An Epic Education’s Year in Family Travel 2017: Family Travel Roundup 2017

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Kayaking in Borneo. Lava tubes in the Canary Islands. Horseback riding in Mexico and scuba diving in Indonesia. It’s been a full year for Team Epic Education (aka the Yoshikawa-Jenkins family). Here are a few highlights from our year in family travel 2017.

Year in Family Travel 2017 Family Travel Roundup 2017 family portrait Puerto Escondido November 2017

An Epic Education’s Year in Travel 2017

Spain, Indonesia, Mexico, Malaysia, and Japan. Our family travel roundup 2017 includes many unique places and experiences. We will remember our year in travel 2017 for a number of things. It was a year of adventure and change. Here’s a quick roundup of our year of family travel.

Winter to Spring: Family Travel Roundup 2017

Things to do in Lanzarote with Kids — Spain Family Travel Canary Islands pirate museum roof 1

We started 2017 in the Canary Islands. On January 2nd, we flew to Lanzarote for surfing, lava tubes, and the kids’ first scuba diving lesson.

Then it was back to Valencia, our home for nearly two years. The kids returned to their schools in Spain for a few months while Keiko and I plotted our next move. Would we stay in Spain for a few more years or move on?

We finally chose to move on in April, but not before having one last hurrah in Valencia with the Fallas festival in March.

Spring to Summer: Year in Travel 2017

Exceptional Family Accommodation in Senaru, Lombok: Rinjani Lodge Review fi on infnity pool

In April, we said our farewells to friends, classmates and soccer teams and flew to Southeast Asia. We spent about three weeks in Lombok and the Gilli Islands. Then two weeks in Borneo. Then a final two weeks in Kuala Lumpur.

Lombok & the Gili Islands

Island Hopping & Beach Camping in Indonesia: Our Rinjani Fun Trekking Review Gili Kondo island hopping island camping boat back to the car

In Lombok, we went island hopping, and the kids took some more surfing lessons. We took boats to the Gili Islands off of Lombok’s northeast coast, where the kids earned their junior PADI scuba diving certification.


Borneo Wavehunters Review Family Adventure & Rafting in Sabah family portrait 2 rapids

Then it was off to Borneo, in Malaysia’s eastern wilds. First stop: Kuching. The capital of Sarawak province is a cool and mellow place. Aside from a day of kayaking in the rainforest, we spent most of our time here hiking and checking out the sites around town.

Further north in Kota Kinabalu, however, we picked up the pace. We went white water rafting, and the boy logged three more dives in the South China Sea.

Kuala Lumpur

Awesome Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur with Kids - Malaysia Family Travel

After all this time in Borneo, it was back to city life. We flew into Kuala Lumpur (a.k.a. KL) and explored the city with fresh eyes. We’ve been in and out of the Malaysian capital for years, but the city is still full of surprises.

KL is an amazing place to explore with kids, and we took full advantage of it. We visited amazing museums, played with molten metal, and ate ourselves into a stupor.

Our boy took a solo trip as well — his first if you discount unaccompanied minor flights. Hopping on a bus in KL, he rode five hours north on his own to Tanjung Bungah in Penang to visit friends he made when we lived on the island. Armed with Google Maps, a few Ringgit and the phone numbers of his friends, his solo couch-surfing experiment was a success. He was 14 years old at the time.

Osaka & Tokyo

Osaka Museum of Housing and Living 7

After our time in Southeast Asia was up, we returned to Japan for a quick two-week visit. We flew into Osaka to see Keiko’s family, and carve out a few days to time travelcook up some udon noodles and to try on kimonos along the way.

I met up with some old friends, too. Two took the shinkansen down to Osaka for a quick meet-up/drink-up. Then there was a short, sweet, and somewhat clandestine weekend in Hayama, a beach town south of Tokyo. I told no one I was coming to town, simply because I only stayed in the area for about 36 hours.

Summer to Fall: Family Travel Roundup 2017

Two weeks in Japan flew by, and we were back on a plane — this time to the USA. It was time to visit my family in Atlanta, and for the kids to have a few more reunions of their own.


MLK center in Atlanta Year in Family Travel 2017 Family Travel Roundup 2017

For the next month or so, we had three back-to-back houseguests. The kids hosted two cousins — one from California and one from Japan. Sonny-boy also had one of his best friends from Penang visit: his first time in the United States.

