Far Flung Adventures With Breath-Taking Scenery- Bucket List Part 3

Australia  australiaBeautiful beach in Australia (Lucky Bay)

Australia is  captivating and  possibly the best country in the world for a road trip. World class beaches, ancient rainforests, safe roads, well maintained walking paths, friendly people in the most remote places (Australia is actually recognized as having the most remote city in the world: Perth.), incredible wildlife, ancient wonders and a historic fascinating indigenous culture. I lived here for around two years and really can’t praise the place enough. I didn’t know what to expect when I first embarked on the long flight to this huge island/continent nation, although the culture is similar to mine the country is different in unimaginable ways. The sheer size of this place is mesmerizing, the vast majority of it expanses of nothingness, desert and wilderness. . I spent time working in an aboriginal community, learning about the history and way of life as well as their vicious mistreatment is an enlightening experience.

There are some many unique places and species of wildlife here it would be impossible to name them all, you could spend years in this country and only scratch the surface. Naturally pink lakes, the opportunity to swim with great whites and dolphins in the wild, underground cave dwelling communities, and 20 foot crocodiles, the weird and wonderful is present and plenty in Australia.

Lastly of all I’ll say is don’t be afraid, yes there are deadly animals native to Australia but the danger is massively exaggerated. The last person to die from a spider bite was in the 70’s! The world’s most deadly animal here is actually the cow (road traffic accidents). In two years of camping in the wilderness, hiking out in the bush and going to the most remote places possible the only deadly animal I saw was an octopus that someone snagged on a fishing line out at sea.

New Zealand 10857156_10203512395350974_8529118397825822705_oHikes displaying stunning scenery like this

For me this place may be unrivalled in natural beauty. So accessible and traversable as well! The home of Lord of the Rings boasts jaw dropping scenery and some of the friendliest people. A great family holiday for lovers of the outdoors. My personal highlights would be a light aircraft flight over snow-capped peaks, bungee jumping, sky diving, hang gliding and the numerous hikes amongst raw nature. New Zealand is another perfect country for marine wildlife and swimming with dolphins. (In the wild, not in some horror show like sea world!)

There are plenty of tour options and bus travel options, alternatively it’s the perfect self-drive camping holiday, you can see the whole country more or less in 3-6 weeks. The mix of glaciers, mountains, lakes, islands, volcanos, thermals, beaches and rolling British-like countryside in such a compact country make this a really striking and memorable place.  

Unique Sights

The Northern Lights

Now, the Northern lights are really unpredictable. I would suggest visiting a destination such as Norway, Finland or Iceland for what they have to offer besides the lights and then if you get to see them it’s just a bonus! Anyway those 3 countries really are beautiful and worth a visit at any time of year in their own right.

The lights are best seen on a dark, clear night so visit between April and September check with locals and weather forecasts (also aurora forecasts) prior to and during your visit. Your best chance at seeing them is in perfect conditions and looking to the north but nothing is guaranteed so in the meantime enjoy these snow covered landscapes with your family and indulge in some activities! There are multiple snow sports plus trekking in search of polar bears! (With a guide of course.)

There are companies with experts who can help search for the lights and although your best chance to spot them may be out in the country side they can be seen from main cities like Reykjavik (Iceland) and Tromso (Norway) as well.

Belgium- Charming fairy tale backdrops, architecture and chocolate

Bruges (Belgium) is like stepping into a fairy tale. Home to charming architecture and arresting scenery, plus most importantly chocolate! Dad will be happy with the ancient brewery tours and unlimited beer options (up to 300 different types of beer in some bars!) plus the children will enjoy the parks and shops full of handmade chocolate treats. It’s a great little town to just wander around admiring the buildings and waterways; it’s a great place to spend a few days as part of a longer European trip.

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Machu Picchu- Peru

Incan history is enthralling and Machu Picchu is the number one attraction in South America for a reason. After seeing ruins throughout South America I wasn’t expecting to be blown away in quite the fashion that I was when I visited here in 2016. The scale and remoteness of the site offers a dimension and experience that is unmatched. When gazing down at this ancient and wondrous structure from above, you get a feeling that can’t really be duplicated. Machu Picchu, due to its location, wasn’t re-discovered until 1911. However the human race is making up for lost time and there are now limits on tickets due to the sheer volume of people travelling to visit this unique place.

