It’s a common (and sad) misconception that being a Mum curtails your travelling habits. For new Mums with itchy feet, it may feel as though your little bundle of joy (and responsibility) is keeping you tethered to blighty. Yet, while there are many, many wonderful child-friendly holiday destinations right here in the UK, you shouldn’t feel as though your globe trotting days are over when your little ones are born. In fact, the sooner you can start travelling overseas with your child or children in tow, the better.
Don’t get me wrong, you can expect a bumpy ride every now and then. Air travel (especially long haul flights) can be a nightmare for even the most temperate adult so you can imagine how it would be for a scared and confused toddler. And international travel may be daunting for children who crave stability and familiarity. Nonetheless, the sooner you introduce them to the highs and the lows of travel, the more they will become sanguine and enthusiastic about it.
Although a jaunt to Europe is more than enough for most new parents and their tiny charges, an argument can be made that travelling further afield can and should be done with the little ones, even if they’re only tiny. Take the continent of Asia for example. It’s so vast and sprawling with so many unique and beautiful cultures that you could visit the continent once a year, every year for the rest of your life and always enjoy a different experience. What’s more, Asia has a great deal to offer kids and their parents alike. Here we’ll look at some of the great things about travelling to Asia with kids that all travel-hungry parents should consider…
What small child doesn’t live animals? Yet, while quotidian mammals like dogs, cats, foxes and otters may draw adoration from our little ones, Asia has some of the most diverse, unique and beautiful creatures on the planet. All creatures great and small. From gargantuan Asian elephants stately orangutans and preposterously adorable red pandas Asia’s wildlife is a gift to young children.
If you want to treat your animal crazy kids to an animal experience, be wary. Some of the animal tourism trade in Asia is more ethical than others. Be particularly wary of elephant “shows” in Thailand or anything that offers a tiger petting experience. Animals are best seen in sanctuaries where you can observe them in their natural habitat. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is an excellent example of this; rescuing elephants from the tourism and logging industries where the have endured extremely hard lives and letting them live out their days happy, healthy and carefree.
A great opportunity to challenge fussy eating
When you have a little one who’s a fussy eater, it can be downright infuriating. But taking them to a new locale with a very different cuisine can be a great way to introduce new tastes, scents and textures into their diets. Asian diets are generally much healthier than the western diet, with far less emphasis on meat, saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. Asian cuisine can do wonderful things with vegetables which can make even the fussiest little ones enthusiastic about eating them. While larger cities all over the continent will inevitably feature global mainstays like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, travelling to Asia gets young children to become more adventurous in their eating habits.
Young kids crave familiarity and fear the unknown. While that’s human nature, it can make them less open to getting to know new people and make new friends outside of their existing friendship groups. Travel of any sort if a great way to introduce kids to other people with whom they wouldn’t normally come into contact.
Many Asian countries pride themselves on their hospitality and the friendly welcome they provide to newcomers. Thailand is often referred to as “the land of smiles” but you’ll also see warm and genuine smiles on the faces of people all over the continent, especially in places like Malaysia and Singapore. The more kids interact with the warm and friendly locals, the more they’ll see the fun to be had in interacting with people from different cultures.
Everything’s really affordable!
While flights to Asia tend to be a little bit on the pricey side, once you arrive in most Asian destinations you may be pleasantly surprised by how affordable everything is. Even luxurious accommodation is eminently affordable when compared to similar properties in Europe and especially the UK. For example, just take a look at Penang property for sale and compare it to similar accommodation back home. Of course, accommodation isn’t the only thing that’s really affordable. You’ll find that the cost of dining, even fine dining pales in comparison to what you can expect to pay back home. Even beer, wines and spirits are much more affordable, although you may expect to pay a little more for alcohol in dry countries like Malaysia where the people are predominantly Muslim and as such do not drink. Here alcohol is more scarce and as such you can expect to pay a little more for it. Not that you or your kids are likely to be doing much drinking anyway!
It gets them thinking about the value of experiences over products
Finally, many Asian countries are far less consumerist in nature than our own. Eastern Asian countries in particular, even those that are ostensibly capitalist, have an inherently Taoist attitude towards like, valuing connections with people and experience over the accumulation of material possessions. In an era where we parents constantly feel cajoled into giving our kids the new “must have” present every Christmas and birthdays tend to be followed by scary credit card bills, we could all do with making our kids a little less materialistic. What’s more, the very act of travel encourages kids to realise that there’s more joy to be found in experiences and interactions with people than in collecting material possessions which will be gathering dust on a shelf in a few months.