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Sri Lanka: Ultimate Kids Travel Guide

Want to enjoy tropical and kids friendly country with no hassle? And, successfully survive/enjoy a 10 hour airplane flight with a 2 year old? Then you’re reading the right blog because, I’m taking you to Sri Lanka!

3 weeks in Sri Lanka was an amazing place to visit with our son (2,5 years old) due to some minor prepping and planning before hand. We’ve created precious memories and experienced so many awesome moments of which we, now back home, still talk about each day!

I’d absolutely recommend all of the following tips/tricks so every family can experience this incredible journey together.

Discover Sri Lanka ultimate (kids) travel guideHow to prepare for your Sri Lanka trip

Survive 10 hours airplane ride with kid
3 week (kid friendly) travel route through Sri Lanka
6 Best hotels in Sri Lanka (kid friendly)
8 Must do activities in Sri Lanka (with kids)
Must see highlights (with kids) in Sri Lanka

Because, let’s be honest no one wants to have a screaming child in an airplane or travel to a country with a kid an be surprised with difficulties every step of the way. That’s a recipe for a horror vacation and will leave you with nightmares for years to come.

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Luckily, you’ll discover in this blog a few easy steps to take before the journey starts (packing must haves and inflight entertainment ideas) and a kids friendly travel route through Sri Lanka. 

However, this blog isn’t necessarily only meant for people traveling with kids. No sir, with these travel tips anyone can enjoy Sri Lanka. The activities, hotels, route and over highlights are not specific kid friendly things but, they can be of course! For instance, who doesn’t want to go whale spotting? With or without kids: discover Sri Lanka with this ultimate travel guide. That’s why I will often put the word (Kids) in-between brackets.

How to prepare for Sri Lanka trip with kid

In my opinion the key tot a successful vacation is planning out the entire trip. Seriously don’t get me wrong I loved backpacking with my husband through Asia living day by day but, now with kids I want to know what’s coming. 

Of course there’s always room for a surprise or for a change of plans but in my opinion it’s nicer if you can choose this when the entire trip is already a steady base. Instead of the entire trip being one big kaboom with no stability. So, how did I prepare? Discover my 3 steps: 

  1. Questions to ask yourself before you go
  2. Travel with Excel
  3. Buy and Pack usefull items

Step 1. Questions to ask before you go

  • What do I want to see? (Pick max 7 items for 3 weeks)
  • Where will you be sleeping? (How far is it from the sightseeing? What accommodations do they have for kids: For instance a bed?)
  • How will you get from place to place? (Taxi, train, bus, motorcycle?) 
  • Do you want to first relax or do experiences? 
  • When is the best time to travel/do activities? (if your kid still takes an afternoon nap)
  • Which activities are you able to do with your kid? 

Depending on the answers that you get on the questions above you can easily start making choices or eliminating some. 

Sri Lanka_What_To_Do_Travel_Ideas

Step 2. Travel with Excel

Yes, very cliche but: I can’t go on vacation without Excel. I love it. Why use Excel or even better Google Sheets? Well… try remembering where and when and how you want to visit 7 different highlights in 10 different places. Go crazyyyy! 

Koloms to add:
Date-Location-Hotel Booked-Hotel Payed-Way of travel to-Activity near hotel-Activity Booked-Activity Payed

So not everything and then print it out and send it to your email so you always have it with you while you travel. 

Step 3. Buy and Pack useful items

To be able to travel with a 2 year old in Sri Lanka we needed the following items: 

  1. BabyPhone on FM (Luvion has FM babyphones) & BabyPhone camera with WiFi 
  2. 2 Big Backpacking Packs like from Osprey
  3. Airplane kids sleeping bed (Wick Wings Air Bed)
  4. Tent for toddlers from brand Deryan (perfect if everyone sleeps in 1 room and great against mosquitoes)
  5. Tiffin box (to store snacks in during travel)
  6. Mifold Travel Booster Seat

Of course all the other usual top 30 items to pack was included as well but these were great! However you don’t have to pack everthing: you can easily buy Pamper diapers in the supermarkets of Sri Lanka. 