We took them to the Coca-Cola Museum and the Civil Rights Museum, as well as to the Martin Luther King Center: a must for anyone visiting Atlanta.


Things to Do in Merida with Kids (or Without Them) Chichen Itza Pyramid Mayan Ruins

After such a busy social calendar in July, Keiko and I left the kids with my parents in August and flew to Mexico child-free. Were we here on a couple’s retreat? Hardly. Rather, this was a reconnaissance mission: there were several places in Mexico we were considering settling for a while. Traveling as a duo made this a smoother operation.

Leaving the kids in Atlanta served several purposes. For one, it would be quicker and cheaper for Keiko and me to move faster without the kids. Secondly, my parents always want more time with their grandchildren. Now that all the houseguests were gone, Grandma & Grandpa had the one-on-one time they wanted.

San Miguel de Allende

Horseback Riding in San Miguel de Allende: Coyote Canyon Adventures Review

Keiko and I flew into Cancun in August. Over the following two weeks, we visited Merida, Playa del Carmen, and San Miguel de Allende (a.k.a. SMA), looking for potential. We found it in all three places but arranged for the kids to meet us in San Miguel de Allende for a few weeks before we returned to Merida.

We love exploring San Miguel de Allende with kids, but there were elements of the Yucatan we wanted to investigate further before we moved so far from the ocean. We decided to move to Merida as a family first but wanted the kids to experience San Miguel de Allende before we all went down to the Yucatan together.

Fall to Winter: Year in Travel 2017

Merida & The Yucatan

We also took in a lot of what Merida has to offer. Merida has plenty of weekly events and activities for everyone. One of these is Pok ta Pok, an approximation of the ball game played by ancient Mayans. Every Friday, the games are on.

We saw some amazing Mayan ruins in places like Uxmal and Chichen Itza, but our favorite thing to do in the Yucatan was to find and swim in cenotes.

Dia de Los Muertos

dia de los muertos couple Things to Do in Merida with Kids (or Without Them)

This was also our first year in Mexico during Dia de Los Muertos, and it did not disappoint. Merida has its own version of the holiday, mixed with Mayan traditions.

The girl and I took a Yucatecan cooking class, and the boy and I took a short trip to Isla Mujeres off the northeastern coast. We missed the whale shark season, unfortunately, so we will have to return again next year.

Puerto Escondido

Things to Do in Puerto Escondido — Fun Things to Do in Oaxaca, Mexico paddleboarding

In mid-November, we flew to Puerto Escondido on the southern coast of Mexico’s state of Oaxaca. There we met family for an anniversary party: five years before, my sister got married in the best little boutique hotel in Oaxaca. We returned hoping for the same magical time and were not disappointed.

By early December, we were packing up for another move. After three months in Merida, we’ve decided to return to San Miguel de Allende for a while. Possibly temporarily, possibly not. We’ll see.

Atlanta (again)

Atlanta Movie Tours Review Marriot

I now write this from Atlanta, my hometown. We’re here for the holidays, and I am astounded at how much has changed here. I left the US in 1997 and have lived abroad since. During that time, Atlanta has become a hub for movie and TV production. Blockbusters like the Avengers, Hunger Games, Spiderman Homecoming, the Walking Dead, and Stranger Things all film in or around the city.

As a result, the movie industry is a major player in town now. We’re not zombie fans, but we love the Marvel movies and other action flicks, so we took a Movie Locations Tour to see some of the filming locations.

What’s Next?

4From "Gimmie" to Grateful: Family Travel, Raising Thankful Kids & How to Teach Gratitude kids in san miguel de allende

The year 2018 will see us move around some more but not nearly as much. Our plans are still in flux, but we are now looking for a place to settle for a few years. Maybe more. That may be San Miguel de Allende…that may be back in Japan. That may be another half dozen other places we’re researching.

Regardless, the fact is that the kids are ready to stay put for a while and so we want to provide that place for them. Who knows where we’ll go? Tune in and find out!

What Are *Your* Family Travel Plans for 2018?

Do you have travel plans for next year? Where will you go? What will you do? Tell us in the comments!


  1. I came across your blog a while back during my research on Taiwan (where we will be moving to this summer) and on Valencia (where we will be visiting this spring), and have been following since. Your site has so many useful resources so thank you very much for sharing. And your family’s experience has truly been an inspiration for me. I just want to wish you all a great 2018! 🙂