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Retired Toddlers: What It’s Like to Travel by Boat Down the Nile and in Borneo

Retired Toddlers: Two Unforgettable Family Travel Experiences on a Boat

While driving down a bumpy cobblestone street in Mexico, I asked my kiddos about their favorite travel experiences. That sent us down memory lane.

Related: Retired Toddlers Share Experience of Attending Preschool in Mexico

Narrowing down our “top” lists is nearly impossible, but we think you’ll love a couple of our most unique family travel experiences 

We took our 1-year-old into the jungles of Borneo to visit a tribe of former headhunters  

Henley was 3 and Jagger was just a year old when we made last minute plans with to fulfill my desire for an off-the-beaten path excursion.

Our guide picked us up from Kuching for an hours-long drive, bumping along what he referred to as “massage road. Eventually, we came to a dock, where a rickety longboat and a member of the Iban tribe were waiting for us.

We boarded single file onto makeshift seats and revved up to towards the jungle. Portions of the small river were so shallow that the tribe member had to use a large stick to push the boat over the rocks. A couple of hours later we arrived at the Iban village deep in the Malaysian rainforest.

We went to their longhouse to meet the local children and chief, who graciously shared with us homemade rice wine.

Retired Toddlers in Borneo

While our guide served as our interpreter to the Chief, our toddlers had no problems communicating with the local children, maybe not with words, but playing tag and running around together.

We ate some of the most delicious open-fire flamed fish and rice we’ve ever had—cooked inside bamboo! At night, we dozed off to the sounds of orangutans chatting in the distance. It was an experience we’ll never forget.  

Retired Toddlers in Egypt

Sleeping on a Felucca down the Nile 

We spent 24 hours on sailing down the Nile River on an Egyptian felucca with two local crew guiding our family of four. We played, ate and slept on a small communal mattress area. When we needed a bathroom break, we sailed to the bank and jumped off. Since the Aswan High Dam was built, the Nile no longer has crocodiles (we don’t think!), but it does have strong currents. You can swim safely near the shore in some areas, but in others the current can easily flip a boat.

The water in this region is so clean that our guide from reached down, scooped up a glass, and drank from it. You would never want to do this downstream near Cairo, where locals openly throw in bags of household trash.

Onboard, the kids spent the day acting like Moana and Maui! Sleeping on a boat with no real railings raised our nerves, but with Jagger in his handy pop up Kilofly tent (one of our most useful travel purchases) and Henley sleeping between us, we cozied up under a nice thick blanket with the stars providing nightlight. It was dreamy.

Not luxurious, but the most connected we had felt in a while. 

  Retired Toddlers in Egypt Felucca

About the Author: Michelle Schomp was living in Tampa with her two young kids and husband until 2016, when they sold their home and everything in it. Since then they have ventured around the world a couple times, exploring over 35 countries together as a family. Michelle enjoys a healthy lifestyle, eating her way through countries, and loves diving into new cultural experiences. Follow @RetiredToddlers on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to get more travel tips and ideas for your next family adventure  


Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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