests, it’s a place where tradition and nature intertwine, giving your family an opportunity to experience the blend of Mexico’s vivid environmental and cultural landscapes.

    Opting for an all-inclusive stay at the highly rated Hotel Xcaret gives you access to all the nearby parks have to offer as well as breathtaking room views and free amenities like airport shuttle service. It’s a great option for families looking for a quick and easy Mexican getaway at the last minute!

Riviera Maya strikes a great balance for a family of travelers. In some regards, it’s the ultimate classroom, minus the walls, where each cultural experience is a lesson in the cool kind of history — the kind you want to dive into, climb up, and explore from the inside out.

On the flip side, there’s plenty of opportunity for rest and relaxation between excursions at any number of family-friendly resorts in the area.

Quick Travel Document Check:

For more information, visit our complete guide to Mexico’s entry requirements.

2. Vancouver, Canada – A Welcoming City Wrapped in Wilderness

people walking together along the waterside boardwalk in Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a playground where urban sophistication meets outdoor living, offering a myriad of activities that cater to every member of the family. Its unique blend of cityscapes and natural landscapes makes it an ideal spot for families seeking a diverse vacation experience.

Family-Friendly Things to See and Do:

  • Stanley Park: Hop on bikes with the family and pedal around this urban oasis. Stanley Park is not just any city park; it’s a lush, green wonderland encircled by the famous Vancouver Seawall, offering stunning views of the city, mountains, and ocean. For those accustomed to cities in the U.S., it’s easy to forget you are in the middle of Canada’s third-largest metropolis.
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: Step onto the Capilano Suspension Bridge and walk among the treetops. This swaying bridge offers a unique perspective of the rainforest and the rushing river below. It’s a thrilling walk in the clouds, without the need for a plane ticket.
  • Granville Island: After your aerial adventures, Granville Island provides a colorful and lively spot to unwind. With its bustling public market, artisan shops, and street performers, it’s a feast for the senses. There are so many culinary delights and artistic treasures, you’ll wonder if you’ve wandered into a live-action Pinterest board.
  • Grouse Mountain: For families craving a taste of the alpine without leaving the city, Grouse Mountain is the answer. Whether you’re skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the mountain offers activities for every season. The Skyride to the peak provides panoramic views that make you feel on top of the world – literally.

Opting for a stay in one of Vancouver’s family-friendly hotels gives you a comfortable base to explore all these attractions. Many offer amenities like indoor pools and are conveniently located near public transportation.

Vancouver is the city that keeps on giving, blending educational opportunities with sheer fun. It’s a place where you can teach your kids to appreciate both the hustle and bustle of city life and the tranquil beauty of nature. The combination of both variety and versatility make Vancouver uniquely suited as a last-minute family vacation destination; you can either create a full, varied itinerary or play each day by ear.

Quick Travel Document Check:

  • Passport Required: Yes, for entry by air, land, or sea.
  • eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization): Needed for air travel. Don’t worry, it’s cheap and easy to get!
  • Children’s Documentation: Under 16s can enter Canada by land or sea with proof of U.S. citizenship. All air travelers are required to have a valid, U.S. Passport, regardless of age.
  • Driving Permit: Required. Learn more about how to get one with our Complete Guide to the Internation Driving Permit (IDP).

For more travel document and entry information, visit our complete guide to Canadian entry requirements.

3. Caribbean Disney Cruise – A Voyage of Enchantment

Close-up of the Disney Dream cruise ship

Embark on a Caribbean Disney Cruise and set sail into a world where fantasy becomes reality. This voyage is more than just your typical family cruise; it’s an immersive experience that brings Disney’s enchantment to the high seas, combining the thrill of exploration with the magic of Disney’s stories, characters, and imagination.

Family-Friendly Highlights:

  • Exclusive Destinations: Discover Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, a paradise where families can enjoy white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and endless fun under the sun. It’s like stepping into a postcard, where every moment is picture-perfect.
  • Onboard Entertainment: From Broadway-quality shows featuring your favorite Disney characters to deck parties that light up the night, entertainment is around every corner. Imagine dining with princesses or battling pirates — every day brings a new adventure.
  • Activities for All Ages: Whether it’s splashing around in themed pools, competing in family game shows, or dropping the kids off at uniquely themed clubs for some adult time, there’s something for everyone. It’s a place where kids find adventure, teens find escape, and adults find relaxation.
  • Cultural Exploration: Each port of call offers a chance to explore local culture, from the historic forts of Puerto Rico to the vibrant markets of St. Maarten. These stops are not just destinations; they’re gateways to new experiences and learning opportunities.

