She had a head start on a life well travelled, having been born in Hong Kong. It’s one of the things that sets my almost 8-year-old apart from the other kids at school here in the U.S. and she’s darn proud of it. Memories of life rocketing around Central in a stroller, play dates at Ocean Park, and the LRC playground are a blur, but she knows they happened.

The trips we take back to Hong Kong are by far the most meaningful because we have life-long friends there, revisit favorite places and do something new each time. But it’s mostly because they keep her connected to her birthplace, a huge part of her identity.

To be honest, I don’t think we’d return to Asia as often as we do if the journey over and back wasn’t so pleasant. It may sound strange to some, but I do actually look forward to the almost sixteen-hour flight from LAX to HKG on Cathay Pacific.

It’s a long time in the air at any age, but the cute kids meals, activity packs and plentiful in-flight entertainment help my daughter pass the time while I catch up on the year’s movies over (much) wine.

The old-style Cathay Pacific business class

My ability to remain chill about flying long haul with her is also due to being thrust out of my comfort zone and on to our first transpacific flight when she was a month old.

Multiple trips like this per year made other far-flung trips a piece of cake. Sure, flying solo is even easier but once you get over that initial hurdle the floodgates of opportunity open and no destination seems impossible even with kids in tow. I have tons of advice for flying with kids.

Lessons From a Life Well Travelled

Her eyes light up when she can link a destination showcased on TV or mentioned in a textbook to a place she’s been to. Luckily, her father (a history major at Harvard) can shed unbelievable insight on to most artifacts, cities and important people throughout the world. And as she gets older we hope the gap between where we go and what she’s studying will tighten.

Every vacation we take is packed with fun, leisure and nice hotels, but there is always something to learn even if it’s a life skill. Traveling sharpens skills like patience and tolerance while it’s certainly kept her sense of adventure alive.

When you travel well, you broaden the mind.” – Cathay Pacific Airways, #LifeWellTravelled

Without the distractions of daily life (housework, errands, work and the like), the truth is that we laugh more together while on vacation. We talk more. We bond more. It’s good for all of us.

What I’ve Learned, Too

Giving your child a life well travelled doesn’t necessarily mean venturing to far away places or missing a lot of school (our daughter is absent 5 days per year for travel). Day trips to museums, a weekend camping trip or a quick exploration of a new city within a short flight or drive can expose kids (and you) to new ideas, new food, new history and much more. We aim to explore more culture close to home, too, over the coming year—something I feel I’ve neglected a bit.

I’ve also learned that a life well travelled means sticking with service providers who can help execute a flawless vacation. Our itineraries feature the same hotel groups and airlines (as you’ll see below) over and over again, whenever possible, because they’ve exceeded our expectations and earned our trust.

Where We’re Headed Next

Hong Kong with kids at the airport

She packed her suitcase a week early for this next trip. On Sunday, we’re headed back to Hong Kong with a city break in the middle to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

The journey starts on Cathay Pacific, the advocates behind #LifeWellTravelled. I love this campaign because it showcases through stories and social media postings what a life well travelled means to different people around the world. They are my favorite airline for a number of reasons dating back well over a decade now.

We’ll lay our heads at the iconic Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. (Did you know that the hotel’s Executive Chef Ewe Opocensky helped design a seasonal Cathay Pacific first class menu?) During our life in Hong Kong this hotel was our social hub from drinks in the Captain’s Bar after work to sourcing my daughter’s first birthday cake from The Cake Shop.

After some airport lounging—the Cathay Pacific lounges at HKG are some of the best I’ve been to—we fly Dragonair (a regional subsidiary of Cathay Pacific) to Kota Kinabalu where we’ll check into the Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort. We’ve never been to Borneo and are looking forward to seeing wildlife and visiting our friends.

Our return to Hong Kong involves a stop at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort for two nights to enjoy the park and special experiences like character dining and Disney-themed dim sum. We’ve stayed at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel a few times so I thought we’d try Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.

Finally, we check into my daughter’s very first home, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. We were the slightly unusual expats who preferred the convenience of hotel living for the entire six years we were in Hong Kong. It was as awesome as it sounds.

In between, we’ll soak up plenty of culture and eat tons of regional food. You can best follow our journey on Instagram. I’ll be using Cathay Pacific’s #LifeWellTravelled hashtag, too—check it out, the photos posted by other travelers are completely inspiring.

Why do you give your kids a life well travelled?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. I agree that there are so many benefits to traveling with my children. We do a lot of local field trips and weekend getaways to minimize the days out of school. Our travels have definitely given our children an edge in school because they learn a lot on the road, often without realizing it.

  2. A life well travelled is one of the best gifts you can give a child. My parents did that for me and I’m so humbled and grateful for it.

    Hope you all have a safe and happy trip!

  3. Your daughter is lucky indeed! I’d love to visit Hong Kong, especially if I could fly Cathay Pacific to get there!

  4. Super cool! I’ve traveled as well with my daughter for the times she’s been on holiday and I am in’s loads of fun! She’s eight years old!
    I think it is great exposing them that early to the world out there and it’s an easy learning experience for them!

  5. It’s so true. I’m 18 and from Hong Kong myself, but now studying at USC in the states. I’ve been lucky enough to go to so many places that my peers here only dream of going to, and it saddens me, and sometimes makes me guilty. But travelling has made me so aware of what’s out there, that sometimes when I’m here I feel like it’s not real life. People here only know about the US, and those who live in the suburbs only go from their house to a friend’s house to school. I know I couldn’t raise my kids any other way than the way I grew up, because I was shown everything and was always urged to “try something new”, despite what the Asian stereotype may be.

  6. What a great post! I agree that a child’s education is just not complete with out travel! It opens the world for them in a way that books just can’t.

    As a way to get a kiddo thinking about the history, art and so on for a destination I have written E-books just for kids. They give information and have activities that will keep the kid engaged and happy. This month, my E-book on The Louvre is FREE!!

    I enjoyed the post!
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist