WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT FINLAND WITH KIDS
Before I had kids, I tried to leave the United States at least once per year. It was a matter of sanity for my unshakeable restlessness. Travel has always been a passion of mine, and I loved exploring other countries in my late teens and early 20s.
Even after I had my first child, international travel didn’t seem like that big of a deal. We visited England, France, and Mexico with my daughter before she turned 2 (free plane tickets because we kept her on our laps)! We were the jet setting family of my dreams!
Then babies 2 and 3 came along in close succession directly after we moved across the country and far away from family. Suddenly the thought of international travel seemed a lot tougher. There are a lot more moving pieces to make sure everyone has what they need from diapers to beds to carseats to strollers to snacks and water. It’s enough to make even the most experienced traveler’s head spin!
After having my first kid I would have scoffed if a family said they were nervous about taking an international trip with their kids. “Just do it!” I would have advised, not realizing the stress and overwhelm that comes with 3 little kids and ALL THEIR NEEDS ALL THE TIME.
Now I finally understand that your first international trip with kids should be as stress-free as possible so that everyone leaves with fairly good memories and a good taste in their mouth about travel in general. You want somewhere with reliable transportation, clean and safe environments, friendly people, and the ability to communicate easily.
After spending time in Finland this summer on a hosted trip with Visit Finland, I kept thinking that Finland would make a wonderful first international destination for young families wanting to travel more.
While I went in summer when the weather was gorgeously warm and sunny, it certainly would be magical to visit when the weather is colder and the ground is covered in a stunning layer of pristine snow. (Just know you’ll be packing more gear for the kids). You would have a chance to see the Northern Lights, visit Santa around Christmas time, and take a cozy sleigh ride in the snow.
No matter when you decide to go, here are my top 10 reasons why Finland is an awesome family-friendly travel destination!
Disclosure: My trip to Finland was completely hosted by Visit Finland. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
1. ENGLISH IS COMMONLY SPOKEN HERE
Whether you’re an experienced world traveler or it’s your first time leaving your home country, one thing that can help you relax on your travels is when you can understand the language and be understood by those around you.
Finnish is unlike any other language I’ve studied. I looked up a few key phrases before my trip, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to communicate at all.
That is, until I arrived and realized that English is taught in the Finnish school system, and most people (especially those in the hospitality industry) speak it very well.
While I think it’s important to make an effort to learn at least pleasantries in the language of the country you’re visiting, it’s still nice to be able to speak English when you need to ask directions or settle a bill.
Adding kids to travel makes everything 10x more stressful, so a language barrier is one less thing you have to stress about.
2. FINLAND IS VERY SAFE
Finland is generally considered to be very safe with a low crime rate. Naturally, you should use common sense when out and about, especially in larger cities. But overall, pickpockets, scams, and crimes are not something you really have to worry about in Finland.
In my opinion, this makes Finland a great country to visit on your first international family trip.
3. PEOPLE ARE HAPPY AND HEALTHY
While Finns are not the world’s most outgoing people, they are quite friendly, warm, and kind once you start talking to them. As an introvert myself, I can really appreciate the balance between giving people their space and being ready to lend a helping hand when needed.
Generally you look around and see people who are happy with their lives, happy in their work, and committed to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s really inspiring for kids to see other families living that way!
4. THEY LOVE KIDS
One thing that really stuck out to me when I was visiting Finland what that families seemed to be everywhere, and the kids were welcomed with open arms!
In the United States, I often feel like my kids are a burden or an annoyance to other people, and that can be really emotionally draining.
During my time in Finland, little kids seemed to be just a part of life. No one was annoyed. No one gave parents dirty looks. Families seemed to be happy to spend time together.
It’s also easy to find baby and child necessities in stores, and changing tables are prevalent in restrooms. (At first I thought there weren’t any until I realized that many of them were in the individual stalls above the toilets).
5. OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
There’s nothing better than getting fresh air and recreation when you’re traveling with kids. You make wonderful family memories, and everyone is ready for a nice long sleep at the end of the day.
Finland is full of outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, biking, berry picking, and swimming, just to name a few. Thanks to a law called Everyman’s Rights, you are free to roam, fish, forage, hike, and explore nature basically anywhere you want. Here in the U.S. we have strict laws are trespassing and private property, but Finns have prioritized access to natural areas so anyone, visitor or native, can enjoy it.
When Finns take family vacations, they tend to rent cabins and spend time in nature. Consider taking a page out of their book and make time to simply be and enjoy the natural settings of Finland.
6. TAP WATER IS SAFE TO DRINK
This might seem like a small thing to some people, but to me it’s such a relief to know I don’t have to spend time and money finding jugs of water to carry with us everywhere. Kids are always thirsty, and I’ve been known to carry a reusable water bottle with me wherever I go, so I love knowing that there is pure, clean, free water from any tap.
Even here in the United States, tap water is usually clean but not always very tasty, so we make sure to bring gallons of water with us (or buy some when we arrive) when we stay in hotels. In Finland, I never worried once about that, and I loved imagining visiting with my kids and filling up all of our water bottles from the sink before leaving our accommodations for the day.
One of the best parts about traveling with kids is sneaking learning and education into your trip. Experiencing something firsthand will stick with kids a lot longer than reading it in a book. I find this to be especially true with regards to geography and nature.
In Finland, kids (and adults) will learn about why the sun never sets in summer, and why it’s always dark in winter. You’ll find out what causes the Northern Lights phenomenon, what an archipelago is (and how to pronounce it), and what a cloudberry is. You’ll learn how to forage for wild berries, where the Arctic Circle is, and that Finland is a Nordic country and not technically part of Scandinavia.
8. YOU CAN DIY YOUR TRIP
People in Finland are quite independent, and love to put together their own trips by renting a car, renting a cabin, and finding their own activities.
I find this style of travel suits our family perfectly in this stage of life. Kids are unpredictable, and not having to adhere to any schedule works in our favor, Sometimes kids need naps or need to eat at inconvenient times, so having access to a car and our own space is crucial.
And don’t worry about driving in Finland- they drive on the right side of the road like we do here in the United States!
9. SANTA CLAUS!
Did you know Finland is the home of Santa Claus? It’s true! You can even visit him at Santa Claus village, send mail from his post office, and meet his reindeer!
Whether or not you have a Santa Claus tradition in your family, it’s still fun to get into the spirit of Christmas while you’re in Finish Lapland. Though we were there in the heat of summer, I can only imagine the winter wonderland that awaits you at this charming destination. Kids from 1-99 will enjoy the magic of Santa Claus village.
10. THERE’S A GREAT VARIETY OF DESTINATIONS
Finland is full of diverse landscapes to explore. You can stay in a big city like Helsinki, island-hop through the archipelago on the west coast, or enjoy the vast forests and many lakes of Finnish Lapland. Whether you decide to spend a little time in each type of location or stay put in one location, you’re sure to find something you love.