family travel


Spice up your family trip to Beijing with these off-the-beaten-path activities!

Packed with parks, theaters, cute cafés and museums, China’s big, bright and bustling capital is a top destination for families with a taste for culture or an appetite for adventureBut while there’s no denying the fun factor at Beijing’s big ticket amusement parks or the thrill of scaling a section of the Great Wall, families in Beijing are likely to find themselves jostling for elbow room and spending a lot of time waiting in line at the city’s biggest kid-friendly attractions. For more intrepid families visiting the Chinese metropolis, there are still plenty of under-the-radar experiences just waiting to be discovered! You might need to brush up on your Chinese, as you’re unlikely to hear much English spoken at these off-the-tourist track spots.


Get the Lay of the Land by Taking a Peek at Beijing in Miniature

At the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall, mere steps from the tourist-packed Tiananmen Square, is a crowd-free spot where visitors can check out a teeny version of Beijing. A true-to-scale model of the entire metropolitan area is a fun way for families to get their bearings and check out the lay of the land–kids can try to spot their hotel among the landmarks. Visitors can see the entire city, the surrounding countryside and the magnificent Great Wall, and it’s a great way to plan how to get around the city. As well as the vast model of the city, visitors can check out interactive displays and interesting videos about Beijing’s past, present and future. The air-conditioning makes it well worth it, just to escape the swelter of the streets on a hot day!


Ready, Set, Ski!

Yes, you can ski in Beijing–or at least in the surrounding area. Families visiting Beijing in the winter can find slopes just 30-minutes’ drive from the city proper at Nanshen Ski Village. It’s not really known among foreign visitors to the city, but is in fact one of the best-equipped and most modern ski resorts in China. The area hosts dozens of runs for all abilities, as well as a kids’ play area and a snowboard park. Do you have nature-loving kids in tow? Check out these tips for nature-loving families in China!


Find a Hidden Cat Café

Coffee, cakes, cocktails…and cats. Cats, cats, cats! Beijing has caught on on to the Taiwanese trend for cafés that allow a cat-loving clientele to cuddle new-found furry friends as they nibble and sip their way through the menu. Cat cafés are increasingly popular in the Chinese capital, and while many are busy spots where you’ll need to battle your way through crowds of tourists to get a seat, others are hidden away in unassuming hutong (narrow street or alley) neighborhoods. One such spot is Cats44, where feline-loving families can pet rescue kitties, and kids can sit at special child-sized tables. It’s easy to miss this somewhat hidden spot, tucked away on a rather down-at-heel courtyard, but families in Beijing will find it well-worth seeking out for the delicious cat-shaped cakes and other yummy treats.


Get Buzzing at a Bee Museum

Beijing’s Botanical Garden is firmly established on the city’s tourist trail, but few visitors take the time to visit the somewhat hidden Bee Museum, a sweet little spot that will satisfy little visitors with a hankering for honey. Most of the information is in Mandarin, but the working bee hives and exhibitions of bee keeping gear need little translation. Visitors can discover all about honeybee habits and habitats, and even pick up jars of the golden goop to take away.


Explore Old Beijing

While much of Beijing has been modernized and gentrified (find tips to see the new luxurious side of China here), the real spirit of the city is best explored in the traditional hutong neighborhoods. These maze-like networks of ramshackle alleyways and courtyards are home to cafés, curiosity shops and clothing stores, and visitors can even visit family homes to try their hand at dumpling-making. To find a cooking class, be sure to plan in advance–don’t just knock on a door and expect people to throw open their kitchens! Another fun hutong experience for families in Beijing is to try a calligraphy class: kids will learn how to write their names in Chinese characters.


Eat This: Scorpions on a Stick

Adventurous eaters in Beijing may thrill at the site of fried scorpions on a stick, at such foodie hotspots as the famous Wangfujing Street in central Beijing. All manner of crawling, slithering and flying beasties are available as crunchy, protein-packed snacks, and even those who haven’t got the stomach to eat a roasted giant centipede will likely relish the spectacle. Candied fruits and savory dumplings are among the more kiddie-friendly street snacks on offer. If you’re looking for even more adventurous fun for your family’s trip to China, find more ideas here!


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

And when we dragged ourselves through the doors of our Kathmandu hotel, I knew we had made it. We did it. A 28-hour journey between airports, lost luggage, security checks, visas, and one shower. I was so proud of the kids and I…

It’s true that when you cross borders with your family, there’s a feeling that the only aspects worth preparing for involve immigration control, visas, and flight confirmations. But this time, I don’t mean those kinds of details. This time, I’m talking about limits of a different sort, those who have nothing to do with the word “visa.” What about the inner limits? The emotional, mental, and physical limits we all have? Surely, they are just as important.

Before this latest journey to Kathmandu, I was under extreme stress. I had no idea how I was going to manage the impending challenge. How could I possibly handle a journey that starts in Israel, continues to Jordan, and then onward to India, where we will have to wait 12 hours without any visa for the flight to Nepal? Alone, the journey would be arduous enough, but traveling with three kids poses an entirely new set of challenges. I knew the process would take well over 24 hours, and I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to sleep. I also knew that I had no Indian visa, and that the immigration officers would probably create a nightmare for us because of that problem. My close friends and family reassured me. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine,” they coaxed, although these empty reassurances only made me more anxious. Of course you can say “It’ll be fine!” if you don’t have to go through it! Had I gone too far this time? Had I taken a chance that would prove to be a huge mistake? Had I finally embarked on a journey that I could not safely enjoy with my children? What exactly was I capable of as a mother?

After successfully navigating over 7 years of traveling, I can say with certainty that one of the most important parameters to consider is exactly that: know your limits, whether they are emotional, mental, or physical. In a strange country, with its own laws, language, and unique culture, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Ever. Here are some ideas to think about before you embark on international family travel:


1. Do your homework!

Before settling on where you’re going to go, check the weather, health hazards, available healthcare, altitude, sanitation, and most especially the water quality for your top destination choices. How do you and your loved ones fare in cold weather? Humidity? Are there health conditions to be considered? Any germaphobes? Everyone needs to understand and be prepared to accept the differences in cleanliness standards from your home country versus your destination. Preparing for these aspects of travel will expand your hygiene limits!


