I’m surprised you’re looking up single parent travel.

Are you interested in trying it for yourself?

Or are you a keyboard warrior prowling for bloggers to harass about how traveling with young kids is unsustainable and not good for their stability?

However you found this post, I’m glad you’re here.

Trolls feel free to leave comments below, I’ll give you some hugs, it’s clear you need it. 

What is Single Parent Travel?

We could all talk a little more about single parent travel.

And we can’t talk about it without discussing what it looks like, who does it, and how it’s done. 

Single Parent Travel
My daughter and I in Thailand.

What does single parent travel look like?

Perhaps you imagine a fit mom wearing a backpack with a baby seat marching her way to the top of Machu Picchu?

That’s not real.

Sometimes we go to cool places.

single parent travel blogger
We often go to Hong Kong.

But I make my daughter hike on her own.

Single parent travel is slow, thoughtful, and deliberate.

I’m not gallivanting my way from resort to resort.

I recently spoke to a friend who asked me how I could possibly be living in Thailand; I must be spending $100-$200 a day just on accommodation alone, right?

No, that’s my monthly budget for a private bungalow on an island in Thailand.

I travel as a single parent because it’s more sustainable for me than living in the United States.

My rent is lower abroad, the food is cheaper and healthier, the cost of transportation is minimal, and because I don’t need to hustle my life away to pay rent, I have heaps of time to spend with my daughter every morning, evening, and weekend.

To me, single parent travel is about giving my child as much of me as possible.

I was stretching myself too thin in the US, and this approach to life puts my parenting first, instead of my paycheck.

single parent travel tips and ideas
When my dad came to visit us in Asia, we all went to Chiang Mai!

Who are these single parent travelers?

Like myself, there are single parent fathers out there doing the same thing.

Most people that I talk to are on board with the idea of single dad travel.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not met with skepticism.

Travel Dads

Consider this story of a single dad who was traveling with his teenage daughter when the authorities were called on him by the hotel staff because they thought he was a pedophile.

single parent travel tips

Perhaps it’s the stigma that ‘single dads are bums’ that lead to this unfortunate incident, causing the staff to not stop to think, ‘oh yeah, some single dads are good dads.’

Whatever it was, there are some really unique challenges to being a single dad.

You can read a little more about mine in this Reader’s Digest article I was quoted in.

There’s another brave father out there with the heroic name of Talon Windwalker, and I’m pretty sure it’s his real name.

single father travel blog
Photo credit to 1dad1kid.com

Anyway, he and his child have done heaps of travels, including scuba diving all over the world.

You can read more of his story at 1dad1kid.com.

Travel Moms

Queenie Tan

I’ve been fortunate to meet some pretty cool people in my travels.

One of them was Queenie Tan, Asia’s premier parenting coach.

single parent travel resources
Photo credit to https://foongkwin.com/

She’s smart, driven, and full of good advice for parents who are interested in worldschooling.

You can find her here, and I recently did a recorded podcast with her that I will link you to when it goes live!

Trippin’ Momma

I’ve got the easy life: one little child who is only occasionally a devil.

Amoya of Trippin’ Momma has one little child and two bigger ones.

single parent traveling around the world
Photo credit to https://trippinmomma.com/

I often reach out to her to talk travel strategy, parenting tips, and online income ideas.

You can find her blog here.

Why do single moms and dads travel?

The real question is why does anyone travel?

What is it about far-off destinations that makes any rational person want to get on a flying piece of metal to go swim with sharks or risk their lives climbing a mountain?

I imagine it’s because the very first humans were travelers.

To be fair, we don’t really know anything about the very first humans except that they first roamed the plains of Africa around 300,000 years ago and built tools out of the environment around them.

If we know that, what can we ponder about the way they must have lived?

I like to imagine I’m living 250,000 years ago.

(You can skip past this italicized portion if you’re not interested in creative fiction, if you like spending some time in a pretend world, however, the italicized portion is for you).

My eyes slowly peel open when the sky is dark blue, moments before the first birds start singing. I look over at my daughter who’s rolled away from me. Her mother was eaten by a sabretooth tiger one night when she went out to urinate alone. 

I stand up and pull my tanned-hide cloth up around my waist. Looking around the dark interior of our hut, I see other parents stretching their arms and putting on their cloths, even some of the late-teenagers have sat upright.

I’m the first out the door, I take it a deep breath through my nose of the winds coming across the plain, and I recognize our problem and know our solution immediately. My closest friend in our 40-or-so-family community steps out of the hut, smells the wind, and exhales in exasperation.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, “The herds move every season, it’s more fun trying to find them after they’ve moved over night! It’ll be an adventure.”

“It will be,” he replies, “but we’ll be running into rain later.”

I inhale deeply through my nose again, faintly smelling the onset of rain in the distance, “good nose.”

We quickly disseminate among the families that the herd has moved and it’s time to follow.

Myself and several others prepare to track and find the herd while everyone else breaks down camp and gathers the necessary tools and skins for travel.

With a razor-sharp knife cut from stone, a 6-foot spear of the strongest and lightest wood, and a skin of water enough for 3 days, our team of 6 sets out in pursuit of the buffalo.

At first we jog, following their scent, faint as it is on the wind and masked by the impending rain, zigzagging a bit to get a sense of where they went.

For hours we search, until we find their tracks. 2 of the team members turn around, to give word to the other families which direction to follow.

Our jog intensifies, our barefeet land ball-first, coil the heals down, and the rear tendon snaps back to push us forward.

Our run is rhythmic, simple, and efficient.

We could run like this for two-days straight. One of the team members once did, just to prove he could.

After hours of prodding across the open plains, watching the sunrise and feel the heat intensify, the rains begin to fall, but only lightly.

We find the rear of the herd. Walking slowly and lazily, they’re resting, enjoying the coolness the rain brings.

Steam rises from the sea of their backs and horns.

This is the time of year they aren’t going to stop moving.

They’re leaving these plains because they know the rain is leaving.

The journey ahead is a long one, and every member of the 40-families will have to endure it.

