Sheree Commerford, founder of lifestyle platform Captain and the Gypsy Kid, knows a thing or two about travelling with little ones. Here are the tips that made her family’s most recent holiday to Sri Lanka, by way of Singapore, one they’ll remember forever – for all the right reasons.
Make the flight a learning experience
We travel with our children so they learn to interact with different people and cultures. This can start as soon as you board your flight. Encouraging your children to introduce themselves to the inflight team is a wonderful way for them to feel connected and excited about their journey. Plus, the crew can be a huge help when it comes to calming your children and keeping them busy. Our kids were more excited about spending time with the Qantas crew than us once on board. They stepped off the flight as slightly obsessive members of the Joey Club. Remember to order children’s meals when booking, so your kids can get full bellies fast – which means there’s a better chance they’ll take an inflight nap.
Visit attractions off the tourist trail
It feels easy to navigate the standard tourist spots when travelling, but we found seeking out local activities and cultural adventures was the best way to fall in love with a place. Singapore is well known for its amazing theme parks, but it also has a diverse community rich in cultural offerings. A day spent with the kids exploring the wet markets and hawker centres was a colourful adventure of foreign smells and tastes. We spent time walking around Tiong Bahru Market to get a feel for the traditional Singaporean way of life before heading over to Kampong Glam, one of Singapore’s oldest urban quarters, where Malay history and culture thrives through to the present day. The kids were fascinated by our visit to the Sultan Mosque, where we had to change into modest robes provided at the entrance. From here, we strolled around to Arab and Bussorah Street to pick up local wares from hand-knotted Persian rugs to teas and handmade perfumes.
Plan your stopover properly
Learning that you’ll have to endure a stopover with your kids can send a chill down a mother’s spine. But now, with airports catering to family travel more and more, a stopover can be a blessing in disguise. We discovered this on our travels to Sri Lanka where we stopped over at Singapore’s Changi Airport. We researched the airport and discovered all terminals have dedicated playgrounds and art stations. There was also a tropical butterfly garden with a six-metre-high waterfall, a cactus roof garden and a rooftop swimming pool, plus family cinemas in Terminals 2 and 3 – all free of charge. The kids were having so much airport fun, we nearly missed our flights!
Do something unexpected
A family holiday is the best time to embrace the unexpected and go with the flow. It’s a myth that travelling with kids is easier if you plan your itinerary down to the second. We left gaps in our schedules so there was room to stumble upon surprises, like a rope swing in Tangelle, Sri Lanka. We spent hours flying through the air, pushing one another – we felt like kids again and the kids thought we were hysterical. It was a highlight of the trip we never expected to discover.
Remember the best experiences aren’t always the most expensive
Some of the best holiday adventures are free. Along the south coast of Sri Lanka, we asked locals where could we find paradise and their answer was Hiriketiya Bay, near Dickwella. You might have to fork out $5 to rent a board, but the morning spent here was one of our best and cheapest. It was a great family location where you could spend an entire day underneath the palm trees, eating coconuts, surfing and getting to know a melting pot of travellers and locals. Always check in with locals to discover their insider tips.
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