2. Check personal safety levels.

Can you walk around without having to worry about being pick-pocketed or assaulted in other ways? What are the tourist crime rates like? Is there an organized tourist police association? Do you have proper insurance? Make sure you have fall-back plans in case your valuables are stolen, and then at least you can rest easy if you experience crime. Give everyone a copy of emergency phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Mentally prepare yourselves and your children for these contingencies.


3. Think about transportation options.

What is the best way for your family to travel? Do your young children need carseats? Do you need a personal driver? Are the kids old enough to handle long, cross-country, bumpy bus rides with unreliable bathroom breaks? What do you need for your brood to be most comfortable during these journeys? Don’t sign up for a bus journey when a flight would quell the concerns of some anxious travelers, and don’t book a flight when a bus ride will keep you within your limited budget. Balance your priorities.


4. Communicate with locals.

How many people speak English in the areas you would like your family to visit? Can you or your children learn language basics for your trip to make the visit more seamless? What areas of your destination country offer English speakers? It’s always critical to be able to communicate in some way, especially if you are in need of directions, a restaurant suggestion, or directions to a bathroom. Know what you need to be able to communicate once you arrive.


5. Seek advice.

Take advantage of those who have already visited your country of choice! Even if you know someone who has traveled in the country solo or as a couple, he or she certainly has advice or answers regarding your upcoming visit. Does anyone know people where you are going who might welcome guests (have them write down phone numbers!)? Where are the best hidden spots? Places to avoid? Bargain eateries? Even ask those “stupid” questions–don’t be shy! Ask about aspects you are concerned about and see how best to address these issues.


6. Ensure a comfortable landing!

Book lodging online at a decent, well-known hotel for the first night or two. That way you can get a first impression of the country from a cozy vantage point and make plans based on what you hear from hotel staff or fellow travelers. In addition, your family will be able to recover from jet-lag and get some good rest before setting into your international venture. Don’t push your limits even more after a tough journey to your destination!


7. Be flexible.

Stay flexible emotionally, mentally, and physically. Don’t worry if things don’t go exactly according to plan! Give it a minute, breathe, and check what your best options are. It’s almost never catastrophic, just a part of the trip that you have to get through. Invite a sense of adventure into your traveling, as plans will inevitably change. Celebrate a delayed train with an extra ice-cream run, and calm upset stomachs with another night in a comfy hotel. Take small steps. And even try to have a bit of fun!  I cannot stress this enough: F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y. That’s the key to pushing through the boundaries you thought you had!


8. Choose appropriate activities.

So one kid wants to bungee jump, another wants to take a cooking class, and another is battling an upset stomach. Anticipate the differences in your children’s preferences and prepare for disagreements about how to spend time abroad. No matter what, don’t put yourself or your family in situations that make you feel unsafe. Does your bungee guide seem out of it? Does your driver seem knowledgeable? Don’t rush to remote villages if it terrifies you, and don’t climb high mountains unless you’re sure you are confident to handle any problem that occurs on the way. Don’t put yourself in places where your own insecurity has you cornered. Know yourself and keep your strengths close to your heart, all the while accepting your weaknesses as part of the package. Remember all the reasons you decided to travel with your family in the first place. Then decide your true limits!


Everyone knows that traveling can be complicated and expensive. Moving to and settling into a foreign country can often soak up a big portion of your budget. In an ideal world, I would sit and prepare each destination thoroughly–I would apply for visas, have passports at the ready, obtain foreign currency, research where to sleep, check bus schedules, purchase flights, brush up on sanitation standards, make a list of important contacts, pack all the essentials, talk to the kids about street smarts, plan activities for the kids, buy travel insurance, stock up on medicines, and more, and more… But with kids, things never happen the way you imagine they will. A week before setting off, one of them wakes up with a fever or a rash. Or you get a phone call that ruins everything. Or one of the kids has a birthday two days before the flight. Or the weather decides to mess with you. Suddenly, the fantasy of quiet and peaceful preparations evaporates.

The last few days before embarking on your family’s journey will challenge the nerves and patience of the whole brood… or maybe it’s just us! In any case, my advice would be to take under consideration that there will be complications and prepare (and react) accordingly.


1. Plan in advance!

Make up your mind about your destination a long time in advance. Do your homework and check everything you need with plenty of time left. Don’t wait for the last moment (and I say this from experience… I have never once decided my next destination with enough time left! I make decisions three days before my visa runs out, and I usually get lucky). A lot of times, you have to be careful when managing your time. If you have to apply for visa in advance, how long does it take for the document to process? Sometimes you have to show a flight ticket out of the country at immigration, or there are other details you need to know. What about your budget? The first few days in any new place are not easy, and they will always cost more money. Make sure you have done your research.


2. Return to your favorite places.

As your family begins to travel, there will be certain restaurants, hotels, cities, and entire countries you’ll connect with. Strengthening these bonds will further your family’s establishment as global citizens. Returning to a loved location, where I already know the cost of a taxi from the airport, where to sleep for the first few nights, and get coffee in the morning, is a relief and a joy. That’s why I prefer to include some places we are familiar with in our itinerary.


3. Prepare and take care of your bodies.

A few days before you relocate, make sure you eat nutritious meals! Take special care that you’re eating things that help the body make serotonin, which has a calming effect. Because relocating creates temporary unbalance, consider the chances of illness, allergies, and emotional sensitivity increasing. It’s vital that you watch yourself and your energy levels. From the parent’s perspective, settling into a new country doesn’t end when the luggage arrive at baggage claim–it ends when your lifestyles are comfortable. Never forget about jet-lag, even when the time difference is negligible. Until then, just try to establish regular sleeping hours and meals.


4. Take your time.

When I get to a new place, I don’t explore everything as soon as possible. I take my time. First, I dedicate two or three days to physical and mental recovery. I hang near my house, discover the neighborhood slowly, and let the kids get used to the surroundings. Traveling long-term is different to a short vacation, because you have the luxury to blend in slowly. Take in the atmosphere and settle in at your own pace.


