Ryder’s Favorite Countries

To tell the truth, Ryder doesn’t have a favorite country.

He’s loved every place we’ve been—I’m not exaggerating.

Still, I’ll tell a little about each of the 25 countries Ry’s been to and why he’s loved them.


Ryder was born here. He is a Mexican.

How it is kid friendly:

He loved all the attention he got here from friends and strangers alike.

Best experience for kids: Chapultepec Park has museums, a free zoo, street food, and playgrounds.


Puebla has a massive Ferris wheel.

How it is not kid friendly:

The traffic, crowds, and crime aren’t friendly for anyone, but with kids it’s especially hard. The convenience stores, while ubiquitous, are chock full of junk food.

United States

How it is kid friendly: Lots of open spaces, and it’s normal to be loud in public. Ryder loves seeing family here.

Best experience for kids: So many fast food restaurants have playgrounds; it’s so easy. The Kangaroo Zoo bounce house in Pleasant Grove, Utah was a highlight. And sure, so was meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.


Kangaroo Zoo

How it is not kid friendly: Having to cart around a car seat everywhere.

New Zealand

How it is kid friendly: Ryder loved getting to sit next to his mom and dad all day long and drive around in a campervan here.

2012-10-30 13.42.22

There are seals swimming at this waterfall

Best experience for kids: Zorbing, bungee jumping, hiking, glacier climbing…you name it, they got it, here.

How it is not: Hard to say. The outdoors and activities make this one of the most kid-friendly places on the planet. Maybe the expense? Makes it hard to splurge on just anything.


How it is kid friendly: Ryder loved seeing the “big water” and the easy going lifestyle here.

baby window tahiti

The view from our apartment window

Best experience for kids: Bodyboarding or surfing in the waves

How it is not kid friendly: There wasn’t a whole lot to do, and we had to walk everywhere.

New Caledonia

How it is kid friendly: The weather is perfect, and because Jacob served a mission here, we got to go in a lot of homes and Ryder got a lot of special attention. He got babysat and saw lots of kidlets.

new cal mom and son

On a road trip

Best experience for kids: You can pose with tribal cultures at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre.

How it is not kid friendly:

You do need to own a car here; not easy to get around otherwise.


How it is kid friendly: Ryder made his first real friend here: Junior, who he still Skypes with occasionally. He got over-the-top affection here and even a legitimate adoption request. It’s super easy to get around Port Vila, too.

vanuatu playing with kids

Visiting friends

Best experience for kids: Snorkeling and swimming

How it is not: I think Vanuatu might be the ideal place to raise a kid. No crime, amazing people, deep faith, community, and green eating.


How it is kid friendly: Very safe, English speaking, good weather, decent transportation. Ryder learned to walk here, had plenty of scrumptious food at all times in the refrigerator here, and got to campervan a bit here as well.

2012-03-05 08.15.18

Uluru day trip on tour

Best experience for kids: Darling Harbour outdoor park and IMAX theater in Sydney

How it is not kid friendly: Well, where we stayed was a little congested in the city, next time, I would pick a place that had somewhere where Ryder could run around out of the cement jungle and pushy commuters.


How it is kid friendly: $1/day babysitter, can take kids into any restaurant and the owners will watch them for you while you eat, everyone loves kids. Ryder loved having a full time nanny here, a garden to play in, and nice warm weather.

Best experience for kids:

monkey forest

The Monkey Forest

How it is not kid friendly: No playgrounds, parks, or nearby outdoor activities, unless you live on the beach of course.


How it is kid friendly: The Chinese are notoriously fascinated with foreign children and will want to ogle and take pictures. Although, some children may be overwhelmed by the attention.

Best experience for kids:

chinese food

Getting to try the exotic street food

How it is not kid friendly:

Ryder caught a massively powerful superbug here. I guess it’s not a favorite country of his.


How it is kid friendly: Ryder loved riding by boat everywhere here. He met a lot of children, but he had his first real best friend here. Definitely a favorite for him.

Best experience for kids:

kites guatemala

The kite festival

How it is not kid friendly: Crime, not wanting to be outside at night, needing three locks on your door.


How it is kid friendly:

There were libraries, play groups, and kids museums for Ryder galore. Ryder got his favorite toy, his scooter, here, and also began using a mini potty.

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Potty multi-tasking

Best experience for kids: The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh

How it is not kid friendly:

The weather is unimaginably bad for almost half the year.

Northern Ireland

How it is kid friendly: The beautiful outdoors, and the ferry to get there.

Best experience for kids:

bridge ireland

The Carrick-o-Rede bridge

How it is not kid friendly:

The weather is unimaginably bad for almost half the year.

