HAVING CHILDREN WASN’T GOING TO STOP LONELY PLANET’S IMOGEN HALL FROM CONTINUING TO EXPLORE THE WORLD, BUT SHE LEARNED THAT WITH KIDS IN TOW IT PAYS TO TAKE BABY STEPS FIRST AND ALLOW YOUR TRAVEL CONFIDENCE TO REBUILD. BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, THE QUESTION WON’T BE “COULD WE?” BUT “WHERE NEXT?”
When my young son had a tantrum in the middle of a 14-hour flight, I wondered if traveling with kids was really such a good idea after all. But I was determined to share the world with them, immerse them in different cultures and explore new lands. Soon I discovered that with a little planning, traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. In fact, it’s actually incredibly rewarding and perhaps one of the biggest contributions you can make to family life.
For my family, the key was to start small. We live in London, so when our eldest was two months old my husband and I took him on the Eurostar to Paris, stayed in a small hotel and wandered the streets in a sleepdeprived daze with the baby in a sling (lamenting the unnecessary baby gear we had dragged with us). Soon baby number two was on the way, but before his arrival I did a solo trip with our then-15-month-old to see my best friend in Hong Kong, teaching myself that if you can survive a long-haul flight on your own while pregnant and with a young toddler you can manage most things travel will throw at you.
With two small boys under our arms we went farther afield but stayed within Europe, visiting Switzerland, Sicily and Istanbul, among other places. With each trip our confidence grew as we experienced how traveling with children simplifies and slows down your itinerary and helps you engage with your destination on a different level (children often open doors in way that adults can’t). Since then our daughter has joined our family and in her four short years has managed to clock up taking a sleeper train across Germany en route to Slovenia, drinking fresh juice in the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakesh, hiking (OK, being carried) up Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak and, most recently, experiencing sand dunes (pictured at left), safari and small aircraft in Namibia.