(The creative fiction ends here and the blog continues)

Obviously, we don’t know for sure what people were doing 250,000 years ago. But I like to think about things–even single parent travel–from an evolutionary standpoint.

Our eyes point forward, our hips are upright for walking and jogging, our feet are biological masterpieces of efficient forward motion.

single parent travel blog
Feet are made for travel.

I truly believe we evolved to travel.

That’s where the urge for far-off destinations came from.

Our ancestors were all travelers.

That’s why great kings expand their empires and why we visited the Moon.

can single parents travel?
Expert traveler.

It’s why we look at Mars and think, what if? It’s why we create movies like Avatar, Star Wars, and even Dora the Explorer.

So if you ask why single mothers and fathers want to travel with their children, just blame it on first humans who loved chasing buffalo across the open plains.

How do single parents travel?

Okay, we no longer carry spears and chase buffalo, but long-term with kids is still possible, even for single parents.

Let me put this plainly: single parent travel–if done properly–is less expensive than living in the United States.

That’s even compared to my home state of Michigan, which has a relatively low cost of living.

Also it’s frozen AF for half the year, but that’s another story.

 

how do single parents travel?
Michigan thinks it’s cool because it has lighthouses. Well, those lighthouses don’t do anything in the winter!

When people think of parents traveling with their kids, they think of the vacations they’ve taken in their lives that cost thousands of dollars for the family to stay 7-days and 6-nights at an all-inclusive resort.

That is not what single parent travel actually looks like, and the costs are nowhere near the same.

Single parent travel is about downsizing what you own to maximize your time with your kids.

It’s about finding the cheapest flights, staying in the most affordable place for a long time, and living as close to a local’s budget as you can wherever you go.

It’s a life focused on consuming less material to spend more time doing what’s right for our families.

That alone should be enough to convince anyone that single parent travel is okay, but they’re always concerned with the logistics and the finances.

And rightfully so.

But their concern overwhelms them and turns into fear and fear turns into excuses that reinforce the ideas that keep them away from encountering their fears.

Single parent travel is keeping concern at face value.

It’s something that’s there, but you can prepare for it and it doesn’t have to stop you.

how do single parents travel with their kids
You must trust your travel instincts.

Here are some of the excuses I hear about why people think single parent travel isn’t possible, and what I think about those excuses.

Excuse 1: Travel is expensive, I can’t afford that.

Does your child currently go to daycare or preschool in the United States?

Mine did and her school cost just shy of $1,000/month.

Your entire cost of living with one child as a single parent in Chiang Mai, Thailand will be less than that.  

If you can afford daycare in the US, you can afford to travel.

I do understand that income is tied to your job, but nowadays it’s not so hard to find a job that lets your work remotely.

And you don’t need to be making much to make it a sustainable lifestyle.

single parent travel tips
In one month, you can spend this on daycare in the US, or on ALL YOUR EXPENSES COMBINED in Asia.

Ways Single Parents Can Make an Income While Traveling

Work Abroad

Teaching

How to work abroad with family

Teaching English is the most abundant job, but if you have a specialty, all the power to you.

I taught Math and English in Hong Kong. 

Nursing

how to work abroad with children

Travel nursing is a real thing.

Heaps of people do it. 

Special skill instructor

how to make money working abroad

Think SCUBA, surfing, dancing, singing, yoga and whatever other skill you can teach.

You can take them all on the road. 

WWOOF

how to work on a farm overseas

What better way to connect with the world around you than volunteering on a farm somewhere far away?

Your whole family will be stronger and healthier.

House Sitting

how to house sit as a single parent

People leave their houses, they need others to take care of their houses and often their pets.

That can be your job. 

Transfer within your own company

make money as a single parent

I know heaps of people who have been able to spend time traveling simply by transferring within their own company to another of their locations overseas. 

Could you do that?

Work Online

Teach English

teach english online as a single parent
Your energy level on camera needs to solid.

It’s easy to make around $20/hour teaching English online to Chinese children.

Heaps of people do it full-time.

Blog

make money parent blogging

Blogs have dozens of ways they can make money, you just have to start one, which you can do with this step-by-guide that I wrote.

Then you need to monetize it by investing in yourself, and I show you some awesome ways to do that here.

Youtube

single parents on youtube

I really enjoy making YouTube videos.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be someone who makes a living off of it, but the worst-case scenario is that I get to watch cool videos of my travels when I’m old and senile!

Coach

traveling with kids how to make money

You have a skill? You can coach it.

You’re a super mom.

Coach non-super moms your ways.

And do it all online.

Travel agents

how to travel with my children

The job description is in the name.

But these agents don’t sit in one cubicle their whole lives.

Digital nomads of all kinds

digital nomad family

Web-developers, videographers, bitcoin traders, writers.

There are too many different types of digital nomads to name.

It’s anyone who works online. 

Since we’ve confirmed single parents can easily make an income while traveling, the next excuse is usually about protecting their children.

Excuse 2: My child’s education…

Is extremely important.

So why leave it up to a system that is falling behind in the world?

The United States public education outcomes don’t rank in the top-10 in anything other than dropout rate for developed nations.

According to the 2018 PISA Worldwide Rankings for Math, Science, and Reading, students in the United States ranked just 31st overall.

The education style that’s being taught in the US isn’t preparing our children for the world they’re growing up in either.

That’s why less traditional schooling options are on the rise:

  • Homeschooling
    • Traditional curriculum in a non-traditional setting.
  • Unschooling
    • No set curriculum; learn from life experiences; self-driven education.
  • Forest Schools
    • Classes are taught outside; children are given the ultimate freedom to explore nature.
  • Montessori Education
    • Self-driven education in an experience-based classroom.
  • And more

If those aren’t your thing, single parents have the option–like I do–to send their children to an international school that will still provide them with the education and certifications that they need to attend universities back home.

single parent travel possible
My daughter in her ‘Scouts’ uniform in Hong Kong.

When you throw in the fact that children in travel families get to learn new languages, try new foods, and see the world, you can see why your child’s education is going to be just fine.

When they know their income and education concerns are covered, they instinctively worry about themselves.

