As a new and exciting feature I am going to introduce a new set of regular posts on my blog, where I want to gather and share other parent’s experiences and tips on traveling with children. Any Mum or Dad can take part, so if you are interested in participating please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will then email you the questionnaire template and some other requirements for the post. I am looking forward to hearing from you…
So in the spirit of the blog here is something about our experiences:
As all the regular visitors to wanterlustplusone know I am Vanessa and I travel with Chris and our son Jerome who is 11, as I write this. Although I am from Germany, we now live in London, UK. You can find me here and at:
Chris has answered some of the questions separately or added to my answers however he is not so active on social media and mostly seems to keep out of the photos I post most of the time!
How old was your child/children the first time you flew on holiday with them and where did you go?
V: Jerome was only a few days old when we first flew to the UK from Frankfurt to visit his grandma in the UK. He always was an easy baby to fly with. He has been flying regularly ever since both in Europe and worldwide. His first long distance experience was to Tokyo when he was less than a year old.
What important items do you always take with you on your travels?
V: When Jerome was little I always made sure that I had enough water and snacks (e.g. apples, muesli bars and dried fruit) with me to last for the duration of the flight and travel after. Apart from these we made sure to have enough toys, books, toy cars, paper and colouring pencils and his favourite cuddling toy with us. Nowadays he is old enough to carry his own things and he decides what he wants to take but we always have card games with us. My camera is my essential that I always have me with me and could never imagine going without, that and perhaps sunglasses as I always hope it is sunny wherever I go!
C: Well I guess my travel essentials are J and V…most of the time unless I fly on business. If it must be an item then swimwear is my definite must pack item.
Have you ever forgotten something important at home?
V: We forgot the odd essentials like toothbrush, but I was never too worried about forgetting something that I could easily buy at the other end. Nowadays our basics for travel are always packed, and I just replace the consumable items when they are empty or need to be changed.
C: Not at all, I think provided you have passport and money you don’t have anything that is so important it is worth worrying about. People worry too much about possessions sometimes.
What was your favourite destination and why?
V: Japan, we first went there with Jerome when he was 9 months old and returned almost every year for a few weeks. It is a very safe clean country to visit, very child friendly and there is so much to see and discover with children of all ages.
C: I don’t have one place but Japan and Mallorca will always special because of the family associations, likewise Menorca has some special memories. I still miss my childhood travel to Cornwall for surfing deep inside and probably should go back there more often.
Where would your child love to travel to if he could choose?
C: I think he would enjoy anywhere with a coral reef and good snorkelling.
Do you usually travel on your own, with other family members (e.g. grandparents), friends or nanny?
V: We usually travel alone, with Chris being away as much as he is on business we value the time together on holiday, just the three of us. Once a year we have a week away with my parents in Mallorca, where we go hiking in the mountains. In the long summer school breaks Jerome and I might go away with friends or relatives of mine.
C: V and J are key but when we travel with other family members it adds to the atmosphere.
What do you think travelling abroad teaches your children?
C: Culture, history, geography but also that you do not need oodles of money to have fun, that you can be at home anywhere that you have friends and family around you, and that the world is full of ideas.
V: I agree it gives children a perspective on their lives. Jerome has been lucky to see so many places and I think he appreciates the learning experience.
Do you have any tips or hints for other parents that make your travelling easier and more relaxed?
V: Try not to stress about your trip. Make a list of everything you need if this helps you keep an overview of things that need to be packed. Do not over pack, whenever you can try to travel without pushchair and car seat and all the other baby extras that modern life throws at us. When your children are older try to go hand luggage only, this can save you time and money.
C: I agree…Pack light, buy what you need that is consumable, don’t over think or over worry, but do have a rough itinerary or a short list of places to see researched before you go.
How long in advance do you book a holiday?
V: It can be anything from almost a year in advance, to a few days before. We tend to book flights separate from everything and flight prices can get ridiculous around school holidays and half term.
C: Vanessa does most of the detailed planning but we have a long list of ideas that we are always discussing so that when the right chance comes we can take it.
What makes your holiday perfect?
V: Moments together as a family, exploring new places, especially if there is some sun and water too.
C: Totally agree it has to be family time, sun, and water at the top of the list, but you could add exploring new places whether city or countryside and cycling to the list too.
Do you plan all the activities and sight seeing in advance?
V: No not at all, we might plan on where we want to be on certain days if we have a holiday that involves driving, but we have also just gone and seen where we ended up. We mainly decide on the day what to do choosing from a rough list of places that I prepare before we go. Our choices are made depending on the weather and our mood, where we want to go, what to see or do. We are never fixed on the big sights and have often visited off the beaten track places instead of the top 10 must see in the tourist guides if something takes our fancy we just change plans.
C: To be honest Vanessa usually has made the research before we travel, but as she says we rarely stick to those early plans using them more as a starter and then adapting when we are there.
Are you still one of those people that uses a travel agencies for all your holiday bookings or do you plan everything on your own?
V: I almost always book everything separately searching for the best deals or combinations. Even when I booked our all-inclusive holiday to the Maldives I did all the research and then just booked it as a package online.
C: I guess I have my personal shopper to do all the booking !
What is your favourite activity as a family when you are away?
V: The boys love all kind of water based activities especially swimming, surfing and snorkelling, whilst I am not the best of swimmers, I tend to stay behind or join them for a shorter period of time. We love cycling and have taken our bikes to places like Japan and Bermuda before, or hired them in others like Miami. Hiking is another activity we love to do when we are away. Jerome has been hiking with us since he was able to walk, he even climbed Mt. Fuji-san when he was only just seven years old.
C: Yes I think swimming, snorkelling, cycling, hiking are top of the activities list, but we always have some card or other travel games with us, and enjoy playing those both out in cafes and wherever we are staying.
I hope you enjoyed reading our short interview and if you have travel experiences you would like to share with my readers please let me know at email@example.com