Our travels with 3 kids and a wheelchair.

Author: Smithsholidayroad

Kyoto with kids. Our top 5 experiences.

Kyoto with kids. Our top 5 experiences.

Is Japan on your bucketlist?Kyoto with kids will be an enriching experience for your family. The once capital is home to brilliant gardens and traditional houses, shrines, temples and many family friendly activities for your next family holiday. We spent 1 week in Kyoto and […]

Family fun on the Mornington Peninsula.

Family fun on the Mornington Peninsula.

Summer on the Mornington Peninsula with kids means long days outside exploring in the sunshine and warm evenings at the beach, having BBQ’s and tasting some amazing food and wine on offer. With the best of everything for families we share with you our top […]

Accessible Travel. All you need to know from booking to flying with a wheelchair.

Accessible Travel. All you need to know from booking to flying with a wheelchair.

Travelling with a child with a physical disability that uses a wheelchair takes extra planning. Cooper has been travelling since he was 6 months old and loves exploring new places. Cooper has Dystonic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy and uses a manual quickie Zippie wheelchair while we travel with a freewheel attachment.

 

Here are our top tips to make the process smoother from home to the holiday destination.

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Taipei for Kids. Our top 5 experiences for Family Travel.

Taipei for Kids. Our top 5 experiences for Family Travel.

With it’s amazing food markets. Cheap and efficient transport. Adventures across  both city and nature scapes. Taipei the capital city of Taiwan is the perfect place for your next family adventure. There are plently of fun things to do with kids in tow and we […]

The World Street Art Bible.

The World Street Art Bible.

One of my favourite free and accessible experiences while travelling is wandering through new streets and laneways in the hope of discovering some creative street art. I love learning about the history of street art and trying to decide if it’s actually street art or […]

What travel has taught these well travelled kids.

What travel has taught these well travelled kids.

Without a doubt travel teaches kids so much. From learning about new cultures, to eating new foods, learning new languages and stepping outside their comfort zone. I am a strong believer that travel opens the eyes and hearts of our children and they develop an awareness and empathy for all different types of people.

But don’t take my word for it! Here are the opinions of some well travelled kids to share what Travel Means to them and what they have learnt.

 

Mariana (7) – FunTravelingWithKids.com

Traveling taught me to speak new languages and it is an experience of going to new places and meeting new people.I loved visiting the zoo (in Prague) but I did not like it when I got lost in a big shopping mall.It was so much fun learning new things about new countries and new foods like ‘Leberkäse’ (a German specialty).Traveling means that you can spend more time with your family and be making new friends.The food was sometimes good, especially in Germany, and sometimes gross.The people were so nice and I made so many new friends. I enjoyed the traveling; it’s fun.

Pepper (9) 

I have learnt to speak with many different people who speak a different language I can communicate with hand actions, point to things and try and use some local words. I am learning to try things even if I am scared . I even jumped off a boat into the water to snorkel.I don’t need many things for 3 months I had  4 pencils and a rubber and textas and I could read a book. I had three outfits and I could carry my own bag. I get along more with my brothers because we all mix ideas and we can make a game and we spend so much more time together.

 

Travel has taught me that there is so much history and artefacts in the world. It is really inspiring to be able to see things that were so old and all the way back from the ancient times. You can see how some of them have fallen apart but we are still really lucky to have them still there for us to explore. Meeting new people while travelling is also really good. They have the same interests as you and you can chat to them all about where you have been and what you have seen. I love travel!
I love to travel and hear other people’s point of view. They have different ideas about the world than what we do and they have other celebrations or festivals that we may not celebrate here. If they do have the same celebrations they may celebrate them differently than what we do so it is great to be able to be a part of their way of life and see it from their point of view. I also like to be able to go to museums and see how things we learn about here have actually affected people in their own country. Their history is longer and very different to ours here.
Being exposed to so many different cultures in my life has been the most amazing gift, and I am so, so grateful to my mum and dad for sharing the world with me. They have taken me to 23 different countries and along the way I have been exposed to so many different cultures. These experiences have taught me that we shouldn’t fear people or their differences, like some people do, and instead we should embrace them. Because the world is far more interesting and beautiful for them. No matter where they live, what language they speak, how they look, who they love, who they believe in, or what they eat, I’ve discovered that the majority of people are awesome – and despite our cultural differences we are all far more similar than we are different.
 
Travel has taught us some new food like pain aux raisin which in France and in Morocco they make a tagine and we liked to eat it. We also like wagashi which is Japanese sweets.

Different countries has taught us different words and languages.

We like meeting new people when we travel and we’ve made friends from other countries like France, Czech Republic, Netherlands, England and Croatia. If they don’t speak our language then we just play with them anyway! 

We like going on planes, buses, tuk-tuks (little motorbikes with a carriage in the back for people).

