When we decided to have a second child, I thought to myself that it would be a shame that our second baby wouldn’t be able to travel as much as our first. My obvious thought process being that there is no way we could travel at the same pace with two kids anymore. How wrong I was!
Ilyas our first son visited his 15th country at 16 months but Noah our second son has just visited his 17th country one day before turning 15 months! How did this happen?
Here is the list of countries Noah has visited to date:
Country 1: Switzerland
Noah was born in Basel and has been to several other cities and mountains including Stanserhorn, Lauterbrunnen, Spiez, Oberhofen, Luzern, Zurich, Einsiedeln, Interlaken, Bellinzona, Locarno, Ascona, Augusta Raurica, Biel, St. Gallen and the Raiffeisen Skywalk, a pedestrian suspension bridge at 374m and 58m above the Lauitobel gorge.
Country 2: Germany
We always do our grocery shopping across the border and he must’ve been just a few days old when he crossed the border for the first time. On a cruise we just did, we also paid a visit to one of the northern most cities in Germany called Rostock.
Country 3: France
We must have taken him to France quite early on too as we alternate doing our grocery shopping in Germany and France all the time.
We recently went to the French Riviera and visited Nice, Eze, St Paul de Vence and Antibes.
Country 4: New Zealand
Noah’s first flight was from Zurich to Auckland via Dubai. The second leg was the longest flight in the world which took 17 hours after a six hour flight and a 3 hour layover.
Country 5: UK
Noah has been to London twice before turning 1. Big brother Ilyas has been to London 6 times and once to Scotland.
Country 6: Italy
Over Easter this year, we spent some days in Ticino and did the Lago Maggiore Express (by train and later boat) to Stresa in Italy. The following day we went to Cannobio, a border Italian town along the shores of Lago Maggiore where Noah ate lots of creamy-licious gelato.
Country 7: Czech Republic
We had a lovely long weekend in Prague over the 1st of May holiday.
Country 8: Thailand
We spent two nights in Bangkok in May. Noah LOVED the steamed sea bass in garlic and lime sauce that we had at a seafood restaurant called Chic Grill in Asiatique The Riverfront, Bangkok’s fusion night market. We also had a great swim in the pool overlooking the Chao Phraya River.
Country 9: Malaysia
Country 10: Brunei
Whilst in Sabah, we took a short flight to Brunei, one of the 3 countries that make up the famous island of Borneo.
Country 11: Monaco
Whilst in the French Riviera last month in September, we paid a visit to this little country known for its beautiful cliff top gardens with breathtaking seaside views and fast cars.
Country 12: Liechtenstein
2 hours away drive from Basel, Liechtenstein was a quick trip one Saturday morning before spending the rest of the day visiting friends in Zurich.
Country 13: Denmark
We decided to do a cruise on the Baltic Sea that started in Copenhagen which we had a great time exploring.
Country 14: Estonia
Tallinn was unfortunately pouring with rain the day we were there. We had a really nice coffee stop at the oldest cafe in the Old Town called Cafe Maiasmokk.
Country 15: Russia
St. Petersburg was a huge and impressive city. It was challenging visiting the Hermitage and Catherine’s palace with the two kids in what proved to be a very long day doing a ten hour tour.
Country 16: Finland
Helsinki was wonderful. Unfortunately Noah missed out on the yummy seafood soup at the Old Market Hall as he was asleep.
Country 17: Sweden
Although it was a bit cold, Stockholm was a delight to explore on foot with the kids. We had the best lunch at Slingerbulten which had a great fish soup on its menu.
Isn’t it a lot of work to travel with two small kids?
Sure it is but my thought process is always: Don’t think, just do. I refuse to let having small children be the reason for traveling less.
Ian Wright, one of my favourite travel show hosts from Globe Trekker on Discovery Channel sums it up best, “There is no secret. All you need is money, passport, and a change of clothes. Forget the rest.”
