Backpacking with Kids

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We’ve been backpacking with kids, full-time for well over 6 years so we can share the best tips with you. For us it’s the vacation that never ended and we’re that rare thing, a family travel blog that actually travels full-time. Here we share our best tips for backpacking with kids – based on real family experience!

tips for backpacking with kids
The joy of backpacking with kids. Hover over this image to bookmark it to Pinterest.

We ditched the regular family vacations for a life of backpacker travel and adventure and have never once regretted that choice.

Backpacking with kids is certainly possible, yes it’s a good idea and many families take their kids backpacking.

Our post offers tips, experiences, and realities of backpacking as a family from us, a backpacking family on a mission to see the world.

Backpacking With Kids

Backpacking with kids teens tweens
Backpacking with kids into the teen and tween years can look more adventurous! Here on a 3-week hike in the Himalayas.

Chances are, if you want to really travel with your kids, you’ll be backpacking. Backpacking is low-cost and offers complete flexibility in world travel.

The freedom backpacking brings and its cost-effectiveness make it our usual way to go. You can get more travel per dollar and that’s essential to families.

child backpacking
Backpacking is great for kids and families.

In 2013 we embarked on this journey with the children and every day, through 50 + countries and 4 continents, we’ve found ways to make backpacking with kids as easy as possible.

We’re still (2023) backpacking extensively with the kids, learning through practice, maybe we can help you out with a few ideas before you set off.

What is Backpacking?

Backpacking is lower-cost independent travel, often with a backpack that can be easily carried as the backpacker moves from location to location. It’s not hiking or trekking, we do that too, but backpacking is travel rather than walking.

US readers may be confused by this use of the term “backpacking”. Hiking and backpacking are similar but different in North America, but to Australians and Europeans, backpacking is a mode of travel.

Our New Zealand readers may call hiking “tramping.”

Sometimes people go backpacking with a tent, but mostly they don’t. Guesthouses, hostels, beach huts, hotels, any form of accommodation, are all used by backpackers.

Between hotel stops backpackers can use any mode of travel, car hire, plane, bus, tuk tuk or horse and cart, even cruise ships. Different situations call for different solutions.

Backpacking is how we see the world and backpacking with our kids, is how they will see the world to greatly enhance their education.

We’ve been backpacking as a couple long before the kids came along and we love it, it’s not forced on us by finances, it’s our preferred way to travel.

We feel more in touch with the local community when we stay in small guest houses, we find big hotels impersonal and isolating, they also happen to be cheaper.

We like public transport, not tours and air-conditioned minibusses, you get a better feel for a country that way. It’s just what we enjoy and what we do most often, although not exclusively.

An occasional splurge on a resort hotel is fun too!

travel tips for backpacking with kids

Tips For Backpacking With Kids

1.Select accommodation with the children in mind.

We stay in guest houses, B&Bs, hostels, and hotels. Guest houses often work out cheapest but occasionally we use hostels, such Mile Map Hostel in Silom Bangkok or Garden Village in Siem Reap. (none of which sponsor us, we just like them and use them repeatedly, click through to get an idea of the sort of accommodation you will be using).

We always look for a guest house or other lodging with some outdoor space so that the boys can play, ideally on the ground floor, within our sight. We also keep an eye out for local children nearby.

My boys love rooms with little cupboards to stash their toys in, it makes them happy. Let the kids be involved in choosing your room. Boo always has to inspect them and ask about the wi-fi before we decide. Always check rooms for child safety, trip hazards, dodgy wiring, sharp edges, and so on.

2. Don’t Buy Kids Their Own Backpacks

No, small kids should not have their own backpacks. Only buy backpacks for older children.

I’ve changed my mind on this one. When my boys were 6 and 8 we set out into the world with 2 little 15L kids’ backpacks from REI. They rarely carried them as they weren’t well designed or comfortable.

More often than not I would end up fastening one or both to the front of my harness using a carabiner. Now, at 10 and 12, they do carry their own bags and are able to carry decent-sized adult packs, 1 is high tech, one is a colourful fabric bag bought in Nepal. If you’d like to know more visit our travel gear page or below.