Excuse 3: I’d have no support system.

That’s a pretty fair point.

can single parents travel abroad?
It’s easy to worry about your children.

Taking care of a child, they say, takes a village.

But a life of travel and interpersonal support systems aren’t mutually exclusive.

For me, it works perfectly.

As an out-going introvert, my favorite job of all time was when I was a summer camp counselor.

I could be a part of a vibrant community for two months, then spend the rest of the year in a more introspective lifestyle. It’s a great balance for my personality type.

And when I travel, the same thing tends to happen.

how can single parents travel with their children
You can build a big family wherever you go. Summer Camp 2014

We can live somewhere and find a local community using Facebook groups or meetups, but I can still live my own lifestyle on my own time.

And when the scary moments happen–like when I got really bad food poisoning in Thailand–the expat community on Facebook where I was staying responded with overwhelming hospitality.

It feels scary to not have the support system you’re used to back home, but you’ll always find that good people everywhere are happy to help if you ever need it.

So you just have to replace your fear of not having support, with a trust in the world to help you when you need it, because it will.


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Is chocolate better with peanut butter? Does pineapple belong on pizza? Is Donald Trump a good president? Should I visit Discovery Bay with my kids?

There are lots of questions you and I may disagree on. But there is one question that is undeniably, unequivocally, abso-freaking-lutely a ‘yes’ to: the last one.

Good thing my single dad, parenting blog is here to bring you all the answers! 😛

Should I visit Discovery Bay with my kids?

Discovery Bay Hong Kong

Yes. Like I said: yes, again.

The beach is massive and has heaps of space available. Bring your own shade, however, because the massive beach has little of it.

The water is warm and pleasant with a sandy and clean bottom.

There are heaps of restaurants along the piernext to the beach and plenty of other establishments to explore including nearby grocery stores if you’re keen to bring some food and drinks to the beach.

What’s in it for the kids at Discovery Bay?

Well, the beach, for one.

But don’t miss the awesome zip line for kids!

You can watch this video of mine and Auburn’s day there where she took a ride on it. Needless to say, she loved it!

There is also a great playground right on the beach that the kids flock to.

What’s in it for the adults at Discovery Bay?

As I said before, food, drinks, and businesses are readily available in Discovery Bay.

The biggest draw for me is the ease of access. How to get to Discovery Bay?

If you make it to Central, head to Pier 3 where you’ll find a quick boat to Discovery Bay. After you get off the boat, you’re a 3-5 minute walk along the pier until you’re at the beach. It’s super easy to get there.

With mountains in the background and islands out to sea, it’s a wonderful place to relax.

So, if you’re asking yourself: should I visit Discovery Bay with my kids?

The answer is yes, you should.


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As a child, I always had a fascination with anything that crawled, slithered, or creeped through the garden. It’s no wonder I now have a fascination with the snakes in Hong Kong.

I would capture every animal I could to examine it further; I even once caught a bluejay a rake when I was in the fourth grade. Fish, lizards, scorpions, snakes, I loved catching them like they were Pokemon. Who knew this love would lead to a scary story in this single dad travel blog?

Thankfully, I was never stung by a scorpion. But I was bitten by snakes as a child, nothing dangerous. But I witnessed their speed and precision first hand. 

Doi Suthep, Thailand
Happy to be alive enough to tell you this story!

And though I was never bitten by a poisonous snake, teeth are teeth.

Now, let me tell you about the time that I missed death by three inches.

The Encounter, Snakes in Hong Kong

As I made my final descent through the mountains of Sai Kung, I reflected on the    unique juxtaposition of city and nature in Hong Kong   . How just a few hours prior you can be in one of the world’s most important financial sectors, and in this moment be encapsulated by green mountains filled with fluttering butterflies, chattering cicadas, and resting snakes. 

I spent the day soaking in the sun on Ham Tin Wan, possibly Hong Kong’s most beautiful beach. The day’s tranquility belied the danger I was going to encounter upon my exit.

single parent parenting blog
Hiking through Hong Kong with my dad and daughtr

I left the beach with a several hour hike through the mountainous jungles ahead of me. 

The trail was partially muddy, a patrol of mosquitoes rose from its sludge and chased my legs as I squished through the trail. Then I felt a strong bite on my left calf muscle. Mosquito, of course. 

I reached down to slap it, inspect the splatter of blood between my hand and lower leg. 

I saw my hand, and slightly out of focus behind it on the ground was something black and pulsing

My eyes dilated and rapidly focused on what I was seeing: hundreds of large, black, diamond-shaped scales wrapped around a curved tube of a body thicker than a softball bat.

snakes in hong kong
I think you get the idea. This isn’t the actual snake I saw, it was not in a woven basket.

Its scaly body pulsed in ominous breaths just inches from where my hiking boot had landed before being bit by the blood splattered mosquito on my leg. 

Time to Die, Thank You Snakes in Hong Kong

Easily within striking distance, the large snakes’ fangs inside its cotton-colored mouth could easily deliver enough venom to kill me.

In the best case scenario, my brain quickly identified, you’re going to be hit with neurotoxins and cardiotoxins, you need to remain calm after you’re bitten to slow their progress through your body.

Knowing I needed to keep calm, I instead jumped, screamed, and nearly lost my balance on the slippery trail. 

The black mass flinched and slithered off into the tapestry of leaves and ferns. 

Had I stepped on that snake–just three inches to the left–with my hard ass hiking boots, it almost certainly would have struck me in defense. 

Hours from the nearest hospital, and quite possibly, the nearest antivenom, I could have easily died in the lush mountainside of Sai Kung. 

Hiking in Hong Kong can be dangerous–would you risk it?


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The Smell of Rubbing Alcohol

My feet clicked along the linoleum, one direction, then the other. Occasionally, I would stop and sit on the 3-person wide bench along the white wall and write down the recent events: 10:06am barely miss the down elevator. 10:15am stop at library. 10:45am get food @ restaurant I hate. 11:00am wait for bus; I want taxi. 11:12am get in taxi. 11:32am $93.50 HKD to taxi driver. 11:47am Miranda* checks in. 11:49am I am in waiting room.

single parent blog
Typical taxi in Hong Kong

Outside the air was heavy and a sparse fog made the orange street lights glow like jack-o-lanterns. Horns and sirens echoed through Hong Kong as life for 7 million people zoomed by during the most important moment of my life.

