As one of the world’s biggest travel blogs, it’s safe to say the continent-conquering World Travel Family know a thing or two about globe-trotting en famille. If you’re considering jetting off with your brood in tow, discover their tips for happy family travels before you embark on your next adventure.
Can you introduce your family?
“My name is Alyson and I’m a mum, travel blogger, full time traveller and home educator. I am originally from Wales, but we’ve lived all over the world in the last 10 years. My husband – we call him Chef because he was one in his life before travel – is Australian and a competitor on the international Ironman Triathlete circuit. We have two fabulous boys, D and Boo. They are now 13 and 11 and started travelling full time at just 6 and 8 years old. They tend to think of themselves as British but really love living in Romania and Vietnam, as do we all.”
What inspired you to follow a nomadic lifestyle?
“My husband and I met on The Nile and a year later took off on our first round the world trip. We never dreamed that a lifestyle such as ours would be possible, certainly not with kids, but we longed for more travel and the freedom and intensity of learning and experiencing new things every day. When we first left home with the kids back in 2013, our thinking was that we’d have a family gap year and then have to return, but we loved the experience and saw how much the kids were getting out of it, so we set about making it possible for us to travel full time. We’ve cracked it now; we are literally living the dream.”
How many countries have you travelled to together?
“I haven’t counted in a long time, but I think it’s just over 50. I rarely visit a new country – there was just one for me last year, Slovenia – but for the kids they see new destinations every year. I think they’ve pretty much caught up with us now, so anywhere new for them will now be new for us too. That said, we’re not country counters. We don’t go places just to say we’ve been, we go if we have a real interest in the destination.”
What’s been your most memorable experience travelling with your family?
“If you asked us individually I’m sure you’d get many different answers, but my favourite, and my elder son’s favourite, was reaching Tengboche Monastery in Nepal. It was a tough day of walking, most of it uphill and at altitude, and D and I did it alone. We reached that hilltop just in time to get a perfect view of Everest through the clouds and of course, the monastery itself is the stuff of dreams. Trekking in the Everest region was a huge highlight of the last five years and did wonders for the boys’ self-confidence. I’m a real mountain girl and can’t wait to get back to the Himalayas.”
Have you ever had any family travel nightmares and if so how did you overcome them?
“A few! We were almost hit by a run-away tanker in Egypt; my husband needed emergency surgery in Thailand; we once spent a night in Sri Lanka airport because we booked accommodation for the wrong night; and we’ve been robbed in Australia and Malaysia…but really, it’s small stuff. The tanker shook me up, as did falling off my bike in Vietnam, but you just have to carry on and get back in the saddle straight away, otherwise you’ll lose your nerve.”
How does the travelling experience change as children grow older?
“They learn more from each destination and they enjoy them in different ways. It was wonderful travelling with my little boys, but now, as a teen and a tween, they’re the best company you could possibly have. I just love being with these funny, smart young people and they constantly amaze me.”
What countries would you recommend for children?
“That depends on duration and travel style. Anywhere is possible, but think hard about destinations such as India, Nepal, Laos and Cambodia. I actually don’t recommend our style of travel with very young children. We started really travelling with our two boys when the younger one was 6 for a reason – he was tougher, less prone to sickness and just easier to travel with.”
Are there any essentials parents should pack before embarking on a trip with their children?
“Rechargeable power packs and Kindles. My kids have read so many books on planes, trains and buses, you just wouldn’t believe. I don’t know what we’d do without our Kindles.”
What three things would you suggest for harmonious travels with children?
“Listen to them. If they are hot, tired, bored, hungry, or uncomfortable in a situation, listen. Let them know that they can tell you these things and that you, their protector, will respond. It’s about trust. Also go to the places they want to go; be it Egypt or Disneyland, try to take them – they should have a say in family life too. The real key, of course, is to keep them sweet with lots of cake and ice cream.”
What would you say to parents considering travelling somewhere new and adventurous with their children?
“Do it, for sure, but do your research first and know what to expect. This is why I blog; my website is a huge resource to help people understand the practicalities and realities of travel all over the globe. Know your kids, too. Be sure that what you plan for them will not be outside their comfort zone.”
What destinations are you heading to in 2018?
We spent January and February in Vietnam. This year will see us visiting Serbia, Romania, Rome, Jordan and hopefully Nepal again. Maybe a few others. We’re trying to get to Bhutan, too. We’ll be home in Wales for an Ironman event, and maybe head to Estonia for a half Ironman, too.”
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