Great tips for backpacking with kids

Travelling around the world with children in tow has become a lot easier in recent years, and backpacking families are an increasingly common sight. With the growth of e-jobs that allow people to work on the road, and the attractiveness of providing the kids with a “global education”, it’s not unusual for a family to spend sometimes years at a time living a nomadic lifestyle.

There are various income streams that can be used to fund the trip, from savings to renting out the family home, working your way around or creating a successful blog to attract advertising. And the usual travel tricks such as travelling off-peak and staying in suburban areas can also save a lot of money. Here are some other useful ideas for any families considering giving it a go.

Bring a laptop or tablet

Possibly the most essential piece of kit you’ll need to bring with you, these devices perform several vital functions – they’ll entertain both parents and kids with film, music, tv shows and games during long journeys; they enable you to work on the road; Skype helps you stay in touch with family and friends, and along with Youtube can be a useful tool for education; and thanks to Cloud technology, photos can be safely stored online within minutes to prevent calamity should the laptop ever be lost.

Travel slowly

When it’s just you, zipping from place to place is easy, if a little tiring. With the whole family, you need to pace yourself to avoid stress. See fewer places perhaps, but gain a greater appreciation of those you do visit.

photo – Al_HikesAZ

Use bases

For example, if you want to travel around South-East Asia, consider renting a house in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, where you can leave most of your luggage and then spend a week here or there exploring neighbouring countries, return to regroup, then head off again.

Rest weeks

Constantly moving around can put a great strain on family life, as well as being detrimental to work and education. If your trip involves a lot of travel then schedule in a rest week maybe once a month to allow everyone to catch their breath.


If you’re planning to stay somewhere for a longish time, try and negotiate a lower rent or hotel bill. If you’re renting a house or flat, it may be worth offering to do a bit of maintenance on the place in return for paying less.

Get the kids involved in planning the route

A great way to build excitement and reduce nerves before you go, this also ensures everyone gets to do at least a few things on the trip that will be of particular interest to them. Researching the places you’re going to visit in advance will also allow you to get the most of your time away.

Good Insurance

Unquestionably the most important element of family adventure holidays is insurance. Go with an established provider – often you will end up paying more, but if you ever need a payout they are less likely to quibble over the fine details.

Stay in touch

And not just with your loved ones back home. One of the big disadvantages of a transient lifestyle is children have difficulty settling into a new place or school, knowing they will be moving on soon. Making friendships becomes harder and they can sometimes feel isolated, whereas parents may not feel it so intensely. Help your kids cope by encouraging them to write postcards or emails to the friends they meet along the way, sharing their experiences. Hopefully they will meet again one day.

  • Rob can’t wait to hit the trail again and now little Charlie is getting bigger he’s got thoughts of heading further afield than ever before.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]

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