5. Celebrate your accomplishments!

Relocating challenges your abilities as families and individuals. Recognize the strides each member of the family makes as travelers. When I look at my kids and see how the handle themselves in the busy streets of Manila, Kathmandu, or Saigon a day after we landed there, ready to explore and experience and taste without batting an eyebrow, I understand just how traveling is a wonderful gift I am sharing with them.

Try the k-12 program for remote and on -the -road schooling :-).


Does your family like taking things to the limit? How about experiencing out-of-this-world activities? Do the kids like to try too-good-to-be-true kinds of foods? From the biggest pizzas to the tallest tower drops, take your family to a place of unique experiences during your trip to the Philippines. This list of crazy activities gets better: the father you read through the list, the crazier it gets! How adventurous will your family be? Read on and witness the beauty of this world crazy Filipino style!


Giant Pizza


It’s always nice to start the day with a nice meal, but it’s even better to start it with a huge meal! At Pizzaville, in Manila, your family can snarf down a whopping 70-inch (175 centimeter) pizza (about $160 USD). Yes, that’s right, even those eaters with bottomless stomachs might get full! Your pizza’s diameter is even wider than than Tom Cruise and Daniel Radcliffe are tall! Now, you might think that eating this big pizza will tire out your taste buds. Don’t worry though, because you can choose different toppings for each enormous slice. Does one kid like anchovies while another can’t stand them? No problem! They also serve 50-, 30-, 20-, 14-, and 10-inch pizzas for more reasonable appetites.


Manta Ray Diving


Have you ever dreamt of being a fish? Are any of the kids mermaid enthusiasts?  Do you like experiencing the beauty of the underwater world? Try manta ray diving while you are journeying around the Philippines. The mechanics of this activity are simple: there’s a Jet Ski, there’s a rope, and there’s you! The rope is attached to a plank-like apparatus that determines your swimming direction: tilt it upwards and you’ll go up, or tilt it downwards and you’ll go down. You don’t have to bother moving your feet in order to swim or move underwater. Just let yourself be carried away and experience the ocean world around you. Pay $9 USD per person for the first fifteen minutes of diving, and then pay $1 USD for each additional five minutes. Journey with the kids to Anilao, Batangas (Manila → Buendia Bus Terminal → Batangas City Bus Terminal → Mabini → Anilao), to visit the manta rays yourselves.


Waterfall Restaurant


Do you think that going to eat at a run-of-the-mill restaurant is boring and mainstream? Have you ever eaten whilst inside a waterfall? Sometimes the kids need a little mealtime excitement! This restaurant in Villa Escudero plantation resort is literally in a river. Imagine the scenery of waterfalls unveiling its beauty right in front of you while you eat. You’ll be enjoying traditional Filipino fare while your feet prune in a clear stream! The kids will enjoy frolicking around the water features and tasting local delights.


Boil an Egg… in a Volcano!


Do you like exploring? Do you like a wonderful view? Do you like volcanoes? Taal is the best option! It is one of the world’s smallest volcanoes, and it has been inactive since 1977 (and it is expected to stay in that state!). You and the kids can hike right up to the crater, and little kids or those who aren’t fond on hiking can ride horses that locals rent at the trailhead. The funny part is that after you take photos and enjoy with your family through the journey, you can boil an egg! There are geothermal waters on the way to the volcano’s crater that are boiling–just don’t forget to bring your egg! Visit this volcano in Taal, Batangas!


EKstreme Tower Fall


Do you like heights? Do you like an adrenaline rush? Then this tower is for you! It is called the Ekstreme Tower in the Enchanted Kingdom. The tower is one of the best rides in the amusement park. The slow, upward movement will fill riders with anticipation as the ride approaches its full height of 40 meters (minimum height to ride is 4 feet/122 centimeters), before you’ll drop at about 76 kilometers/hour. There are some restrictions for tourists having health issues, so be sure your family is fit to ride. Otherwise, the staff will assist and attend to everyone before starting the ride. The higher it gets, the more beautiful the view is! Enchanted Kingdom’s totality will be seen on one side while the busy city of San Pablo will come into view on the other side. If the children don’t like this level of a rush, other rides in the park are also available. And you can rest easy–the park is internationally certified for the safety of their rides. Tickets cost $17 USD per adult and $11 USD for kids. Visit the park on a weekday for an extra discount!


Roller Coaster Slides


Do you like slides? Do you like an adrenaline rush? Well, a visit to Splash Island in Biñan, Laguna will be perfect for your family! These slides are not the normal pool slides–they are extremely long, curvy, and steep. Riding in one will feel like riding a rollercoaster. For less adventurous water lovers, there are varieties of activities to choose from, like lazy rivers and beach pools. Family slides are also available where the whole brood can go together while riding in a giant inflatable apparatus. It is truly an extreme experience for the whole family, and it won’t break the bank, either! A mere $9 USD per person will grant you access to this waterslide heaven.


Bike on a Zipline!


Does one kid love heights? Is another a biking enthusiast? Do you like ziplines? Then cycling on a zipline at Chocolate Hills Adventure Park will tickle everyone’s fancy! Unlike a normal zipline, the rider can actually control his or her speed. Speed up if you like that roller coaster experience, or slow down to enjoy the moment and indulge in the beautiful surroundings. Anxious about safety? The ride is complete with safety features, and orientations are held before you embark on the journey. The entrance fee for the adventure park costs a mere $1 USD per person, while the bike-zipline costs $8 USD per person. Other activities include a surf-zipline (what?!), a collection of ropes courses, and a petting zoo for the tiniest tots.


Dive with a Whale Shark!


Do you like the sea? Do you like giants? Do you like whale sharks? Go diving at Donsol Bay, Sorsogon, and be with gigantic friendly ocean life! Needless to say, this is an absolutely incredible experience. Imagine bobbing in the sea with creatures who are about 30 times bigger than you! You’ll see whale sharks, manta rays, and maybe even a hammerhead shark if you’re lucky. And it’s perfectly safe! The diving instructors are fully-equipped with all the necessary gear and ensure that you are acquainted with all safety procedures. Try a “Discover SCUBA Diving” course for an introduction to the activity, which will certify you to dive up to 40 feet for one year ($86 USD per person). For an open-water diving certification, expect to pay around $300 USD. Even though it is much more expensive, this option might suit your family best if you’re looking to dive around different Philippine islands, as the certification gained through this course lasts for life! Make sure you do not skimp in this department–the last thing you want while SCUBA diving is faulty, unreliable gear.




