Travelling with Kids?

By Soren Sattrup, CEO at Go Beyond Asia

Most travelers who take their kids to Asia, have been backpacking before, and want to keep exploring though they are "old" farts :-)

At Go Beyond Asia we believe in family travel.

My background in this regard is a number of trips to New Zealand, Asia and outer Europe, with 1 child, 2 children, and now 3 children. And yes I have done all the possible mistakes before and every time gotten closer to the most workable.

You might have tried it yourself too. And your knowledge may be as good as mine. But read it through and check if there are valuable information for you below.

1) Travel: Make few stops

Most people tend to do too much in too short time. When it comes to traveling with kids this point is crucial; not only for the kids, but for the parents, too. Most of us want an un-stressful journey.

When you have to leave for a new place, it is like preparing a small group. As parents you end up using quite a bit of time the day before and on the departure, on the way and upon arrival. I would say, no matter how you go from one place to another, even the most rational way, you end up using a day on practicalities. Imagine if you make 5 stops in 14 days. Then you end up using at least 5 days on practicalities in a mode that could be stressful.

So how much are a few stops?

I have my own rule of thumb (which I have "forgotten" a few times – so I know it is good if I don’t mess with it!):

  • 2 Weeks: My pre-recommendation is 3 stops – incl. arrival gateway, mostly an urban space
  • 3 Weeks: My pre recommendation is 4 stops – incl. arrival gateway, mostly an urban space

But even better for some families is to make a base from where to explore. Why that?

2) Travel: Make a base

Most Children are curious. But they also like to return to a known place in the middle of the unknown.

So a fine way of doing a trip can be to choose a place that is suitable as base. Then the family can explore from there and maybe take an overnight stay a few places. But then they can travel light and keep the rest of the luggage at the base.

3) Accommodation: Shared rooms

So, you have to decide if it is important to stay together in a shared room. Or the kids have an age, where they can stay in a room for themselves or in a seperate bungalow. But the parents need to be sure beforehand.

Only selected hotels/resorts have spaces (rooms / bungalows) that can accommodate more than 2 parents and 1 child. So if there are 2 kids or more, and they want to stay together places are few.

Book well in advance

Therefore, if the family does not have months traveling, it is highly recommendable to book beforehand. Otherwise, the family unit can easily be gone. When doing so, it is very important to specify precisely to your agent, and Go Beyond, what the needs are. And it is important that you double-check that what is booked is actually living up to these criteria.

4) Transportation: Space and flexibility

Make sure that the mode of transport really fits the family:

  • Train: Sometimes it is better to take the train to have space – and be able to walk around and see stuff on the way. Mostly in asia the sleeper compartments in 1st or 2nd class are fine.
  • Plane: Very good for fast access from A to B – suitable for less time and longer distances. Today there are many cheap airlines with fine connections within Asia, and we can help booking them.
  • Land Transport: Make sure it is flexible to stop upon request and note that not all land transportation has seat belts in Asia! It is worth paying a bit more to get your own car with driver for flexibility.
  • Boats: Very good for families too. From a boat you can see the world while you are transported, and the transport becomes an experience. But no rough seas please!

5) Adventures, and the goddess: The SEA

But let me sharpen it up: 99 out of 100 families have success with making the base, or at least a primary stop at the beach, at a place perfect for kids. The sea is the goddess – For both parents and kids alike!

So to sum it up

  • Make few stops – or make a base from where to explore
  • Accommodate according to family needs
  • Book early and double-check the booking
  • Transportation matters
  • The Sea is, mostly, the Goddess

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