“Living and working in Singapore, cycling is part of our family’s lifestyle. My husband, Amiram, brings our daughters to school every day on his bicycle, before cycling to work, while I’ll pick them up by bicycle as well.
We are both environmental campaigners ― our work in Singapore centres around renewable energy and environmental protection and sustainability. We’ve done cycling tours to showcase achievable solutions to climate problems. In 2008, we cycled through 12 countries in Africa as a couple. Along the way, we held nine workshops and planted more than 550 indigenous trees in Africa.
"We travelled 5,000km on our bicycles with a baby trailer along the Andes ― from Santiago to the Carretera Austral, and even hiked in many national parks."
Our older daughter, Amaya, arrived in 2011. When she was just 5 months old, we took her to Chile. We travelled 5,000km on our bicycles with a baby trailer along the Andes ― from Santiago to the Carretera Austral, and even hiked in many national parks. A year later, with Amaya in a child trailer, we went to Japan and cycled 500km across mountainous terrain in Kyushu, climbing volcanoes and camping in hot springs.
The year after we had Tayanika in 2014, we headed to Taiwan with our two kids. With our girls in a kids’ trailer, we cycled on mountainous terrain along the east and southern coasts, hiked in gorges and national parks, and slept on campsites and in the wild.
We’ll kick off this year’s tour in Japan, then head to Korea, before ending in New Zealand. We don’t micro-plan months ahead ― we’ll probably do it only a few days in advance. When we plan our route, we try going to places where there’s something for the kids to see or do. On our previous trip to Japan, we saw locals dressed up as samurais and ninjas when we went by a castle. They even dressed Amaya up ― she loves stories about adventures and samurais and ninjas now!
We like to stop for food at 7-11 stores ― in Japan, these convenience stores always have ready-to-eat food that can be warmed, like rice bowls and tea eggs, which the kids love. We also always pack oats ― it’s usually what we have for breakfast with some milk powder. Otherwise, we make sure to go through small towns, so that we can get supplies easily.
Click on to find out how much Ragna and Amiram have to carry on their trip!
We usually cycle 20 to 70km a day, but we probably won’t go more than an hour at a time with the children, as they need regular breaks. We travel the biggest distance when our girls are taking their mid-day naps. This is the time we both go into meditation mode ― and stop thinking.
Like all toddlers and young children, Amaya and Tayanika have tantrums, though we find that they both get better once they’re outside and are more relaxed. Tantrums happen if you keep them at home too long! Since we don’t have a home base when we are on the road, they need to learn that home means the four of us, the bikes and the trailer.
We’ll be bringing along about 100kg of things, which includes the bikes, the trailer and the kids. Amiram’s bike will have about 65kg on it, including the kids who weigh 25kg and the trailer which is 15kg. I’ll pull 35kg of things on mine.
We also need to bring entertainment for our children such as audio and electronic books and music. They’ll also have some toys, crayons and writing supplies. We plan to let them have a little journal, so that they can draw or write about what they see. I’ll draw up a monthly edutainment plan, so there’ll be topics we can discuss along the tour. Amaya, in particular, will be needing to do some “road schooling”, so she doesn’t lose touch with what she has learnt in kindergarten.
At 2, Tayanika is still on diapers. As we won’t potty train her during the trip, we’ll always need to carry diapers with us. We’ll buy small packs along the way, so that these won’t add to our burden.
After Japan, we’ll take a ferry to Korea and then fly to New Zealand. Unfortunately, we’ll have to go by air as only container ships are available from Korea to New Zealand, and these don’t allow kids on them.
How are they financing the trip? Read on to find out…
This will be our most expensive expedition to date. We expect that the year-long trip will cost $50,000 to $60,000. Still, our living costs will be, in fact, lower than if we were to stay put in Singapore as we won’t have any rental or utility bills to pay. We are using our savings to fund our adventure, but since we’ve never bought a car and haven’t had to pay $50,000 for a COE, we can now spend that $50,000 on our year of travel.
Besides spreading the environmental message, we want people to know that having kids doesn’t mean that you can’t do the things you love, such as enjoying the outdoors, travelling and doing adventurous things. We are proof that you can still do all this ― you don’t have to completely change your lifestyle, you just need to make adjustments for your child’s needs and interests.
While we probably can’t climb every mountain, we can still do similar things and have a lot of fun. With kids, there’s so much laughter and the locals are even more welcoming ― they open up so much more!
We’ve done sharing sessions at Amaya’s preschool ― we plant a little tree and show how our solar charger can charge a mobile phone. We talk about how sustainable transport is when you use a bicycle. If we get the chance, we will organise such sessions on this trip as well, perhaps in schools or universities. We also aim to plant trees in every country we go to.”
Ragna Schmidt-Haupt, 38, and Amiram Roth-Deblon, 42, are parents to Tayanika, 2, and Amaya, 5. Go to www.cycle-generation.com to read more about their adventures.