Book your tickets in advance and I’d seriously recommend getting the exclusive tickets to hike Huaynu/Wayynu Picchu (only 400 people allowed up each day) to witness the best view of Machu Picchu. It’s a steep hike but definitely doable (I reached top second, a 60 year old Chilean man beat me to it!) not to mention worth it for the 360 breath-taking panoramic. Something to keep in mind is that this historical site involves a lot of walking and gets very busy it’s better to take the earliest bus possible to arrive at dawn. Whilst not a typical family holiday hotspot I saw plenty of children and adults of all ages enjoying this lost Incan city and world wonder.

thumbnail_IMG_0488A beautiful and peaceful view over Machu Picchu

That concludes my series on family bucket list destinations, hopefully you will have some ideas for the future and make some memories in an interesting country!

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources.


Guide To Family Travel Destinations – Wildlife Hotspots

1 bucket listLagoon filled desert trekking (north-east Brazil)

Here are  prime destinations for wildlife spotting, as children are fascinated with animals.  For all these destinations remember  to take your binoculars and a camera with zoom. Additionally do thorough research into any potential travel vaccinations you may need before travelling to these areas.

Wildlife Hotspots


It was in this highly diverse and wonderful country that I was blessed enough to see the most majestic of creatures in the wild. A Jaguar! Truly beautiful and incredibly elusive. Living in the mighty Pantanal and taking to the river by boat each day paid off. In jungle environments the majority of wildlife flocks to the river and this is where you have the best opportunity to see birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and unique mammals such as capybara! Jungle treks can be fun but most of the critters will be hiding in the canopies, plus it’s not a great environment for children, I’d recommend going by boat.

The great thing about Brazil is that it has something for everyone, one of the longest coastlines in the world with stunning beaches, tropical rainforests and wetlands, multiple islands, big cities, stunning wildlife, desert oases and probably the world’s most beautiful waterfall. The mighty Iguazú/ Iguassu/Iguaçu Falls.

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   Lagoon filled desert trekking (north-east Brazil)

 African Safari

You really are spoilt for choice for potential wildlife spotting paradise locations in Africa and I don’t have time to go into them all. If you’re looking to spot Gorillas and Chimpanzees then Uganda and Rwanda are the go to locations. If you’re more interested in a general safari experience I can recommend a few countries and national parks.

African safaris are notoriously expensive but there are deals to be found and many solo travellers opt to volunteer at centres for the chance to do a budget safari trip. As a family South Africa’s famous Kruger Park could be a great choice, self drivable options make this affordable and November is a time of year I’ve been recommended to visit. Botswana Chobe park (teeming with wildlife year round), Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park (home to Africa’s largest annual migration event) and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve (famous for big cats) are also fantastic options. Staying just outside of the National Parks is a great way of making your once in a lifetime safari trip affordable.

Ecuador- The Galapagos

I lived in Ecuador for several months, part of this time I spent living in spectacular primary rainforest whilst volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation centre. I got to know the native species and the country well (currency USD by the way). I never had the opportunity to venture to the Galapagos and I’m not sure If I could justify it due to tourism damaging some of the ecology there but that being said it is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I met many travellers, tourists, families and couples who’d visited and nearly everyone had a mind blowing time there.

It is not cheap but there are many different options. Generally it is better to fly into the city of Guayaquil as it is close to the islands. It is not a nice or particularly family friendly city however and I’d only recommend it as the start location for a trip, not an area to explore. There are countless cruise options, some people chance it and look to book last minute budget cruises upon arrival. Whereas when travelling as a family I understand the importance of peace of mind and having everything arranged in advance. The most affordable option is to take a boat to one of the main islands such as Isabel a, Santa Cruz or San Cristobal, find budget accommodation there and do day trips out to see wildlife in other locations.

Nevertheless, the main experience people come for is the cruise. Do your research as there are countless companies with huge varieties in itinerary and tour length. Also it pays to see what animals you can expect to find and where so you have an idea of the islands you wish to visit, this helpful map can be of some assistance in that regard. There’s no escaping the rich historical and scientific history of The Galapagos and that coupled with the amount of truly unique wildlife makes this an intriguing destination to say the least. Please just make sure you pick an ecologically conscious company!

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an animal lover’s paradise; it’s one of the more expensive areas in Central America but also one of the safest, with relatively widespread English comprehension (however it would pay to brush up on your Spanish before arrival.) US dollars are generally accepted; alternatively your best option is to exchange your currency for Colones at a local bank once inside the country.

Wildlife rich would be an understatement. Whether it’s in a sanctuary or immersed in a cloud forest, rainforest or national park you will be blessed with an abundance of weird and wonderful species to behold in this small nation. The Osa Peninsula would be my personal recommendation. The Corcovado National park is famous here and is home to 140 species of mammal and 462 bird species! The most beautiful jungle to be found in Costa Rica is for me the authentic rainforest of Tortuguero.

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Squirrel monkey (one of the 4 species of monkey you can find in Costa Rica)    

So that concludes the second instalment and my recommendations for wildlife wonders to enjoy with all the family!