Being in the Philippines is all about water activities, and if you and the kids haven’t had enough yet, then try flyboarding! While the less adventurous family members go swimming near the shore, the craziest children can try this exciting activity. A piece of equipment attached to your feet shoots out a strong stream of water, and the high pressure of water enables the rider fly over the sea. Feet movements determine where you are going and if you’re going to fall or not. Some professionals can actually do tricks while riding this apparatus! Experience it at Subic Bay for around $80 USD and we guarantee you to have the best time of your life.




Riding on an airplane is thrilling, and you and the kids have certainly done a lot of that during your international travels… but what if you were going to jump out of it?  We don’t need to say anything–you know skydiving is crazily awesome! Visit Cebu to try skydiving, but the experience is only available for those 18 and up, and an ID or passport is required. This one won’t be cheap. The price runs about $350 USD per person–but again, you don’t want to go on a cheap skydiving expedition, do you? You and your brood will remember this experience for the rest of your lives, so if you have the funds, go for it!


Need some more ideas for fun family destinations? Check out our article on more amazing Philippine locales here!


Japan can be overwhelming and overcrowded, especially at high-season. Travelers in Japan often find themselves confused and lost, and so they miss so much of what this incredible country has to offer. These tips will help you cope better as a family, and save a lot of time, effort, ragged nerves, and frustration:

 – Book everything in advance- Large parts of Japan are overcrowded a lot of the time, so many establishments are completely booked out. That extends to more than just the obvious hotels and flights, but also to museums (such as the Hayao Miyazgi/Ghibli museum in Tokyo), other theme/amusement parks, and trains.

For trains, even if you a railway pass (which is highly recommended to buy online before you even get to Japan), you should still book you place in advance. The general rule is that when you get to a new city, if you know how many days you’ll be there, go and book your place on the train to the next city that same day. If you don’t know how long you’ll stay, or where you’ll go to next, do it once you decide.

 – Carry a few plastic bags with you- In Tokyo there are no trash cans in the street, so travelers often find themselves with nowhere for their trash.

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 – Have raincoats with you always- You never know when it’ll start drizzling in Japan, you you don’t your sushi to get wet.

 – Don’t worry about food- If one of your kids is a picky eater- have no fear! in Japan you can always find a McDonald’s or a Starbucks nearby

 – One Samurai castle is enough.

 – Ta-Q-Bin – Is a service that ship your suitcases for you! You go into a convenience store (like 7/11), ask if they have this service (most do), fill a form and pay a small fee, and they’ll ship your suitcases for you to your next destination, straight to your hotel or Airbnb. They’ll even carry it up the stairs for you! This way you don’t have to drag those huge suitcases around the train station.

They will also hold your suitcases for up to a week before shipping them, so you can pack a small bag and stop in a few fun spots on the way to your destination without having to carry a huge bag with you everywhere.

Ta-Q-Bin also operates in many other Asian countries and even carries packages internationally.



This article was written with the help of Gily Avishay who spent a long time in Japan.


Usually my approach is that the less you carry with you the better, and to just get things on the road as necessary. This is the most comfortable way (because you carry a lot less) and most if the time it’s cheaper too. But still, there are things you have to take with you. I list here the equipment that in my opinion is the most basic, things I would never have left Israel without.

A big backpack, comfortable to use and carry: whether you’re alone or a family, at least one high capacity backpack is a must. It’ll be used for all the trips and treks to which you only want to carry one bag with all the equipment for a few days, and also functions as an all-purpose bag/suitcase.

Very important that it be the most comfortable one for you. It’s one of the few things I’d never buy online but always go to the store and try it on. It’s vital that anyone who’s meant to carry the backpack will try it on and feel comfortable with it on.

Everyday bag– also comfortable to carry and use: same principles apply to your everyday bag. The difference between a comfortable quality bag and a shitty cheap bag is huge. It’ll effect how you feel physically all day long. If you’ll feel alert, energetic, and could keep going all day easily, or if you’ll feel back/shoulder pain, tired and exhausted by noon. Try it on before buying. And don’t compromise.

Excellent walking shoes– everything I said about the bags applies here too. Good shoes are the key to a good day. Both in hardcore treks and easy one-day hikes. If your shoes aren’t spot-on your whole trip will look completely different.

Towels that dry quick, antibacterial preferably- I’ve been using the same towels for 7 years. I didn’t compromise on the quality and bought the biggest they had. It’s the best feeling when getting out of the shower. And when you use them day after day for a period of time, you don’t want to be depressed at the end of every shower. They’re wonderful. Dry fast, don’t stink, and don’t get moldy. You can shower in the morning, hang them to dry, go have tea and when you come back they’re dry and ready to be packed.

High quality mosquito repellent– because when you’re out of the city, and the flies and mosquitoes fly around you, you want the best repellent there is.

Soap strips– on its face it looks like an unnecessary luxury. But it’s one of my favorite products. I keep one in every bag and sometimes even in my pocket. It’s always reachable and always gives me a quiet feeling that ‘it’s alright, there’s soap’. In every place and every situation, even on a 24 hour bus (with all the bug bags stored in the luggage compartment) on the road in the middle of nowhere.

Carrier sling- well, obviously. For treks, busy streets, packed cities, even to go shopping with nothing on your mind. A carrier sling the kid likes. And one that’s comfortable for the parents to wear. I don’t really need to go into details. It’s all so obvious.

first aid kitalways ready.

There are a few more things I wouldn’t recommend traveling without, but those you can buy on the road:

Scissors– always in the suitcase. I can’t even begin to count how many times over the years I suddenly needed scissors.

Knife with a plastic sheath– because you’ll get excited and buy a ton of great fruits and then realize at the hotel you have no knife.

