For someone helming multiple businesses including a public relations, marketing communications and creative agency, Tjin Lee doesn’t look very harried and overstretched. In fact, the polished entrepreneur firmly believes that there’s life beyond work and that it’s important to spend time with your family, including allocating quality time with each of her two boys, Tyler, 7, and Jake, 5.
She does this by embarking on solo parenting trips with each of her children. “I’ve always believed that travel is the best education I can give my kids, to see the world and be exposed to different cultures and experiences,” Lee explains.
Over the past two years when she was unable to travel due to restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic, she still tried to recreate the experience by spending quality time in Singapore with each child. “We [explored] different spots in Singapore each week to capture that sense of escape or adventure,” she shares. “While it [could] never replace the true freedom and joy of travel, we explored parts of Singapore like the Changi Coast and areas of Pasir Panjang, and scouted out everything from our old-school hawker centres to cafes in the art district, in the quest to keep their curiosity for new experiences growing.”
Travelling solo with each child, she feels, is the best way to bond with them. “There are no helpers, no siblings (and rivalries to contend with) and nothing to distract you from just spending quality time and creating unique experiences with each child,” Lee says.
“I’ve been traveling solo with them since the eldest was three years old. We have gone to places such as Colombo, Los Angeles, Norway, Kenya, Paris and more. I usually choose cities based on ease of getting around, safety and kid-friendly attractions. It can also help if you have a friend in the city. Before the trip, I do plenty of online research to plan our itinerary.”
Lee also tries to tap into local resources when she heads for these trips, such as booking walking tours with a local guide who can show visitors the ins and outs of a city, engaging a local photographer who can recommend the less-known spots to shoot or where to get the best uncrowded views of a tourist attraction, and even going on fun tours such as rides in a motorcycle sidecar.
Here are Tjin Lee’s top three kid-friendly destinations.
I love this Nordic island country for its grand, sweeping natural landscapes. It will really expand a young mind on how broad the horizons really are, and to stay humble, as it gives a sense on how small we truly are in the breadth of this world.
London is an absolute must for solo travelling with kids, thanks to its fascinating history, marvellous museums and wide variety of parks and gardens. It also has many gorgeous little cafes to enjoy with your child. Plus, it’s easy to navigate via tube in London, compared to other European cities where English isn’t the main language.
Bali has a very laid-back, artsy vibe that is very comfortable for families. I like that it offers a good mix, from beautiful terraced rice fields and tranquil beaches to cultural dances and historical temples. Bali is also easily accessible from Singapore, and you can book a villa that comes with a driver and plenty of help throughout the trip. If you’re venturing out solo with your kids for the first time, Bali is an easy place to start.
All images courtesy of Tjin Lee.