A BUCKET LIST – That’s soooo 2017 we thought. “We”, meaning Yuri and Merel, bith 38 years old. And so, on that Saturday night, August 12th at 23:00 hrs, we decided to go big and travel together with our son for 8 months. That’s how “Schaapies on Tour” was born. A trip around the world with a toddler!
A trip around the world with a toddler aged 3 is not easily planned I can tell you. But as it turned out, we got onto the plane for Capetown in just 6 months. We had rented out our house, quit our jobs, found a good place for the car and the best place for our cat Bo. Let the travelling begin. Putting together the trip, aside from determining the budget, taking the restrictions of a world-trip ticket into account, picking child friendly countries and mixing in a couple of must-sees for mum and dad along the way, was done rather swiftly. 6 weeks in South-Africa, 4 weeks Sri-Lanka, 4 weeks north and mid-Thailand, 4 weeks Malaysia, 4 weeks Indonesia and 2 months Canada is the plan. Sri-Lanka is mums dream, cruising through Canada in a house on wheels is dads. And lot’s of child friendly countries with loving people for Nout, our son.
While planning our trip and even during the trip we got a lot of strange questions and remarks from people. It became clear to us that not everyone understood our dream. Especially in Asia we had some special encounters. For instance during Galungan on Bali, hubby got to clean temples with the local males. He was dressed in traditional clothing from top to bottom before he started. In Canada we met a family in Banff that invited us to their hunters house on the prairie. 4 weeks after meeting these people we spent 2 wonderful days with them in mid-Canada. Places, beautiful encounters and experiences we will never forget.
Until this day we often say: if you ever loses faith in humanity, visit Southeast Asia and especially Sri-Lanka.
Highlights of our trip around the world with a toddler
Now, 5 weeks after returning to Holland the question asked most is: “What was your highlight?” To which I have to reply “No idea” every time.
Nature in the big South-Africa or in Canada? Culture in Asia? The beautiful beaches on Lombok? Or the special encounters in …? It was all equally wonderful. For Nout it’s easy to choose: the pooping baboon on top of our car in South-Africa is number 1 by far. Although this is quickly followed by washing an elephant at the Elephant Freedom Project in Sri-Lanka. But the house on wheels in Canada is something he won’t easily forget either.
Even though we did not have to deal with a lot of setbacks you may imagine it can be rather challenging to travel with a toddler. Travelling on crowded trains, delays that took hours and peeing and pooing at the most impossible times. But with a bit of flexibility everything was fixable. Luckily our Nout is not the most difficult person. Spicy food tastes ‘nice and warm’ in his mouth and keeping his tantrums to a minimum make him the perfect “World traveler”.
Why travel these countries with a toddler?
For those of you who love to travel and are planning on visiting any of the mentioned countries above, here is a list of reasons why you should do this together with your kids.
As many of you may now, Lombok has been struck by a terrible earthquake. This island especially, and it’s people, have made a lasting impression on us. For this reason we hope tourism will be restored quickly. Discovering this place is a real must do.
We spent a total of 6 weeks in South-Africa and saw the Garden Route, a large part of the Wild Coast and the inland. However, in the Capetown region there are so many beautiful things to to see, you really don’t have to travel so far. The volunteer project Chintsa East Soup Kitchen is worth a visit too. This is a project you will never forget and which is very educational for kids too. We stayed at the Buccaneers Lodge in Chintsa, among other places, a lovely place for kids and parents.
The most special people I ever met, I met on this special island. They love kids too and randomly ending up at the dinner table at a family party of “new friends” is very much possible. In Sri Lanka we stayed at the Anatmaa in Trincomalee. Lovely if you like a little more luxury and a nice pool. Near Kandy you will find the Elephant Freedom Project which is setup by a Dutchman who cares a lot about the animals and treats them very well.
Our highlight in Thailand is the Songkran-festival in Chang-Mai. 5 days of wet suits, water pistols and lots of fun. There is a great atmosphere there and we had the time of our lives with our three year old. These days we both were kids again. Our favorite accommodation in Thailand is the Cave Lodge, between Pai and Mae Hong Song in the north of Thailand. If you are into some adventure a Mae Hong Song scooter trip is a must do as well.
To us, the Malayan cuisine is one of our favorites. The influences from china, Thailand, Indonesia and India are to be found everywhere. They have something for everyone, that’s for sure. Very nice for parents of little foodies.
Aside from this, Malaysia is more developed than here neighboring countries. If you are looking for more western standards, Malaysia is the place to be!
If you like a little luxury, then you will like Bali! That tourism is booming is not a big surprise. Despite this, the locals are so pure, it amazes me. The three weeks we spent on Bali we spend mostly in the North and East. You will find less tourism and lots of positive karma here. Check out this 10 day Bali itineray if you have less time to spend on this beautiful island.
This Indonesian island, where 80% is Muslim, stole our hearts. In Bali we decide not to rent a scooter because of the busy roads and the bad condition most of them are in. But on Lombok the roads are much better. Lombok is not as busy as Bali and believe it or not, the roads are beautiful. This may not be to everyone’s liking but you can get a long way with a private chauffeur. The Air Terjun Benang Kembalu near Tetebatu are a must see and the drive is amazing. This place in the middle of the rice fields is a perfect place to stay before climbing the Mount Rinjani. Lombok was a real highlight on our trip around the world with a toddler.
Gili Air (Lombok)
This little bounty island just off the shores of Lombok is a primitive little sister to Bali and has more charm than her big sister in my opinion. Horse and carriage, the leg-mobile and bicycle are the only ways of transport on this island. Be sure to be informed before you go though. With strong winds the boat ride over can be rather rough. For the sporty people among us; you have to go and run around Gili-Air early in the morning!
Aside from all the wonderful wildlife here, Canada is a giant playground for kids. Therefor this is a definite must on your trip around the world with a toddler. In every village or town they have the best playgrounds and pools in the most amazing places. There is a big chance of finding a water park too. Often supervised and very accessible. Aside from all this, its the perfect country for taking short, beautiful walks, so those little legs can do some real hiking too.
The past year we have worked hard on our bucket list during our trip around the world with a toddler.
The downside of travelling is meeting loads of new people, making our new bucket list even longer. Now we just need to figure out how to solve this problem….