As part of our new monthly link-up we will be featuring some of our fellow fearless family travellers. We can’t wait to hear all about other families global adventures. So without further ado here’s our first feature with the amazing FlipFlop Travellers. They have travelled extensively going to Bali, Asia and Egypt and have ambitions to become digital nomads in the future!
- What is your family travel? Full-time, part-time, digital nomads etc.
In 2015 we traveled full time for 10 months. We payed with our savings, but also took our first babysteps as digital nomads. We really want to become fulltime digital nomads. With my mother in law in a nursing home due to Parkinson’s Disease, longterm travel isn’t really an option right now, so we’ll have to settle for shorter term trips.
- How has your travel style changed since becoming a family?
It hasn’t changed as much as you might expect, but at the same time it’s changed a lot. We still love the flexibility of backpacking (well, the bags are a bit bigger now with all the kids stuff), except now we limit the daily number of activities, so our toddler can handle it. We include more fun stuff for him to do and we’re home by 8pm every night so that the little guy can get enough sleep. No more jungle trekkings, floating bungalows or scuba diving liveaboards until our son is a bit older, but no kid friendly luxury bungalow style holidays either. I’ve posted on our blog about 10 ways our son changed the way we travel
- What was your baby’s first trip? Why did you chose to go there? What were the highlights/lowlights etc?
When our son was only three months old we spent two months in Dahab, Egypt. We have a holiday house there (http://www.holidayhousedahab.com) so the choice was easy. It was fantastic being back there again and we discovered it was even more easy to live abroad with a baby than we thought. Of course we had to adapt to him taking naps. Sometimes he’d sleep in the pram, sometimes he didn’t. Our trip had plenty of highlights, such as visiting a nearby oasis, swimming in the sea and spending a lot of time out of the house (which we didn’t do too much in his first three months). The only lowlight was that our little guy developed a major diaper rash from the heat and lesser quality diapers.
- What is your favourite family travel gadget and why?
I guess for every stage of your children’s lives you’ll have different favourite gadgets. Our big trip was between the ages of 1,5 and 2,5. At that stage we loved his Nomad travel sleeping tent, our Manduca baby carrier and the Totseat high chair. I wrote a bit more about them on our blog here. Am I a really bad mother if I say the iPad is probably the best travel gadget ever? 😉
- What is your favourite family travel destination and why?
So far we’ve been to Egypt, Bali, Sulawesi, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Philippines. I’d say Sri Lanka and Sulawesi were probably the most family unfriendly. Sri Lanka because we found it quite hard to find non spicy food to eat for our toddler in all area’s but the South, where it’s more touristy. Sri Lankan people are generally very nice to kids though.
In Sulawesi (especially Makassar in the South) they don’t get too many foreign visitors and everyone kept touching our little one, without any regards for him whatsoever. We don’t mind the staring, but if you want to take his picture please ask and don’t try to take him out of the stroller! All these hands suddenly appearing out of nowhere and touching him, scared him so much he started having violent nightmares and waking up screaming at least ten times each night. At the same time we had a wonderful experience at Bunaken Island in the North of Sulawesi.
I think our family favourites were Bali and Thailand. Bali is touristy but lots of areas are still very quiet and authentic. We had a lovely time there. And we both love Thailand and have been there many times pre-kids. It was fantastic wandering the streets of Bangkok with our little one 🙂
- What is the most family friendly accommodation you have ever visited?
Probably the best place we every stayed was via a house swap with another digital nomad family living in Sanur, Bali at the time. We stayed for a week in their 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with private pool and sooo many toys. It was amazing 🙂
Other than that most of the accommodations we stayed in were alright. Some were a bit more accommodating in the sense that they provided an extra mattress for free (the self inflating mattress we brought for our son’s travel tent started leaking in the first few months and we couldn’t find a replacement, so we needed a mattress or extra blankets to put underneath) even if we didn’t choose a three person room. During our 10 months of travel we’ve stayed in sooo many hotel rooms and Airbnb apartments. Any place that’s moderately clean can be turned into a family friendly accommodation in our experience. Our personal favourite is if there is a gated pool and/or we have at least one separate bedroom so our son can sleep undisturbed and we don’t have to whisper the whole evening.
- Family travel bloggers can be guilty of showing only the good stuff – what is your worst family travel experience?
We’re actually quite frank on our blog., talking about the good and the bad from our personal point of view. So far, we’re very lucky not to have any really horrible travel experiences. Of course, there are always ‘incidents’.
At some point, while we were diving in Moalboal, Philippines, Mau developed a weird rash. He had to go to Cebu City (3 hours by bus) to have it checked out and make sure it wasn’t a form of decompression sickness. I stayed in Moalboal by myself with our little one. He took the last bus, stayed in Cebu City by himself for a night, went to the hospital in the morning and then took a bus back. Not our most fun memory, obviously. Luckily it really was just an innocent rash.
Also we really don’t recommend flying with Sriwijaya Airlines (read our review here ) as the planes look like they’re about to fall apart and so far Makassar is really one of our least favourite cities in the world (see question 5 above and our post about Makassar on our blog).
- What are your top three tips for other families who wish to travel?
- If you want to travel, go! Don’t overthink and don’t be scared. Traveling with kids is fun!
- Don’t overpack and definitely don’t take too much stuff you don’t want to part with
- Connect with other families online so you can profit from their experiences and destination knowledge
- What do you wish you had known or done before starting family travel?
I wish I’d done more homework on our last long trip. At least made a long list with possible destinations and accommodations recommended by other family travelers. We didn’t know exactly where we were going, but had pinned it down to South East Asia and this might’ve made choosing new destinations a bit easier. As it was I spent a lot of time online, researching destinations and accommodations, often on really slow internet connections. And I think next time we’ll organise things so that we each have some more me-time. Lots of family time is amazing, but being together 24/7 can become a bit too much.
- What are your future family travel plans?
In the future we hope to become a true digital nomad family and slow travel our way around the globe. We’re not there yet by a long shot, but we won’t stop dreaming! Because of my mother in law’s illness we had to return two months early from our big trip and we spent most of 2016 trying to settle back in. For 2017 we’re definitely planning more travel, although we have nothing booked yet.
You can find Flip Flop globetrotters online at http://www.flipflopglobetrotters.com