Family travelling the world for one year

We often consider travel to be a reward - that thing we do when we have earned our leave from work or when we want to get family or friends reunited for a celebration. But for Brett Massingham, his wife and two young daughters, travel was a lifestyle. For one whole year, the Massinghams quit work, travelled the world, experienced countless cultures as a family of four. We sat down with Brett to find out what it took to make it happen and how it happened, and found out his top travelling with children tips.

Child in Yugoslavia

7travel: What inspired your year of travel?  

Massingham: We were dreamers.  Always talking about doing things but never really following through.  A year travelling with the kids was just another of those ideas.  We then sort of came to the conclusion that it was now or never.  Before our eldest started school, before we moved house... it just worked.  Our kids were 4 ½ and 2.  We went to about 20 countries throughout South America, Europe, USA, Caribbean and Central America.

Children travelling by car

7travel: As Aussie parents, what destinations are the easiest to plan family trips around?

Massingham: The easiest places to travel with kids are close to home locations like Fiji, Bali, Thailand and in our own backyard Queensland.  Time zones are all pretty similar, flight times not too long, weather is usually warm and all have plenty of resorts etc. that cater so well to families.

Travelling the world with children

7travel: Taking babies and toddlers on a plane can be daunting. How do you get your children comfortable? And how do you get your cabinmates comfortable with having children aboard?

Massingham: My tip is just be prepared.  Sticker books, colouring in, snacks etc. can all be great. In saying that I’ve been on flights where they’ve done all of that in 45 minutes and start asking what’s next! iPad and movies with good kids’ headphones never go astray.  The key here is limit the time (i.e none) that they spend on these in the week leading up to the flight, load a few brand new games/movies onto the trusty iPad and once you get on board, go for it! Don’t stress about your cabinmates. At the end of the day it’s only 4, 8 or 12 hours out of your life…it really can’t be that bad. If your cabinmates really don’t like kids I think they should be flying business class!

Baby crying whilst on holidays

7travel: With picky eaters, trying new cuisine abroad can be a challenge. How do you convince your children to try new things?

Massingham: We are probably lucky that our kids have always been good eaters.  The key for us is that they have always had dinner at the same time and eating the same food.  No separate adults and kids dinners. What they see you eating becomes normal.  When travelling research places with goods kids menus, ask for kids sizes and introduce new food slowly. You can always find something tried and tested.  I’m yet to visit a country that doesn’t serve spaghetti bolognese!

Children outside of famous Cafe du Monde

7travel: Were you surprised by how much your children enjoyed a particular experience while traveling?

Massingham: They loved interacting with other children, even if they didn’t speak the same language.  I still remember we were in a playground in Northern Argentina and Piper (my eldest) and a local boy were trying to talk to each other with neither having a clue what the other was trying to say.  Piper then put her head in her hands and started to count to ten in Spanish (the extent of her language skills at that stage).  It was the universal code for hide and seek, so they played for ages. They actually loved just spending time with us (the parentals) for such an extended period of time. I think they also loved that you eat more ice cream on holidays!

Families together on holiday

7travel: Any other tips for traveling with children?

Massingham: Plenty…

  • Don’t stress if your kids don’t get into routine (if you have one)…remember you’re on holiday.  Does it really matter if they go to bed at 10pm? Better than spending two hours trying to get them to sleep and ruining your night as well? As long as they are happy.

  • Pack light..ish. Packing cells (if you haven’t heard of them, Google them) make packing and keeping things together so much easier.  Also, you don’t really need things like bath toys on holiday! Throw two plastic cups and a bottle of water in and there you go…kids are as happy as Larry!

  • Finally, probably my biggest tip is be present in the moment (sounds a little Eat Pray Love, I know).  They really just want mum or dad to play, swim, eat, laugh or ride with them.  Don’t just take them to the pool and then sit on your phone.  If it means playing fairies with your two daughters (speaking from experience), suck it up and do it. Don’t worry, I do still believe in the occasional day in the kids club….but only occasional.

Father and daughters travelling the world

 All photos taken by Erica Massingham during the year of travel.