Thin flexible chopping board– yes, you’ll be surprised but it’s much more comfortable chopping fruits or vegetables on it or even doing puzzles, clay art or writing something on the bed.

Thermos– I like having hot drinks with me, especially at long drives, and most especially when those are early in the morning. A thermos is also a lifesaver if one of the kids is sick and you want a steady tea supply.

Toilet paper and wet wipes– there’s nothing I make sure of more than that I always have both with me. To go out in Southeast Asia, especially with kids, is always a gamble. And I don’t like gambling. Well, not in this anyway.

A few empty plastic bags– because just when you need one you can’t find any. And there are some places in Asia that completely banned plastic bags, so you can spend whole weeks without seeing a single one. In any case they don’t weigh anything and don’t take up room. So why not?

If you’re coming to the Philippines, the first thing you have to prepare yourself for is that everyone will call you either sir or madam.

The best time to visit the Philippines is from December to May. Which means Christmas vacation is perfect. but summer vacation can also work if you can stay for a relatively long time (at least three weeks or more).

⇒In the Philippines they make all sorts of treats from a purple sweetpotato called Ube. Even ice cream! Water cost 10-20 Pesos (0.25$-0.5$) for a liter and a half, and bus tickets cost 8 Pesos (0.15$)

To get out list of recommended hotels in different destinations in the Philippines, including prices, please click here

Independent traveling:

Families that want to plan their trip to the Philippines by themselves can talk with me over the phone and get a lot of helpful recommendations, tips, and important information for correct planning. Answers to all the little questions and details you can’t find anywhere else. Send me an email (familytravelsquare@gmail.com) and we’ll settle on a time.

In general it’s possible to say that a trip (for the whole family) in a low budget will cost about 80$ a day, a medium budget trip about 150$ a day, and a high budget trip can get to any amount you want:-). In the Philippines there are R-E-A-L-L-Y nice luxury resorts, right besides simple Bamboo huts.

⇒Alcohol: the locals in the Philippines drink homemade Coconut wine. It’s worth a try, just take under consideration that you have to get used to it slowly otherwise you’ll get a stomachache. Excellent local Beer costs 30 pesos (0.65$) for half a liter.


Vacation packages and organized tours:

Many websites and agencies offer packages both for solo travelers and families that want to come to the Philippines. The packages include planning a route, with a guide, accommodation, and transportation. Usually the tour length us between 8-19 days. The cost moves from 75$ to 150$ per person per day (not including flights). And they depend on the agency and the quality of accommodation and transportation.

Trips in specific destinations:

You can book those in your own country or from the variety of agencies spread throughout the Philippines. We’re talking about “island hopping” trips of all sorts, and all kinds of special attractions such as sea kayaking, rice terrace tour, the underground caves, Palawan, and more. The prices also vary and the cost is between 15$ per day per person (a short trip of boating and visiting a few stations) and up to 80$-100$ per day per person (a tour to more distant locations or a unique trek)

Organized tours:

Organized tours to the Philippines there are plenty. In each one of the websites offering tours they offer a slightly different route and a varying day count. The average cost is between 270$-300$ per day per person. The selection offered to families, on the other hand, when it comes to organized tours is fairly small.

To those with strong stomachs: they have a traditional delicacy called Balut, which is basically a Duck egg boiled with the embryo still inside. You can find it in almost every street stall in the city or the country. It’s usually painted purple or red to distinguish it from the other (regular) eggs.

Click here to get a month’s worth of food filled adventure in the Philippines.

Further tips and info:


Citizens of most nationalities get 30 days free visa upon arrival, and can later extend their visa for a month or two, for a period of up to two years.

For visa information for your county click here

For visa extension cost click here

Currency and exchange rate:

In the Philippines the used Pesos. One Dollar is worth 50 Pesos, one Euro is worth 60 Pesos, one British pound is worth 70 Pesos, and 10 Indian Rupees are worth 8 Pesos.

Recommended seasons:

The best season in from November to February, and from March until May, when it rains the least and it’s not too hot. In the rest of the year it rains more but it’ll be hot, and the moment the rain stops the sun creeps back. In Eastern Philippines it rains year-round, but when ut doesn’t rain it’s sunny.

Internal transportation:

In the Philippines there are several airline companies, we especially recommend Cebu Pacific, an international airliner that offers domestic flights at reasonable prices.

A lot of the transportation between islands is done by ferries and these are best companies: Oceanjet, Oceanfast, and 2Go

Booking ferry tickets- not recommended to do through the internet. It’s a long and tiring process that requires showing all sorts of passport photocopies when you collect the tickets. It’s better to go to the ticketing office and buy directly. That way you can also make sure you have good sits and that all the family members share the same sleeping compartment (don’t forget to make sure of that again and again).

The public transportation in the Philippines is also excellent and cheap. Always when you get to a new island you can take a bus to anywhere on it.

In the Philippines you can find buses, air-conditioned mini-vans, rickshaws (normally referred to as ‘tricycles’), motorcycle taxis, and Jeepneys- a jeep-engine powered bus that is very very cheap (and the experience is free) 🙂
In bus stations and in the ferries they sell Bananas-deep-fried-in-Sugar-on-a-stick

⇒roosters: in the Philippines Rooster fights are legal. In almost every house you can see Chickens and Roosters. They take very good care of their Roosters, and across the whole country you can find stores that sell only Rooster care equipment. You can even find a special Shampoo for shiny feathers.

Useful information:

The most important thing to know about the Philippines is that against the common opinion, you don’t have to fly from island to island. It’s much cheaper to sail and take buses, and even if it takes a bit longer, there’s nothing quite like feeling the ocean wind and see the Dolphins jumping among the waves while sailing in the Philippines. Not to mention you get to avoid the whole headache around airports.

What is also important to know is that the Filipinos love their Seafood and Pork, and those that keep kosher might find it difficult. Chabad houses can be found in Manila and Cebu, the two biggest cities in the Philippines.

Money- in the Philippines there are ATM machines, but they’re sparse. In the big cities you can find one pretty easily, but in the villages sometimes there are none. And when you do find an ATM (even in the big cities) there’s sometimes a very long line. Commission-wise it’s better to go to the foreign banks because they don’t charge a commission for a withdrawal and in most cases you can withdraw larger amounts (HSBC, metrobank)
Money changers, however, are everywhere.