What I wrote back in 2013 was the following:

There are plenty of reasons the children should have their own packs. They like it, all kids like having something that is their own Let them pick the colour and have some input on which style. It gives them something to be responsible for.

Guesthouse rooms can get horribly cluttered with clothes scattered everywhere. If everyone has their own backpack you can put the laundry away in its rightful place as soon as it comes back. That makes me happy.

It’s easier to find things, toys and clothes if each child has their own pack.

When they see that something they just can’t live without, you can remind them that if they buy it, they have to carry it. It’s a helpful line. If one of the children really isn’t feeling up to carrying their own pack, that’s OK, they are small, one of us can carry them easily ( I clip my youngest’s on the front of my harness).

I take it all back, I firmly believe that they shouldn’t be required to carry their own gear and it’s more of a hindrance than a help to mum and dad. The more packs you have, the more likely you are to lose one.

3. Make sure children’s backpacks fit adequately.

My boys’ original children’s backpacks ( at 6 and 8 years old) were both 15L, fully stuffed they weigh around 5Kg. They weren’t heavy but they didn’t fit too well, they were more of a “toy” pack and I wouldn’t recommend them.  

They held all of their clothes and toys, I carried all the wash kit, medical kit and school books.

The weight has to sit on their hips, if it doesn’t they end up leaning forward or taking all the weight on the chest strap, these little packs didn’t do that.

My eldest at 10 moved up to a 45L adult pack with a well-designed harness featuring a full air-flow system. It’s far better than the old kids’ packs.

The important hip strap stays firm on this one. It’s the Mountain Warehouse Extreme pack below and we’ve very pleased with it. (it also comes in pink)

My other son, at 11 years old, now has the awesome Osprey Farpoint adult-sized pack. It’s a superb piece of luggage, comes with a lifetime guarantee, and has a laptop pocket along with plenty of room for Pokemon cards.

We’re very pleased with both packs and we adults use them from time to time too. The Osprey is undoubtedly better quality and more “luggage”, the Mountain Warehouse is more of a trekking pack and I carried it in the Himalayas.

4. Don’t bring too many clothes.

Don’t weigh them down with just-in-case clothes and don’t buy special travel clothes. There are exceptions to this rule, obviously, but mostly you don’t need much “stuff”.

My best advice is to take whatever clothes they have at home that fit, or are slightly too big. Don’t go buying extra travel clothes. Wherever you go you will find gorgeous things to buy for the children, if the packs are full you can’t carry them.

Children grow, after only three months most of my elder child’s clothes were getting too small, we needed to buy new. Our most essential items for the children are long-sleeved cotton shirts and trousers to keep sun and mosquitoes off delicate skin, add Crocs for their feet and a good wide-brimmed hat that works for hot or cold.

Take clothes that will stand up to rough treatment and frequent washing. Don’t take delicates. Whites look great but it’s a nuisance to have to put a white wash together, so take a lot, or none.

The boys have one pair of shoes each, waterproof Croc type shoes. Waterproof shoes are essential for the sort of travelling we do, normal shoes would be ruined by now.  They also wear their shoes in grotty showers. We buy new warm shoes or hiking shoes if we need them, for instance for our Nepal treks.

5. Don’t bring too many toys.

You know how children only play with new toys for a while before moving on? Well, the same thing applies to all the “special” toys they want to put in their backpacks. DO give them the choice, give them some control  Let them pick a few special toys that they can’t travel without, but maybe limit it to a small bag each. Edit as much as you can.

Obviously, they need the special bear but most of the toys my children have packed never see daylight.  They’ve had a lot more fun with cheap toys we’ve bought as needed.

Bangkok station gave us two 10 Baht plastic dinosaurs that kept them amused for hours on the train. One morning they each bought a $2 fake Bakugan because it was what the local kids were playing with and they wanted to join in. Once they had their $2 worth of fun, we were happy to let them go.

As Birthdays and Christmases on the road have come and gone we’ve found ourselves carrying everything from Harry Potter wands to full Lego sets. Mostly we buy useful gifts, binoculars, head torches, penknives, laptops, (see our post on gift ideas for travelling families) but sometimes they just can’t live without that one special thing. I love my kids with every ounce of me, so I’m willing to carry these extras, sometimes.

The boys have little pouches that they fill with treasures, we have e bags packing cubes as well as zipped travel envelopes. Both are a good investment.

We give the children a very small amount of daily pocket money, they can save it or spend it on whatever they like. It’s great for their maths and developing money skills.

6. Feed and water them well.

I don’t need to tell you that hungry kids are grumpy kids.

When we have big travelling days I always have some munchies stashed in my day pack for emergencies. The golden rule is DON’T TELL THEM! If they know you’ve got biscuits on board you’ll never hear the last of it, they’ll miraculously become starving 5 minutes after breakfast.

I’m never without water on a bus or train.

If your child doesn’t like the local food they could get really freaked out. Eat pizza, or whatever they enjoy, if it makes them happy and helps them feel more “at home”. They will adapt more quickly to new environments if they have some familiarity.

I’m a big believer in staying healthy through good diet and hydration. It does become difficult sometimes. I’m struggling with getting calcium into them in Asia, dairy is thin on the ground here and they won’t eat the mountains of greens that mum and dad get through.

I always pack kids’ multivitamins for emergencies. I’d probably do better with single calcium supplements or iron supplements or whatever, but the multis will do for now.

7. Keep Prices Down By Finding the Best Deals

We can recommend some favouite places to stay with kids in all the big backpacker hubs. For Bangkok, try Shanti Lodge or Mile Map, for Kuala Lumpur try Back Home, for Chiang Mai try Central. We’ve generally been there so scan our site for the places we use and recommend.

Travelling with children is a financial headache, keep prices low by being a deal-finding ninja. Use Skyscanner (see our Skyscanner tips here) to find the best days, prices, and routes to fly, then use the right accommodation booking sites for the job. 

Agoda are the Asia specialists, always check them on this continent,  here  Agoda . We use  more for Europe, Australia, and the Americas, they are often worth a look for fully refundable deals.

8. Get kids excited before you go.

Tell them about all the cool, interesting, exciting things they’ll be seeing. Show them maps, talk about history, food and cultures. Read books together, children’s picture books or novels, anything that introduces them to the countries they are to visit.

They need to know what to expect and get excited about it. Let them have some input, ask them which countries they most want to visit and where they’d like to go next.

Put a positive spin on everything, talk about how great flying is, or tell them how lucky they are to have ten hours relaxing on a bus seeing the countryside. It works, if you’re negative, it rubs off.

This goes double for visiting museums or historic sites. Prep them first, tell them the amazing story of whatever it is, they’ll be amazed to see it in real life.

9. Take medical supplies and keep them handy.

The boys are forever cutting, scraping, and otherwise injuring themselves.

My best friend is a tiny bottle of iodine I bought in Thailand. It lives in the side pocket of my day pack and I use it almost every day. After six years of living in the tropics, I know how badly things can get infected.

The next most important thing is plasters or band-aids. Keep them handy, you don’t need to rummage in the bottom of your bag when your baby is hurt.

I always carry children’s paracetamol, just for when a fever starts on a bus or train.  I’m a worrier so I also carry larger dressings and an elasticated bandage ( snake bites, of course!).

In some countries (for instance Cambodia) we found it impossible to buy large self adhesive dressings ( after a nasty playground knee-scrape), have a few handy.

My big medical kit lives in my backpack and is never too far away. Read about our travel medical kit, what we’ve used and what we haven’t, here. Always carry tissues or toilet roll, a plastic bag or two is a good idea on bus journeys even if your child isn’t prone to motion sickness.

A pack of wet wipes and hand sanitiser come in handy, too. Of course, keep the kids out of the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat at least. We go with long sleeves and trousers as much as possible, rather than sunblock.

10. Do plenty of things “just for them”.

This goes for any sort of travel with kids. Give them down time if they need it, build time into your day for resting and play.  Find children’s attractions when you can, playgrounds, water parks, zoos, whatever your children love.

Put them in situations where they can make new friends, even if those friendships are fleeting it makes for happier kids.

If they are having fun don’t rush off. I’ve seen people do this, hurry kids along, don’t, their needs are important.

11. Don’t expect them to walk too far and always have a plan.

Take a tuk tuk or an Uber, they don’t want to walk far and it will spoil everybody’s day.

Our days of walking miles to save money on transport are over! When you arrive in a new town have a plan or even better, a map. You can’t just wander aimlessly looking for accommodation. We always have an idea of which area we need to check out when we get off the bus or train.

I made that mistake on our first week backpacking with kids in Malaysia. I decided I’d just get off the train and find our pre-booked hostel ( this is our favourite hostel in Kuala Lumpur). It wasn’t as easy as I thought, we were lost, tired, hot and both children were upset. I learned from that mistake!

Our boys were veteran backpackers at just 6 and 8 years old and have visited the USA, the Himalayas, Thailand, VietnamAustralia, Europe, and everywhere in between. It’s great that they’ve had such an early initiation into our favourite mode of travel and have learned so much out in the real world.

We know that Americans tend to refer to hiking or trekking as backpacking. We trek too, we’ve taken them halfway up Everest,  and to Everest Base Camp, but this post is about backpacking as a travel style, not hiking or trekking. Hope you stick around to read this, if not, click through to our Himalayan hiking (with kids) section.

This post is just about backpacking, but if you’d like our full Travelling With Kids page, with tips and destinations ideas, just click the link. We are a family world travel blog and cover over 50 countries.

We love our lifestyle, we love backpacking with kids and without. We love exploring our amazing and beautiful planet and backpacking is often the best possible way to do that. Sign up to follow our journey in the sidebar, we’re back in the Himalayas soon.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

67 thoughts on “Backpacking with Kids”

  1. Thanks for such a wonderful blog, the article is very informative!

  2. is a great blog site. I do always follow your post. I was bought a backpack from suggesting and read a kids backpack review website. Please check & suggest me can I follow that?

  3. Could you please explain what you do about car seats? My son is 15 months old – how can we travel without a car seat?

    • You can take one with you , baby items don’t normally count as part of your luggage allowance, or, if you’re hiring a car you can often rent one with the car. But in many countries they’re not required at all and even in the UK, if you’re just taking a taxi or not a regular user of that car, they’re not required. ( check local regs, that was the rule when we lived in the UK)

      • Oh yeah I’m sure they’re not required in many countries but I could never feel safe just strapping him in the car like an adult with a seatbelt! So I’m just curious, did you have to face this at all?

        • you just have then on your lap. Did it loads. Mostly they go to sleep in cars so I’d be in the middle in the back with 2 heads on my lap. You often won’t even find seatbelts, so it would be an issue to fit your own car seat anyway.

  4. How do you guys handle safety/security traveling with your electronics? My wife and I did 1 year backpacking trip all over the world about 10 years ago and got so much stuff stolen. Apartment robbed, backpacks swiped, cameras, snatched, etc… We’re now looking to go back on the road with our 10 and 6 year old. Electronics are a must for travel today, but if 2 grown adults fell victim so often, I wonder how you keep your gear safe when entrusted to the kids?

    • We have never had anything stolen, anywhere, ever. Where was all this stuff taken from? We have SO much electronics, never been an issue in the whole 6 years.

      • Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Capetown, La Paz. You name it. It seemed like if anyone saw you with anything electronic, you were an instant target.

        • Were they just swiping things out of your hands? Or pick pocketing, or what? Never been to any of those places… Barcelona, briefly, like a day… closest we came was having a bag slashed on an Indian sleeper train in 3rd class and a pick pocket got his hand in my bag in Penang. Oh…and somebody stole my T shirt from the washing line in Malacca.

          • The worst was when our apartment got broken into in Barcelona. Lost a lot of stuff there. In Buenos Aires we took our eyes off a backpack for an instant and someone ran off with it. Out car got broken into In Capetown. Some of the incidents were due to briefly letting our guards down, which I guess is my biggest concern with traveling with the kids. It’s hard enough keeping yourself 100% vigilant let alone with the kids. Not going to stop us from heading back out for another adventure though! Glad to hear you’ve had good luck so far and looking forward to reading more of your blog.

            • I think those places just have high dodgyness ratings. She’ll be right…as they say. We do have a post on avoiding travel theft and some real life experiences

  5. Thank you for such useful tips and inspiration. I have a three year old and faced with the awful decision of which prison I MEAN school to send her to, I’ve been very much bogged down with the barrage of dull things conventional living throws at you. Until a friend of mine suggested to me at a play date yesterday, to just GO… Hmmm… I couldn’t possibly, could I? So I started looking online and found your blog and I am juts brimming with excitement and wonder lust for what my year ahead is beginning to look like!

    I would appreciate some practical advice regarding booking flights from country to country- in advance from the UK or as and when we decide to move on? Also, could you impart some advice on jabs and visas?

    Thanks again x

    • Well, if you find our travel health category or just search ” vaccinations” in the little search box, there’s 3 or 4 posts on that topic, as well as other health stuff. Booking flights is easy, just book a 1 way ticket to wherever you want to go. But find our family gap year tag page and there’s some useful stuff.

  6. I have been backpacking with my now 5 year old daughter 4 months at a time. We are currently staying in Salvador, Brazil. and will be Backpacking again at the end of July until the end of September 2018. I have just started a written blog after opening our website and have a YouTube channel. I have had mixed reactions from people when we travel. I’m a single parent with my daughter. I hope that we will get to the position where we can travel full time as it appears you’re doing. I would love you to send me an email so I can ask you some questions if you have time. Thanks.

    • My email address is on our contact page. Yes, full time, over 5 years now. Cheers.

  7. Wow, absolutely love your blog. Am a South African single mom, my son just turned 6. In the last 6.5 years I have felt trapped and life sucked out of me as I am a free spirit, and want to get out there. I plan to travel as a lifestyle, I spent 10 years post university living in different parts of the world, and I was more alive then.

    I am more interested to start in South America and Asia, as I have travelled mainly in Europe, US, Midle East, my idea is a few months in one place, working my way through, and have placed my son in Montessori to allow the flexibility to be in different environments. Although I am open to home schooling if needs be, any advise of which places to start, and if it’s easy for a single mom out there.

    • There are single mums on the road Shazza, I know of a few. I think if you’re used to living life without a partner it really shouldn’t be much different to being at home. A lot of work though. I love that my husband takes care of cash, visas, insurance, baggage, flights, all the dull stuff, leaving me with work and kids. It’s a lot for 1 person but certainly do-able.

    • Hi Shazza,

      You’ll have to give me some tips when you start travelling. Im a single mum to a 7 year old and desperate to travel Asia with him. I just don’t know how to start

  8. Hi Alyson!

    Your blog is AWESOME! We are a South Africa homeschool family of 5, trying our best to show the kids the world while we can. We generally go wherever my husband finds work (he works in TV) but we are planning a 3 month trip to Thailand/Malaysia and Vietnam in the next 2 weeks. We love Aus but the work is done!

    Would love to get your opinion – my youngest is 2. We are conflicted about dragging around a stroller and camper cot. We are considering getting a toddler carry on backpack thingy instead of taking the stroller. Would love to hear from someone with your experience!

    Thanks in advance!


    • Personally, I’d prefer a stroller/ sling to a baby backpack. They always look so cumbersome and I like to see my child, not have them around the back of my head somewhere. But that said I’ve never tried one, maybe they’re fantastic. We travelled with a stroller when my 2 were young. Thailand and Malaysia are both pretty developed, pavements should be fine.

    • I personally LOVE my Ergo. Its not a hiking style pack but a softer carrier with a wide based crotch. Ive worn it upwards of 8 hrs hiking in a day and I still use it at times for my (small) 3.5 yr old daughter. I feel like I would have literally died without it and it made things so much easier! It folds up relatively small too for easy packing. If you can find a local babywearing group they are very knowledgeable and you can try many different types to see what suits you best with all the ladies help. Good Luck!

  9. What great ideas! I am a single mom planning a 2 week backpacking/ hiking/ road trip and I am in desperate need of these ideas.My son is 11 and my daughter is 10, we have hiked to the peak of the tallest mountain in Nevada, and just did a 15 mile south rim hike at the Grand Canyon. We go hiking constantly but have never back packed. Thinking about adding our backpacks to our hikes to prepare for the trip. What kind of food do you pack? She has hiked 15miles with 11lbs in her 30lb pack and he has hiked with 11lbs in his 50lb pack. Any tips would be helpful, we leave July 11-24th for parts of the Pacific Coast Trail. Sacramento to Portland.

    • Backpacking means something different in America Melissa. Backpacking to non Aricans is travel, with your stuff in a backpack, usually from guest house to bus, to train, to new town, to new guest house. It’s not normally associated with walking ( hiking to you, trekking to me). So we don’t pack food!

  10. Thanks for this, I am thinking of taking my girls to Thailand for a month on my own. They are 7&5. I am a single mum, so I am a little worried it will be tough. I also have Fibromyalgia which slows me down. I don’t want to let these things hold us back. I travelled with my parents growing up and they are some of the fondest memories that I hold. Thailand is reasonable cheap to get to and I have been there many moons ago. Is there anywhere else that you would recommend? I love Spanish speaking countries.
    Am I mad going it alone? I think it could be amazing for me and my girls!

    • You could easiy spend your month in Thailand Bonnie, but if you wanted to it’s vry easy to cross by land into Cambodia or Laos. We enjoyed Guatemala, but it’s a long way from Thailand!

  11. Hi! My name is Haley and I am 19 and I have a 1 year old daughter. I am yearning to travel this vast planet and I want my daughter along side of me to experience it all with me. My friend Hannah recently went to Thailand by herself backpacking and has decided to stay longer, now she is in Laos and next going to the Philippines. The three of us are planning to start an adventure! Not sure where yet, but I have some questions about taking such a young child. What’s the easiest and cheapest way to use diapers, what about a stroller or something to put her in when I don’t want to carry her ( even though she can walk, still has tiny legs and obviously cannot trek mountains). Any other advice or comments would be appreciated! I just have a strong desire to see the world and I want her to see it all too! Also what about jobs and day care? Trustworthiness is another issue I’m concerned about. Thank you so much!

    • Hayley, I’d recommend a baby carrier or backpack of some sort. A stroller is generally useless on uneven paths, although you could take a cheap one, or buy one there, for occasional use. You should be able to get nappies anywhere, stock up when you find a brand you like, in case you find a shortage later. I’ve never put my kids in daycare so can’t comment on that. If I were you I’d wait until she’s a little older, you’ll both get more out of it and she’ll be less likely to get sick or suffer from insect bites, etc. At 1, she can’t tell you if she feels unwell and they succumb to fevers so easily. If you decide to go through with it, make sure you know exactly how to deal with sickness, diarrhoea, fevers etc. Giving diarrhoea stoppers is generally a very bad idea.

  12. Great tips! We travel with the kiddos, too and I love your ideas especially about getting them excited before you go. We love to read books and watch movies, and learn songs and poems before we go to get everyone thinking. Trying new food that we might encounter is a great way to look forward to a trip, too!

    Interested in the world schooling to me. I write educational materials for my own.. need to connect with this group!

    • Hi Natalie. Worldschooling is nothing so unusual, it just means learning from the world, which of course is an A1 amazing way to learn when you travel full time.
      Good to have you here, thanks. Find our post on Worldschooling in the top menu.

  13. I agree to give your children their own backpacks. It will give them a sense of responsibility on what to bring. Thanks for sharing your backpacking tips!

  14. I have a family of four. Wanted to know what kind of cost has it been to travel with children. Would like to travel and its been calling me for over a decade now. But feel like its impossible with a family. I am interested in starting in Europe and going right across, hitting as many places as our feet will take us. Thanks for any info.