Czech Republic

How it is kid friendly: It seemed like everywhere, people had little candies to give him. I never felt like we were imposing on anyone..well, maybe at the ancient classical instrument museum, but that’s understandable! There were enormous kids parks too.

Best experience for kids:


Gastronomy Museum Prague

How it is not: Nothing comes to mind.


How it is kid friendly: The beautiful outdoors, clean, and safe.

Best experience for kids: This store had a playground and free wifi. Nuff said.

best store in germany

How it is not kid friendly: I’ve never been anywhere with a higher proportion of grouches per capita.


How it is kid friendly: The subways were full of the most lovely loud children, I felt right at home. There was a park outside of every metro stop. Little libraries dot the entire city, and music concerts are outdoor so easy to bring kids to.


Scooter riding in Stadtpark

Best experience for kids: The outdoor amusement park, Prater, was a favorite for our whole family.

How it is not kid friendly: I can’t think of anything.


How it is kid friendly: Well, due to its Catholic roots, it has one of the harshest penalties for abortion in Europe, therefore there seemed to be more kids running around in this country than just about any other in Europe.

Best experience for kids:

salt mines krakow

UNESCO World Heritage site salt mines

How it is not: The public transportation system is a little overloaded and not as extensive as one would hope.


How it is kid friendly: Beautiful and green, walkable. Amazing fresh and local fruit sold at outdoor markets.


Strawberries in the park

Best experience for kids: Just walking the cobblestone streets, there were lots of no-cars-allowed areas.

How it is not kid friendly: There was only playground in the whole city.


How it is kid friendly: A lady made Ryder toys out of paper on the bus, and our hotel clerk gave him candy for his birthday.

Best experience for kids:

lake croatia

Jarun Lake

How it is not: There was nowhere to buy food in all of Zagreb, or so it felt walking around all day.


How it is kid friendly: We didn’t have a particularly kid friendly experience, to be honest. We took a nice walking tour and Ryder was welcomed.

Best experience for kids:


Fountains in Belgrade

How it is not kid friendly: The buses were so extremely crowded the bus doors literally shut on us, and the traffic and sidewalk situation isn’t good. And probably should avoid the Tesla museum—there’s a lot of dangerous stuff in there that is not blocked off at all.


How it is kid friendly: There isn’t always a lot to do, but there are always friends around to do it with. Ryder got close to his cousins while here.

Best experience for kids:

 water park

This water park

How it is not kid friendly: If you’re looking for a place with a lot of organized kid activities, this is not it.


How it is kid friendly: Probably the fact that the weather makes year-round pool lounging possible.

Best experience for kids:

hotel pool thessaloniki


How it is not kid friendly: Crowds and traffic make planning a day out seem like more trouble than it’s worth, in the big cities anyway.


How it is kid friendly: No place have we ever been where both men and women seemed to dote on all small children so evenly.

Best experience for kids:  Both Jurassic Land, a dinosaur theme park, and an indoor snow park, were big hits. Oh, and biking around Prince Edward Island. And living by the biggest mall in Europe with tons of rides and games available.


Torium AVM SnowPark

How it is not kid friendly: The sidewalks and public transport are not set up for strollers.


How it is kid friendly: The food. Pizza, pasta and gelato is a kid foodie dream. The weather. The landscape.

ryder tuscany

Fattoria di Cavaglioni, Siena: Staying in a sixteenth century fortress

Best experience for kids: All of San Benedetto del Tronto: The beaches, and the parks, and the shopping were all about vacationing with kids.

How it is not kid friendly: Italy is one of the most kid friendly places we’ve been for sure.


How it is kid friendly: Could Ryder have gotten more movie star quality attention? I think not.

 boracay family

Boracay: The water really is that color. Turtle Inn Resort has real turtles in their lobby.

Best experience for kids: It is all found in the mall, where hours of fun can be bought for less than $5.

How it is not kid friendly: The crowds, the traffic, the pollution, the lack of places to walk and play make it difficult to live, but people manage it with smiles on their faces.


How it is kid friendly: Activities-wise, this place can’t be beat. The restaurants all have kid plates and silverware. Life is uber comfortable here.

amusement park thanksgiving

Toshimaen theme park

Best experience for kids: I can do an entire blog post on this for sure. Odaiba is probably the capital of all kids related things. There’s really unlimited things to do here for adults and children.

How it is not kid friendly: A place that is this clean, quiet and orderly sometimes doesn’t know what to make of toddlers. I do a lot of carting Ryder up and down flights of stairs.


I would pick the US, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Guatemala, Austria, Macedonia, Turkey, Italy, and Japan as favorite countries for Ryder. Perhaps uncoincidentally, those are some of Jacob and I’s favorites too!

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 372 awesome articles for us.

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