Itchy Travel Feet: Europe Backpacking Trip with my 11-year old niece

Woohooo .. I am heading back to Europe, after my last trip to Spain and France in 2008. And it’s going to be a one month solo trip.

My upcoming trip is attributed to two reasons:

  • There is no ‘leave form’ to fill; I can go as long as I wish, minus the work obligation part. So, if it’s not now, then when?


2009, my last solo backpacking trip (Photographer: Pravich Vutthisombut)
  •  My last (long) solo backpacking trip was six  years ago. 2009, the year I met D, my why-are-you-Thai bf. I have been wanting to go on a long solo trip for a long, long time. I embrace solo traveling, like fish takes to water. 


KLM’s promotional return airfare of RM 2.3k from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam caught my eyes, and that was how my feet started to itch. And scratching is required. No pun intended.

It was initially planned to be a solo trip. Just me, myself, and I. And my backpack of course. And perhaps my camera.

Until ….. this message from my sis, on behalf of my awesome-mosem 11-year old niece:

ZE asked if she can go to Europe with you. She said please tell her she can say yes or no.


….. How can I say “No” to her?

I love ZE to pieces. It has always been like this: since she was a baby, to now that she is 11-year old. This must be how parents feel, the struggle of saying “No” to their child. Even an aunt has difficulty of saying “No” to her dear niece, so it must be even tougher for parents.

I didn’t even think, and replied immediately “Sure.” The thought of solo trip was immediately pushed aside.

So, my solo-one-month-backpacking-trip has now turned into a first-time-ZE-in-Europe-solo-sans-parent trip with my 11-year old niece. How cool is that?!

I gotta take off my hat to my sis and her hubby. 

…. for letting their child go on a month long backpacking trip, so far away from home, sans them …. for their unconditional love and trust in their children …. for their generousity. It’s going to cost a lot, and I am pretty sure they agreed to it, without thinking about money too much.

And as usual, I am grateful that they trust me enough, to look after their child for her trip of a lifetime. ZE’s first solo trip to Bangkok, when she was 8-year old, was with me and my younger brother and his wife. It is going to be a heart-warming memory for me, a ‘Chicken Soup for the Aunt’s Soul‘, when I am at my old, cranky age.

Travel planning for this trip, went up a notch.

On a solo trip, I usually went down the budget way: dorm bed, local bus, instant food, three-meal-packed-into-one. Budget, budget, budget. I will still splurge on certain things, especially for local delicacy and experience. So, it’s like budget, budget, BANG, budget, budget, BANG, budget, budget.

But …. I stumbled into many complications, and these are some of them:

Most backpacker hostels do not accept children, let alone children in a dorm.  My niece eats healthy food, i.e. no instant food. And she is a vegetarian. Thank god for Airbnb. I managed to find some cheap accommodations, with kitchen facility to boot. And I had to pay for low-cost airline’s seat reservation, for us to be seated together. So, my cheap fare is no longer cheap.

My responsibility is huge. Not that I am stressed over anything. Or even regret over the decision I’ve made. But, making sure that the whole trip is kid-friendly enough, and not too expensive. Safety over money.

I am enjoying every moment of it. I guess it fits into my planning strength. For goodness sake, I am a plannner. If I can’t overcome these challenges, within a budget, then I might as well do something else.

The itinerary is still not finalized, but I am happy with my progress so far. I hope I have done enough, and have not missed out anything drastic.

Love you, ZE. Now and Always.


Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.

4 thoughts on “Itchy Travel Feet: Europe Backpacking Trip with my 11-year old niece

  • August 24, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Seriously? Bravo!!

    • August 24, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Yupe 🙂

  • August 24, 2015 at 8:01 pm


    • August 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      Haha why la

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