    • Hi Steve, you can find our costs on the website in our money section ( look in categories) Or start with this post and follow links to othrers about exactly what we paid for hotels etc. We are also 4. We spent around $100/day in our first year.

  15. This was a great read ,especially as we are in the process of selling all our belongings and home to start traveling.I found it interesting to read about Christmas, as we wondered how you manage to buy presents without them knowing, also Annabel never got that many presents,but while you travel this will be greatly reduced.I know Christmas is not all about presents ,but we wanted to remain speacil for a while longer.She is 9yrs old and 10 in December Great information thank you for sharing. 🙂 🙂 x

    • By luck we were in the UK for both Christmases so far, so we just used Amazon like we always do! But we’ve managed to pick up a few cool things along the way for birthdays, Kindles, a tablet, bits and pieces. This year, d was just 11, we took him to a shop in Romania and let him pick what he wanted.

    • @Sue Norman, Sue, I had no clue you’d left a comment on here before we met and became friends. How fun!

  16. great article!! what are your thoughts on a back packing with a 2.5 yr toddler..we dont want our DD to be left behind..though i don’t think she will remember a lot of it…

    • You’d be fine, just be prepared for naps, either in your stroller or other toddler carrying device, or resign yourself to going back to your hotel for her to seep sometimes. My son remembers trips when he was 2 but I think it’s mostly because he’s seen the photos or videos. Obviously you wouldn’t be trying to give your child an education at that age, just have fun family time Monika, good memories for the whole family are important too.

  17. Thank you so much for your quick response and also helping to put my mind at rest. I will definitely check out the outbreak maps for where we travel to and like you say “know your enemy”, i guess for warned is for armed! I am so pleased I found your site, thank you for putting so much useful information in one place including great info on home schooling. Best regards, Su

  18. Hi. I have been lucky enough to travel a lot and years ago backpacked for a couple of years on a very tight budget. I have also lived abroad and have been an air hostess which I no longer do. I now have a 5 year old son and would love to show him the world as I feel it is one of the best learning experiences. I am considering taking him out of school for a few months to travel. I have one big concern due to a previous bad experience, I really worry about us getting sick, especially from a mosquito related illness, eg malaria, Dengie fever etc. Can you tell me any experience you have had regarding illnesses and what precautions you have taken to protect your children? Many thanks.

    • Hi Su. We lived with Dengue in Australia so we just avoid mozzies. We don’t take anti malarials because you can’t take them long term and I wouldn’t want to do that. Boo was sick in Laos when he was 8, I was concerned it was Dengue, there was a huge outbreak there at the time. I took him to the local hospital, they did bloods but they were inconclusive. He got better. If you have a Google you’ll find, as I did, that Dengue is usually mild in children. I have a whole post about avoiding mosquitos. Use the search box. I can promise you that once you’re on the ground, surrounded by thousands of healthy people who have very little mozzie protection, you’ll stop worrying so much. I did, it was something that concerned me too. Also , in Boots Thailand, they sell an excellent natural mozzie repellent, it comes in yellow bottles, roll on or natural spray, we always stock up when we’re in Bangkok. Good luck!

  19. Great to read the story and great comments by everyone, I lost my husband a few years ago and before my daughter goes to secondary school I want to take her on a trip to remember. She will be 10 and I’m looking to backpack with her next summer just for 4-6 weeks during the summer holidays. The advice has been great thank you

  20. Love the hints and would really enjoy knowing what is your back packs and what are the trips you have taken.

  21. Hi Alyson,
    Thanks for such a comprehensive blog. We are off to Indonesia with our 3 boys 7, 10 & 12 and will be backpacking. How much do you boys carry? i.e what exactly do they carry for themselves and what do you carry for them. We have backpacked extensively but never with the boys, just wondering what is a reasonable expectation given their respective ages.

    • The boys’ old packs were under 20L, the 10yr old has just got a bigger one, about 30L and did a great job of carrying it around the airports yesterday. Their bags are both small enough to be carry on. My pack weighs just under 20KG and I also carry the laptops and cameras, which weigh a ton, and quite often my 8 yer old’s pack too. He’s my baby and I’m too soft on him. At the moment their packs take all their clothes and toys. Toiletries are in 1 big shared bag, which I have, I also carry a few school books. The kids have their Kindles and D has his 3DS and charger/headphones, in case they need them.

