What My Kids Learned in Thailand and Cambodia

We spent 3+ weeks in Thailand and Cambodia when the girls were 1.5 and 3.5 years old and I was pregnant with Flynn.  I doubt either of them will have meaningful long lasting memories of our trip, but I still think there is so much value in traveling with children even when they’re very young.  The exposure to new sights, sounds, smells, language and culture sets the stage for a lifetime of exploration and adaptability.

And with that, here are some things my kids learned on our trip:

Making new friends doesn’t require that you speak the same language.  I am in awe of how children are drawn to each other and can communicate and play comfortably upon first meeting.Friends

How to be respectful in a Buddhist temple.  From taking off shoes to quiet voices to sitting still while receiving the lotus flower blessing, the girls caught on quickly and learned to follow the local rules.Temple

Not everyone speaks English, and not all money is green.  I think it’s great for young minds to be exposed to many different ways of life, cultures and languages at a young age.  Skye was eager to learn phrases in Thai, and delighted in practicing “hello” (sah-was-dee) and “thank you” (kap-kun-kah) to strangers we encountered.


What tiger fur and elephant trunks feel like.  We stopped at Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai and met some elephants with a tour group as well.  Definitely a highlight for the kids!Animals

New and exotic foods can be delicious.  The kids were already budding foodies since we were living in Japan, but it never hurts to broaden their developing palettes.  Mango smoothies and chicken satay were the favorites.

FoodThis time around I didn’t do a very good job modeling adventurous eating habits;  I unfortunately had morning sickness, so tom ka gai (a stomach soothing coconut milk and lemongrass soup) was my default order at every restaurant.  Jason made up for it, though he stopped short of sampling the bug buffet!

Bugs-And countless more valuable life lessons, like: politely tolerating the affections of old ladies in public places, how children in Siem Reap get around (2-3 per bike!), staying away from nightmarishly scary monkeys with enormous testicles, and that even Ronald McDonald takes the time to be respectful of other cultures.


And finally, patience.  Long plane, boat and tuk-tuk rides, entire days of temple exploring, getting lost, and delayed meals stretch the tolerance ability of any age, but they are part of life so best get started young!

PatienceWe’re still working on that one…

  • Anne Klien ( MeAnne) - Its always good to start travelling from young age. The things that kids learns are amazing and they are more open to new experiencesReplyCancel

  • Lolo - That’s so awesome! I hope to have children one day and raise them the same way my mother raised me! Traveling the world and being exposed to different cultures at a young age!ReplyCancel

  • chrstine - Amazing post! I hope my kids are as educated about the world as yours are .. when I eventually have them ;PReplyCancel

  • Mia - This type of learning experience is essential to a child. I would much rather teach my child by doing and seeing than ONLY reading. Schools are great for many things but there’s nothing that can replace hands on/eyes on learning!ReplyCancel

  • travelgretl - So great to read and see this! This is one of my dreams 🙂 To have children and travel around with them 😀 Great to see what that looks like. I absolutely love the pics where they’re making new friends!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Perfect timing as we are about to embark on a trip to Kenya with our 3 and 6 year old, thank you for re-enforcing our belief that traveling with our littles is important and beneficial even though they may not “remember” it when they are 40! Great photos too, thank you! Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Dannielle Lily - What an amazing experience for your children, I really do hope they have memories of their trip in years to come. I only saw these countries when I was 21 and couldn’t believe the diversity of the world that I’d been missing out on!ReplyCancel

  • Revati Victor - Your post just proves kids are the best kind of travellers! So glad you’re giving them this exposure so early in life, it will go a long way into moulding the kind of people they become!ReplyCancel

  • Connie Reed - It’s so nice that your children have been exposed to other cultures at a young age. I’d keep them away from that bug buffet, though. I can hear them when they’re teenagers. “You made us eat bugs when we were little.” LOLReplyCancel

  • karla - I love that you expose your kids to all these at such a young age. I want to someday, when I have my own kids do the same 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Simone - I love love love this post so much. Your kids would have learnt so much more doing this then they ever will at school. The experience is priceless, I hope when I have kids I can do the same 🙂
    Simone | The Aussie FlashpackerReplyCancel

  • Nic from Roaming Renegades - This is such a lovely and heart warming post. It’s great to see kids embracing different cultures and people who looks different to them, to be excited by that and not scared. Those are some important lessons, if the world brought their kids up like you are doing it would be a much nicer place full of love and understanding.ReplyCancel

  • Nikita - This is fantastic! Your kids will definitely be far better human beings for their travels. Some adults haven’t learned all these lessons yet! I especially love “Not everyone speaks English, and not all money is green”. It’s never too early to realize that ours is not the only way!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Stunning photo’s! I’m in awe that you are teaching your kids all these valuable life lessons – particularly the inspects 😉
    Beautiful family! Congrats!ReplyCancel

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