This Family Travels the World With 3 Children and a Wheelchair

Smiths Holiday Road

My name is Bron and I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia. Andrew and I have three children and they are Cooper (12), Pepper (9), and Woody (5). Currently, I am in Malaysia as we take a term off school to explore Asia. Our favourite adventures involve some mystery, loads of different transport and often winging it!

How and why did you get into traveling?

When I was little, my Dad worked for the airline called, Ansett so we were always hopping on planes and exploring Australia. When I was 15, I went on student exchange to Germany for four months and had the realization that I could do this and I loved it! When Andrew and I met and had our children, it gave us even more of a reason to travel and explore. Our eldest son has a disability and we were even more enthused to show him he could do anything and go anywhere even using a wheelchair.

To be honest, lots of times I just jump on cheap airfares and plan from there! Often I will call out to Andrew in another room, “Can we go to… next June?” Once we book the flight, we usually have six months to plan (all the good deals are realized 6-12months out) so we love the Lonely Planet books, we listen to podcasts like Epic Education and we source all the foodie info from YouTube channels like Migrationalogy and the Fung Bros.

With this current adventure, we are walking up to 10kms each day and it has been fantastic for our health. I carried my eldest, Cooper down 300 steps the other day, which I couldn’t do at the start of this trip.

Smiths Holiday Road

Why is traveling with family important for you and why?

For us to travel together is about reconnecting and learning about each other. We have learned that we don’t have to do everything together and it works better if we split up for some activities then meet back up in the evening to share adventures. Just this morning, I had the older kids while Andrew took Woody to explore some caves.

The most difficult parts are trying to find places that are wheelchair accessible but mostly we find amazing people who are willing to help and make it happen. We love when we are in a place and we don’t need to explain the wheelchair — it just happens. Last week, we went on a boat to an island and it is what it is! The staff just carried Coop and helped with the wheelchair and it wasn’t a big deal. The way it should be.

How do you finance your travels?

We save for most of our travels. We also run a travel blog so we often get to review local hotels and experiences that are gifted to us. For us, the nuggets costs would be accommodation as there are five of us that often means two rooms. I always book cheap flights with budget carriers and we eat locally, which saves on costs too.

Smiths Holiday Road

How do you bring your things with you?

We have just done 10 flights in 10 weeks and have loved the freedom of carry on and the ease of getting on and off transport. It just means we need tasty somewhere with a washing machine or laundry so we do laundry every three days and a bit of hand washing too.

We travel carry on only so that means up to 7kgs each. Cooper and I share a bag as he cannot carry one. I usually end up helping Woody too. Andrew and I have the Osprey Porter 45 (carry on) and they are brilliant. We have loved using them each day for the last 70 days.The kids have Kathmandu bags: Woody’s bag is a Katabatic 28L, Pepper has the Transfer 30L

They are all backpacks so leave us hands free. They can be stored overhead on the plane. Easy to throw on a bus and train too and boat!
We love our bags so much! We could easily fit more in, too, as we learn to travel and live with less.

How do you organize things in your bags?

We use packing cubes for each person. we each have 2/3 outfits. I carry the medicine bag and Andre carries the toiletries. We found the essentials were mosquito repellent and vomit bags! I think a waterproof bag/wet bag would be great for wet bathers, etc. I also carry a small Vanguard came bag that holds my camera, passports, wallet and phone.

I think waterproof/water resistant bags weren’t important as I have be known to use a plastic bag to cover it! However, Pepper’s bag does have a rain cover and she used it a few times this adventure.

Smiths Holiday Road

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

Because the kids were world schooling for a term, they also needed some journals to write in each day and their school books. Next time I would just bring the journal! My kids did most formal learning online with apps like Mathematics and readings eggs.

Do you have to repair/change things on the road?

Coopers wheelchair has needed a few little fixes while we travel. Since we travel carry on only, the little tools we need cannot be taken onboard so we were looking for allen keys and a tyre pump across Japan, which deemed hard as it didn’t match the wheel. We found a guy in Taiwan who fixed bikes and he helped us pump up the tyres. We found a guy in Malacca who helped tighten a wheel too.

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

  • iPad apps loaded with Mathletics and Reading Eggs
  • Caravanning with Kids Travel Journals
  • Roxy swimsuits/rashvests
  • Globetrotting Grommets ID tags (these tags have the kids names and details in case they get lost)

Smiths Holiday Road

What is your best advice for other travelers?

I really love that we can access so much information from the internet when planning a trip but my advice is when you are actually there, take your nose out of the phone and ask a real person the best place to play, eat, enjoy. You get to meet new people and learn so much more than typing into Google.

Stop talking about booking a flight just book it and then enjoy the planning.

Start saving just simple things like the $2 in a 600ml coke bottle challenge can see you booking that next adventure. It means you have $880!

What is your best tip for parents with young children?

Just do it! Be prepared and always carry snacks! Get the kids involved in the planning. Go to the local library and find books on the country or area you will be exploring. Watch documentaries together.

The hardest age for us was around 18months-2.5 but only the flying part and it just meant walking up and down the aisle for 8 hours! It really depends on your kids. My kids love travelling and are very self-sufficient on flights and buses and boats! My eldest son due to his disability does still need support with eating and it’s the highlight of his travels. He even has his own food Instagram @thewheelfoodie

Smiths Holiday Road

How do you handle your children’s education?

With this current trip, we have prescribed school work, which is very flexible for our environment. For example, Pepper is to write an explanation text and a procedural text so she chose to write about sea urchins and islands as that’s where we were. I am in email contact with the three teachers and each child has varied tasks to complete depending on what their class is doing.

Coop actually homeschools two days a week to catch up on rest and does extra therapy. He has an Individual learning plan at school. I have learnt a lot about how the kids learn best so far and they are all very different in their styles and interests. They all do mathletics at their own levels and skills.

Smiths Holiday Road

What will the future bring?

I am dream planning about exploring India next year and lots of train travel between the hills and the coast. Between now and then, we will explore our homestate of Victoria and have some interstate trips planned.

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