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Embarking on a Global Adventure: Schaapies on Tour

Bucket lists? They’re so 2017. We, Yuri and Merel, both 38 years old, decided to take a leap of faith on a Saturday night, August 12th, at 23:00 hrs. We chose to embark on an 8-month journey around the world with our toddler son. Thus, “Schaapies on Tour” was born – a global adventure with a toddler in tow!

Planning a Global Adventure with a Toddler

Planning a trip around the world with a 3-year-old toddler is no small feat. However, within six months, we were boarding a plane to Capetown. We had rented out our house, quit our jobs, and found safe places for our car and beloved cat, Bo. The journey was about to begin.

Assembling the trip was a swift process. We had to consider our budget, the restrictions of a world-trip ticket, and select child-friendly countries. We also wanted to include a few must-see destinations for ourselves. The plan was to spend six weeks in South Africa, four weeks each in Sri Lanka, northern and central Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and two months in Canada. Sri Lanka was a dream destination for mum, while dad was excited about cruising through Canada in a mobile home. We also chose countries known for their child-friendly environments and loving people for our son, Nout.

Unforgettable Experiences and Encounters

During the planning and even throughout the trip, we encountered a lot of questions and remarks from people who didn’t quite understand our dream. We had some unique encounters, especially in Asia. For instance, during Galungan on Bali, my husband joined the local men in cleaning temples, dressed in traditional attire. In Canada, we met a family in Banff who invited us to their hunter’s house on the prairie. Four weeks after meeting them, we spent two wonderful days with them in central Canada. These are beautiful experiences and encounters we will never forget.

We often say: if you ever lose faith in humanity, visit Southeast Asia and especially Sri Lanka.

Highlights of Our Global Adventure with a Toddler

Five weeks after returning to Holland, the most frequently asked question is: “What was your highlight?” To which I have to reply “No idea” every time.

Unforgettable Family Adventures: Traveling with a Toddler

Whether it’s exploring the vast landscapes of South Africa or Canada, immersing in Asian culture, lounging on the beautiful beaches of Lombok, or having unique encounters in various parts of the world, every experience is equally wonderful. For our little one, Nout, the highlight was a humorous encounter with a baboon in South Africa. This was closely followed by an unforgettable experience washing an elephant at the Elephant Freedom Project in Sri Lanka. And of course, our mobile home adventure in Canada is something he won’t easily forget.

Traveling with a toddler can indeed be challenging. Crowded trains, unexpected delays, and dealing with the necessities of a young child at the most inconvenient times can test your patience. But with a bit of flexibility, everything is manageable. Fortunately, our Nout is an easygoing traveler. He finds spicy food ‘nice and warm’ and keeps his tantrums to a minimum, making him the perfect little “world traveler”.

Why Travel These Countries with a Toddler?

If you’re a travel enthusiast planning to visit any of the countries mentioned above, here are some reasons why you should consider bringing your kids along.

As many of you may know, Lombok was struck by a devastating earthquake. This island, and its people, left a lasting impression on us. We hope tourism will quickly recover, as exploring this place is a must-do.

Traveling the World with a Toddler

Embarking on a world tour with a toddler might seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation and mindset, it can turn into an unforgettable adventure. Here are some tips to make your journey smoother and more enjoyable.

1. Pack Smart

When traveling with a toddler, packing light is not always an option. However, you can still be smart about what you bring along. Prioritize essential items like diapers, wipes, snacks, and a change of clothes. Don’t forget to pack a few of their favorite toys to keep them entertained during the journey.

2. Choose Kid-Friendly Destinations

Not all travel destinations are suitable for toddlers. Do your research and choose places that are safe, have good healthcare facilities, and plenty of kid-friendly activities. This will ensure your little one is entertained and you can enjoy your trip without any worries.

3. Plan Your Itinerary Wisely

While it’s tempting to see and do everything, remember that toddlers have their own pace. Plan your itinerary with plenty of breaks and downtime. This will help prevent your toddler from getting overwhelmed and cranky.

4. Be Flexible

Traveling with a toddler requires a lot of flexibility. Things might not always go as planned, but that’s okay. Be ready to adapt your plans according to your child’s needs and mood. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

5. Stay Patient and Positive

There will be challenges along the way, but staying patient and positive can make a huge difference. Remember, you’re creating precious memories with your little one. So, take a deep breath, smile, and enjoy the ride!