Survive 10 hours airplane ride with kid

Yes, it’s seriously possible to survive and 10 hour airplane ride with a 2 year old. How? Prepping is my middle name.
The following items are essential for in the plane: 

  1. iPad including downloaded Netflix movies. Don’t forget to download the movies at home before boarding. Once the Flight Modus is on say goodbye to the live streaming and hello to an angry kid. 
  2. Good headphones for your kid to watch a movie with. We have the adjustable Sennheiser Momentum 3 headphones. Complete focus, complete sound effect and completely chilled out. I seriously saw parents trying to quiet their kids with Apple Airpods and going crazy. They of course fell out the entire time when the kid moved. So the whole “listen to a movie on your iPad” wasn’t possible for 10 hours long. 
  3. An airplane kids bed. Flying at night or your kids nap is right during the flight? Then this blow up and light weight airplane bed from the brand Wick Wings Air, is your best friend. Give your kid the full Pavlov effect by changing them into their pyjamas in the bathroom, give them their stuffed animal, sleeping bag and read a digital story from the iPad and say goodnight and sweet dreams! 
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  1. Wrapped fun Gifts. 10 small and fun gifts that they can unwrap after every hour. Be smart about what you give: Pain would be a big no no (LMAO). A small car for instance can be awesome for your kid to quietly drive around with in the back of the plane near where the flight attendants are. Of course always stay near your kid because you don’t want to piss off the flight attendants. Top 5 travel airplane gifts for kids: 
    1. Play-Doh
    2. Duplo
    3. Make your own car stickers
    4. Miniature cars
    6. Reusable crayon book
  2. Finger Food. Break up the flight with multiple snack times. We used the Indian Tiffin 3 layered box: nothing gets mushed, easy to clean while traveling and perfect size. The best way you can make our family happy is with food. Top 5 airplane snack foods for kids:
    1. Nuts & Berries
    2. Ella’s kitchen 
    3. Fruits: sliced and diced
    4. Veggies: With dips. 
    5. Cheese & Meats 
    *Bring wet wipes of course* 
  3. Nosespray and squeezable fruit packs. Does your kid have ear pains or ear infections a lot? Then you know: flying can be a hell alone for them due to the pain. Therefore as parents of a chronic ear infection kiddo, we got the tip to give him a nose spray before, during take-off-landing and after the flight. This apparently opens the sinuses.

3 week (kid friendly) travel route through Sri Lanka

We wanted to experience Sri Lanka in a type of back-pack travellers kind of way but then as a family and not as two hippy teens. So we decided to be realistic and choose 6 places in Sri Lanka that we absolutely wanted to visit (read the above how to prepare your trip). Of course we wanted to see a lot more but we also wanted to relax. 

  1. Negombo (2,5 days)
  2. Kandy (3,5 days)
  3. Ella (2,5 days)
  4. Udawalawa (2 days)
  5. Hiriketiya (6,5 days) 
  6. Unawatuna (5 days)
    (Negombo again because, it was close to the airport (1 day))

How to travel in Sri Lanka?

For short distances take a Tuc-Tuc. The easiest way for longer distances is a taxi. How to get a Taxi in Sri Lanka?

Ask your hotel for a pick up-drop off and they will arrange the taxi driver. The price was around 25 USD for a 25min drive for instance.

We also discovered a soort of taxi service that we constantly called up to pick up and drop off between the hotels. They gave the best price.
Also there is a famous train route from Kandy to Ella that I absolutely would recommend to everyone! Just ask your hotel to book the train tickets for you

(you have to personally otherwise stand in the line for hours really early in the morning). Get a taxi or Tuc-Tuc to the station and ask your hotel in Ella to pick you up when the train arrives. 

How to travel from your hotel to an activity in Sri Lanka (like whale watching, national park or going to a restaurant)?

Arrange a Tuc-Tuc with your hotel or ask for transportation options when you’ve booked for instance a whale watching excursion.

Usually the excursion agency will have the transportation included in the price of the activity. 

Best hotels in Sri Lanka (kid friendly)

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As we decided to visit the top 6 best places in Sri Lanka, we of course needed therefore also needed to find 6 amazing hotels in Sri Lanka that everyone must sleep in.

