When you travel with your children, you are giving them something that can never be taken away.
Sticking with this thought, say Hello! to Fina Thorpe-Willet. Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Fina is an ardent fan of traveling and has made homes in England, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea, where she currently lives. She is also the co-author of the trending novel Wander Woman, written in Bahasa Indonesia, along with her friends, where they have documented their experience of traveling and raising kids abroad.
In the spring of 2016, she made a decision most mothers would dread – a single parent cross-country road trip along with her three daughters; Jasmine, Erina and Davienne aged 10, 8 and 6 respectively, where she single handedly drove a distance of 1500 km.
In this special Traveloka feature, we recall her journey and experiences driving through the Korean countryside with three little ones in tow.
Fina’s Pre-trip Tips:
- Get your itinerary sorted beforehand and make sure to include activities for the kids.
- Let the kids pack their own luggage. Give them a list of things they must include and freedom to bring some extra things keeping the luggage quantity in mind.
- Prepare yourself to be the last minute decision maker. Sometimes situations may not be as planned so keep a plan B ready!
Day 1 – Yongin City, Gyeonggi-do
On day one of their mother-daughter trip, Fina drove a distance of nearly 380km from her hometown Geoje, which is an hour’s drive away from the city of Busan, to reach their first destination; Yongin City located in Gyeonggi province. Before arriving, they made a stop at MBC Daejannguem Park. The park is the first open air studio reflecting a backdrop of ancient Korean dynasties and a popular shooting location for K-dramas.
For Fina, this was the perfect place to practice her photography while the young ones pretended to be princesses from the past!
Later that day the family checked into Hotel Q, the first accommodation of the trip.
Total Distance: approx. 400km
Total Hours on the Road: 6 hrs
Day 2 – Everland!
Being in Gyeongii, the family-on-wheels opted to spend their day at Everland, which is South Korea’s largest amusement park. The park has several themed entertainment sections including Magic Land, European adventure and Zootopia and hosts several festivals every year such as Summer Splash and Halloween.
They spent nearly more than 13 hours at Everland before retiring for the night gearing up for another day of excitement.
Total Distance of the Day: Less than 5km on wheels but much more on foot
Ticket Cost: $89
Day 3 – Suwon, Capital City of Gyeonggi
En route Suwon, they first made a stop at the Gyeonggi Children’s Museum which is an interactive museum offering creative exhibits and workshops for children. They later made their way to the Jukjeon Café Street, popular once again as a K-drama shooting location and also for its boutiques and alfresco cafes. Naturally, Fina and the three young ladies busied themselves with window shopping while sipping on their smoothies.
At the end of the day, they checked in at Ibis Ambassador Suwon and rewarded themselves with an Indomie dinner!
Total Distance: approx. 40km
Ticket Cost: $13
Day 4 – Gapyeong
The busiest day of the entire trip, as the gang plans to visit a couple of locations on their drive east to Gapyeong.
They begin first with the Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon before heading to Petite France and the famous Namiseom. Namiseom was an absolute delight for the children as they got creative making glass necklaces and learning to be mock weather reporters in a real studio for free, which definitely made Fina very happy!
Continuing with the drive, they arrived at the Garden of Morning Calm which is a must-see destination in spring before retreating for the day in their cute apartment.
Total Distance: approx. 140km
Entrance Fee and Activities Cost: $84
Day 5 – Jeongdongjin Enroute Pyeongchang and Gangeung
Another long day on the road as Fina prepares to drive nearly 200km to reach the final destination of the day.
On the way, they make a stop at Samyang Ranch in Pyeongchang County, which is also called the Eco Green Campus. The ranch houses ostrich, horses and cows and is a generator of wind energy as can be seen by the many turbines.
Eventually they make their way to Gangeung City to sample some coffee the region is famous for and drove further north east to Jeongdongjin where they check into Korea’s only Ship Cruise Resort.
Total Distance: 230km
Meals and Entrance Fee: $70
Day 6 – Exploring Jeongdongjin
After being on the road for nearly 5 days, the family takes a day off to explore Jeongdongjin and its nearby coastal towns.
As evident, this family loves adventure and they start off the day by boarding the Sea Train which runs on a railroad built closest to the ocean in the world! The train ride offers sweeping views of the ocean and pristine beaches.
Before heading back, they indulge in some coastal rail-biking in Samcheok where Fina’s eldest daughter Jasmine, helps her mother pedal along the way.
They end the day by enjoying the sunset from the lounge of Sun Cruise Resort and finally taking some time to cool down.
Train Tickets: $117
Day 7 – Gyeongju
From this point in their journey, Fina and her trio will start to make their way down south toward home.
But before they end their adventure, there is one more destination on their itinerary – Gyeongju, Korea’s most historical city.
Gyeongju lies nearly 400km south of Jeongdongjin and the family makes several pit stops on their way by exploring some more tourist attractions such as the Hourglass Museum and Hassla Art World, before arriving in Gyeongju and retiring in a traditional Korean Hanok-style house!
Total Distance: 400km
Meals: From the stock
Day 8 –Ride back to Geoje
The final leg of the road trip commences today as the family makes their way further south to Geoje, a three hour drive from Gyeongju.
Before heading back home, Fina plans on giving her little ones a history lesson by driving through Gyeongju’s iconic landmarks, almost all of which are UNESCO world heritage sites. The kids however have other plans and spend all their time riding their rented bicycles through Gyeongju’s parks!
Sometime past afternoon, they huddle up back in the car and start the final drive home feeling weary but extremely excited to share their tales with their father and friends at school!
Total Distance: 140km
Total cost of the road trip: Priceless!
To all the beautiful mothers out there, don’t spend time thinking and start packing up to take a wonderful vacation with your children alone. Embark on your own journey, spend some quality time with them and instil in them the love to dream, discover and explore!