“Even my kids want to jump on the revenge travel bandwagon,” one mum remarks. “How do I explain to them that it’s more expensive to travel now compared to pre-Covid times? Vacations are almost an entitlement every long break and they don’t seem to understand our budget constraints.”
Revenge travel is an international phenomenon following the effects of the global pandemic. Two years’ loss of travel plans has created a pent-up demand for overseas recreation. And I admit that I am one of many travellers who was excited about my holiday destination.
But Where to Go?
For a family of seven, budget is always a huge consideration. So with the rise in costs, where could we comfortably go as a family? Bangkok was an easy choice because its proximity meant less exorbitant airfares and accommodation compared to destinations farther afoot.
Furthermore, having four girls ranging from 8 to 16 years, I thought shopping would be a splendid bonding experience. Besides letting them discover and express their individual fashion sense, it would provide superb opportunities to discuss topics of self-identity. After confirming the flight and accommodation details, I invited all five children to plan the entire itinerary.
I was usually exhausted after returning from vacations and then I realised it was because it was a one-mummy show. I would plan the daily itinerary, explore different travel options (most cost-efficient way to get from airport to city and around town), consider meal choices (local food experiences that are child-friendly), engage the kids through various activities (suitable for all different ages!)… Not to mention all the packing and unpacking. By the time we returned to Singapore, I needed another break to recuperate!
This holiday, I decided to delegate various responsibilities to different children. There were so many lessons I could teach them that I was excited about their on-the-job training. Firstly, a checklist of travel tasks that needed to be completed.
Step 1: Set the Context / Outsource Planning
Over dinner, I told them the airfare and accommodation to Bangkok was settled. The details of the entire trip were now left to them because it was our family trip. I opened with, “If Mummy and Daddy weren’t going with you, how would you prepare and plan for this trip?”
That started delightful conversations, with each asking questions about the weather, currency, activities, the number of days, the sights, and local culture. I chose to answer questions selectively, like the dates we were leaving and returning.
At the same time, I invited them to write down the various questions they had. After a long list was compiled, I told them they would be responsible for finding the answers to their questions.
To not overwhelm them, I delegated the tasks such that each person took on the answers they volunteered for. It was interesting to note the kind of questions the different kids were attracted to.
“Now, who wants to find out about the conversion rate?” “Who wants to settle the places of interest?” “Who wants to know where to shop for what?”
We set a deadline for three days, when we would reconvene at dinnertime, and each would present their answers.
Step 2: Personalise Teachable Moments
Normally I would be irritated at their random questions throughout the day, especially when I was working. Yet, given the context of developing independent children through this project, I was actually happy at their interruptions, because these were intentional teachable moments.
There was so much to impart to each child. With one, we discussed practical applications of her results. “Instead of online rate calculators, what is a simple way to do a quick mental conversion so that we know how much something is in Singapore dollars for an immediate price comparison?”
To another, I explained the importance of keywords when doing a Google search, because an effective search yields quicker results. They learnt the significant time difference between comparing across five links and getting concise answers from one comprehensive article.
It was such an enriching experience as we completed an online test to discover the different feminine personalities. We discussed how our outward appearance should reflect who we are on the inside and discovered what that was for each of us. It was such an intimate night of listening and getting to know each of them, as they shared what they could relate with and what was true for them.
Too precious and few, these moments.
Step 3: Deepen Their Understanding
Over the next few dinner conversations, I realised our vacation was not starting from the date of our departure. For us, the trip had begun the day I set them their tasks. Their awestruck faces, the excitement in their chatter, even their disagreements on where they should visit. There was a real-time presence of Bangkok at our dining table.
Showing them the online flight tickets, I quizzed them on the flight details.
“How many hours is the flight?” “What time do we have to check in?” “Is this arrival time Singapore time or Bangkok time?”
The questions opened up discussions on time difference (why we gain one hour travelling there and lose an hour when we return), the different types of carriers (that we would not be watching an airborne movie and the lack of flight meals was perfect for our short flight), and even my reasons for choosing those flight timings (immediately after school ends so that we can make it to our apartment and familiarise ourselves with the area before dark).
I could virtually see their understanding deepen as we processed concepts and the rationale behind decisions. There were so many possible answers, and none was wrong. We discussed how each has different preferences, how to shift perspectives for empathy, and create solutions aligned with specific objectives.
It also impressed me that two of them took time to present their findings on Google slides. This offered another opportunity to further their learning, by acknowledging what was useful and suggesting further improvements. I asked what each liked about the presentation and then, what was something that could make it better.
“It’s great that you included a sentence on the unique selling point (USP) of each location because your siblings have never been to any of these places. Now we can decide which place to spend more time at and which places we might want to skip.”
“I love that there are pictures too, and you did it in point form so it’s easy to read.”
“Hmm… maybe the fonts can be simpler because it’s hard to read a handwriting manuscript.”
“I like your energy as you share each page. While I have no idea what you’re sharing, your excitement makes me want to go wherever you recommend!”
We laughed and I got how important adding fun into the entire process was. An atmosphere of lightness and openness was critical, so everyone knew we were on a discovery journey together. No opinions were silly and everyone knew what they said actually mattered.
“Can I plan what we do on a daily basis?”
“You mean the itinerary? Of course!”
Step 4: Apply Their Knowledge
It was then time to bring the information together with specific dates, times, and activity details. Another intentional group learning on the joys of Google Maps.
We looked at the entire geography of Thailand, and then zoomed in on Bangkok. We tried to identify if there were any places that might be clustered together. They learnt to note the travelling time it took from our accommodation to the first location and then the next. They heeded the opening hours of the night market and malls to decide where they would go on which days. I left them to enjoy the process.
I laughed out loud when they presented this two days later, because they literally took the time indicated by Google Maps, without factoring in the infamous Bangkok jams. Another delightful teaching moment, as we explored the limitations of tuk-tuks and the impracticalities of returning to the apartment for a midday rest.
Holding back my suggestions, I actively listened to their thought processes as they shared their rationale for our itinerary. I loved how they included rest breaks, local food options, and cultural activities — not just shopping!
Playing the devil’s advocate included asking what their wet weather plans were. Or what if someone got separated from the others, and what if they did not like the local food? All with the intention to set them up for success, of course. Because when they processed these considerations, everyone was on board with the alternative suggestions.
Step 5: Encourage Their Independence
In the next two weeks, it was such a daily thrill to see the girls take ownership of their revenge travel adventure instead of being passive travellers.
“Let’s write down a list of things we want to buy in Bangkok.”
“Mum, shall we just bring one change of clothes so that our luggage has space for more shopping?”
“Oh no! Who’s going to look after Ace (our dog) when we’re gone?”
“How much will we have to spend on a daily basis?”
“Let’s practise dividing by 25, so we know how much things cost.”
“Boy, you need to listen to us and not run around because where we are going to is not as safe as Singapore okay?” came a reminder to their youngest sibling.
Admittedly, the entire pre-trip planning took a lot more time, effort, and conversations. Yet, the rewards far outweigh the simplicity of my solo planning. I witnessed their individual expansion, growing confidence, and got to know each of my children better through the many decision-making conversations we shared.
I am ready to sit back and truly enjoy this so-called revenge travel, now that logistical responsibilities have been delegated. Also, I’m eager to further our discussions on their personal dress styles, food preferences, and cultural knowledge.
Parenting is such a fulfilling experience when we intentionally create spaces for children to explore, allow them to take the lead, and process lessons with them in preparation for a life independent of us.