We all have different travel memories and different people who inspired us to travel. But for most of us, our love for travel most probably started off in our childhood years. It might not have been somewhere far - it could have been a short road trip, a visit to the zoo or a theme park ride. But it was the littlest things that made us smile as a kid ?
This week, we got some members of our team to share their childhood travel memories and how it inspired their love for travel. So, read on for our heartwarming stories and some really really cute pictures ?
"My earliest travel memory was a trip to Hong Kong
with my parents when I was 2. I think my parents chose Hong Kong because of the short flight time and Ocean Park! I don’t remember much from that trip, only that my parents bought me a penguin soft toy with a hat which had propellors on top ?
[P.S. Looking to enjoy Hong Kong with the family? We've got just the family-friendly itinerary you need!]
A later trip which I recall more clearly was my first visit to California when I was 4 with my parents. We visited Disneyland, Seaworld and Universal Studios but I remember being especially excited for Disneyland because I watched so many Disney movies growing up and I couldn’t wait to meet my favourite characters.
I recall not being able to adjust to the time difference so I fell asleep at the dinner table and while waiting for the parades to start in the evening. When it was time to sleep at night, I remember waking up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep. I used the empty space in the room to practise ballet steps to my parents’ horror because they really wanted to sleep!
We took the rides, watched the parades and took plenty of photos with the Disney characters. My parents bought me an autograph book (which is really an empty notebook with Disney on the cover) and I was on a mission to collect all the characters’ autographs.
On hindsight, this trip probably kicked off my Disney obsession because I still love visiting Disney parks so much even as an adult. If you know me, you would know how I’ll maximise every single second in a Disney park (I’ll arrive way before the opening hour and I’ll leave when the park closes), trust me, use our Disney park guides
! I’m blessed to be able to travel since I was a kid and I’m grateful that my parents gave me plenty of opportunities to learn about the world and for passing on the travel bug too ❤️"
"As a kid growing up in Sabah, I was always excited to fly to Kuala Lumpur to visit my grandmother. That’s because my Dad would also plan day trips to places like Batu Caves, Genting Highlands and KL Butterfly Park. I just loved it! ?
Ask me about my favourite travel memories in KL, and I’d say Zoo Negara! From a child’s perspective, it was a majestic experience to see sky-high giraffes, mighty elephants and pink flamingos (as tall as me!). And I also remembered sitting on my Dad’s shoulders, so I can wave happily at the orangutans! Of course, the excitement lasted until I whined about the hot afternoon ?
Another favourite moment of mine was when my mom bought us KFC, and we’d sit on the grass to enjoy our lunch together. Recounting this experience never fails to warm my heart. It may seem like a simple family moment, but as an avid traveller today, I’m grateful that my parents always showed me a world that’s bigger than my 5-year-old self."
"My earliest travel memory is technically when I was around 2 - 3 years old. My family was staying in the US then (while my dad pursued his Master’s degree), and while my parents often regale me with stories of family trips to Disneyland, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas and other such places from that time, to be perfectly honest I can’t remember much of it at all ?
I have hazy recollections, but nothing concrete enough to be certain it’s an actual memory. My parents say I thoroughly enjoyed myself though ? Looking back on it now, I find it amazing how my parents grabbed the opportunity to travel in the States (without the technology like ride-share apps or Google Maps that we have today!) and did it with a baby and toddler in tow - I hope I do the same with my own children in the future.
[That's me on the right ?]
The earliest memory I have of travelling that is actually clear in my mind is probably from when I was 11 and my family went for a vacation in Sydney, Australia. I remember being excited because I got to go off from school a couple of days earlier from when the term break was supposed to start. And when we went to Sydney, it was chilly and I got to wear a jacket (which is something I hardly ever did back in hot and humid Malaysia, so it was very exciting).
I think this memory remains vivid to me because it was one of the first major holidays we took after my brother was born (we have a 9-year gap!), and Sydney is a pretty fantastic destination for a family holiday. Cute wildlife, amazing scenery (I loved seeing the Blue Mountains!), and friendly people. I came home with a whole bunch of those small souvenir koala bears that you’re supposed to put at the end of pencils or pens and complete satisfaction over a holiday well spent ☺️"
"My very first trip was to Paris and I was only 2+ at that time. Our family was very blessed to have had the chance to travel that far (think it was about a 16-hour flight then!), as my dad worked in an airline company and we had free flight tickets ☺️
As a toddler, I can't remember much about that trip but my mom told me that she had to carry me up and down the stairs when travelling on the Paris Metro.