Sim card and mobile network- in the Philippines there are several companies that provide mobile network we recommend Globe (faster network) or Smart.

⇒Because it’s so hot in the Philippines sometimes, you can buy cold mineral water in a bug, from a machine. You should try, especially with kids


and one last tip: come with a waterproof camera.

Here is everything I thought would help you plan a Vietnam with kids. I tried giving you a more general image as well as going into detail, in points that I found important.


On South China Sea, neighbor to Cambodia and Laos. An hour flight from Bangkok, Thailand. A long, narrow country, with a lot of beaches. Half of Vietnam is a peninsula.

Best seasons:

In Vietnam it’s hot all year around. Seasons are largely fictional. There are times of year it’s a bit warmer or rainier (and it’s still hot when it rains). Supposedly you can arrive all year around, but I recommend going in October-April, not too hot and doesn’t rain too much. Even when it’s hot, it’s not suffocating heat because you can go into the pool or the ocean, and there are air-conditioners in almost room.

Estimated budget for a family per month:

In Vietnam accommodation is the most expensive thing. Food and transportation and all else is negligible.

Very low budget: low budget hotels without swimming pool, cheap restaurants and little or no adventuring, 1000-1300$ a month.

Low budget: cheap hotels with a pool, cheap restaurants and street food, and staying put for the most part, 1300-1550$ a month.

Medium budget: good hotels with pool and breakfast, right on the beach, good restaurants (even if in my opinion the best restaurants are cheap/street food), moving often from place to place, maybe even some water sports lessons (surfing, scuba diving, kite surfing), 1950-2100$

High budget (vacation): luxury hotels, expensive restaurants, tours, diving and surfing, private transportation, 2600$ and above.


Vietnamese visa you do In advance online. It costs 18$ a month or 30$ for three months, for single entry visa. Multiple entry visa costs 25$ for a month or 65$ for three months, and takes 2-3 work day to process and get a certificate, which you need to print, and then bring to clerk at the airport to put a stamp in your passport. In the airport you also have to pay a service fee of 25$ per person. It’s best to prepare dollars cash in advance.

Exchange rate and currency:

The Vietnamese currency is called Dong, and it has one of the smaller denominations in the world. One dollar is worth 22,500 dongs (VND). A good amount to get from the ATM is 4-6 million (2 million at a time). Yes, all you need to do to be a millionaire is fly to Vietnam.
The ATMs charge high commission. And in most you can only pull 2 million at a time.an ATM that doesn’t tale commission and lets you pull larger amounts is Citibank. Look for it.


Vietnam has great WiFi almost anywhere. And it’s always free and usually without password.
Sim cards are readily available in stores. You can also get a very comfortable data package.

Places I recommend:

Mui Ne, a charming little vacation town on the beach, 3 hours’ drive from Ho Chi Minh city- sitting on a world heritage site. Because of the desert clime, there’s hardly any humidity and annoying critters, which makes it a perfect place for a vacation.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Hanoi, Halong bay


Try This article as well- everything you need to know before you go.

Foods to try:

Pho: a Vietnamese noodle soup, with some vegetables and lots of meat or seafood, traditionally mixed in with some fresh leaves for seasoning, and hot chili sauce if you like spicy.

Banh Mi: Vietnamese Sandwich, cut in half baguette, with all kinds of meats and pastrami (usually pork), vegetables, mayo and chili if you want. One of the world’s best sandwiches.

Banh Xeo: a salty crape fried in butter and oil with all the extras you want (usually meat and seafood), with some bean sprouts on top, sauces and herbs.

Fruits: Vietnam has the best fruits in Asia. Better than Thailand or the Philippines or anywhere else. If you haven’t bought a few kilos of fruits for dinner, then you haven’t been in Vietnam. My favorite is Dragon Fruit but everything is delicious.

Here is a whole route for food loving familie :-).


Busses in Vietnam has an excellent network of comfortable busses (the best busses I’ve been in by 500%) that get everywhere cheaply and quickly.

A few words on long distance busses:

-The busses have inclined almost bed-like seats (sleeper).

-Inside the bus there are three rows of single “beds” and two stories per row.

-When entering the bus you’re asked to take your shoes off and put them in plastic bags.

-They’ll ask you to take as few bags as possible because there’s simply nowhere to put them.

-Most buses have wifi

-And air conditioning.

-I highly recommend booking the back row in advance. It’s the only row where you can all be together and you’ll have some extra room for your bags.

Trains- are also good and comfortable.

Flights- there are a few local companies that do domestic flights.
The four companies are: Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, Jetstar, and Airmakong.

Taxis- also comfortable. Most use a meter. Beware of stings.

Scooter taxis- fun, and cheap.

Things you should know:


The biggest holiday of the year is called Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, around the end of January/beginning of February. The prices around Tet skyrocket. Almost to doubling. Including the food in the street food stalls. You could have soup at a stall for 15,000vnd one day, and the next day the same soup at the same stall will cost 25,000vnd. That’s accepted and shouldn’t be bargained over. Additionally, during the holiday most businesses will be closed.

Vietnam for those keeping kosher:

Keeping kosher is difficult in Vietnam, because they live on pork and seafood. Chicken and beef are common too, but they cook using the same ports and utensils. For vegetarians, a lot of times when you ask for a vegetarian soup the restaurant will just fish out the chunks of meat and serve you he same soup. Nevertheless, you can still find vegetarian restaurants here and there. Or an Indian restaurant (where they understand what ‘veg’ means).

There’s an abundance of fruits, vegetables, eggs, bread and markets to buy some basic ingredients.

The short guide: Bangkok on $50 a day, Singapore on a lot less, and every other destination you dream of.

Croissant in Paris, ice-cream in Florence, sushi In Tokyo, padthai in Bangkok. Yes, India is nice, but sometimes we want to go overboard. Relax in those places whose tempting pictures just pop out whenever we open Facebook… even though we really don’t have enough money to go there.

But maybe we do?