      • Thanks Alyson, that helps heaps. There are not a lot of child sized real backpacks around, I’m having a bit of a look I’d like one that has a padded waist support but can’t seem to find any – has anyone seen any around?
        Thanks Mel

    • We got REI packs Mel, I wouldn’t recommend them, the fit was bad and the waist straps came undone. D now has a small adult trekking pack with an air-flow back system, proper straps, it’s great. He’s just big enough but we tried on loads before we could find one. When we bought the originals we were living in Far North Queensland, so had to by packs online, never a good idea, but as you say, very few exist.

      • If you go to our Facebook page D’s new pack is in one of the photos of the Dubai hotel I posted today, you can see the harness system.

      • Thanks I’ll check it out. We are in Melbourne so I’ve got time to go in the city and test out any that I find however even online it is slim pickings. I thought I’d find some online then go and test them out. I’ve found a lightweight Osprey online Jet18 which looks OK, with no customer reviews it prob is best to try before you buy as you say. So D is 9 and he feels OK with a small adult pack – do the ladies one’s fit better on the kids?
        How’s Dubai? It sounds amazing, are you going to check out the ski fields LOL nothing like skiing / toboganning in the desert 🙂

  22. Hi Alyson. My husband and I are planning a 6 month trip around South East Asia in 2017. It was lovely to read your tips and hear your story. We are both well travelled and have backpacked around the world. We have done some big trips with our children already. This time though we are planning to sell up and go!! We are very excited and a little scared at the same time. Our children are 7 and 4 but will be 9 and 6 by the time we plan to go. We will be home schooling them aswel while on the road. Any more tips would be gratefully received!!
    Thanks Rachel

  23. Thank-you for the extremely helpful information. My husband and I are planning a 2-week trip to southern Italy next March with our 6 and 10 year olds. We’ll be switching hotels three times and traveling by train a lot so we thought we would try backpacking. One question, should we get a larger backpack for the adults to allow room for some souvenirs to bring home, ship the items home, or carry an extra empty tote to fill? What would you do? Thank-you!!

    • I would not buy anything Margaret! But any of those options really, shipping will be expensive, so make sure you check what weight you’re allowed to carry on the plane. Some shops will ship items for you. Have fun!

      • Thank-you for the advice! We may let the kids choose something at the end of the trip. But for me and my husband, the memories are more than enough to bring home. Can’t wait!

  24. Hi, I love everything I just read here. You see, I love backpacking, my girlfriend and me both do. We cannot picture our lives without doing so again, but we just found out we’re going to have a baby, and so we felt everything, happy, scared, a little lost but also full of love and hope for that new person that’s growing inside her womb. I hould explain a little more. We’re 25 year old, she’s an economist and I’m on my last year of school to become a pharmacyst, but even though we’ve always talked about having children someday we didn’t want to do it untill we’d have travelled enough. So that’s why we got so freaked out at the beggining of this situation. But now, after reading this we feel so much better because you’ve shown us that it is possible. So thank you very much for this. If you ever come to Costa Rica please write. (I forgot to mention that we’re from Costa Rica, hehe). Anyway, THANK YOU.

      • im planning on coming to costa rica with my 3 year old. always looking for friends in new countries!

  25. I love this post! I’ve been backpacking with my family since I was 10 and my brother was 6. So many happy memories. I hope your boys love it as much as I did!

  26. I like each of this tips. My daughter is only 2, so sometimes it’s a bit different, but she has her own suitcase (kids size), love it, and take care of her books and toys. And it’s very usefull as we put all the baby stuff in it (like diapers) when we take a flight so we know where evrything is.
    I have to add, that we took some toys and books, and I hide some of them for a while, and then switch them. It’s like new toys + the happynest to find back old friend !

  27. Some great ideas and suggestions. I also have antibacterial wet wipes and hand gel with me all the time and use frequently when travelling.


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