We like going to different landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, big mosques in Asia, Buddhist temples and the golden temple in Japan.

Travelling means going on vacation. You have fun, relax, try different things, meet new friends go to different hotels. I like that the beds are comfortable and we all share a room. I like flying too, I like all the things about travel!
I liked rock climbing when we went to Jordan. We went camping in the desert and I liked it because we got lots of cuddly warm blankets in our tent.  I also liked spotting the insects, especially lady birds and spiders.

I have learnt that backpacks are heavy but if you ask your mum nicely she will take some things out of it and carry those for you so that it is lighter. I have learnt that if we miss the train there are other ways to get there (or we just wait for the next train). I know that lots of people don’t get to travel as much as we do and we are blessed to be able to go to lots of different countries to experience their culture and learn a little about their life. But mostly I have learnt how to sleep just about anywhere!

Cooper (12) 

I have learnt to live simply if it is in a hotel or a ger or in somebody’s house . It’s not really a holiday any more  it’s much more than a holiday. Instead of going to big restaurants go to local markets.  Instead of going on a tour we use public transport with the locals we use buses trains and boats and even horses backs in Mongolia in the Ger. 

Ella (9) 

Travel has taught me how to make temporary friends.  When we lived on a sailboat in the Bahamas for six months, I was making and leaving friends all the time.  Travel taught me even when I leave friends, it doesn’t mean we aren’t friends anymore.  Another thing I have learned is that there are some people in the world that don’t have the same things as we do.  For example, their toilets are just rough out-houses and some of them just live in mud huts.  I saw this a lot in India.  That made me reflect on my own life and realize how lucky I am to have everything I have.

Besides learning that I love most food except pasta, travel has taught me that I really don’t like rollercoasters or any rides that are super fast. It’s quite funny that rides are pretty much the same in each country we go to. They pretend to be different with their different languages, different colours and all that type of thing, but they’re really the same. You’re not getting me on one. Oh, and I have also learned that I’m really good at reading bus and train timetables in all different languages. I have a great sense of direction too which means I help mum and dad each time they get lost!
In Japan I tried lots of different food that I hadn’t tried before. I didn’t like it all but some I did. I think that means that sometimes you’ll find new and exciting things if you give it a try. But sometimes you won’t like it, and that’s okay too.
I love learning about all the traditional things in the countries we visit. We have just been to Macedonia and I tried on a traditional folk costume. It was so heavy! I wouldn’t have known that if I had just looked at pictures.
Lastly, I’ve learned that there’s nothing quite as good as your bed at home but you need to visit other places to remind you of that.

 We would love to hear form your kids in the comments below!
The best hostel in Taipei.

The best hostel in Taipei.

If you thought staying in a hostel was just for young backpackers then think again! While I did spend many youthful travels living it up while saving money in hostels we have rediscovered them as a family. How does a common room with a cubby […]

Seoul with Kids.

Seoul with Kids.

The city of Seoul in South Korea is an amazing destination for families. I am not even sure what initially made me add it to our travel itinerary but I am so glad we did. The city has terrific public transport links to everything you […]

Riding the Trans Mongolian train with kids.

Riding the Trans Mongolian train with kids.

At home in Melbourne we use trains for commuter use back and forth to work or to explore the city on a weekend. It’s about getting from A to B but when we go overseas trains take on a whole new level of adventure and it becomes about the ride along with the destination. It enables us to go from country to country witnessing new landscapes and meeting a variety of travellers.

We love exploring different countries by trains. We have caught sleeper trains in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Germany. We have taken long distance trains in Italy, France and the Netherlands. We have ridden on bullet trains in China and Japan.

There is one train trip we had on our bucket list and that is the The Trans Mongolian ( part of the Trans Siberian Railway)

Image via Russible

The night before we travelled on the train we stayed in Beijing and bought some supplies for our trip. We got packet noodles, fruit, water  ( 4L bucket) and some snacks like chips and biscuits.

Ready to board train K23.

We started our journey in Beijing where the train leaves at 11.22am from  Beijing central station. Make sure you have your ticket and passport at the entrance as these are checked just to enter the station. Your bags then go through security. ( this happens at every Chinese train station). Once you walk in, look up at the big board for your train number and it will tell you the platform. There is also a help desk just below. There is a waiting room at the station which is signed well in both Chinese and English. There are a few fast food options and a small supermarket if you need some extra supplies and water for the train.

The gates open up around 11am with another passport and ticket check done before you can go on the platform. There is no need to rush,, things are done in an orderly fashion with some passengers bringing air conditioners, fridges and boxes onboard along with your regular backpackers too!

Your ticket will show the carriage and the berth number. There are staff able to help you if you need it too.

