Vacations are one of those things we look forward to – a getaway to rejuvenate our tired bodies and minds. But we all know that when you become a parent and travel with children, something changes – it can be both exceptionally fulfilling and challenging. Contrary to the belief that travelling with children in the city is more convenient, those who have brought their little ones for holidays in the outdoors know better – going back to nature can far more relaxing and enjoyable as long as the trip is well-planned. No more jostling with the urban crowd, no need to worry about space constraints and you can literally say goodbye to the headaches you get from trying to keep them entertained and engaged. The best part about spending time in nature when you travel how you are actually exposing your child to the world around where they can learn more about different environments, people and cultures. Don’t be surprised how much they will learn and also start to appreciate family time, even with a simple scenic walk.
Be inspired by young parents who took their vacation outdoors and continue to share their passion for travel and nature with their little babies. Check out their adventure and eco-inspired trips that have Mother Nature as the backdrop. Move aside, mega malls and retail shopping! We are going back to nature.
- New Zealand Known for its clean and pristine environment of great biodiversity, travelling with young children is great, thanks to the child-friendly accommodation and public amenities. One of the amazing things about New Zealand is that while you can be staying at the city centre, you still can have nature close by with just a short drive away. For longer drives, you don’t have to worry because there are convenient public toilets and lookouts for short breaks enroute. For the more adventurous, you can choose to rent a camper-van and camp out at holiday parks (camp sites). Otherwise, opt for a one-day adventure trip with an adventure outfitter or operator that can even meet the needs of multi-generation family vacation, just like what Chee Meng and Linda did. Being an avid adventurers, Linda and Chee Meng was clear that an eco-inspired holiday with her elderly parents and 2-year-old daughter had to be one that everyone would be able to enjoy. Their short day trip featured New Zealand’s breathtaking mountain peaks that gave the couple the dose of nature they needed yet made it safe enough for their parents and baby. You can check out Rough Guides for more travel tips and ideas. Chee Meng and Linda with their 2-year-old daughter, Lynn on the helicopter landing pad at Wanaka where they celebrated Lynn’s 2nd birthday. Linda and Lynn on a helicopter ride.
Chee Meng having quality father-daughter bonding time with Lynn.
- Nepal There are two sides to Nepal and the seasoned traveller would know that despite its serene and pristine environment, there is the other side of it – noisy, congested highways and major city streets. Be prepared for a bumpy ride that may accompanied by heavy traffic, smoke and dust before you get to enjoy clean mountain air. When travelling with babies and young ones in tow, you really need to plan your airport transfer, accommodation, trekking itinerary way in advance. The best way is to engage a local Singaporean adventure outfitter with reliable travel and adventure advisors whom you can get to meet in person to discuss your family trip rather than depend on your luck of engaging one in Nepal or expect that all plans will be executed well just via e-mail correspondence. A good adventure outfitter or anyone planning your trip for that matter, should include trip briefing, packing list advisory and other safety precautionary preparation. Check out Ace Adventure if you are planning your next holiday trip in Nepal. Rose and Felix with their sons, Lukas and Jonas. “It was an incredible journey. The children enjoyed themselves, made friends with the locals, played with stones and dirt and the safari was simply amazing! We will be back!” “We had an incredible team of guides and porters who helped us tremendously during the climb.”
Travelling is about learning from others with different backgrounds, especially their way of life and culture. This is Lukas learning to say “Namaste” with joined palms as a way greeting and/or showing respect and gratitude in Nepal.
- South Korea When travelling with children in Korea, it is recommended that you take public trains, it is both comfortable and economical as children under the age of 4 ride free-of-charge, while children ages 4-13 are eligible for a 50% discount (accompanied by an adult).You will be relieved to know that unlike in some cities, train stations in Seoul, Yongsan and Busan provide nursing rooms. Plus, the high-speed KTX trains also feature both nursing and baby-changing rooms. Once you have sorted out your transport needs, it’s time to check out the outdoors; from beautiful mountains to scenic public parks with well-paved paths, boardwalks, bridges and resting spots for both young and old. If you prefer slow, relaxed and less adrenaline-pumping adventure activities, like Junie who loves walks in the outdoors with her 3-year-old daughter, Mira. It is good to check out the Korea Travel Guide when planning for your vacation in Korea. “Mira loves the sights and sounds in nature and it is immensely satisfying to see that she is able to tap into the wonderful nourishment that nature provides.”