Inside, a large, circular, convex mirror hung in the corner, but no one was coming. Was I the only person waiting? 7 million and no others here? Where are the other-

The double doors swooshed open for a lady with a white face mask and a poofy, white hairnet that made her look a bit like a walking mushroom. The mushroom gave me a status update, refused me entry, and I wrote down what she had told me.

best single parent blogger
Hair nets look a little mushroomy.

            2:14pm Mirandas contractions hit one minute.

As much as I was hurting to finally be allowed in, I couldn’t imagine the pain she was in.


No Fear of Pain

“Are you sure you can handle it? You’re pushing a football through your body.” We had already agreed that short of having the birth at home in a tub, the more natural the labor process, the better.

“Mmmmm, no, but if it’s good for my baby then it’s good for me.” I was proud that my daughter would have such a strong mother, then thought about what it would be like pooping a football, and then felt deep relief that I am male.


Like Nat Geo

5:00pm Admission to labor room.

The first thing I saw of her was a little tuft of hair. It was matted to her scalp like someone had taken a warm sponge to it. The doctor said something in Cantonese, then a nurse handed her some gauze.

Out popped two brown eyes and a nose that a button would wear as a button. I don’t remember crying at this point; but, afterward, her mother would tell me that the nurses had kept asking her if I was okay.

top single parent blog
Have no shame crying man-baby

If I had understood Cantonese and been able to respond in kind, I probably would’ve laughed and cried even harder. Okay? Okay?! I was more than okay; I was rhapsodic!

Overjoyed, Overwhelmed, Overly Wordy

It’s often said that people who aren’t parents don’t know what it’s like to have a child; the love you feel is like nothing you’ve felt before.

So, what I tell them is this: imagine someone kidnaps you (this got dark quickly, I know, but stick with me even though it gets darker right now), chops off your arms, blinds you, removes your inner ear, and sterilizes you. Imagine it hardcore…like it’s real. You feel that dread and that horror?

It’s the exact opposite of that. It’s cup of water under a running tap; continuously overflowing and uncontrollable. It’s trying to hold back a wall of marbles; it’s too much, it completely takes over your entire world.

Only that running water and that wall of marbles are not wasteful nor painful. A parent’s love isn’t just the overflowing cup; it is the water, the spigot, and the drain. It’s not just a million marbles crushing you to the ground; it is the marbles, it is the ground.

It is everything.

After her face completely emerged, the rest of her seemed to slide out of a purple water slide. It’s not as gross as people make it out to be, at least not all the time. When you finally see it, it just is.

There is no judgment on the body fluids, the baby that looks like a sweet potato, or the tears pouring out of a grown man’s eyes. It just is.

And it’s beautiful.

A Fragile Moment

babies have no fear of pain
Auburn and I

The doctors wanted to push me to cut the cord immediately. But, as Miranda and I had discussed, we were going to wait a few minutes and let the last bit of placental food give our daughter the best start she could have.

She looked so helpless on her mauve towel. Limp little arms and legs wiggled as she adjusted to gravity. Lips and eyes closed and opened slowly. A few grunts, but not the screaming baby you see in the movies. Like I said: helpless.

The scissors sliced through the cord in one quick snip. The nurse clamped it shut and wrapped her in a towel. She picked her up and handed her to me. Every YouTube video, all the pantomiming, all the practice I put into holding a baby all came down to this one moment: don’t drop your baby, don’t break her neck.

And I didn’t.

With her head gently resting in the crook of my elbow, I looked down at her little face and saw the same look I still see in her eyes today: she knows I’m Dad.


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Three Unique Things to See in Asia that You Won’t See in the USA

If I wanted, I could write this post forever because there are such vast differences in the food, culture, and landscapes between the United States and Asia.

Also, they’re both gigantic and could feature an endless amount of content based on them.

I’m going to stick to 3. Not just three things, but three things I was able to capture on video (I’ll get better at this, I promise).

Here are three unique things to see in Asia that you won’t see in the USA. Courtesy of this single dad blog.

The Mekong Delta

Incredibly beautiful, exotic (in an American’s eyes), and relaxing. Unless, you hit the overcrowded, hawker-filled, easy-to-find tours that we did.

mekong delta vietnam travel
One of the few shots I could get that wasn’t filled with other boats/tourists.

It’s a mangrove of palms trees, home to countless numbers of birds, insects, fish, and things with four legs. I’ve always wanted to visit it ever since I saw it in National Geographic when I was a kid.

Nature was still there, but the main tourist destinations are anything but natural. People are constantly bugging you about money and trying to sell you something. I’m there to relax, so fuck off guy who wants money for showing me some bees I didn’t want to see.

travel mekong delta vietnam honey bees
Stupid bee guy. Nothing against the bees. Long live the bees.

You’re probably better taking a multi-day trip to the more remote parts of the delta if you really want to see what it’s like. I’m not sure, I only did the crappy tour I found in District 1 for $8.

More Motorbikes than Bike Week at Daytona Beach

Seems almost everyone in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other Asian countries only drive motorcycles. Hondas and Suzikis are everywhere in these countries. Sometimes carrying an entire family.

motorcycle asia vietnam thailand cambodia
Become one with the shoal by renting one of these bad boys.

It’s madness. But it’s madness in the same way a shoal of fish is madness. Everyone moves together and it seems much more peaceful than the rush hour anywhere in the United States.

New Restaurant, Dirty Dishes

Apparently, many restaurants in Hong Kong don’t entirely clean the dishes they’re placing on your table. They leave behind soap residue and cleaning materials. Weird.

asia things to see and do
Thankfully, this is what post-meal looks like.

Normal. For locals. They have their own way of cleaning the dishes in a bath of hot water and tea before they eat. Maybe this is why no one leaves a tip here at the end of a meal?