Exploring South Africa with a Toddler

Our family adventure took us to South Africa for a total of six weeks. We explored the Garden Route, a significant portion of the Wild Coast, and ventured into the inland. However, we discovered that the Capetown region alone offers an abundance of beautiful sights, proving that you don’t need to travel far to experience the wonders of this country.

One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the volunteer project, Chintsa East Soup Kitchen. This unforgettable and educational experience is highly recommended for families with children.

During our stay, we found comfort at the Buccaneers Lodge in Chintsa, among other places. This child-friendly accommodation was a hit with both the kids and parents.

Sri Lanka: A Special Island with Special People

My most memorable encounters have been on the enchanting island of Sri Lanka. The locals are incredibly welcoming, especially towards children. It’s not uncommon to find yourself sharing a meal with a family of newfound friends. During our stay in Sri Lanka, we lodged at the Anatmaa in Trincomalee, a perfect choice if you appreciate a touch of luxury and a delightful pool. Near Kandy, you’ll discover the Elephant Freedom Project, an initiative by a Dutchman dedicated to the well-being of these majestic creatures.

Thailand: A Festival of Fun

Our highlight in Thailand was the Songkran festival in Chiang Mai. This five-day event is a riot of water fights and laughter, creating an atmosphere of pure joy. It was a time when we could let our inner child out, much to the delight of our three-year-old. Our preferred accommodation in Thailand is the Cave Lodge, nestled between Pai and Mae Hong Song in northern Thailand. For those seeking adventure, a Mae Hong Song scooter trip is a must-do.

Malaysia: A Melting Pot of Culinary Delights

Malaysian cuisine, with its influences from China, Thailand, Indonesia, and India, is one of our favorites. The diverse food culture ensures there’s something for everyone, making it a paradise for parents of little foodies.

Why Choose Malaysia?

Malaysia stands out as a more developed nation compared to its neighboring countries. If you’re seeking a destination with more western standards, Malaysia is the perfect choice!

Experience Luxury in Bali

If you’re a fan of luxury, Bali is the place for you! Despite the booming tourism, the locals maintain their pure, authentic culture. We spent most of our three-week stay in the North and East, where tourism is less prevalent and positive karma is abundant. If you have less time, check out this 10-day Bali itinerary to make the most of your visit to this beautiful island.

Discover Lombok

Lombok, an Indonesian island where 80% of the population is Muslim, is a heart-stealing destination. Unlike in Bali, where we decided against renting a scooter due to the busy roads and their poor condition, Lombok’s roads are much better. The island is less crowded than Bali, and the roads are surprisingly beautiful. While this may not appeal to everyone, hiring a private chauffeur can make your journey much smoother. Don’t miss the Air Terjun Benang Kembalu near Tetebatu, a must-see spot nestled in the middle of the rice fields. It’s the perfect place to stay before climbing Mount Rinjani. Lombok was a real highlight of our trip around the world with a toddler.

Exploring Gili Air, Lombok’s Hidden Gem

Discover the charm of Gili Air, a quaint island located just off the shores of Lombok. This idyllic destination, often considered a more primitive and charming version of Bali, offers a unique travel experience. Here, the only modes of transport are horse and carriage, bicycles, or simply your own two feet.

However, it’s essential to be well-informed before embarking on your journey. The boat ride to the island can be quite rough during periods of strong winds. For those with an adventurous spirit, a morning run around Gili Air is a must-do activity.

Exploring Canada with a Toddler

Canada is more than just a haven for wildlife enthusiasts; it’s a giant playground for kids, making it a must-visit destination on your global adventure with a toddler. Every village or town boasts top-notch playgrounds and pools, often situated in the most stunning locations. There’s also a high likelihood of stumbling upon a water park, which are typically supervised and highly accessible. Beyond these attractions, Canada is the perfect country for short, scenic walks, allowing your little ones to engage in some real hiking.

Expanding Your Travel Bucket List

Over the past year, we’ve diligently worked on ticking off destinations from our bucket list during our trip around the world with a toddler. However, the downside of travelling is the constant meeting of new people, each of whom contributes to making our bucket list even longer. Now, the challenge lies in figuring out how to tackle this ever-growing list…


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