“Mira loves animals but used to be afraid of them. With more time spent in the nature, I see her overcoming her fears.”
“Her face simply lights up when she discovers something new and there would be so much joy flowing through her. I love to see her grow while having a connection with nature and learning more about herself.”
- Malaysia Literally a stone’s throw away, Malaysia offers great options when it comes planning a family getaway. What’s even better is that you can save on flights and drive in. With the tropical rainforests lining this peninsular, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding where you want to spend your eco-holiday with your little ones. There are many family-friendly centres such as the Kahang Eco Resort (KOREF) which Terence and his wife, Jenny love! At this Malaysia’s first organic farm, you can find unique accommodation such a chalet smacked right in the middle of their paddy lake, a floating restaurant and mini obstacle courses for the family. If you want something other than resorts like this, you may want check out the 12 rainforest retreats that you can consider.
“The kids pottered around and went on a bamboo raft ride (shin-deep water) and they loved the room that we stayed as it was in right in the middle of chalet on the rice paddy lake.”
“The kids took to the obstacle courses with a bit of coaxing but eventually completed them, and our younger boy, Elijah enjoyed it more than Clara, our older girl. Regardless, we learnt that the children are highly adaptable and they are full of curiousity- they would stop and gawk at every creature they cross path with; ducks, chickens, fish, birds and the list goes on.”
- Indonesia Just a short flight away from Singapore, Indonesia is another eco paradise. You can choose from a beach getaway to a rainforest retreat. For families with young children, outdoor fun usually comes with a price in tropical climate. Well, if your children are too young for a winter holiday in the snow, you can consider places with a cooler climate and that’s what Dean did when he planned for a short family vacation that had to cater to their 6-month-old and 4-year-old. He chose Bandung as the temperature was suitable to introduce the outdoors (and trekking basics) to their young son without overwhelming him or making too uncomfortable. It was a relatively short trek as he had to bear in mind the safety considerations with their 6-month-old in a baby back-pack. Whenever possible, always ensure that these trips are well-planned (factor in meals, nap time and travel time that isn’t too taxing for the young child) with an experienced guide and Happy Sparrow is one good option if you are considering Bandung as your next travel destination and do get more information from Wonderful Indonesia. Unlike other tourists destinations, the language spoken in Bandung, Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesian, so having an English-speaking guide is important as it is one less challenge you have to have to worry about.
“We brought our 6-month-old Jaelyn and 4-year-old, Jaeden to climb Tangkuban Perahu in Bandung, Indonesia as we both love nature and wanted to create a shared family experience.”
“We used teachable moments to share values such as caring for others. Jaeden carried his younger sister’s diapers, extra pacifier and wet-wipes on top of his own trail mix and emergency kit. Though that slowed us down and the hike took much longer, but it was all worth it.”
“The most rewarding thing was to hear him ask questions about his surroundings the natural landscapes, weather, people, food and the culture of the places we visited despite his young age.”
- Japan There is little wonder why so many people would flock to Japan for holidays. It is a clean, safe and beautiful country regardless of whether you are in the city or in the outdoors. An easy way to get round in Japan is to get the Japan Rail Pass for train travel access to the whole country or specific regions; Kansai, Hokkaido, Kyushu etc. One of the best seasons to travel to Japan with children is in April because the climate is considerably mild and the blossoming cheery trees will definitely have them in awe. Learn from Amber and Peter, parents of the Instagram Stars, the MoMo Twins (@leialauren) who took their twins to Japan during the Sakura blooming season and came back with beautiful pictures. The environment and baby-friendly culture allowed the family to fully enjoy nature and also immerse in the culture. Other things to look out for in this culturally-rich country are the national, cultural and arts festivals that will make your trip more meaningful and you can find this information on Japan Guide. “Omg.. this is the gorgeous Sakura kimono I’ve been waiting for! – Leia”“You scrub my back and I’ll scrub yours #jjimjibangstyle #bathtime.”
This article is an extension of an article found in the print edition of Singapore’s Child April Issue 174 with the headline ‘Taking The Path Less Travelled’.
What are your top tips for travelling with kids? Leave us a comment down below.