Are you dreaming of a Language Learning getaway but just not sure how it might work with your whole family, little kids and partner?
We’ve been travelling with Lingo Bubba since she was 5 months old and I want to share with your my 7 best ways to have a hassle-free Language Trip with your kids!
When I say travel, I mean really travel with our daughter – we backpacked in Japan last year when she was 5 months old! (Well backpacked with a travel stroller and an ergo baby…!) Travelling with her has been such a joy and amazing experience, and I won’t lie it’s been tiring too… Throw in language study and you have to be really prepared.
We have been blown away by how much Lingo Bubba also gets from these trips (confidence, new language and communication skills as well as being exposed to new cultures, food and people)
It’s no surprise we are BIG advocates for Language Trips with your kids.
What have we done and where have we been?
We spent two weeks in Japan when LB was 5-6 months old
We did an extended family trip to Vietnam when she was 9-10 months old.
We did a Mandarin Chinese Language Learning Trip to Taipei and Tainan, Taiwan when she was 15 months old.
And our most recent was a three week Language Learning Trip to Vietnam (Saigon and Hanoi) to learn Vietnamese – she was 22 months old. Where we took two Lingo Mama Language Trip participants with us!! Read more about this trip here!
What is the best age to travel with a baby or toddler?
I remember googling this obsessively before we planned our trips last year…. but to be honest I have found there is NO best time to travel – each age has its own special advantages and challenges.
Before she turned 1 she was a pretty bad sleeper, but since then she has been mostly much better, except for the fact she is a very light sleeper, needs a dummy (pacifier) and doesn’t sleep in her pram, and sleeps badly when she shares a room with us! It’s all relative hey!
Every baby and child is different, but below is what I’ve found with Lingo Bubba.
What you can expect at different age brackets!
0-6 months – pre-crawling – 2-3 naps per day – drinking milk only – not on solids yet. May sleep in the aircraft bassinet if you’re lucky! Easy and light to cart around in a baby carrier, often can sleep anywhere and can be put down on the floor and not move.
6-12 months – potentially crawling and getting about a little – 2 naps per day – milk plus solids. May sleep in the aircraft bassinet if you’re lucky!
12 – 18 months – crawling and walking around – maybe dropped to 1 nap per day – eating much more solid food. May sleep in the aircraft bassinet if you’re lucky, but by now many kids are too long, too big and just too curious to get in those damn bassinets!
18 – 24 months – walking and very active – 1 nap per day – hungry and eating more! Can still fly free as an infant, but you must be prepared to have them on you for the whole flight (unless you are lucky and score an extra seat!)
2-3 years – Now on full fare for air tickets. But they are much more easily entertained for longer periods now by books, toys and dare I say it the iPad…most likely still in nappies and transitioning to toilet training. Possibly still having naps but some kids at this age have stopped regular daytime naps but with fatigue from travel, naps might make a comeback 😉
3-4 years – Most likely toilet trained now but may need some precautions when out and about. Really interested in the world around them. Probably not having any daytime sleeps now, but might not make it through the day well travelling!
7 best ways to have a hassle-free Language Trip with your kids
Keep your expectations real as to how much extra practice and study you can fit in
- I am a big dreamer and often imagine all the wonderful things I will have time to do, however, reality doesn’t always work this way. I’ve learned to prioritise one important thing for each day while I’m on a Language Trip. It might be to film a video of me speaking in my target language or to try out this cafe I’ve seen and do some writing practice or visit this exhibition I’ve heard about or head to this street that serves a particular food speciality.
- If you just have one thing you want to achieve, you will come away feeling a lot happier and fulfilled!
- PS this probably should apply to both you and your partner 😉 Or you can take it in turns to choose your thing!
If you and your partner are both doing language classes, decide on a schedule that works for you both
- I focus and concentrate much better in the morning so I always aim for morning classes. Lingo Dada and I tag-teamed in Saigon – with me 8-9.30am and Lingo Dada 10.00 – 11.30am. In Hanoi, we had back to back classes in the morning. and our teacher came to us so we saved travel time, a lot of taxi rides and handover time of Lingo Bubba.
Try and book as much as possible BEFORE you leave home
- I never have been a big believer in planning out my trip entirely before I go, because I might discover something amazing to see or visit when I arrive, or I might want to move cities quicker than I imagined.
- However, since doing Language Learning Trips (and travelling with a baby!) I have less time now to research and book and change plans while we are actually away, so we have booked a lot of our accommodation and transport prior to arriving. It saves time and brain power to make more decisions and we can use that time to dedicate to learning and enjoying our time.
Book and pay for airport/hotel transfers
- If you’re like me and wouldn’t have dreamed of paying for an airport or hotel transfer before you had kids… you might scoff at this idea… but if you can afford the expense, I really think it makes a difference. Particularly if you’re arriving somewhere unfamiliar and aren’t confident with the language after a long flight. It’s also handy if you are lugging around extra luggage such as strollers, travel cots and car seats.
Try and keep to a similar schedule you would have at home for naps and meals and bedtime (if it works for you)
- this might not work for you or it may work on certain days during your Language Trip but we found keeping to a loose schedule similar to what we have at home helped us plan our days/nights and meals
Use your kids as language practice
- kids TV programs
- talking to people about your kids – how old they are, what their name is etc.
- talking to other kids/parents
- learning specific vocab to introduce to your kids in your target language
Relax your expectations around food and nutrition
- I’m not sure you would read this in a parenting blog, but… before we were in Vietnam on our Language Trip, Lingo Bubba pretty much didn’t eat any sugar…. but after being in Vietnam and realising that everything from bread, yoghurt and milk contained added sugar – it was hard to avoid….
- I also had expectations she would be into a lot more Vietnamese food than she was… really prawn crackers and spring rolls and some vermicelli noodles were the extent of her love for the cuisine. Curiously though she limes nuoc mam (fish sauce) with a bit of chilli too and sucking fresh limes!
Take a Language Trip with Lingo Mama 🙂
- We are well practised now at taking Language Trips and we recently ran our first Language Trip with participants to Vietnam to learn Vietnamese. Read more about this trip here!! When you come on a Language Trip with us, we organise everything for you (except your flights) – you will come away feeling confident in your target language, having learnt new skills and experience a whole new culture.
- Next Lingo Mama Language Trips are to New Caledonia to learn French (May 2020), Japan to learn Japanese (October 2020) and Vietnam to learn Vietnamese (October 2020) – please get in touch to register your interest.
- I’m also taking early registrations and expressions of interests for Shanghai and Hangzhou to learn Mandarin Chinese and Singapore/Malaysia to learn Malay.
- All the details can be found here – Language Trips
- Register your interest now! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Language Retreats to check out (not necessarily ones for you AND the kids… but they all sound great!)
Consider what type of accommodation works best for your family. It could be a serviced apartment with facilities like a swimming pool, children’s playground, cafe or supermarket? Or you might prefer an Airbnb, hostel, guesthouse or hotel.
We have stayed in serviced apartments, Airbnb, guesthouse, hotels and resorts with Lingo Bubba, and for us, the space, kitchen and laundry facilities of apartments work the best for us. It’s a bonus too if there are extras like a playground or swimming pool.
If you are using Airbnb, contact the owners to ask questions about bringing your child or toddler. In some cases, we have had high chairs and baby baths and plastic crockery provided for us which was great! (This was in Taipei and also in Tokyo).
We’ve had some great experiences and I’ve documented lots on this website!
Share with me your top tips for travelling (not necessarily for language) with your kids and family! What has worked for you?
Until next time,