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5 things I learned travelling in Thailand with my five-year-old

DYAN MCKIE found a trip to Thailand was the perfect way to expand her daughter’s curious and inquisitive mind

Dyan and Beatrice at Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai, traveling with five year old in Thailand
Dyan and Beatrice at Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai

It might have been years since I left school, but on my last holiday, it was like I was back in a classroom – without the four walls! My five-year-old daughter, Beatrice, and I travelled to Thailand on one of Intrepid Travel’s Family Holidays, which are crafted for people with young kids, teenagers and solo parents. Here are five things I discovered during the trip.  

1. A good leader is worth their weight in gold

Beatrice receiving a blessing from a monk, Thailand Travel with five year old
Beatrice receiving a blessing from a monk

An overseas holiday with kids can easily transform into series of unforgettable memories – or show-and-tell stories. But when you have the world to explore and a local leader to show you the way, it becomes a different ball game. Being a mother herself, our leader was able to relate to the children and read the signs when they were tired or needed a break. She encouraged the children to immerse themselves in all experiences. One of the more memorable ones was at the Buddhist temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, in Chiang Mai province, where she invited the children to meet the local monk and find their birth statue. Thailand just has so much to offer; from the local language and the customs and culture to life in the rural villages, there’s nothing short of things to inspire the kids.

2. Personal experiences encourage advocacy

Beatrice making new friends in Chiang Mai, Thailand Travel with five year old
Beatrice making new friends in Chiang Mai

Firsthand experiences are considered one of the most immersive ways for kids to learn. With included activities like visiting an elephant sanctuary on the trip, young minds can learn about the importance of animal welfare, and how to be friends with all creatures while caring for them too.

I really do love elephants, but I also loved the educational piece. Seeing how these magnificent creatures are rehabilitated and cared for is amazing, and the kids came away having a better understanding about how to look after animals in a respectful way. Intrepid Travel’s take on animal welfare is industry leading and, in 2014, they removed elephant rides from all trips. “The ChangChill Elephant Sanctuary was the best because it’s also my mum’s favourite animal,” Beatrice says. “I fed them bananas and walked near them, but not too close. We learnt why we shouldn’t ride them, too.”

3. Homestays make the best sleepovers

Beatrice at the homestay, Thailand Travel with five year old
Beatrice at the homestay

Picture what your dream sleepover might have looked like as a child – then throw in traditional Thai dancing, learning about the environment and local agricultural practices, wandering through the village to visit neighbouring farm animals and a home-cooked dinner to finish it off. At the homestay, we had locally-made mango sticky rice – it was the best! All our meals where we stayed in the village of Ban Hua Tung in Chiang Mai were delightful in both taste and ambience. The kids also loved it. 

 

4. The journey is the destination

Beatrice at a temple with Intrepid leader Ae, Thailand Travel with five year old
Beatrice at a temple with Intrepid leader Ae

Long car journeys back home can be tiring, but on this trip I discovered that getting there is half the fun. It was Beatrice’s first time on an overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok – and she loved sleeping on the top bunk – so the whole thing turned into an experience she’ll never forget. I loved watching Beatrice play cards with everyone, because she can be shy at first. When she opens up, she turns into a different person. “I was a bit nervous travelling with other kids, because I didn’t know them,” she says. “But then I got used to them and it was really fun.”

5. A cure for fussy eaters

Bangkok Food

Indulging tiny taste buds isn’t an easy task, but when teamed with a new destination and hands-on experiences, dinner at home might never be the same. “My favourite food was the fruit on a stick, the noodles and chicken and the pancakes,” Beatrice says. “I liked helping at the cooking school too.” 

Dyan Mckie is Intrepid Travel’s brand and product manager – family adventures.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH INTREPID TRAVEL AND TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND

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