Fam­ily Travel

Lonely Planet Magazine (US) - - Globetrotter -

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.

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