We love meeting new people through our blog especially fellow family travellers so we were really excited when Bianca at My Wild Earth contacted us asking us to be part of our Fearless Family Travel Interview Series. We have loved getting to know about their family adventures and hope you do too!
1. What is your family travel? Full-time, part-time, digital nomads etc.
Until recently, we were 100% digital nomads, but returned to South Africa in January 2017 after travelling for almost a year. Our outdoor, travel and adventure website, MyWildEarth.com, has given us the freedom to travel without being tied down to a single location.
2. How has your travel style changed since becoming a family?
Traveling was definitely a lot more stress-free before our son joined us. There are several more considerations and additional planning needed before you can book the tickets. Also, two adults can easily step out of their comfort zone if a situation gets out of hand, but when your child is hungry or tired and something goes wrong, an already tense situation can become quite difficult.
On the plus side, our whole outlook of adventure has changed to include more playing. We traded difficult hikes for easier, fun ones. We now see the world through the eyes of a child and its amazing!
3. What was your baby’s first trip? Why did you choose to go there? What were the highlights/lowlights etc?
Our first trip was to Krabi, Thailand, when our son was 3 years old. We chose Ao Nang for its beautiful beaches, warm sea and affordability. We all love the sea, but at home, in Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean is just too cold to swim.
The biggest highlights for us were the new sites and experiences we were exposed to every day. We were in desperate need of changing the pace of life. We wanted less routine and more adventure, and Thailand offered it.
Having a toddler who was a fussy eater and needed a midday nap, presented several challenges. This, however, turned into a win when we found an “East-Meets-West” restaurant which, aside from the plentiful fruit stands, became our main food supply. The nap time issue was also remedied by having a regular 12 o’clock massage while he slept between us for an hour.
We loved our time exploring islands, temples, caves, waterfalls and hot springs. We planned to stay 3 months, but two months in, we’d had our fill. We changed flights and heading home for a break.
We recognized our limitations. Work, travel and full time parenting without a support structure or day care, was not a winning combination for us at the time, so we shelved the idea temporarily.
We decided to travel again for an extended period. We planned better and our son was a bit older. This time around, the experience was completely different and so much easier.
4. What is your favorite family travel gadget and why?
Our favorite family gadget would have to be the iPhone. Not only is it our camera and video recorder, it’s our navigator, flight finder and entertainer.
5. What is your favorite family travel destination and why?
It’s difficult to pick a favorite family destination, but if pushed, I would say Prague in summer. The city comes alive with festivals, food and music and there are endless parks that cater exclusively for families. They are equipped with impressive jungle gyms, zip lines, trains and wide open spaces. There are also several water parks in and around the city.
There is also an incredible “World School” community in Prague that plan activities and workshops for home-schooling children. Activities including Lego robotics, building forts in the forest, learning how to program and my sons favorite, Nerf Gun Wars.
6. What is the most family friendly accommodation you have ever visited?
The most family friendly accommodation we experienced was in Nusa Dua, Bali, at the Mahogany Hotel. The Balinese staff was so kind and accommodating. It may have had a lot to do with staying there out of season, but in the two weeks we were there, they treated our son very well. They always offered smiles and a dry towel, when crazy pool antics left everything in the vicinity sopping wet.
7. Family travel bloggers can be guilty of showing only the good stuff – what is your worst family travel experience?
Our worst family travel experience was when we were leaving Bali with Air Asia. The connecting flights to Kuala Lumpur and then Mauritius, had been booked with tight precision and zero room for error.
And thus began the potential ripple effect that robbed 3 months of my life. The airlines system was down, which resulted in 3 hours wait. We finally got through the gates to find our flight had been cancelled. This was followed by 3 more hours of waiting in queues while our exhausted 7 year old was falling asleep on the cold airport floor. By some luck, in a room filled with furious customers, we were attended to. 3 seats miraculously open up on another flight that was busy boarding, giving us seconds to find our luggage and run across the entire airport before boarding closed.
Crisis averted, we made the midnight flight. The following 24 hours were exhausting, having to navigate the challenges of travel while making sure you don’t loose luggage. This situation may seem simple from a well rested perspective, but there is a reason your favorite team on “The Amazing Race” falls to pieces when exposed to airport-stress (Yes, it’s a thing) and sleep deprivation.
8. What are your top four tips for other families who wish to travel?
1. Join Facebook groups of the destination you are going to and social groups of travelling families. There is always something happening.
2. As soon as you arrive in a new place, establish a groceries routine as quickly as possible to avoid the shock to your food budget. It can be difficult to figure out where or what to eat in the first few days.
3. Travel as light as physically possible. Too much luggage will literally weigh you down and being able to move quickly away from somewhere undesirable (or even unsafe), is absolutely vital.
4. Before we left home, we opened a credit card with a large available overdraft. We never had to use it, but having it available created an immense source of calm for us. It made any potential financial emergency we could dream up, fade away.
9. What do you wish you had known or done before starting family travel?
I wish I had known that AirBnB’s can be extremely flaky. It should not be your only source for accommodation.
10. What are your future family travel plans?
We plan to always keep a base and travel in shorter bursts, as opposed to packing up everything and committing to an indefinite period again. This gives us the option to change our mind and reset at any time. We intend to keep making travel videos and document the adventures of our son as he grows up. https://www.youtube.com/shawnverne
Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed by us for our Fearless Family Travel interview series. If you would like to know more about the Wild Earth travels then why not check out their Instagram, Facebook and Youtube accounts!