For most of us, our fathers are our heroes. From the simplest gestures they do to their often quiet wisdom, our fathers have taught us a lot through family trips or our trips alone with them ❤️
To thank our fathers on this special day, we got the HHWT team to share the 11 most amazing things we’ve learnt from travelling with our dad!
1. A love for travelling
“One thing I’ve learnt from travelling with my dad is the desire to travel in the first place. My dad grew up as a kampung boy in rural Negeri Sembilan, and didn’t really have the means to travel seriously until he was an adult. I’ve never asked him about this, but I often wonder what shaped his world view in such a way that he became an avid traveller. As far as I can remember, my parents have always both been pretty fearless when it comes to travelling, be it taking a road trip across the States, exploring Europe, or travelling across Asia.
It’s something they have firmly instilled as a family activity, and their wanderlust prevails up until today (they recently finally made it to Machu Picchu!). I always hope I emulate the same continuous desire to go out and see the world.”
Growing up, my parents made it a point to take my sisters and I on family vacations whenever possible. Working around the school year, we started off visiting Johor Bahru, Genting, and Kuala Lumpur – once we were all old enough, we ventured further to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. Even though these countries weren’t seen as especially Muslim-friendly 10 years ago or so, my parents decided to bring us there anyway! If we wanted to go, my parents would find a way, and that really gave me the courage to go on school trips even further away – England, France, Canada – without worrying.
[P.S. Loving this story? Check out the HHWT team’s earliest childhood memories!]
2. Patience, understanding and compromise
“My dad hates shopping but he’s always patient with my mom when she goes shopping during our travels. However, when my dad is truly into something such as trying to understand more about the places he visits, my mom will always urge him to not spend such a long time there. So he will listen and make it a fast one then later when we’re home our holiday, he will spend hours studying about the place he visited.”
“One of the most important things that my dad has taught is to compromise for the people we love. To be honest, he doesn’t really like travelling but he agrees to go on trips because the family wants to go and he’s even willing to try all the activities!”
“I’ve learnt a thing or two about compromise when travelling with my dad. When we were in Hong Kong (with my mom), I was surprised to see my dad biting into a scrumptious plate of lor mai kai because he seldom (or almost never!) eats Chinese food back in Singapore. But there he was, making a compromise because my mom and I wanted to eat dim sum. I found that really amusing but heartening at the same time. Afterwards, we accompanied him to an Indonesian restaurant at Causeway Bay, where he really enjoyed himself with a taste of home 😂 My parents were also game enough to follow me go cafe-hopping (pictured above)!”
[P.S. Want more of Faruq’s story? Check out the 12 things he’s learnt from travelling with his parents!]
3. Getting out of the comfort zone
“When I was younger, I went on a climbing trip to Gunung Ledang (Mt Ophir) with my dad – just the 2 of us with some friends. I was only about 16 or 17 then. After that, we did another 3 climbs but on the last trip, he waited for me at base camp while I went up to the summit as he couldn’t climb anymore.
That’s me, on the right, during my fourth time at Ophir in 2014 and that’s my dad (left) climbing Gunung Tahan in 1984! Because of my dad, I would make it a point to climb a mountain every year without fail. Ever since 2015, my friends and I have been going on climbing trips. I’d say I got my love for climbing mountains from him. He taught me how to get out of my comfort zone.”
The older I get (and the more my parents involve me in planning for the next big vacation), the more I learn about both my parents and myself! I’ve realised that my desire to see the world has always been because my parents didn’t shy away from exposing me to new experiences. My dad, in particular, has always been the one encouraging us to try something new – anything from raw fish and wasabi ice cream, to bungee jumping and go-karts. Wanting to see not just more of the world, but to see what others may overlook or dismiss is definitely because I had someone like my dad to push me out of my comfort zone.
4. Listening to dad when it matters
“My biggest lesson is to remember is that my dad has preferences when he travels (he’s a frequent flier and has certain preferences that give him a feeling of comfort and familiarity) and that when we travel together, I should try my best to respect his preferences even if I prefer otherwise. Now that I’m older and make almost all of the travel bookings, I would gravitate towards Airbnb or boutique hotels when looking for accommodation.
For our recent trip to Europe, we compromised on accommodation – I booked an Airbnb for our Lisbon leg of the trip (which I think my dad wasn’t that keen on) and for Barcelona I followed my dad’s preference to book a hotel that he was familiar with (even though I really wanted to stay in the city area, in this pretty boutique hotel). If I had considered my dad’s travel preference right from the start, I would have booked a hotel for Lisbon as well and that would have been a better choice because our experience wasn’t a good one – there were stairs involved, lots of upslopes, sudden power outage and the toilets were inconvenient for the 6 of us and I think that dampened the mood a bit. So in future – I’ve learnt that dad’s preference and recommendations are better than any fancy accommodation!”
[P.S. Travelling with your parents isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Here are 8 honest truths of travelling with your parents no one tells you about!]