Choosing a Disney Cruise for your last-minute spring break getaway ensures a hassle-free vacation where entertainment, accommodations, and dining are all taken care of before you step aboard. With Disney’s attention to detail, families are guaranteed a safe, enjoyable, and magical journey from start to finish.

A Caribbean Disney Cruise offers an all-in-one vacation solution that’s ideal for families looking to make the most of their time together. The ships provide a blend of luxury and fun that’s tailored for family enjoyment, ensuring that your spring break becomes a cherished memory.

Quick Travel Document Check:

  • Passport Required: Yes, for all travelers. Ensuring your passport is valid for the duration of your trip is crucial.
  • Children’s Documentation: For closed-loop cruises (those that start and end at the same US port), children may use birth certificates for identification. However, passports are recommended for ease of travel and in case you need to leave a foreign port in an emergency. No one is allowed to fly internationally without a valid passport book.
  • Visas: Not typically required for U.S. citizens on Caribbean cruises, but always check your specific itinerary for any unique requirements.

For more details, be sure to visit our expert Guide to Cruise Passport Policies for U.S. Travelers.

4. Costa Rica – Nature’s Playground

Young girl walking across the suspension bridge over the Costa Rica jungle

Costa Rica is a popular destination, rich in biodiversity, and ripe for eco-adventures. It is an unparalleled vacation spot for families eager to embrace the great outdoors and warm up from this year’s snowy winter. With its lush rainforests, imposing volcanoes, and rich wildlife, every corner of this vibrant country offers a new opportunity for getting outside and spending time as a family.

Family-Friendly Things to See and Do:

  • Arenal Volcano National Park: Why stay home and watch a nature documentary this spring break when you can live one? Stand in awe of the Arenal Volcano, a natural giant that towers over the surrounding rainforest. Take a guided hike around its base to learn about Costa Rica’s geothermal wonders and spot some of the area’s unique flora and fauna.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: Glide through the treetops on a canopy tour, where you’ll zip-line through one of the most famous cloud forests in the world. It’s a thrilling way to experience the forest from a bird’s-eye view and get a legit adrenaline rush while you’re at it.

    For the less thrill-seeking members of your family, the hanging bridges offer a more serene way to enjoy the cloud forest, perfect for spotting colorful birds and the elusive quetzal.
  • Tortuguero National Park: Explore the “Amazon of Costa Rica” by boat, navigating the network of waterways that offer a unique vantage point of this biodiverse region. If you visit during the right season, you might witness sea turtles nesting on the beach—a magical experience that connects you and your loved ones to the cycle of life.
  • Manuel Antonio National Park: With its beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife, Manuel Antonio offers the perfect mix of relaxation and nature exploration. Hike the park’s trails to see sloths, monkeys, and iguanas, then relax on pristine beaches that look like they’ve been lifted straight from your desktop wallpaper.

Costa Rica’s natural playground is ready to welcome your family with open arms. From volcanic peaks to misty cloud forests, the country offers a backdrop for adventures that can spark a lifelong love for nature and conservation in young travelers. At the same time, a wide range of comfortable, family-friendly resorts ensure you don’t have to feel like you’re spending your spring break “roughing it” in the wild.

As an added bonus for nature-lovers, the country’s commitment to eco-tourism and protecting the environment ensures that your visit not only leaves a minimal footprint but also supports local communities and wildlife preservation efforts.

Quick Travel Document Check:

  • Passport Required: Yes, ensure it’s valid for at least six months after your planned departure from Costa Rica.
  • Return Ticket: Proof of onward or return travel may be requested upon entry.
  • Visa: Not required for U.S. citizens for stays of up to 90 days.
  • Driving Permit: Required. Visit our Complete Guide to the Internation Driving Permit (IDP) to learn more.

