World travel with toddlers

My friends, Magnus and Cheryl, are amazing nomads who have been around the world and back only to set off again with a baby and another time with two toddlers. They have chronicled their journeys, triumphs and tantrums on a blog, with loads of tips on touring the world with young kids. Since they’re expecting baby number three any day now, I caught up with them and asked them to share some stories and advice. Merci!

Lessons learned from international trips with tots

We planned an 8 month soiree from August 2011 until March 2012, with hopes to travel from Scotland to Barcelona, dip into America, zip across Japan and Korea, traverse New Zealand, dot around Australia, take time out at Thai beaches before ending up in scrumptious Sri Lanka.

Traveling the world with young kiddies – exhausting chaotic craziness, yes, but with the payoff of a close-up view as our two tiny people grow and change with each passing day.

Roadtripping with toddlers

Destinations: Where’s safe & fun to go with the wee ‘uns?

Recommended child-friendly itinerary:

  • Camping across Western Europe: safe, manageable but a lot of driving miles.
  • Drive the U.S. East and South: family friendly but again, large distances to cover.
  • Japan: Nuclear reactor cooling down (though we kept south to be safe) and a country that can use our tourist cash as it rebuilds.
  • South Korea: Diverse, safe, user-friendly and not widely visited.
  • New Zealand: Stunningly beautiful and family friendly parks and barbecue spots everywhere.
  • Australia: Sunny beaches and familiar culture but scary poisonous critters to avoid.
  • Thailand: Asia fun-style with great tourist infrastructure, lovely people and no malaria in the south.
  • Sri Lanka: Cool varied culture, civil war in the past, a bit like India-lite!

{Read how and why we picked our Destinations}

Breakfast for toddlers on a roadtrip

Packing: What to pack on a world trip with toddlers

We found packing to travel with kids worked out fine: just keep your grown-up kit to a minimum. Also remember the obvious fact that there are children everywhere: you can most likely find any essentials wherever you are in the world. Be ready for a few embarrassing interactions, though, like Magnus mistaking the label for ladies sanitary pads for nappies (diapers) in a Japanese store!

Sri Lankan Train Child Pacification System (iPhone, Headphones & Apple!)
Sri Lankan Train Child Pacification System (iPhone, Headphones & Apple!)

Of course, some things have worked out better than others: the pram turned out to be a god-send, giving control over our crazy kids in busy train stations (but less handy going up and down subway stairs); the child-carrier allowed us to take the kids on a multi-day trek in New Zealand and the ukulele has brought joy to neighboring rooms in hotels across Japan and Korea. On the downside, e-books are not as easy to use as an old-fashioned print, we couldn’t survive without running shoes to keep us in shape and the kids needed a regular refresh of their toys and books to keep them interested.

{Read our actual Packing Lists and how they changed}

Travel Days: Surviving long transit days with toddlers (planes, trains, & automobiles)

Japanese trains are particularly cool because you can sit in the front carriage and look through a glass window to watch the driver pull his knobs and turn his dials to drive the train – great for inquisitive youngsters.

Japanese trains are great for inquisitive youngsters

However, the magic lasts for but a few minutes until their tiny attention spans turn to the rest of the carriage. The cool, polite silence of the carriage with the people and occasional children sitting with restraint and impeccable manners.

Books, toys, treats and threats can also buy you a little time but, again, a journey of over 2 hours made the train carriage seem like a prison, with us the inmates being punished with the shame of damning eyes as our uncontrollable toddlers charged up and down, climbed the seats, fought and wailed when reprimanded. {read more Travel Days}

Future drivers

Even more reflections on our world trip with toddlers:

I excerpted this post as part of our series on traveling with babies, toddlers, and small children. Sheryl and Magnus have been some super amazing places. Go visit their blog to see inside more of their adventures. 

How and why to travel with little kids, world travel edition

[All photos from MagnusandCheryl, all rights reserved]