As part of our new monthly link-up we will be featuring some of our fellow fearless family travellers. We can’t wait to hear all about other families global adventures. This month we are interviewing Jonny and Joelle from Daisy the Bus. Daisy the Bus is one of my favourite family travel blogs not only because they have some amazing adventures internationally but I am also learning lots about life in Luxembourg from them! It is also really great to hear a dad’s perspective on family travel. So without further ado here is our Fearless Family Travel Interview with Daisy the Bus!
- What is your family travel? Full-time, part-time, digital nomads etc.
We are definitely part-time travellers, trying to make the most of the Luxembourg school holidays!
- How has your travel style changed since becoming a family?
Our way of travelling has remained rather similar: we tend to stay within Europe and seek out the more unusual / “off the beaten path” destinations. However, where we stay has changed a lot since becoming a family. Whereas previously we used B&Bs and small hotels, we now look at a much wider range of accommodation options: camping, home exchanges, youth hostels, and home rentals to name but a few. B&Bs are now too cramped for all of us, and hotels generally too expensive.
- What was your baby(ie)’s first trip? Why did you choose to go there? What were the highlights/lowlights etc?
Oh dear… Our first trip as a family was an epic 5,000km early autumn road trip from Luxembourg to Portugal when our eldest child was only five or six weeks old. Retrospectively, this was perhaps not such a good idea…
As proud new parents we wished to show our baby to Joelle’s family near Lisbon (she is half-Portuguese), but he fell ill near Biarritz in southern France. Upon doctor’s advice, we had to rest up for four or five days before continuing. A local campsite in the process of shutting down for the winter took pity on us and allowed us to stay in a mobile home on a clifftop overlooking the Atlantic. There we rested, listening to the surf lap the rocks below us as we slowly nursed our little one back to health. We made it to Portugal eventually…
- What is your favourite family travel gadget and why?
Perhaps it’s not really a “gadget”, but our love for family travel was saved by a caravan. Our eldest child was a very difficult infant who didn’t adapt well to change; the blur of hotel and hostel rooms as we travelled around proved too stressful for him (see Q7 below). It was Joelle who had the idea of a caravan – we duly bought one, and our son was designated his own bed. It was a huge success; all of a sudden we could move around as much as we wanted, but our son still had the security and comfort of his own space, his necessary constant amidst unfamiliarity and change. It opened up a world of new possibilities for us.
Alas, when our fourth kid came along we came to the reluctant conclusion that the caravan was too small for all of us, so we sold it and now use a (rather large) tent instead.
- What is your favourite family travel destination and why?
So many great destinations, but we have chosen Scotland. Of course the landscape is incredible and the wildlife plentiful, but we also love the culture. For example, on our last trip there we spent a day at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, visited the astonishing Kelpies and Falkirk Wheel, and stayed in an apartment in New Lanark, a UNESCO world-heritage listed village. In short, we were blown away by the kid-friendly cultural attractions on offer and would love dearly to visit again sometime soon.
- What is the most family friendly accommodation you have ever visited?
We don’t always “rough it” in campsites and youth hostels: one of our favourite travel treats is to spend a few nights in a German “Kinderhotel” or “Familotel” (Kids / Family hotel). These wonderful establishments have “family friendly” down to a fine art, with spacious, perfectly-equipped rooms/apartments, plenty of activities on offer (for kids AND parents), an emphasis on outdoor experiences and – crucially – a delicious and healthy menu full of stuff that kids actually love to eat.
- Family travel bloggers can be guilty of showing only the good stuff – what is your worst family travel experience?
There have been a few, but the one that sticks out most painfully is our visit to Avila, Spain. After a few days on the road staying in budget accommodation, I decided to treat us to a one-night stop in a very fancy hotel in this beautiful walled city. Unfortunately, we arrived in the middle of Avila´s Easter celebrations. In Spain, these consist of large processions of scary-looking characters in “capirotes” – pointed conical hats with veils covering all but the eyes (rather similar to those worn of the KKK in America).
Our toddler totally freaked out. No matter what we tried we could not calm him down, could not get him to sleep. His screaming reverberated around the luxurious hotel long after the celebrations had finished, until eventually, at around 3am, we gave up. We paid our exorbitant hotel bill and left Avila in disgrace, never to return again. (For the record, he fell asleep around 5am, somewhere near Salamanca).
- What are your top three tips for other families who wish to travel?
- Picnics. Eating out with kids can be expensive and frustrating (especially with our two exceptionally picky little girls…). Picnics are healthy, inexpensive, relaxed and a sure way of getting our kids to actually eat something. Plus, the dog can join in too. ;o)
- Do home exchanges with other families. We love swapping homes with families with kids similarly-aged to ours. In this way, we can be sure that our accommodation is kid-friendly (AND there is a ready-made stash of toys just waiting to be discovered!). In addition, an exchange family is invariably a wonderful source of local knowledge and tourism tips; in the past year we have discovered some truly exceptional places that we never would have found without local advice. To top it all off, home swapping is essentially “free”, so we save hugely on accommodation costs as well.
- Matching t-shirts. Visits to busy attractions with four kids can be stressful, so we dress them all in bright matching t-shirts (usually red) so that they are easily spotted.
- What do you wish you had known or done before starting family travel?
Specifically, we wish we had recognised our eldest son’s special needs earlier; imposing our previous way of travelling on a sensitive toddler simply didn’t work.
More generally, we wish we had discovered home exchanging sooner; it is a brilliant way for families to discover new destinations and cultures on a small budget.
- What are your future family travel plans?
We have an exciting mixture of travel plans for 2017, including a return to some of our all-time favourite destinations (Scotland, Sweden, hopefully Vienna) and an exploration of places new to us (Denmark, Norway and northern Scandinavia). Our biggest single goal for the year is to go camping – with all the kids – inside the Arctic Circle. Wish us luck!
I for one can’t wait to follow along with all of Daisy the Bus adventures for 2017 as I always learn so much!
If you would like to be interviewed for our fearless family travel interview series please leave a comment or send us a quick email