Dinner on the train

We found our 4 berth compartment easily in the second class carriage and were ready to go! Each berth had a set of sheets, 1 blanket and a pillow for you to make up the bed at night. There was plenty of storage for bags above and also under each bottom bed. There is a power outlet under the little table just bring your travel adaptor.

We left Coopers wheelchair at the end of our carriage tied up to a bar with a face washer with the brakes on!

We watched the city turn into mountains as we left Beijing. Woody consumed a packet of oreos within the first 5 minutes and the kids caught up on some journal writing.

Chinese countryside 2 hours out of Beijing.

We wandered along the halls and chatted with many other travellers and watched the sun go down as we prepared our noodle for dinner. At the end of each carriage there was hot water so you could also bring tea, hot chocolates, porridge or noodles.

Onboard the train I loved seeing families creating whole meals together with some people cutting and peeling cucumbers and making salads. Andrew actually bought a duck in a bag to try which we added to our noodles but it was pretty dry and we wouldn’t recommend it.

At the other end was a bathroom with a toilet and basin. On this note don’t forget to bring some toilet paper or wipes to use. We were next to the accessible toilet by chance and there was also an accessible cabin but I have no idea how you would actually get onto the train or down to the restaurant carriage as the walkway was very slim.

Accessible bathroom on Carriage 7.
Hallway on carriage 7.

We spent the evening chatting with Joey who was Mongolian as he taught Pepper how to count and say a few words. The kids fell asleep around 10pm.

At around the same time we stopped in Erlian to change the wheels from the Chinese gauge to the Mongolian gauge which should take around 3 hours. At this stage the toilets are closed and the aircon is shut down. Some people jumped off to the station and others stayed on. This was within a 5 second window and every story I read differs so what happens on your own trip will no doubt be unique. Don’t count on getting any snacks at this station so come prepared! Although a few people did grab a few packets of nuts!

While at the border the Chinese immigration came and took our passports and a departure card I filled out to the best of my ability ( it was in Mandarin) then 4 hours later we got them back.

Wheels changed and ready to go closer to 5 hours later and we stop at Mongolian Immigration a few moments down the track. They took our passports and then some military people came on and lifted the kids beds up to check we hadn’t smuggled anyone across ( I am only assuming) about two hours later and the sun is rising and we are in Mongolia ready to continue the trip.

( I must add the extra real story in here for good value reading! Around 11pm Pepper projectile vomits off the top bunk onto the floor. I run down the passage asking someone to translate to the guards for me so they can open up the bathroom. The train guard opens it up for Pep to continue vomitting. He sweeps the vomit carpet with a broom and hands Andrew a wet face washer to clean the carpet. All her bedding gets thrown in the passageway where the wheelchair is)

Don’t say this isn’t adventurous or full of detail!

I also have to add that people did smoke between the carriages and often it smelt as though it was coming through the air-conditioning. The guard room was also used for smoking and sleeping shift changes. Just so you know what to expect and everything is done differently depending on which country you are exploring.

The landscape has changed to green green grassy plains and blue clear skies. The train weaves its way through the hills and we start to see gers dotting the land.

We pull into Ulaanbaatar around 4pm and jump off the train all exhausted and looking dishevelled but ready to adventure into Mongolia.

Arriving in Mongolia.

 

The details:

Number K23 ( runs each Tuesday over Peak Summer.)

Starts in Beijing, China

Ends in Ulanbaataar, Mongolia

Covers 1553Kms

Time- anywhere from 27-30 hours.

We booked our tickets a couple of months before travel at CITS. Their email correspondence was great and we paid via paypal online. We sent copies of our passports and collected the tickets from the main office the day before our trip. ( tickets open around 45 days in advance)

We bought 5 tickets for a 4 berth lockable/door compartment 2nd class hard sleeper. Because Woody was 5 and under 120cms tall he had a ticket but no bed. We wanted to all be together but on seeing the train the compartments were really close together so we could have booked a berth next door for an adult to sleep in but spend the day in the cabin together.

$240 adult

$148 child

$128 child (no berth)

( Prices are in USD and what we paid in July 2017)

Australians need visas organised before travel for both China and Mongolia.

Our top tips:

  • bring enough snacks and water for your journey. ( restaurant car is very limited )
  • bring wipes or toilet paper for the bathroom plus a face washer to freshen up.
  • plastic bags for emergency vomitting/collecting rubbish
  • make sure you wander around and chat with other travellers.
  • wear comfy clothes and layers as the aircon is a bit hit and miss at times.
  • don’t expect much sleep ( at night) as passport control requires you to be awake and alert!

 

10 things we learnt living in a Mongolian Ger that will positively change our daily life.

10 things we learnt living in a Mongolian Ger that will positively change our daily life.

Staying in a traditional Mongolian Ger taught us more than we had imagined so much so that we are taking what we learnt on the land and applying it to our every day life at home. 1. Going Green. Our Ger had no power or […]