I travel on a very low budget. $60 a day is a lot for me. And usually it doesn’t even get that high.
But sometimes I feel like I had enough of remote villages, local busses and pictures of Gali milking a buffalo with her little hands. No matter how much I love it.
So how do I manage to sneak the padthai in there, without going overboard?

Not a problem.

Here is the short guide on how to travel in places we simply can’t afford:

1. Those destinations aren’t in the plan. They come in when possible. When it fits. Not on purpose.

2. Flight: the best way to sneak them in “without meaning to” is to squeeze them between two cheap destinations. Either coming or going.
For example:

A. A flight from Vietnam to the Philippines costs the same whether it’s direct, or with a layover in Singapore. And three days in Singapore are a must. Here is an example:

A flight from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, to Cebu, Philippines:


On the other hand, a flight from Saigon to Singapore:


And from Singapore to Cebu:


Meaning a direct flight costs $142 (and it’s not a good flight, meaning we’re likely to choose a better one that costs $231). Compared with a great flight, with a layover in Singapore, the whole way, Vietnam-Singapore-Cebu, costing a grand total of $123.

B. A flight from the Philippines to Hong-Kong or Japan, round trip, is sometimes so cheap that it hurts missing the opportunity. Keep your finger on the trigger, because for every destination there is one ‘best friend’ destination, and the flights there are very cheap.

C. Bangkok, for example, is a central destination, where a lot of flights stop anyway, you can split the flight to your comfort, book a flight to Bangkok, spend 3-4 days there and continue to your final destination, with a local ‘lowcost’ airliner. There’s even a chance the whole thing will cost less than a direct flight. .

D. Another example- from Israel to Vienna, three sweet days in Vienna, and from there a train to Italy. I’ve done it. It was wonderful. Even brought my dog.

Always check what might be on your way. What can happen if you looked, without raising the costs of the flight and in the most practical, efficient, and adventurous way. Be creative.

3. The amount of time in that destination we can’t afford needs to be very limited. 3-4 days max.

4. Accommodation: after neutralizing the cost of flights, we need to take care of accommodation costs. Example:

A. here is what I do. I never pay for accommodation in an expensive destination. Zero is the new sum total.

B. hospitality clubs- search now in google: write down the name of your specific destination followed by hospitality club. These are clubs that offer free hosting, even for families. Here is one such website.

C. Homestay- same principle, only for a symbolic payment. And it’s not just a place to sleep, you also get guidance and advice from a local (read below what fun we had in Bangkok). Here is one website, and here is another (there’s tons).

D. frequent traveler points- many of the clubs have not only flights but also discounts and packages on hotels. That is the time to use them.

5. Food: easiest and cheapest solution is to not eat for a few days.

But if you really have to, or if the kids insist…

I always eat at the most local places I can find. With the host’s help I can find the most authentic restaurants in the local prices. Don’t let the eye popping lists confuse you “10 best restaurants in Barcelona” don’t interest me, in fact, I don’t look for or waste my time on those lists.

You don’t have to visit the expensive restaurants just to fill a checklist of the destination. The opposite. Go eat with the locals, and see what ‘check’ you’ll feel you did…

and when you come back home and they’ll ask you if you ate at the famous ‘Sultana’, you’ll have a fascinating story about the small restaurant you found where they greeted you so nicely because they’re not used to tourists and they let you taste from this and from that and showed you how that red drink turns purple when you add lemon and when they saw you excited that made you they gave you a taste from that drink whose name, despite every good intention, you just can’t remember but they make it on the spot from some really pretty flower and in the end they didn’t even want to take any money for the meal because Gali is so sweet and reminds them of their daughter when she was her age but of course you paid… and they asked you come tomorrow also and they’ll make something really special, and bring the older kids too, so we can get to know them… 🙂 ~true story

In addition, because I often stay in fully furnished apartments, I prefer to cook at home something tasty and nutritious, and buying the ingredients at the local supermarket is for me an experience into itself.

6. Attractions and luxuries:

Alright, since we managed to eliminate the costs of flight, accommodation, and half of food expenses- you can treat yourself to some attractions, that good ice-cream, and maybe even some shopping.

Also- it’s always worth your time to google your destination together with “free” and “things to do for free” you’ll be surprised how many results you’ll get.

And to close, a recent example:

The plan was to get from Nepal to Vietnam. We split that in two: Nepal-Bangkok, stay three days in Bangkok, and then fly Bangkok-Vietnam.

Accommodation: I booked homestay rooms through Airbnb with the Thai man O. the price was $40 a night for two rooms, but as I said, I didn’t pay for them at all.

Food: we only ate in local restaurants that our host took us to. The food was amazing, the price was about 150-200 baht a meal ($5-6)

We did laundry in the neighborhood for 20 baht per load, $0.5.

Transportation: we took taxis or the sky train (42 baht for the most expensive ticket). The taxis in Bangkok aren’t expensive, especially for a family.

Experiences: we went with our charming host to tours in the city, including Chinatown, the floating market, the palace, and more. In the evening he took the teenager with him to the local pub, to watch the season finale of a popular that gameshow, meet his friends and see the real lives of the locals.

I and my older daughter went on a shopping journey…

Of course we went to have real Thai massage, every evening, in the small neighborhood parlor. I paid 450 baht for me and my two daughters for an hour ($13 altogether)

We got 3 amazing days that left us with new friends, exciting experiences, and lots of new knowledge, great stories, and a good taste.

I paid less than $50 a day, on average.

As you can see, it is possible to travel large on a small budget, even as a family. Please click and download my new ebook “How to travel with kids for 1400$ a month (or less)”.

And you can always try this airline which I usually find very cheap.

And also: what is the biggest advantage families have with booking tickets online?

The first step of planning a trip correctly is boking flight tickets. It’s best to buy them well in advance, because usually prices go up the closer to the departure date it gets.

This is especially true for families, because the more people you are the harder it gets to find tickets “last moment”, because you need more seats on the plane that might already be booked.

From my experience, the more you wait, the more you pay. To me it happens 100% of the time, I always tend to wait and wait (because surely in a moment the price will drop) and I always end up paying the price for my hesitation. I heard about opposite cases, but it always happens to other people. Never to me.