Check it all out in the video below! Pardon the language, this is a single dad blogger here.


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So you want to live in Hong Kong? There’s heaps of beaches, a wild party atmosphere, mountains to explore ghost villages in, and some lovely places to take your kids. If you haven’t seen it, check out here for a quick idea of how life is for my daughter and me.

If you’ve gotten this far and you think, I can’t live abroad, you’re wrong. I’m a single parent, and I live abroad with my daughter. I’m from a small town in the middle of Michigan, there’s nothing special about me.

I didn’t leave the USA for the first time (except to Windsor, Ontario at 19) until I was 24. If I can do this, the only thing stopping you is you. Or, probably a million other things, but don’t let them get in your way. Do it.

single parent parenting blog
My dad came over to visit us in Hong Kong late 2017. Read that story here 🙂

If you’re wondering about the cost of living in Hong Kong, wonder no more.

Essentials Included in the Cost of Living in Hong Kong, per month

Transportation: $100

Taking a ride on Hong Kong’s MTR is an ultraconvenient way to travel. It’s cheap, fast, clean, and relatively uncrowded when you’re not traveling during the rush hour. The MTR is the city’s subway system.

Buses are ubiquitous in Hong Kong. There are so many; there are big buses and little buses, red buses and green buses. You literally can’t walk down the street without getting blasted by their exhaust pipes in some places, like next to Prince Edward Station. Buses in Hong Kong are affordable, safe, well-marked, and the plethora of information online regarding Hong Kong’s buses is excellent for mapping your route ahead of time.

Taxis and Uber are available. More expensive, but safe and they are everywhere.

Walking is ideal in Hong Kong if you’re staying in a tourist area. No reason to hop on transport at all if you’re within a kilometer or so of where you’re going. You’ll get to the city from ground level!

 

Ferries and boats are continually bubbling through the waterways of Hong Kong. Use them to cross from TST to the Island. Or take one to an outlying island and see what you can find. Highly recommended!

Overall, transport is relatively cheap if you avoid taxis. Shouldn’t be more than a few dollars a day if you’re using public transportation. Since travel is something impacting your cost of living in Hong Kong everyday, so might as well look for ways to save!

Food (local HK food, specialty cuisine, western food, groceries): >$300

Cooking in Hong Kong is difficult. Why? Space is limited in Hong Kong, so accommodations can be small. If you’re wealthy enough to afford an apartment that comes with a full-western kitchen, you’re probably not too worried about your money anyway, so I can’t imagine why you’re reading this.

I have a hot plate and a rice cooker/steamer, but I have to store them under my bed, and I cook on top of my fridge (just to give you a sense of space limitations in Hong Kong).

If you’re cooking, however, you can buy rice/noodles relatively cheap. Fruits and vegetables are reasonably priced in the wet markets (sometimes less expensive for locals than you), and if you shop around (like I do) between the nearest Wellcome, Park n Shop, and Vanguard you might be able to find some meat and yogurt (and sometimes even beer!) with a 50% off sticker stuck to it. That’s usually a good way to go.

Affordable ‘street food’ is available, but not like in Thailand. You can find plates of fried noodles, rice and (add ingredient), etc. for less than $2.50, even in the more touristy areas. Fast-food-style restaurants dot the ground level corners of Hong Kong’s buildings.

You could easily eat this for every meal and spend less than $10 per day on food. But do you really want to do that to your digestive system? No judgment, I love the occasional gut bomb.

Bakeries are abundant, and they offer everything from sugary donuts to tuna fish buns to banana bread to rolls stuffed with red beans. Most buns are less than a dollar, few are more than $2. If you get them warm, they’re extra delicious, but the bakeries are always a good option if you aren’t gluten-free.

hong kong cost of living, parenting blog
Seaside clams on Mui Wo. The plate was under $10.

There are a gazillion restaurants that can eat up your cost of living in Hong Kong. Chain restaurants like Cafe de Coral and Fairwood are yummy, and most meals are between $4-$7. Western restaurants like Outback Steakhouse are no stranger here. Some bars have great deals on burgers (like a place on the island that has an impressive burger and a craft beer for about $12, just wish I could remember where it was). Hotpot, Korean BBQ, and other buffet style restaurants usually let you eat all you can for an hour or two starting at $20. If you want to splurge and eat at something 5-star, Hong Kong has that, also, but your budget is going to soar.

Western comforts are everywhere. McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, 7-11 are all thriving in Hong Kong. Don’t get Pizza Hut though, get PHD, it’s way better here.

Rent: $400-infinity

Rent is wild in Hong Kong. $400 gets you a shoebox. Well, a bed, a bathroom, and no more, anyway. If you’re looking for an apartment akin to a modern apartment you would have in New York City, you’re also going to be looking at over $1,000 in rent each month. $2,000-$3,000/month isn’t an uncommon price for a relatively basic apartment on the island.

cost of living in hong kong
Hong Kong is filled with buildings like these. Each hold hundreds, if not thousands, of different living accomodations.

Rent increases every year in Hong Kong; it’s definitely the most significant contributor to an inflated budget if you’re picky about where you live.

My daughter and I live in a tiny place, but it doesn’t bother me. I actually prefer small areas because it’s less to keep clean and helps maintain my minimalistic ideals.

Utilities (electric, wifi, water): Free-$??

This will vary based on your accommodations. If you’re paying for everything yourself, expect your cost of living in Hong Kong to be similar in prices to the United States.

Internet starts around $30/month. I tether my computer to my phone. Why? My prepaid monthly plan gives me unlimited data for $12.50. Head over to Chungking Mansion in TST to find the guys selling sim cards and data plans.

Shop around between the shops until you find the features you want. I was previously paying $36/month for a similar service to what I have now.

Fresh Water: >$5

Bottled water prices aren’t inflated here, but they aren’t cheap either. You could easily spend a couple of dollars each day on bottled water if that’s how you’re getting your drinking supply.

I recommend you don’t do that unless you want to quintuple your cost of water.

