Planning a family vacation through Asia - Wheelchair and 3 kids in tow
Updated: Jan 30
It all started with an email from our favorite travel deals site, Flights from Home about $150 one-way tickets from Hawaii to Japan. Wheels of possibilities started turning as we had been saving up for a family trip. Since Japan has always been on our radar for travel destinations, and going via Hawaii was definitely going to be fun, we had some serious thinking to do. After some deliberation (like two seconds worth), A.J. and I decided to book the first leg of what would become our three-week family Christmas vacation - yes, three weeks, 24/7 with our three littles (it was going to be crazy from the get-go!). We couldn't wait to start planning our next adventure through parts of Asia we had not explored before. Our three main goals for this trip were family, culture, and experience.
We spent hours looking at countries we might want to visit this time in Asia, researching how logical it was to select those destinations, considering our budget, time, and possible activities for our children. Some might find it daunting, but brainstorming and researching experiences (both wheelchair accessible and kid-friendly via Tripadvisor and many travel blogs), places to stay (via Airbnb) and delicious food (via many food blogs) for our itinerary are my FAVORITE parts of a trip - the anticipation is almost as exciting at the trip itself! I love getting to see all the possibilities. So along we went, mapping the rest of our adventure as follows:
For obvious reasons, the first leg of our trip would be to Honolulu on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii for four days. After so many years of hearing people rave about Hawaii, we were finally going for our first time ever! We were very excited to see the North Shore, visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, see the Laie temple, and eat delicious Hawaiian food for ourselves! We couldn't wait to try out the beach life.
From there, we would spend a week in Japan, which has been on our bucket list since we were dating. From eating sushi with our friends for Tokyo Tuesday every week (a little tradition we had while in college) to watching anime together, we shared an obsession for Japan. In Kyoto, we wanted to see the iconic pathway of red, torii gates and visit their famous shrines and palaces. We wanted to experience all the cool stuff Tokyo is known for such as Pokemon, Nintendo, anime, maid cafes (Alice in Wonderland themed cafe), the Tokyo Skytower, etc. We were super stoked to see the Studio Ghibli museum, which is the studio that created our favorite cartoons like My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo. And most importantly, we were so excited to visit with our exchange students who have stayed with us over the past few summers, and enjoy DELICIOUS meals - especially kai-ten (conveyor belt) sushi with them!
The next stop on our trip was an easy sell after watching the movie, Crazy Rich Asians (We're OBSESSED with this movie. Have you seen how funny it is?). They inspired us to go Singapore for three days to eat delicious food and see beautiful things like the man-made rain forest dome and supertree groves! We were excited to take the kiddos on an adventurous night safari through the Singapore zoo! AND, we needed to get some Michelin-starred Hawker noodles and Hainan chicken rice in our bellies ASAP. The foodie game in Singapore is very, very strong - tons of foodie bloggers writing about all the food I needed to try out. I wish there was more time and more meals in a day to eat everything! FOODIE HEAVEN!
The final destination of our trip would take us up north into Malaysia for four days to explore the more rugged parts of Asia (and even more so than we thought as we discovered during our trip, especially for someone in a wheelchair). We were excited to see the capital of Kuala Lumpur, eat delicious Malay cuisine, visit crazy monkeys and climb up a bazillion colorful steps (well, more like 272) up the Batu Caves, and see beautiful, majestic elephants at a sanctuary.
Maybe not surprisingly, this itinerary is quite toned down in comparison to our itinerary in our previous life as travelers with no kids. But being mindful of the children's needs and schedules, and old age (A.J.'s :P) and physical needs, our style and pace have evolved a bit over the decade. However, all in hopes of accommodating our family's needs and goals of family, culture, and experience. See more from our adventures with a wheelchair and three kids in tow in our next posts!