5. Don’t rely on smartphones too much
“As a traveller, my dad is a hero of little things, saving the day in little ways. Working as a land surveyor, my dad has a gift for memorising maps, which I found purposeless since we have Google Maps. When travelling with him, I’d always say with confidence: ‘It’s okay, my phone will take us there.’
As much as smartphones help us to travel better, they’re not smart without internet data. During my last family trip, we were exploring the streets of Melbourne when I got disconnected. Then, my dad said, “No need to check lah. After Flinders Lane, it’s Collins Street and Bourke Street. Very near only, just walk that side.”
Dumbfounded yet impressed, that was how my dad led us to our apartment with a mental map and no internet. Since that day, I learnt to always remember my routes when travelling in a new city. You just never know when your internet or smartphone decide to fail on you. When that happens, a map won’t.”
– Cheng Sim
6. Being more responsible
“I’m the only child that my dad likes to take to travel anywhere, even though I always wake up very late during our travels and he will scold me 😅 But he says he wants me to join because I can help with the luggage but it’s actually more than that. He needs me to decide on where to go and what to do. As he becomes older (60+) he can’t possibly think of everything anymore as it’s easy for him to get tired. So, my dad really needs some help and it’s time for someone else (like me) to take over his responsibility and let him enjoy his holiday with ease.”
7. Keeping calm
“My dad is the wisest. No matter how bad our situation is during our holiday trip, he always the one knows what to do even though I can sense that he’s panicking because he will be very calm and not take any action. But this is when my role is to help him and guide him to solve the situation. Also, without my dad, I don’t know how to control my mom! 🤣”
8. You don’t always have to plan the perfect trip to make it work
“To many, it seems like a family trip requires massive logistical coordination – you have to find suitable accommodation for the whole family, think about the budget and what activities to do with your kids. My family travelled a lot when we were younger as my dad had free flight tickets due to his job – we managed to travel to places like Paris, South Africa, London and I feel very blessed to have seen these places as a kid (that’s me, my siblings and my dad in Paris, I’m the youngest!) But with each trip, we never planned excessively. Once when were in Perth, we even booked our accommodation upon reaching the airport! It’s about being spontaneous and I think we enjoyed and remember our trips because of that. Sure, there were times when we got lost and it brought us to someplace new but that was all part of the fun. Thinking back, in a way, we were also involved in the planning process since we were young because our parents planned the activities during the trip itself.
So, what I’ve learnt is that you don’t always have to plan everything perfectly, it’s about how you choose to make it work. And I think it’s because of my dad’s more relaxed attitude when travelling that I don’t have to plan everything in detail when travelling on my own.”
9. Being more organised when planning a trip
“This not so much a lesson, but a trait. My dad is the most organised person in the entire family and as a traveller, it shows, especially when planning for a trip. Think spreadsheets, meticulous tracking of expenses, and clear folders with hotel bookings, flight tickets and other documents neatly stored inside. When I got older and started travelling on my own, I quickly came to realise that I inherited this same need for organisation, and have adopted a lot of the same methods he uses to keep track of things. Spreadsheets for the win!”
10. Learning more about their personality
“One of the things that I appreciate on my trips with my dad is learning more about his personality. From our travels, I’ve learnt that my dad will stay quiet and follow our plans even if he doesn’t like it 😅 But it’s interesting that even though he’s so quiet, I’m learning more about his past too. He will tell me random facts about his life if we pass by a place familiar to him like where he took a ferry with my mom before or where he used to meet up with a client, and so on. Things like this are hard to come by when we’re in Singapore, so it’s something I look forward to.”
11. Time with your parents is precious
“In the past few years of travelling with family, I’ve realised how much effort it must have taken to keep up with 3 kids and go to amusement parks all day 😅 Even though my parents are older now, they’ll still bring us to amusement parks even if they have to sit out the ride. My dad especially has always been a big fan of thrill rides but he hasn’t been able to go on them for a few years. I’ve also spent more time with my parents on recent trips, as my sisters will want to go shopping or do their own things, and I’ll go to museums or parks with my parents. It’s been a great time for us to connect, especially with my dad. I’ll be honest and say that I talk to my mum a lot more easily than my dad – but these pockets of time in a foreign country have been opportunities to see a different side of him now that we’re both older.
Above all, I’ve realised I don’t have that many specific travel anecdotes or photographs with my dad. He’s always been the one behind the camera capturing pictures of us – so I have plenty of pictures of his world through his eyes, but not so much of him! 😓 But there is one memory of my dad that I do have – each time I’ve flown overseas without my family (whether for school or for leisure) my dad has always given me a tight hug. And each time I’ve come back, he welcomes me back with an even tighter hug and tells me how he missed me! I think that tiny but warm gesture really sums up how travel has given us opportunities to grow closer, and I’m always learning more about myself through him. Growing up I got compared to my dad a lot, and now that I’m older I can finally see how amazing and worthwhile that is 😊”
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our precious travel stories with our dad. Let us know what other stories you’d like the team to share about in the comments section.
To all fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day! ❤️