Instead, have a refillable bottle (or two or three) and fill them at the children’s playgrounds where you’ll find fountains with cold water. Better yet, buy a several liter bottle with a handle when you first get here and refill that each time you need to. It’s how I survive!

Laundry: $40

If you’re doing laundry 4 times each month, you’ll probably spend $10 each time if you drop them off at a cleaner, depending on how many clothes you have. If you do them yourself at LaundryUp or a similar place they will be cheaper, just a few dollars each time.

School: >$200

Local or international? Montessori or corporal punishment style? Hong Kong’s schooling system is diverse and competitive. You can pay over $1,000 a month for the top international schools, or you can do like I did and send your children to a local school where they will learn Chinese like my daughter did. That school costs less than $200/month.

Bonus: her school paid for a field trip this year where they took us to Disneyland! My schools were never that cool; for one field trip in elementary, we went to my home because we had a pond. Yawn town.

Lifestyle Choices: $200

Everyone needs entertainment in their lives. The question is: what kind of entertainment do you enjoy? Hong Kong has everything you can think of: scuba, golf, parties, theme parks, boat excursions, the list goes on forever. Your cost of entertainment solely depends on what you like to do.

If you’re on the alternative side, street drugs are easily locatable in Hong Kong. Quality can be low (or superb), prices are high, dealers are shady, but the cops don’t seem to care too much (at least not enough to stop the obvious slinging in some areas).

Be warned: drugs are illegal here, and you’re not going to bribe your way out of an arrest here like you might in other Asian countries. Not only that, but the addition to your cost of living might not be worth the quality of the products here. Probably equally bad for your health.

Visas: Free, 3-month validity

You’ll have to leave Hong Kong to renew your visa (the easiest way is to hop on a ferry over to Macau and back) every three months if you want to stay any longer without finding a job and getting a working visa.

Tourist visas are free, fantastic! But they aren’t unlimited. Border hop too many times and you’ll be treated with a stamp in your passport that limits your future trips, even banning you for a year.

Side note: Hong Kong is passport friendly in the sense that they offer you a small slip of paper to place in your passport instead of taking up precious stamp real estate. Don’t lose this seemingly insignificant piece of paper though, you need it upon your exit. Otherwise, your first stop is to fee city.

Those fees don’t help your cost of living in Hong Kong, so avoid them by being organized.

Health Insurance: up to you, $100 for me

When considering the cost of living in Hong Kong, you should likely invest in travel insurance. You can receive travel insurance through your credit card, airline, or through the servicor I prefer: World Nomads.

I pay about $100 per month for both my daughter and me, and that covers anything I’m worried about. The piece of mind is well worth the cost, but World Nomads also does well in keeping its promise to pay out when you make a claim.

Total Cost of Living in Hong Kong for My Daughter and Me: ≈ $1395 per month

This price tag doesn’t include transportation in and out of the cost of living in Hong Kong and is a rough estimate based on the information provided and assuming going the cheapest route every time. And this is for a single parent blogger, not a lone traveler.

Even if you’re alone, that $1,395 could easily jump to over $2,000 if you aren’t paying attention to your budget or are living above the basics.

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Is there shame in being a shit parent? Yes. And guilt. And regret. And self-loathing. But it’s not the end of the story.

Parenting isn’t easy is fucking hard. There’s no sleeping in if you stay up late, you occasionally get another person’s poop on your fingers, and half your ice cream always gets stolen by someone a third your size.

how to be a better parent
Snarfing ice cream.

But those are the easy struggles.

Sometimes you have a 4-year-old, virile monster who won’t settle down, refuses to relax during their bedtime stories, and keeps yelling for food and water when they literally just filled their bellies with both. And half my ice cream.

How I Know I’m Shit

It’s right about 45 minutes into that situation that I lose my shit.

As negative reinforcement for her already scrambled emotional-state (exhausted and playful at the same time) I take away a book each time she gets rowdy, then a stuffed animal, then they’re all gone, and she loses her back tickle.


Her emotional state deteriorates because I’ve just removed her bedtime routine entirely as a punishment for not following her bedtime routine. Great idea, Dad.

So she starts yelling and screaming in frustration, as toddlers sometimes do. So I threaten to put her things in the garbage. She doesn’t stop. Garbage bin: book. She screams.

Garbage book. Screams. Garbage book. Yells. Garbage stuffed pig. Screams. Garbage stuffed elephant. Wails. Garbage stuffed panda.

how to be a better parent
All the things I threw away.

It doesn’t stop until we’re both mentally and physically exhausted and pass out upset with each other.

Then comes the morning. The wake-up routine goes perfectly well, and I take her to school.

On the public bus ride back to my home it hits me like a baseball bat: I’m a shit dad. I handled the previous night like a rookie.

Where do I go from here? I asked myself a question, “how to be a better parent?”

I took myself on a three-step process to right where I had wronged.

If you’re how to be a better parent, do what I did.

Take These Three Steps to Know How to Be a Better Parent

be a better parent
Me, being a good parent.

Step 1: Recognize It and Admit It.

Say it with me: “I did something shitty. I can do better.”

This is probably the hardest part because you have to own it. But taking that ownership and letting go of the idea that you’re a great parent is freeing up yourself to committing to better. You’ll set your goals higher for yourself because you know you can improve.

Once your goals have been refocused, step two is a bit easier.

Step 2: Act Sorry.

When learning how to be a better parent, it takes effort. When I got Auburn home from school, I had her books and her stuffed animals laid out on her bed.

She’s very perceptive, “I thought you threw these out!”

“I did. And that was wrong,” I put my hands on her cheeks so she would look me in the eyes. “I overreacted yesterday, and I’m sorry about that.”

be a better parent
We usually get along 🙂

I’m not sure exactly what was going through her mind at that moment, but I hope it was understanding. Understanding that I’m not perfect, and that’s okay, even though my reaction wasn’t. Understanding that I’m trying my best and I can admit when I’m wrong. Understanding that I love her, even if I don’t always show it.

The important thing here is that I’m not just saying I’m sorry, I’m acting sorry. Her books and animals were cleaned and placed nicely on her bed. I made eye contact with her while I sincerely apologized.