  1. Negombo- Villa Hundira
  2. Kandy- Madulkelle Eco Tea Lodge
  3. Ella- Zion View Ella Green Retreat
  4. Udawalawa- Thuduwa Camp
  5. Hiriketiya- Bahia Hiriketiya & Salt House
  6. Unawatuna- Cantaloupe Aqua 

The biggest challenge for us was that we mainly only found 1 room hotels, when at home our 2,5 year old always sleeps in his own room.

We were honestly terrified that if we all slept in 1 room, we’d all wake each other up. But this went great due to the toddler camping tent bed.

It created the effect that our little one was sleeping in his own tent/room/space so he snoozed off easily.

We usually played a game of cards and had a drink in front of the hotel room with baby phone on, while he fell a sleep and then we sneaked in as well.

(Yes, yes, yes we know what some people think: but don’t worry we literally were sitting in front of the door playing cards and so we always were near our little bundle of joy). 

Must do activities in Sri Lanka (with kids)

There are 7 must do activities and sightseeing in Sri Lanka that everyone should experience! There’s so much to see and do that it’s important to narrow down the possibilities that are also realistic in the time that you’re there. We didn’t want to experience the vacation as a rush, especially with our 2,5 year old. So we decided to focus on the main highlights. Some of the activities were great to do as a family and some were amazing for some quality mom time, such as the relaxing full body massage I had in our hotel in Kandy. 

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  1. Visit a tea farm & factory @Kandy
  2. Full Body Relaxing Massage @Kandy
  3. Take a train ride @Kandy-Ella
  4. Whale watching $104 for 2 adults + 1 kid @Unawatuna
  5. Sea Turtle Rescue @Unawatuna
  6. Find elephants in National Park $299 for 4 adults private safari from 14:30-18:30 @Udawalawa
  7. Surfing @Hiriketiya
  8. Yoga 1500 LKR for 75 min yoga @Hiriketiya
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It sounds really corny but since we became parents, I’ve enjoyed traveling even more than before. The reaction of my son to the wonders of the world fascinate me so much that I get even more enthusiastic purely by his reaction of for instance a monkey in a tree. 

Must see highlights (with kids) in Sri Lanka

The famous temples like the Dambulla Royal Cave Temple or the amazing lion mountain that you can climb: these are awesome things to do and definitely add them to your list however, here are the 4 must experience highlights of Sri Lanka that no one has ever written about. 

  1. Hike Through Tea Fields: If you’re staying in a hotel near a Tea plantation, ask your hotel for a local to guide you for a nice hike.
  2. Galle Colonial Fort: Was built first in 1588 by Portugese, then fortified afterwards by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. Nice historic center with cool shops and yummy ice cream parlors.
  3. Hand woven Jute rug store: Walk into a Jute Rug store and take a look at how the locals make their own items by hand. Take bake one of the rugs as a souvenir!
  4. Take a look in the Kitchen: Dining at an authentic Sri Lanka restaurant? Ask them if you can take a look at their kitchen and be astonished at the scenery.
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 Sri Lanka must have Souvenirs to take home

If you have space in your suitcase, definitely don’t forget to buy these 6 souvenirs in Sri Lanka:

1. Ceylon posterbuy at Stick No Bills in Galle
2. Authentic Sri Lanka mask – Called Rashka, are meant to ward off evil. The mask is usually hand carved by an ‘edura’ or an exorcist. Using only local materials found in Sri Lanka.
3.Jute carpet – Buy it at Saru Shakthi near Hiriketiya. Hand made light weight Jute rugs that are awesome for at home in your guest bathroom.
4. Rice bag – Store your kids toys in these original bags. Buy them from a local small marketplace for a few dollars.
5. Tea – Sri Lanka is famous for its tea. When visiting a tea factory you can always buy pure black or green tea leaves for a few dollars. Watch out though, the stuff is really strong!
6. Cinnamon oil – Sri Lanka is famous for their cinnamon. From the bark of the cinnamon trees they make the spice and also make a nice oil fragrance (great for cleaning and smells like Christmas in a bottle).

Liked this blog? Follow me on Instagram for daily travel food tips!
p.s. Know other people who want to go to Sri Lanka? Don’t forget to share this blog url with them! 

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