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources.


Family Travel Bucket List Destinations – Island Getaways

IMG_5944 Island Getaways that will please both children and parents. Guest author shares his tips and experiences for where to go on holiday.

Something I’ve spoken about before is the benefit of travel. By the time I was 25 I’d visited around 40 countries. This may seem a lot but considering there are upwards of 200 and the fact that I’ve met plenty of people who´ve surpassed 100 puts this figure in perspective. Of course travel shouldn’t be about quantity of places or ticking names off a list, quality of experience is much more valuable. I merely highlighted my relative travel experience to give some context in regards to my view point and hopefully some credence too!

I first left the UK when I was three. All I remember of Italy was a beautiful but stony beach; however that doesn’t mean to say there was no benefit in this experience. Being introduced to other cultures and countries at a young age definitely left an impression on me, it fed my longing for adventure as a young child. This developed in to wanderlust at a later age and has most certainly helped define who I am as an adult. The thing about travel is that no matter what your or your children’s fascinations are there is something for everyone. History, engineering, farming, art, culture, music, trekking, adventure, sports, relaxation and well-being, wildlife, science, food, architecture, religion and geography are all topics you can indulge in and learn about all over the world.

I previously emphasized the value of the precious family time and togetherness that a vacation provides, whilst simultaneously helping you de-stress and your children learn and grow. Now I’d like to give some more practicable and specific information pertaining to different destinations.

Once you become responsible for children of your own your ideal holiday destination changes in accordance with their likes and dislikes and also becomes dependent on what type of trip will give you the least stress! In the past I never understood the fascination people had with holiday resorts. For me they are never representative of the country you are visiting. Now I whole heartedly recognize the attraction. The ease in which they can booked, the reliable safety of the locations, the lack of issues to consider and the relative ease in which all the family can be pleased. However my experience on these types of trips is limited, what I’d like to do is give a breakdown on some unique bucket list holiday destinations. Even if you just managed to visit one of these places in your lifetime it will be a uniquely rewarding experience for everyone involved!


Lesser Known Island Getaways

South East Asia

A well-trodden backpacking trail but still an area of the world filled with hidden gems and getaways that would make a special family trip. The first thing you’ll notice about South-East Asia is the price, it is incredibly cheap.

Indonesia is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel around and is really quite a large country with plenty of tropical island paradise spots, Bali and the Gili Islands being the most famous but the nearby Lombok is my personal favourite. This lesser known cousin of Bali offers some postcard perfect beaches without the tourists. For the adventure seekers there is volcano trekking and also Indonesia is the only place in the world where you can see, in the wild, the planets biggest lizard and living dinosaur: the Komodo dragon. The nearby islands of Flores, Rinca and Komodo can be reached easily by boat for this excursion. Alternatively you shouldn’t pass on the opportunity for a boating day trip for snorkelling, diving or just island hopping!

The Philippines consists of over 7000 islands! You really are spoilt for choice here. Whether you’re interested in swimming with whale sharks, exploring forests full of the world’s smallest monkeys, hiking through traditional rice terraces or walking a picturesque beach at sunset on your own island, The Philippines is special. Less explored than traditional destinations such as Thailand, nevertheless The Philippines is on the rise as tourist hotspot. Manila is a nightmare of an airport but you can catch very economical internal flights to the white sands of Boracay, the turquoise waters of Palawan and everywhere in between. Island hopping in Palawan introduced me to the most perfect islands I’ve ever seen in my life.

Caribbean islands

A cruise can be fantastic for a family holiday but if you’re not ready to splash out and would prefer to see one or two islands in depth I can definitely make some suggestions.

Aruba is a beautiful island which much like Hawaii is easily traversable by car but can be managed in less time as it is a really small island (with a MUCH smaller population.) It is very safe and the whole population appears to be multi-lingual, fluent in English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento the local language, popular in the Dutch West Indies. To my ears this language sounds similar to Portuguese. There are beautiful uncrowded beaches in abundance and the locals are very friendly, amiable people. You will have no problem using US dollars here and for the adventure seeking there are plenty of options from renting dune buggy type vehicles to diving and water sports.

St Lucia is becoming a popular honeymoon spot for a reason. The island’s rugged dramatic scenery is attracting more and more visitors each year but yet St. Lucia remains far from overdeveloped and you get a real sense of nature and natural beauty here. Again English is widely spoken and the US dollar regularly accepted. Your time here can be spent relaxing or adventuring with all the family! Rainforest hikes, ziplining, volcanoes and waterfalls, this island has it all!

So there you have it, the first instalment of my unconventional family holiday bucket list destinations!

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources and a scholarship program for single parents.