Living out of bags for a year, with kids in tow? 100 different beds? Having kids attached for 24 / 7? Worrying about mosquitos, robberies, poisonous animals, falling overboard, bloody knees?
For some families, traveling with kids around the globe for 12 months sounds like a serious nightmare, to others including us, it sounded like a dream…
Would we do it again? A big 100% yes! Our traveling strategy made life on the road much easier, but we also learned a lot along the way. Here are some tips which may help to make your trip a once-in-a-lifetime beautiful memory…
What you need on the world trip
- Credit card and ATM card
- PINs for money transfer
- Pocket knife
- Medical kit
- Suntan lotion
- 1-2 books (exchange on the way or buy new ones)
- Nail scissors
Universal Power Adapter: this is your most important device, as all your tools tend to run out of juice. Even better and eco friendly: a universal solar charger. For ultimate convenience also carry a car charger for phone, ipod, camera.
Phone: take your toughest phone with the longest lasting battery, including your charger cable. In all countries including the poorest in the world you can buy a SIM card with prepaid credit for your mobile phone. The hardest country remains the US, but TMobile now sells a phone for 24.99 $ with a prepaid card, you can then give the phone to someone in a third world country.
Internet: We took a Samsung N120 netbook, mainly to write this blog and store images. It was ideal as it was cheap (300 €), small and light, and equipped with the best battery in its class (10 h). You will find free wifi networks in many places, in others including some campgrounds you need to pay by the hour or by the day. A great alternative are mobile 3G USB sticks, which work even in remote areas. Ensure that you go with the largest local carrier, as he will have the best coverage.
Camera: We have worked with the Olympus Tough, which is heavy but has the fantastic advantage that it is very difficult to break it. It is very resistant against sand and water (10 m waterproof), and has decent features and image quality (12 megapixels and an ok lens). We did not see anyone on the trip with a viable robust alternative. Needless to say you can scale up substantially in quality with higher end cameras, but these are large, expensive, easier to steal, and sensitive to moisture, dirt and sand.
Image storage: It is best to store your images on a netbook if you have one, and backup an external hard drive. These are small, cheap and robust these days and just provide an extra sense of relief. Publish your favorite ones to your travel blog. Try to delete as much as you can. You will likely never ever look at those 21765 second rate images again, not even when you are 91 years old.
What you need on a remote island
Sarongs (light large cloth)
Presents for the kids and the adults
Plastic containers / ziplock bags
Swimming clothes (covering you)
Take as few pieces as possible. You should have a basic functional outfit including long pants, shorts, t-shirt, fleece and wind-rain jacket. Then you add bikinis, a few dresses, some sulus and you are ready to go. This offers you still the chance to shop on the way. Don’t take your most precious outfits as you may ruin it on the trip or you may want to replace it with something you see on your trip.
We walked around most of the time bare foot or with flip flops. For hiking, our sneakers were good enough. You might want to add some reef shoes for some countries with urchins or sharp coral in the water. And I was very happy with my Ugg boots to keep my feet warm after a session in the water or on cold floors.
Washing was very easy as most campgrounds or apartments offered washing machines and even dryers. I carried some hand wash paste around the world, not using it even once.
Just make sure, that the clothes can be all put into one washing together, avoid extreme colour or fancy material.
We brought sleeping bags, but it was a lot of luggage. In campervans they provide blankets etc., so it is not a must have. For warm countries we suggest bringing a light sheet sleeping bag instead.
Travelling with kids
Our kids were very flexible with different sleeping spots. They loved it and it was a kind of adventure for them. They have had their stuffed animal and a zulu, that made them feel cosy anywhere.
Many parents are worried how they would feed their kids on a remote island, but this worry is unfounded. There are basic things they eat anywhere: fruits such as bananas, bread, noodles, potatoes, rice. In most places they serve chicken or fish or eggs. On top, we have had some crackers and cookies just in case they did not like the food or for stomach ache. During the trip we got rid of many routines; e.g. there is no regular desert, they drink water instead of juices, so that they do not ask for things that we cannot give them. We also avoided everything that needs to be kept in a fridge.
Travelling in the car
We have had car seats (boosters) with us all the time (hand luggage on the plane). It is a hassle, but it makes it safer and the kids can see better what’s going on outside. You can bring a whole entertainment program with you such as kids toys, audiobooks, even DVD player, but for us it was not necessary. The kids were spending their time observing the landscape, talking, singing the songs on the radio or counting. We have had a jacket or a towel to rest their heads on, when they fell asleep in the car.
Travelling on the plane
We have had plane trips of different lengths. The short ones are easy as everything is exciting. The most challenging ones are the long day trips (our longest was 13 hours). We felt it was easiest with some warm clothes and toys. We also brought some crackers, because the kids are always hungry between the meals. In case of ear problems, we took Achronit before the flight (2 tiny pills) and have had chewing gum to chew during landing.
Travelling by campervan
That was an easy and exciting way to travel. Kids loved to be in nature, they have had a toilet nearby and always the same bed. Only when it was very hot, we sometimes wished to have a house where we could relax during noon.
Another challenge was that everybody had to get up at the same time as the van did not have enough space to sleep and eat at the same time. You want to make sure, that the weather is not too rainy, as wet clothes are hard to dry in a small camper van.
Staying in hotels
It is convenient to stay in a hotel with breakfast and dinner in the hotel. Make sure that breakfast and dinner times meet your kids’ needs. Kids do not care about luxury or large spaces. Therefore, cheaper options work fine, as long as they are clean. A pool is always a major bonus to give the kids some exercise, it works wonders for the sleep habits.
Staying in apartments
Apartments or cabins offer a great way of saving costs by cooking and storing food.
When traveling in warm countries, boys are happiest in swim shorts. Bring at least 3 different pairs to make sure they can dry until they are in use again. Bring also rash shirts and hats to protect them against the sun.
I would always bring wet suits for kids. They love to play in the water and you make sure they stay warm. It is also an additional floating device, which keeps them up.
Best spots with kids
The beaches are amazing, the water great for kids, there are no dangerous animals, they speak the language, the food offers a lot for kids, the people are friendly.
Mauritius and Rodrigues
The kids loved the warm ocean and the mellow waves at the beach, the friendliness of the locals, the simplicity of life. Also, no dangerous animals.
Fiji is exotic and beautiful. The kids loved to play with the local kids and experienced a completely different way of living.
Cities vs. country side
Kids love everything. In the cities, we enjoyed most the great kids’ museums. In the country side the kids were excited about all the animals or the beach and the ocean.
General travel advice for a world trip
- Do not make plans, go with the flow. The big wins from this strategy are that you can stay and explore more at places you love and leave at places you don’t like so much, and that the sensation of each adventure and sight is much stronger as you do not have any expectations. Do not worry about places to stay: in thirty years of travel we have never slept on the street, something will always appear.
- Take as little clothing as you can. You will end up buying stuff you need along the way.
- Use local knowledge as much as you can, you find secret spots for sleeping, adventure, eating.
- Be compassionate: you will find that most people in countries outside of the modern industrial Western nations will actually be very friendly and helpful. Wonders of warm welcome will happen to you if you are open to these emotions.
- Simplify, pack only the essentials. We really really needed only a few things
- Limit your number of stops and take your time. I loved most the spots where we could dive into the community and share the daily life pleasures. Five to seven countries is a good benchmark for a year
- Stay longer. If you stay for at least a month in one country, it helps to save some money: Buying the basics such as detergent, salt, oil, butter etc. does not make sense for a week, but is a good investment, when you can keep it over several weeks.
- Plan your trip that you travel outside the high season if you can. This gives you the freedom to travel without pre-booking and to be flexible with your timings. Also the prices are much lower. Consider festivals or events along the trip. Sometimes it is well worth being there, sometimes it is better to avoid the crowds.
- Air travel: check in 60 to 120 minutes before worked fine everywhere. If there is a delay or a problem, keep you cool: there is always a solution. For kite surfers: amazingly the deceiver golf bag worked wonders, on 25 flights we were only caught once, on Maui. On all other flights there was no extra charge for the golf bag, not even on flights to islands that have no golf courses.
Ultimately, each individual has their own preferences and travel style. The ideas in this blog post result from observations from our year of travel around the world. We hope that you can get the same joy out of your trip that we were fortunate to experience. Where ever you go: be open, respectful, go with the flow and give your soul the chance to be in peace. We can assure you, wonderful things will happen…
Categories: Le Grande Finale