It goes a long way, and if you’ve set your new goals to reach that standard of recognizing and reconciling your mistakes, you’re already on the path to becoming a better parent.

That brings us to step three.

Step 3: Do better.

I’m not going to be using my negative reinforcement tactic of throwing away books and toys anymore. It’s counter-productive and only escalates the situation. I want to honestly know how to be a better parent.

how to be a better parent
She’s generally a happy kid and makes it easy to be a parent.


That doesn’t necessarily mean that my next tactic is going to be a useful and effective one, but I’m going to try.

I’ve been reading about using fewer words and remaining nonchalant in times of stress; enacting those behaviors have been a different story, but I like to think I’m improving.

And that’s what step three is all about: doing better. It’s about making an effort by reading, exploring, and experimenting with what works for you.

All you have to do now is repeat steps 1-3 for the rest of your parenting life, and you should eventually be a substantial parental figure.

how to be a better parent
Is your kid this cool? Mine is, duh.

Parenting is a wild ride–are you in control?

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learn cantonese in hong kong

“Do you know, Daddy?” She blinks.

“No, sweetheart. I don’t know what that means.”

“Ugh!” She stomps her foot.

“Honey, I don’t speak Chinese.”

“Oh, right.”

This was a snippet of a conversation I had with my 4-year-old today.

Why? Because she was trying to tell me something in Chinese.

language immersion in hong kong
Auburn and her Chinese grandma at the park. She’s so loved!

I recently took a solo 12-day trip to Cambodia. It was my first time spending time away from my daughter in over three years. During these 12 days, she stayed at her Chinese Grandma’s home.

Before I left for Cambodia, Auburn’s Chinese language skills were relatively basic. Her speaking was minimal, though her listening skills seemed well-developed (she’s been learning for roughly six months). I really want her to learn Cantonese in Hong Kong, but overall it’s been difficult.

However, since I’ve returned to Hong Kong to reunite with my daughter, she’s been speaking and communicating in Chinese in full sentences, constantly.

And I’m not at all surprised.

learn cantonese in hong kong
Here’s her surprised face. 😛

How I Predicted My Daughter’s Rapid Advancement in the Chinese Language and What That Tells Us About Language Learning

Before I left for Cambodia, her  Chinese skills reminded me of myself a few years ago before I traveled solo to Mexico.

I was speaking a little bit of Spanish at the time, I could understand much more than I could speak. I didn’t at all feel fluent or confident in my skills. I could ask for directions to the bathroom, but I couldn’t always understand them.

However, I spent two weeks in Mexico. The majority of my time was in Morelia, but I saw some other, beautiful places as well, such as San Miguel de Allende.

I knew I was immersing myself in the Spanish language–that was my goal. What I didn’t realize while I was there: I was rapidly developing my ability to speak Spanish.

language learning in hong kong
I lost my phone in Latin America and all the pictures I had, so here’s Hong Kong Harbor

How? I was hearing it in the grocery store. Listening to it on the bus. But most importantly, I was speaking it every day because I had to. I was finally working a muscle that hadn’t been effectively exercised. And it quickly strengthened.

Before my two weeks in Mexico, I understood enough of what people said, so the words were already in my head. Much like my daughter’s comprehension of Chinese before I left for Cambodia.

How to Learn Cantonese in Hong Kong

In her 12 days of staying with her Chinese family, I knew she was going to do what I did with Spanish. She finally made the jump from understanding and knowing, to speaking.

learn cantonese in hong kong
Auburn and her older cousin. Great to see them getting so close while Auburn learns her language!

Only she did in

I did it in my late 20’s. My daughter did it before she was 5. Anyone can do it.

Anyone Can Rapidly Speak a New Language

But only if they’re willing to put in the work of learning the words and recognizing the sounds. This I think is the most tedious part of learning a new language. It’s a rough adjustment phase, it takes time, and the process feels slow (and sometimes frustrating).

Once it’s passed, however, speaking skills rapidly improve.

And it’s totally worth it. For Auburn, it was imperative that she learn Cantonese in Hong Kong. it means the chance to communicate with family, and it makes my eyes get a bunch of dust in them. Stupid dust.


Learning a new language is possible for anyone–now it’s your turn to commit. Please subscribe below to my email list if you liked this article and want me to continue writing! Your subscription is my favorite form of encouragement!

 

It was our last day in Chiang Mai, my first birthday since I’ve started this single dad blog, the mid-point of our 2 weeks in Thailand.

We woke up early, brewed some coffee, and sat at a table in the middle of the garden where tiny rainbow-colored fish wiggled in a pond.

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The guesthouse owners arranged a taxi for $5 to the airport and flew back to Bangkok. From there, it was $10 per person to hop on a bus and we were off to Hua Hin.

The bus from Bangkok Airport to Hua Hin is found on Level 1 next to Gate 8.

The buses were clean, comfortable, and stacked with a free bottle of water.

We had plenty snacks and sandwiches from 7-11, and as I took my first drink of a Chang, I noticed a sign saying there was a $300 fine for drinking alcohol on the bus.

Oh well, it was already open. And I’m a single parent blogger, I could use a break.

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Five rumbling hours through rain later and we pulled into the bus stop outside of the city center.

A mini-bus was waiting to take us to our hotel. Having forgotten to change money or withdraw any Thai Baht that day, we simply had to take a sustained look of disdain along with an upcharge to take us to the money changing place before our hotel.

It was dark out by the time we got to our hotel, so we ate, and promptly went to sleep half way through our 2 weeks in Thailand.

The next week was rather uneventful because that’s how I planned it!

We stayed in ‘Angel Room’ at Hin Ngam Condo, a lovely, relaxing resort with two kids’ pools for Auburn.

2 weeks in thailand
Our balcony over one of the pools

She loved the slides, zero-depth entrance, and jet tub. There were squirt guns, pool toys, and the trees next to the pool would drop big leaves in that Auburn loved to collect.

It was easy to let her swim all day while I relaxed and read a book in a lounge chair.

