weird and wonderful world of family travel

People tend to be curious about our journeys with the kids, currently aged 6 and 9. They have come along on our journeys since they were born, and can still remember lots from places like Cuba, Vietnam, Morocco, Thailand, Laos as well as places closer to home. Normal questions are ‘How do you do it?’ ‘Do you book hotels in advance?’ ‘What do the kids eat?’ and so on…

What will today bring? Morning glory in Luang Prabang

In this post we’ll lift the curtain and shine some light on what goes on behind the scenes of family travel. Here are the basic questions answered:

What do the kids eat?

This question always makes me giggle. My kids are NOT the most adventurous of eaters – at home. They’ll cringe at the sight of peas, carrots, lentils and tomatoes. However, stick them on a street café in a back alley in Luang Prabang, and they’re willing to try anything. ANYTHING. Duck fetus, sure! Fried bat, yes please! Scorpion, why not? Snake, yummy! The list is long. I have no explanation to this, other than maybe I’m just too A4 in the kitchen? The bottom line is, when you’re on the road with your kids, they’ll cope with just about anything as long as their parents encourage them and provide them with a secure backdrop when the surroundings become a bit too alien. Also, I think it’s important to chill out when it comes to food. Living on pasta, rice, eggs on toast and fresh fruit for a month is ok!

Give it to me! Mattis eating duck fetus (left) and scorpion (middle). Siena is happy with her street food and chop sticks.

Do you book hotels in advance?

We rarely book hotels in advance. This would limit our flexibility to stay longer in a place if we really like it. Having said this, we always make sure to have a reservation for our first night after the long haul flight from Europe. We also tend to arrange to be picked up by hotel staff at the airport. This takes the stress out of a potentially highly stressful situation, and is always worth the extra few dollars. Apart from this, we tend to guide ourselves by Lonely Planet or other suitable travel literature along the way. Sometimes we may phone in advance to secure a booking with a particularly desired hotel or hostel, especially if there’s a bank holiday or other festivities happening.

The hotel in the picture below is a great, little place in the centre of Bangkok. It’s a garden and a tadpole pool, a piano and a very arty, laid back atmosphere. A vintage kind of place with some seriously delicious smoothies! It’s called Phranacorn Nornlen, and we are totally recommending it!

We booked this hotel in advance, because we had read that it was child friendly.

How do you do it?

We do it the same way as we would have done it without the kids, only trying to limit the amount of hours spent on transport per day. This is not to say that we don’t do overnight journeys, or time consuming bus rides. As every traveller knows, sometimes it has to be done. Then it’s a matter of preparing the kids for a day of being stuck inside a vehicle, and of course, focusing on what we’ll be able to enjoy once we reach a destination. It may be a beach, a cave, a city or simply a hotel. Either way, the vagabond parent’s secret weapon is always to create anticipation and excitement! Oh, and of course, we always stack up on lots of local goodies. Seaweed flavoured Pringles killed at least one hour on our way from Bangkok to the island of Ko Chang.

Once the kiddos know that there's a bonus like this at the end of that tediously long bus ride, they're more likely to keep going.


















Thanks EasyJet, for choosing this post as your blogger of the month!


Khao San Road – again…

Family friendly Khao San Rd

If you have found this post, you will most probably already have heard about Khao San Road. It’s the backpacker ghetto of Bangkok, a place to immerse yourself in chaotic shopping, endless haggling and of course, the continuous display of Western tourists having had too many Chang beers.

Inevitably some of the locals also end up having too many chang beers...

Everything you have heard about this road is probably true. However, what you may not know, is that the road is only a little snippet of a side street. 350 meters long, that’s all. In return, these 350 meters are jam packed with… well… I suppose you could call it entertainment.

Here are some of the family friendly things to do along this mythical road:

Fried banana - or flied banana as the vendors call it.

Actually, these are not like the deep fried bananas you may get in restaurants. This is simple street food, and a better way to describe it is grilled banana, or ‘gluay ping’ as the Thai call it. In the picture you can see the woman pressing the grilled bananas together. It is served with a sugary sirup (palm sugar I believe), and will have you craving for more in no time!

Make believe Ray Bans are a must in Khaosan Rd!

Ay Ay Pirate! Khao San Road is the mother of piracy… whether you’re dying for a Louis Vuitton suitcase, Armani underpants or like me – a classic pair of Ray Ban pilot sunglasses – you’ve come to the right place! Be prepared to bargain hard though. Prices have shot up in the last five years, so don’t expect to pay less than 100 Bahts for a t-shirt, 150 for a pair of ‘designer’ glasses and another 150 bahts for a pair of Havaiana flip flops. Our football crazy son stocked up on all his favorite football strips for next to nothing, and I have rarely seen him as happy!

Add some buddhism to your life...

Buddha is ever present in Thai life. As a tourist in Bangkok, you are likely to visit more temples than you are capable of absorbing, and the image of Buddha will eventually remind you of these serene places of peace, meditation and harmony. It’s a great place to start teaching your kids about world religions, as they will be able to get up close and personal with the standing buddhas, the lying buddha and maybe even adorn them with the gold leaf you can purchase at the temples.

Eating STRANGE things!

The insect cart hits Khao San Rd at around 7 pm every evening. It’s as exotic as it gets, so prepare yourself for some seriously crackly snacks… We tried the deep fried scorpions (like the one our son holds up in the photo), frogs, grashoppers, crickets, silk worms and the plain old normal worms. Or to be honest, I stuck to the plain worms while the rest of my family indulged in the whole menu. Their favourites were the scorpion and the crickets, whereas the silk worms left them all gagging and reaching out for the water bottle…

Natural pedicure Khao San Rd style.

Baby feet! It is no secret that backpacking can leave your feet in a right mess. Well, fear not, because in Khao San Rd. there is a very entertaining cure for rough skin. My son found it hilarious, and giggled all  through the ten minutes he had his little feet in the fish tank. The feeling? Well, according to him it’s like a light electric buzz, and at one point we had to fish him out because he was on his way in with his whole body.

Food, glorious street food!

Thai tapas is the only way I can describe hitting the food stalls along Khao San Rd. You pick up a tasty satay skewer, shop a bit more, stop for a corn on the cob further down the road, bargain for a hammock, indulge in a chocolate pancake, and so on… it seems to be the way to do things around here.

The food is ridiculously cheap – we never paid more than thirty bahts for anything (70 pence), and although food critics claim that the street vendors use soy sauce rather than the more authentic tamarind sauce, I say that the experience of eating in the street tastes so authentic that it more than compensates for the inferior ingredient. Oh, and no upset stomachs afterwards!

Once you’ve endured Khao San Rd, you may want a dose of beach life. Why not check out our secret beach on the island of Ko Chang?