5. Italy – A Family Feast for the Senses

A family reaching for authentic pizza at an Italian dinner table

Italy is where every bite of food tells a story, and every cobblestone street leads to another surprise. From the Colosseum’s echoes of ancient gladiators to the serene canals of Venice and the art-laden halls of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, Italy serves up history, art, and gelato in one go.

While Italy isn’t the largest country in Europe, it is one of the most diverse in terms of what it offers to visitors like you and your family. Choosing Italy for your spring vacation is an easy decision, but deciding which of its varied locales matches your family’s interests is its own fun challenge.

Family-Friendly Cultural Feasts:

  • The Roman Colosseum: Step into the world of ancient Rome with a visit to the Colosseum. It’s not just a monument; it’s a portal to the past where gladiators once battled. Exploring this architectural wonder allows you to walk into the pages of history, with stories of bravery and spectacle that will ignite the imagination of young and old alike.

    Rome is a bustling city home to some of the most well-known historical and cultural sights in the entire world. There are plenty of top-rated, family-friendly hotels in Rome, but just don’t expect the sprawling resort atmospheres you would find elsewhere. Despite its abundance of ancient historical sites, Rome is very much a vibrant, living modern city; many of its most affordable accommodations reflect their urban location.
  • Venetian Canals: Glide through the canals of Venice on a gondola, where each turn reveals centuries-old buildings and bridges that seem to float on water. It’s a magical experience that feels like drifting through a living painting, providing a serene escape from the everyday and a unique perspective on one of Italy’s most enchanting cities. Your family has never experienced a city like this!

    Venice is a city with plenty of well-reviewed hotels suitable for a comfortable family stay within range of some of the city’s most beautiful cathedrals, museums, and sights.
  • Tuscany’s Rolling Hills: If you’re looking for a little more space and a lot less hustle and bustle, venture into the heart of Tuscany, where rolling hills and vineyards paint a scene straight out of a Renaissance painting. Here, families can enjoy cycling tours through the countryside, visit medieval villages like San Gimignano, and indulge in farm-to-table Italian cuisine that delights every palate.

    In Tuscany, you will find much more spacious and tranquil accommodation options compared to Italy’s cities. This makes for a much more relaxing spring getaway than some of the other most popular Italian destinations.
  • Amalfi Coast: Take a scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast, where the Mediterranean Sea meets colorful villages perched on steep cliffs. Explore the enchanting towns of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello, each offering breathtaking views, vibrant markets, enjoyable hikes, and serene beaches. It’s a perfect blend of natural beauty and relaxed Italian lifestyle.

    This picturesque gem has been popular tourist destination among the European elites for centuries. That said, it is home to some of the best-reviewed, yet affordable, hotels in Italy. Your family can experience one of the most beautiful places on earth without having to break the bank.

Whether you choose a single destination or sample different regions throughout the country, Italy’s rich history and culture provide a backdrop for experiences that are as enriching as they are memorable.

And don’t forget about the food! With Italy’s world-renowned cuisine, every meal becomes an opportunity to explore regional flavors and traditions, making dining a highlight of the trip.

Quick Travel Document Check:

Passport Panic? No Problem!

Two parents and their child holding passports at the airport and smiling

Left the passport task for the eleventh hour? Here’s how to turn panic into action and get your passport in time for your family’s spring break travels:

Currently, expedited passport applications are being processed through the U.S. Department of State in 2-3 weeks.

If you’re in a rush (or don’t want to cut it that close), we recommend enlisting the help of a professional passport service. These travel document experts can help you get passports in order for your entire family in time for your departure. Want to learn more? Check out our Ultimate U.S. Traveler’s Guide to Passport Expediters for more about what they do, how they work, and our expert recommendations based on over 20 years of helping travelers with their travel document questions.

You can also visit our complete, step-by-step passport expediting guides below for more information about getting the passports your family needs. Stop stressing over travel docs and get on with your vacation!

Don’t let a passport hiccup reroute your spring break dreams. With a bit of planning and a dash of expedited service, those international shores are well within reach. So, pack your bags (and documents) and get ready for an unforgettable adventure that proves it’s never too late for the perfect family spring getaway.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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