Honestly, the whole week was like this. We had no reason to go anywhere in Hua Hin.

The room was super comfortable; the pool was a fantastic place for Auburn to play, and, frankly, I didn’t want to do anything besides relaxing all week long, happy 31st to me 😀

2 weeks in thailand
Auburn on top of the elephant slide. She never slid down it, just climbed up and climbed down.

There were a few food stalls outside the resort that we liked to eat at in the evening. One night they served us something that we weren’t sure what it was.

I saw it again recently in Hong Kong.

It was lung.

A soup full of lungs.

And we ate it.

All of it.

Great news: you can make it at home.

After the *refreshing* week in Hua Hin, and roughly 2 weeks in Thailand, we were back to Bangkok for a few days.

We took a full day to explore The Grand Palace. The Grand Palace costs around $15 per person. It’s beautiful there, and scary.

2 weeks in thailand
All three of us just outside the entrance to The Grand Palace, Bangkok

There’s an incredible temple, massive, golden statues with peaceful faces, and immense murals depicting everything from death to debauchery.

You can enter an old arsenal there. It’s a display of an array of flesh-severing pikes and bone-crushing maces.

vacation in bangkok
This buildign houses the weapon aresenal. There’s a million cameras on it.

Some of them are easily recognizable from movies and TV; others are frightening to see for real. Their shapes give a vicious indication of what they do to a person.

2 weeks in thailand, vacation in thailand
Inside The Grand Palace

If you’ve made it this far into The Grand Palace, you’re probably hungry by now. So be smart, open your backpack and eats the sandwiches and snacks you brought along.

There are 1,000,000 instagrammable spots in The Grand Palace, I recommend you find them.

vacation in bangkok
Both exhausted. There’s a lot to see in The Grand Palace.
how do you beat alcoholism

This isn’t a flattering story to share; it’s actually quite embarrassing, but here it goes.

Until the middle of last week, I always thought that I drank a lot in college. My sophomore year I lived in an apartment that threw two parties every weekend, for example. The place got destroyed. Even then, I never had to question, how do you beat alcoholism?

Drinking in College

We (by we I mean a particular friend of mine) kicked the thermostat off the wall twice (you know who you are!). We broke a few doors, blasted 20-odd holes in the wall, snapped the hinges on the fridge, changed the color of the carpet from soy-latte brown to black-coffee black, used one closet to hide the empty beer cans which eventually became a breeding ground for tiny flying somethings, and on Homecoming morning a kegs-and-eggs pre-game party became an excuse to have an egg fight. The yellow stains never left the wall.

Did I mention the place got destroyed?

how do you beat alcoholism
Our apartment at the end of my sophomore year. JK, but seriously probably close to this.

Our end of the year bill was just shy of $1,200 for repairs. Yikes. We were drunkards.

Or so I thought.

Getting smashed a few times a week in college isn’t uncommon. Not throwing any shade on anyone who does that, because I did that. That’s not alcoholism, even though we should take the concept of binge drinking very seriously and it’s not something to joke with.

That being said, I thought I was an alcoholic in college.

But, I was wrong.

I wasn’t depending on alcohol daily, I wasn’t using it to battle my stress. I was using it to not be such an awkward dork in a group of outgoing cool kids. Oh, well.

Drinking for Stress Relief

Last week, however, I realized that I had crossed over a line, and I Googled a question: how do you beat alcoholism?

I’ve been living in Hong Kong since September, and I could have told you before I moved here that living in Hong Kong is stressful for me (I’ve lived here before). But I’m not living here for me, I’m living here for my daughter. For those of who aren’t aware, she’s half-Chinese, and her Chinese family is from Hong Kong. So, she’s here to learn their language and get to know her loving Chinese family.

Unfortunately for me, that means I’m also living in an environment that stresses me out every day. Don’t get me wrong, Hong Kong isn’t necessarily an awful city to live in, it’s because I spent my entire life living in the woods. I grew up surrounded by trees, fresh air, and falling asleep to the sound of crickets and frogs outside my window, then waking up to deer or turkeys waddling through my backyard. When you drive down the road where I grew up, you generally wave at everyone you pass by.

how do you beat alcoholism
Auburn enjoying where I grew up: my mom’s property in Michigan.

Hong Kong is nothing like that, it’s a big city with a big city environment. There are tall buildings, cars and buses honking, people shoving past each other on the street and throwing their litter on the ground, sirens blaring, helicopters chopping the air, rats dashing between alleyways, upside-down cockroaches on the sidewalks, and shops and people making a general nuisance for a mind like mine that developed on the sound of leaves in the wind.

how do you beat alcoholism
Hong Kong, in a beautiful nutshell

Even now, as I write this post, someone is hammering away in a nearby room in my apartment building, and I want nothing more than to beat them to death with that hammer.

But I’m not a murderer. I’m stressed out.

how do you beat alcoholism
How I handled stress in Hong Kong

How Alcoholism Begins

How have I been handling my stress the past two months? With alcohol.

It started off with a beer at lunch to get me through the day, maybe another beer with dinner to help me relax before I put my daughter to sleep.

Then it became a beer with lunch, one with dinner, and another afterward to put my mind at ease from the city life.

Then, slowly, it built up.

On Thursday last week, I drank 2.5 liters of 5.0% ABV beer over the course of the day. Not partying, not enjoying it with anyone. Just doing my writing at home, drinking, all day.

I woke up on Friday and asked myself, why the fuck am I drinking so much? But, I knew the answer, it’s the stress of the city. However, it’s no excuse. So I decided I needed to quit drinking. I needed to ask another question, how do you beat alcoholism?

beating alcholism
How we should all regulate our stress. Namaste, motherfucker.

Why? I know the long-term effects that alcohol can have on your brain and body. I could tell I put on some weight over the past two months. And I just don’t want to drink that much. I knew I was using it as a crutch, and I don’t even like drinking that much anymore, so I was just generally grossed out with myself.

How do You Beat Alcoholism?

Firstly, you Google it and find a method that works for you Continue reading “The Drunken Dad: How I Beat Alocholism in 3 Shitty Days”