Here are Amber, Ross, Ned and Olive a family of 4 that travels the world, not only they take big trips but also are firm believers that travelling can start at your footsteps. They started their blog to keep a record on their trips but also to inspire other families that want to travel, and that is why we are full of questions for them!
How was the first trip as a travel family?
When Ned was 6 months old we went to Phuket in Thailand. For some, this wouldn’t seem a big deal but I know from some non-travel loving friends there was a lot of raised eyebrows! It was very easy. He transitioned into the 3 hour time difference easily and the flight was actually fine. I was worried beforehand about the flight but being so little we had a bassinet and he just slept, fed and had cuddles.
Our first family holiday as a family of 4 was to Noosa in Queensland. Would you believe that the 1 hour time difference in Queensland was more annoying than going to Asia?! Everyone will tell you that kids travelling to Queensland get up early – it must be the sun. We were (still are) very routine based (but a lot more flexible when travelling these days) so we decided for this trip that we would stay on Melbourne time. That meant early starts and the kids were in bed at 6pm (up at 6am) – instead of the normal 7am-7pm.
It worked for us on this trip but it was annoying when we went out for dinner to find somewhere open for dinner at 4.30pm (5.30pm Melbourne time). It seems a bit silly now looking back but at the time it was just easier to try and keep everything the same for the kids.
What did you think that was going to be the worst of the trip and turned out not to be that bad? How about the other way around?
Not necessarily on the Queensland trip but on our travels in general I am very conscious of trying to make sure we include activities that the kids will enjoy. I don’t want to spend our whole holiday at playgrounds but I don’t want the kids to complain if we constantly drag them around.
It’s all about finding a balance. I find this is where pool time is invaluable when travelling. It gives everyone a release, a cool down and a chill out.
The kids are generally happy with anything though, as they are just happy to be all together.
What is always on your luggage? What don’t you take any more in your luggage but once thought you wouldn’t survive without it?
Snacks! Snacks are always in our luggage. Even our checked in bags. Especially if we are travelling somewhere and we are not sure what easy snacks will be available to buy, our bags will always be half full of muesli bars, dried fruit etc.
I still pack a change of clothes for the kids wherever we are going. Once when Ned was younger he didn’t make it to the toilet on the flight to Thailand. He had a change of clothes but I had to sit in wee smelling clothes for the reminder of the trip (as I was carrying him to the bathroom!!). You never know when you may need a change of clothes…
Once thing that we always used to pack was toys! So many toys. We used to make sure we had a large luggage allowance to allow for toys. Nowadays, we don’t bother with toys (apart from the kid’s soft bunnies which they sleep with). It is amazing how they learn to adapt and make up games with what’s available. We had a couple of family massages in Cambodia and Vietnam and for ages afterwards the kids would get the pillows out and give each other ‘massages’!
Which tricks do you use to survive on your commute to your final destination?
Snacks, snacks and more snacks. I don’t travel anywhere without a bag full of snacks! I also have no issues with the kids watching movies to pass the time. We travel with two tablets and our phones – but I will be looking to re-asses what technology we travel with in the future. It seems bulky, but I think it’s a necessity for down time and long transport trips.
What are your saving tips for these family trips?
Eat local, travel local, do lots of planning for best deals etc. Eating out in Asia is cheap but if we are travelling withing Australia we will always choose somewhere with a kitchen so we can do our own cooking to save money.
How do you plan your family trips?
In the past the kids haven’t had a part in our travel planning. They were just too young. But going forward I think we will all have a part in travel planning. One of the kids favourite things to do is look at the world globe and ask questions about lots of the different countries. We also have a couple of Lonely Planet books for kids which they love looking through. Generally though, we just have to pick one of the many destinations I have on my bucket list. This depends on a few things – how much annual leave Ross has, time of year, what else we are thinking of doing within the next 12 months etc. There is lots to consider. Ross is a firm believer that he would rather maximise his time away, so he is happy to pay more for direct flights rather than having a stopover. I am also a planner and will plan our trips down to the minute to try and experience everything we can. We never know if we will return to a particular destination, so I would like to try and experience as much as possible. We always plan for down days with the kids. These are for pool and relaxing (and for other things I hadn’t come across in my planning that we would like to experience).
In terms of organising luggage I have always been a terrible over packer! For our last few trips we have used packing cubes. We had never used them before, but they have been fantastic and would recommend them for everybody travelling.
Share with us an anecdote of one of those family trips
Our big trip last year was to Cambodia and Vietnam. It was brilliant. I know a lot of people questioned taking the kids to Siem Reap and visiting Angkor Wat but they had a ball. I have a blog post on the temples we visited Our blog is very new so I have a lot more information coming soon covering our adventures.
What destination do you think is a family must? Which would you suggest to avoid at all cost?
Any destination is a family must. I don’t think I could limit this to a single destination. We would love to explore more of Australia over the coming years as there is just so much to see here. But, the kids are interested in so many places. We would love to take them back to places we have already been such as Canada and South America but there are a number of new destinations that we as a family are excited to explore at some stage including Iceland, Lapland, Egypt and Sri Lanka. I would even love to take the kids trekking at low altitude in Nepal – nothing is off limits!
I haven’t been to a destination that I would suggest avoiding at all costs. Even exploring the temples around Siem Reap there were people that looked at us strangely for taking the kids (before we left), but the kids absolutely loved exploring! I’d love to hear if anybody else has had experiences with any destinations that are truly not kid friendly.
What is your next trip as a family?
We have a couple of good trips planned for this year. The two big trips are New Zealand and Hawaii. We are going to the North Island of New Zealand and hoping to rent a campervan which will be a new experience. I also have a big birthday this year and have decided to run away and celebrate so we will be in Hawaii. We will be spending the majority of the time on The Big Island exploring volcanoes, beaches and taking the kids snorkelling for the first time. We actually decided on Hawaii by talking to the kids about both Hawaii and Sri Lanka and Hawaii won because of the Volcanoes (we will explore Sri Lanka next year).
What would be your advice to (us) any family that wants to start travelling?
Simply, just start. If you are worried about taking your kids travelling for a fear of being stuck on a plane with them then start local. I am a firm believer that travel doesn’t necessarily mean spending lots of money or being jealous of others who are travelling around the world. Pick an area close to home and go for a walk, go and spend a night in a cabin in a fabulous caravan park etc. Don’t be afraid of travelling with your kids.
Kids are everywhere and make fabulous travel buddies (most of the time!).