[My family and I on the Paris Metro on the way to Disneyland. I'm that boy in red ?]
At that time, there were very few stations which had escalators, so you can only imagine how tough that was! Here's something that's been recounted to me time and again - my mom said that when we just arrived in Disneyland, my nose started bleeding due to the cold winter weather and as any mother would be, she panicked. But thankfully, it was nothing serious and my family could still enjoy their day at Disneyland. Interestingly, the only ride I remembered us taking was the Mad Tea Party teacup ride ?
[Left: My mom and I at the Louvre, Right: My dad and I on a boat ride at Disneyland]
Though I was too young to remember anything then, it always warms my heart when I look back at our photos at Disneyland, Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, The Louvre and all the other major tourist attractions. It's really impressive that even with 4 kids in tow, my parents made the trip work! Till today, it still baffles me how my parents got around without mobile data or Google Maps. I guess that's how I got my love for travelling and planning trips - the idea of taking a tour never occurred to me as my parents always planned their own trips. So, kudos to them ❤️
[That's us right after the long flight from Singapore ?]
I've always thought it's interesting why my parents chose Paris for a family vacation even though it's usually seen as a romantic place. But little did I know that this was based on pure fate - as we had free tickets, my dad had to go through a ballot at his workplace and Paris in the thick of winter seemed to be an unpopular choice. I haven't been back to Paris since that trip and though I have no plans to visit anytime soon, it'll probably be a slight déjà vu
moment when I'm there!"
"I can’t recall much about my earliest travel experience - it’s all a blur of memories jumbled up together (even my mother says it was such a waste of money since neither I nor my siblings remember much ?). And at such a young age, the highlights of those trips for me were probably the flights rather than the trip because I got to be up in the sky and see clouds!
One trip I do recall was when I was much older at 12 years old. It was a two-week New Zealand trip with the family. We flew down to Auckland for a few days, which was pretty uneventful for a 12-year old. But our next stop was Christchurch and from there we rented a camper van and drove all the way down south to Queenstown. I think one of the reasons this travel memory stuck with me the most was because it was the first ‘immersive’ travel experience I had. We stayed at multiple guest houses during that trip, unlike our usual stay at hotels and we interacted with the locals a lot. It was interesting to see how different their lives were, compared to the hectic lifestyle we had in Kuala Lumpur. The guesthouses we stayed in were mostly farms and their lifestyle was peaceful. The hosts were cheerful and kind too. They did some farm work and chores during the day and were back at home preparing for dinner before 6pm! At 6pm in KL, I’d still be in school with extracurricular activities and probably even tutoring after. It was then that I started to gain an understanding of why countries like New Zealand and other developed countries have such a different outlook on life than us - it's because their lifestyle is completely different! And of course, I got to see beautiful landscapes with a gazillion cows and sheep during that trip ?Experiencing that was definitely an eye-opening experience, and I probably wouldn’t have appreciated that trip if I was younger since I wouldn’t have understood the lifestyle differences. It was probably that trip that made me want to travel more to understand how different cultures are around the world, and to enjoy the uniqueness of each culture!"
"My earliest travel memory (mainly because I keep seeing the photos) would probably be the very very first time my toddler self was brought overseas, all the way to Sweden to visit my dad’s friend who migrated there. I always complained to my parents for bringing me to such a far flung location at an age where I could barely remember anything.
But it was still fun hearing them talk about how I was a quiet baby on the flight (was pretty proud about this) and seeing photos of myself at that age in a foreign country ☺️ The other actual travel experience that I could remember would probably be my multiple trips to Australia, Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania.
I’ve always loved animals growing up (thanks to all the Enid Blyton books) and I remember really loving all the wildlife reserves in Australia, being super excited to able to see horses and sheep around. This is definitely not something that you would be able to experience in Singapore. During the short farm visit that we went for, I also had the chance to milk a cow, and it was a strange but interesting experience as a kid!
It always amazed me how my parents took the chance to travel to countries like the States, London, Sweden (they even went to Hawaii with my brother, sadly I wasn’t born then!) back then when it might have seemed pretty daunting to bring a family so far away, to have to planned out routes and places to visit without the convenience of the internet. Being lucky enough to be able to visit so many different destinations growing up, made me feel really blessed and drove me to want to visit even more countries to experience cultures and activities that we may never get close to, back home!"
We hope these 6 stories have warmed your hearts! And for those of you with kids (or soon-to-be parents), we hope it has inspired you to travel with your children
as these memories will stick with them for life. In turn, it'll also spark their wanderlust ? What are YOUR favourite childhood travel memories? Let us know in the comments section!