So as a family, booking tickets is a complicated process requiring a cunning plan.

But its actually when you search for flights online that families have a major advantage.

And on that I want to expand:

How to book tickets online, as a family, in the best way?

Looking for flight for the family is like making pancakes- the first one is always a throwaway.

To find the best and cheapest flight you have to do research. You can’t simply buy the first tickets you’re offered. Because you don’t know, are they really the cheapest tickets, or not. And maybe there are shorter or more comfortable filghts?

The longer the distance the more research becomes important, because the number of routes you can take grows. A flight from London to Paris is pretty straightforward. But from London to the Philippines? There’s a million ways to do that.

In general, flights, especially the cheaper ones, have a lot of stops all over the place before you reach your destination.

A word on search engines: the use ‘cookies’ and they will remember every search you’ve done. So, after a few searches, they’ll start increasing the prices. And so it happens that if you search for a flight today- you’ll get a certain price, and maybe you’ll get it tomorrow or the day after too. But after a few days prices start to rise.

True. You could go ‘incognito’, but I’m not convinced that works. And you can delete cookies after every search. But a few more things might get deleted that you don’t want deleted, and you’ll have to log in everywhere again, and its just a huge headache.

So to search in the best most effective way- use the only advantage you have as a family :-).

So what do you do?

I start searching on my phone. I do it first because it’s the most comfortable ad accessible, and can search from everywhere, whenever I have a moment. That way it’s easy for me to learn the different routes, the prices and costs, where are the shortest layovers, etc… I do that for a few days, learn the routes well.

Another reason I start with my phone is because obviously I won’t book through my phone, because it’s really uncomfortable (you need to fill passport numbers, look for seats on the plane, fill in payment details, etc. and it’s really not comfortable to do on your phone).

After learning the route, I send the kids to look on their phones, focusing on certain airlines and routes. We compare the prices they got to the prices I got, and so we get an idea on whether my phone is still showing accurate results or if I need to stop searching there (because I get more expensive results).

Using the kids’ phones we narrow our options down and focus only on the best flights for cost, route, and total time (including layovers).

And only after we’re totally decided on which flight to tale, then we open the laptop.

Until then- I never, under any circumstances, don’t touch my laptop, because the final booking will be done through that. I want it to be as clean as possible. Like only this moment I decided to fly to India.

When I open my laptop I already know exactly which flight I’m booking and exactly how much it costs and can do the booking straightaway. I’m confident with this decision, all the considerations have been made and I know I made the best booking.

And here, the short way to book family flight tickets:

First step: research

choose one phone, download flight searching apps, and start playing.

  • there are a lot of websites that do flight search. After checking many of them I decided to focus on just the two:
  • those are for me the simplest and most reliable and most importantly- consistently give the cheapest results. But it doesn’t really matter, you can use whichever engine you want.


If you’re flexible- check different dates. Most applications will immediately suggest the month’s cheapest dates.


Check the airlines you’re offered. If needed- check reviews on that company. Check if the flight has a number of companies doing it or just the one that’ll carry you the entire way. Notice the company that takes you to your destination (the last flight on the journey). Sometimes it’s a local company that partners the bigger ones. Go the websites of those companies and see what they have to offer. Sometimes you can save a lot of money booking through small, local airlines.

Information and ranking of every airline company in the world you’ll get in this link.


Is it a place I can transit through without visa?

Is there one point where many flights transit? (there are a lot of airports considered more central, from which many connection flight depart) for example- Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong.

Splitting the flight up:

What’s cheaper– if you split the flight up yourself, and check separate flights for example: from London the Hong Kong and from Hog Kong to the Philippines, or to buy the flight ready made in advance?

Check about flights to a central airport and from there about local airlines to take you to your final destination. For example a flight from London to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)- first check about flights from London to Bangkok, and from there a flight with Vietjet (local Vietnamese company) to Ho Chi Minh City.

And vice versa- check first a short flight to somewhere in Europe, and from there a long flight with a major European company to your destination. Sometimes the flight from Europe are much shorter and cheaper.

When we wanted to get from Nepal to Vietnam, we checked direct flights. The cheapest flight we found (through Bangkok, keep in mind we can’t transit through Malaysia because of our Israeli passport) was 450$ per person. So we checked split flights. We found a flight to Bangkok for 185$ per person. And from Bangkok a low-cost flight that cost, with luggage (an additional 17$ per person for 25kg) 65$ per person. We saved 200$ per person. Meaning 800$. We gained 3 days in Bangkok, with this whole journey costing us less than what the direct ticket would have.

Check with the airlines themselves:

Are the prices for direct flights in their websites cheaper?

Return flight or one way?

Check both options.

And another tip: check what is the cheapest flight to your destination, one way, and where does it land. And then check what is the cheapest way back and where does it take off, for your return date. And you already have the beginning of a route :-).

Flight conditions:

What does the ticket include? How many bags can you take, weighing how much? Are there meals or an entertainment system?

A little ‘checklist’ of items you should check:

  • Flight route
  • total time of the flight
    Total waiting time, and in which airports
  • price
  • how good is the flight company and which plane are they using.
  • what’s included in the tickets
  • payment options

Step 2: the decision

Take your time. Play with the results and learn the routes and airlines for a few days. After finding a few options that seem good, open another phone (family advantage, didn’t I already say?).

Check only the flights you liked and compare results.

Choose the option that covers everything you need.

Step 3: booking

Open a laptop, or any other device you’d be comfortable to book through properly. Tak under consideration you may have to fill a lot of details in a short amount of time (some sites limit how long you can take to make a booking).

Prepare your passports and payment method In advance.

And of course, if you have a credit card that converts purchases to miles- this is the time to use it :-).

Make sure you have fast, reliable internet.

Open tabs with other helpful sites. Like this site, that gives a lot of info on all types of airplanes, flight companies and good seats on the plane. And on this site you’ll find all sorts of tips and tricks to order the beast seats on the plane.

Now you just need to make the booking :-).

Don’t forget to order flight insurance right after purchasing the tickets, so you’ll be insured if they get canceled for whatever reason.

Qatar airways offer high quality service for very competitive prices. try them.