Introducing you to the team behind Little City Trips.
We speak to one of our editors and founders of Little City Trips, Marianne Rogerson to find out a little more about her life as an expatriate. Marianne has lived in several cities around the world, including Singapore, Hong Kong and now Sydney, where she lives with her husband and 2 children.
When did you start your life of travel?
I was pretty much born into a life of travel. My parents were British expats living in Vanuatu at the time. Much of my early travel involved traveling back to the UK to visit family during the holidays. My parents were very adventurous and would take us all over the world on our trips back home.
One trip they visited Tahiti, Mexico City, Florida, Dublin, England, Los Angeles and Honolulu – with a 7-month old baby (that’s me!), a 4-year old and a 7-year old. This was in the 1970s before internet, inflight entertainment or even Lonely Planet books. That’s impressive and a real inspiration to me.
We moved to Papua New Guinea when I was 8 and from there I travelled back to the UK to boarding school and then on to university in Scotland. I studied languages at university that allowed me to travel in the pursuit of perfecting my language skills! So during university I lived in Spain, Costa Rica and Portugal.
We moved to Singapore in 2007 and both my kids were born there. We lived there for 7 years before moving to Hong Kong, where we lived for 4 years. We moved to Sydney, Australia 3 months ago, where we now live.
How did you find living in Singapore with kids?
Singapore is an awesome city to live in with kids. Everywhere is hugely family friendly. There are so many great family attractions in Singapore, plus it is buggy friendly, easy to get around and most of the time has great weather!
A lot of expats live in apartment complexes with facilities such as swimming pools and BBQ pits, and so it is easy to entertain the kids at home too. Sometimes you feel like you are living in a holiday resort!
If you are a travel lover, Singapore is an amazing place to base yourself, as it is the gateway to the whole of Southeast Asia. You can be in so many different countries within a two-hour flight: Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos…
How did you find living in Hong Kong with kids?
Hong Kong is slightly more challenging with kids. It is a very hilly city and hugely busy so it is not at all easy to get around with a buggy. In general it is way less family friendly than Singapore, but it is still a fun place to live with kids.
A lot of people don’t realize but Hong Kong has a lot of beaches and these are popular with families at weekends, also water sports for older kids. There are some fun family attractions in Hong Kong too – such as Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park.
Again if you want to travel, Hong Kong is a great hub to base yourself for exploring Eastern Asia – on the doorstep of China and with easy access to the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Taiwan. Even Thailand and Borneo are only a 3 ½ hour flight away.
What are the highlights people shouldn’t miss in these cities?
In Singapore you have so much to choose from! The Singapore Zoo is awesome for families, as is Universal Studios and the SEA Aquarium.
I always say that visitors should not miss eating in a hawker centre, the city’s version of street food. The food is delicious and it’s a quintessential Singapore experience.
In Hong Kong, families will obviously want to go to Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park.
Beyond those obvious ones though, I would encourage you to explore some of the cultural and fun side of Hong Kong, such as visiting the Big Buddha, browsing the markets, taking a ride on the star ferry and going up the Peak for the views.
What brings you to now live in Sydney?
The same thing that took us to Singapore and Hong Kong – my husband’s job! It has been quite a transition after 11 years in Asia, but we are loving Sydney so far.
We love the local beaches, the amazing coastal walks, the food and the fresh air (one downside to living in Hong Kong was the pollution, so we love the Sydney blue skies!).
And what are the highlights in Sydney for families?
There are loads of fun things to do in Sydney with kids. Taronga Zoo should definitely be on everyone’s list. Also the Botanical Gardens, the Aquarium and the museums – my kids love visiting the dinosaurs at the Australia Museum.
The coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi is an easy one to do with kids and is just stunning. Also there is whale watching at certain times of year, or just take the ferry to Manly or Watson’s Bay for fish & chips.
Do you have a favourite city with kids so far?
I have to say Singapore takes some beating. We still visit regularly even though we no longer live there, and it is always so easy and with so much to do. The kids love it.
We visited New York at Christmas time last year and that was awesome too. So much to do there, endless fun! Visiting at Christmas time was really magical with all the Christmas lights and ice skating rinks.
But it was too cold to do a lot of the things you would normally do in New York with kids, so I would love to go back again at another time of year.
Is there anywhere you have visited that you haven’t loved or hasn’t worked well with kids?
Honestly, not really. I just love visiting new places and always try to find the positive in every place!
My kids are pretty good travellers and are fairly adaptable to new experiences. As a travel writer, I usually research a lot ahead of time too.
What’s the one bucket list city you want to visit with kids?
I haven’t been to Tokyo with the kids yet. We went before they were born and absolutely loved it. I love the food and all the cool experiences and would love to go back.
My kids are desperate to visit Paris and go up the Eiffel Tower. We went when my 7-year old was a baby, and my 5-year old is very disgruntled that he is the only one in the family that hasn’t been!
Now the all-important question: What’s always in your travel bag?
My iPhone is my most important travel gadget. I use it for Google Maps, as my camera, for social media… I also love my multiple passport holder for keeping all the family’s passports together – and multiple charger to make sure everyone’s phones and ipads can be charged at once!
Where can we learn more about your adventures?
As well as co-editing the Little City Trips website, I also run family travel blog Mum on the Move. Here I focus on luxury and adventure travel, predominantly in Asia and Australia. Mum on the Move | Instagram | Facebook.
I also run a community for families looking for tips and advice for traveling in Asia with kids: Asia Travel with Kids.