In the past 550 days, we’ve taken 30 flights to 11 countries and slept in over 55 different beds. Travel with kids, especially young ones, can be a wonderful, frustrating, miserable and memorable experience - sometimes it’s all of them in one day. To get the most out of your time together and travel without tears here’s the stuff we’ve learnt along the way: Sounds obvious but plan your trip with your kids in mind and choose an itinerary that will work for everyone. Think carefully about where you will go and what you’re going to do when you get there. There were places we decided to skip this time around (Myanmar/Cambodia/Laos) and things we decided not to do (jungle treks/dawn hikes/city breaks). They might sound adventurous but in reality just wouldn’t work for our kids and the stage they’re at - we’ll save them up for another time instead. We find the beach is easier with little ones than bustling cities and sticking to the well-trodden family-friendly tourist trail keeps life simple. Of course, you might be able to “manage” it but enjoying yourself far outweighs getting through each day with a big sigh of relief and cranky kids. Balance out your thirst for new and unique experiences with what your kids can manage. Jet-lag can be brutal so also worth planning your trip to minimise how many time zones you will cross and how often. Kerb your propensity for gallivanting about, move less and see more. Longer stints in fewer places allow much needed down days for everyone. After a couple of months on the move the constant excitement and stress of navigating a new place every few days left us craving simpler times, familiarity and routine. We now plan our travels so we’re not in a rush and have plenty of time for simple pleasures. No matter where we are Sunday mornings are all about lazing in our jim-jams till lunchtime, watching cartoons on the sofa and long leisurely breakfasts. Without the pressure of sights to see and places to tick off everyone can enjoy some much needed downtime. Plan to do half as much as you think in twice the time and you’ll be about right… We’ve realised the theory that kids are remarkably adaptable isn’t always true. Jessica is a creature of habit and finds the chaos, spontaneity and newness of travelling hard going at times. To ease her anxieties we’ve slowed right down and do longer stints in fewer places. We also strive to provide her with a “home”, a stable base and a bit more security. Little rituals help along the way - our trusty magnets on the fridge, a gallery corner for works of art and the same bedtime routine every evening helps provide familiarity in a life of uncertainty. Spontaneity is all well and good till there’s no room at the inn. Searching for somewhere to stay with tired, cranky kids in tow is no fun for anyone. Gone are our days of being footloose and fancy-free but we’ve found booking in advance works best for us. Not only does it take away a lot of the uncertainty we also enjoy the best deals on accommodation and can tie in with dates, events and people to see while we’re there. Plan your grand adventure together. Jessica finds an “on the hoof” lifestyle a lot more manageable if she knows what to expect. Talk about your upcoming trips, look at pictures of the places you’ll stay and talk about what you’ll do while you’re there. One of the best things we’ve done is create a visual countdown calendar stuck to our fridge so they know exactly how many sleeps till we’re next on the move. While we don’t mind cramming into tiny hotel rooms for short breaks longer stints require space to spread out. Apartments in shared complexes work out best for us; everyone appreciates more room to work, rest and play and the opportunity for some home-cooked meals. We’ve also discovered the busier the city, the more we relish the big five-star resorts for a tranquil haven to escape the hustle and bustle. A relaxing afternoon poolside has saved our sanity in the chaotic Asian mega-cities of Manila and Ho Chi Minh. After a tonne of thought and a lot of tweaking, we've finally nailed the art of travelling light. Everything we need for a family of four, for a year, fits into two backpacks and weighs less than 30KG. We ditched our buggy, opting instead for our trusty baby carrier. Potholed pavements and travel by tuk-tuk aren’t much fun with a bulky Phil & Teds to drag around. We also left our car seats behind. Most of our travel is by plane, boat or tuk-tuk so we make do without car seats for the short taxi ride from the airport. For longer stints we buy or hire seats locally - a safer bet to make sure they’re compatible, meet regulations and fit. Everyone has enough stuff to last a week and laundry gets done on the go. Even in the remotest of locations we’ve found plentiful baby supplies so no need to pack heaps of bulky “just in case” nappies. You can take a peek inside our backpacks here. Comprehensive insurance is worth its weight in gold if disaster does strike. Take cover with a reputable provider and read the fine print so you know what you’re getting. Having Millie hospitalised three weeks into our trip hit home hard how important it is to have comprehensive cover. Our insurers were impressive, covering all our expenses with no quibbles. Find a good travel clinic for your family at least six months before you leave so you can consider all your health concerns before you set off. They will help you research which vaccines you should have (some need multiple shots before you’re covered) and which regions have a high incidence of malaria so that you can take precautions. Initially we found life on the road pretty lonely so get out there and meet people, or let your kids do it for you. After six months of "going it alone" we realised we don't have to do that anymore. There are real, live people, exploring the world with their kids, doing what we're doing. Our blog and Facebook page have provided us opportunities to meet up with fellow travelling families and the friendships we’ve made along the way have enriched our travels. Whether you’re planning a long-term trip (or have already embarked on it), we recommend joining the Families on the Move group on Facebook. You'll find a welcome, friendly community of like-minded families and loads of helpful tips, insights and advice. We all enjoy the opportunities for meet-ups and have made friends from every far-flung corner of the globe. Throughout Asia paparazzi circles regularly swarm around our girls marvelling at their blonde curls and blue eyes. They’ve had camera phones shoved in their faces, zoom lenses trained on them from afar and enthusiastic passers-by digging their knuckles into their cheeks. Sometimes, the more polite ones who failed to get their shot on the sly, even ask permission to take their photos. Seriously there have been times we could have sold the rights to their images to finance our way around the world, or at least check in for a lovely stay at the poshest hotels across Asia. Jot down your memories: Whether you blog, Instagram your way around the world or just jot down one line a day in a journal - you’ll be grateful to look back over your memories in the years ahead. When you’re doing so much, it’s easy to forget the all the tiny day to day details and precious memories. Aged 4 and two our daughters probably won’t remember a lot about our journey. A blog or journal will preserve our memories, fill in the gaps and create the stories behind the pictures; details that otherwise will inevitably fade over time. Recently we met a family who writes a postcard from everywhere they’ve been and send them back along the way. A wonderful collection of happy travel memories is waiting for you when you get home. Such a lovely idea I wish we’d thought of it! Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.