Of course when traveling as a family with small kids, that is easier said that done. Sure there is the packing involved (favourite toys, snacks, sticker books, etc.) and having to adjust your pace and have somewhat of a flexible schedule (although if you look at our itineraries in New Zealand and Malaysia as well as the recent long weekend in the French Riviera, I’m sure you’d be quite impressed at what we managed to do in the time we were there).
Having fun with stickers on a long bus ride
Any travel tips?
These days we only use backpacks for hand luggage (we use Cabin Zero bags). It frees up both hands to do everything else – push a stroller, pull your kid sat on JetKids, etc.
We borrowed a friend’s JetKids on our recent holidays to Malaysia and that worked wonders! Look at how the kids slept in the plane.
Pack light! This is how much luggage we had with us on the recent 9 days 8 nights cruise. I managed to fit 90 diapers, 12 tops, 3 jeans, 2 lighter jackets (on top of their winter ones) and pajamas per kid, clothes for us adults, toiletries, some snacks, 3 pillows, toy cars, 5 books and more into 3 hand luggage bags – 2 being Cabin Zero bags.
How do you manage to travel so much?
What helps is that I am naturally someone with a lot of energy who loves planning my next holidays and trips up to a year in advance. I am constantly on the look out for cheap flights and researching about my many dream destinations (like Churchill Canada where I would love to see polar bears and swim with beluga whales!).
Any particularly memorable anecdotes?
On the 17 hour flight from Dubai to Auckland, toilet trips were THE thing to do. He also made me let him have a “bath” in the tiny sink which I managed SOMEHOW.
We were in Queenstown, New Zealand, booked to do a day trip to Milford Sound. At 6.30am we were already out with both babies (Ilyas was 22 months, Noah was 3.5 months) waiting for the bus to pick us up from a Copthorne Hotel which we soon realised was the WRONG Copthorne Hotel. Frantically looking for wifi to get directions to the right Copthorne Hotel, we ran in the rain getting to the correct pick-up point. We got on the bus, and ten minutes later it broke down.
We had to get off said bus in the rain and got on another one that passed by which took us to Te Anau. We had to deal with Noah’s major poop explosion and had to change him entirely. Getting on the third bus for the day, Ilyas was happily eating a banana and asked for another one. In the 3 seconds when I reached down to grab another banana from the backpack, he had managed to throw up the entire banana he just ate all over his sweater.
Thank goodness I brought enough extra clothes. This was right after said throw up.
All that happened before 10am.
On top of that, this happened the morning after it took us almost an entire day to get from Wellington to Queenstown (day of major earthquake 2016) where our plane finally landed in Invercargill after 3 failed attempts at landing in Queenstown.
Why travel when they won’t remember anything? Wouldn’t it be better to wait till they are older?
Sure it would be great for the kids to remember everything they’ve experienced but there are so many intangible things they are getting and learning during every second we are on our travels or on holidays which I know makes them the person they are. Ilyas’ speech improved exponentially during our recent trip in Malaysia – could it have been because of the different experiences and surroundings? Who knows?
I did not have much memory of Prague. I went there when I was 21.
I was 8 when I first went to Paris and still remember how much in awe I was standing at the steps of Sacre Coeur seeing how fast the clouds were moving due to the strong winds. I have been to Paris countless times since but this one memory I had as a child sticks till today.
For us at least the parents, we will forever remember that:
We have a weekend planned in Andermatt, spending New Years in Leukerbad in the Swiss Alps, we have flights booked for London in January and March next year and we will be traveling to Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Panama next June – Noah will have visited his 21st country before turning 2! Big brother Ilyas will be 3+ in September next year when we head to Cyprus and will have visited 30 countries by then across 6 continents (like his parents he just needs to visit Antarctica!).
No, I do not plan our travels based on getting the kids’ country count increased – it just so happens to be that way! The only one in the family on a mission of visiting a certain number of countries before a certain age is myself! I am at 105 countries now and need to visit 45 new ones before I turn 50 – 19 years to go!