I love reading about all different types of travelling families whether they be full time, part time or school holiday travellers. This month I am excited to introduce you to Ariana at World of Travels with Kids and her family who are keen to have authentic experiences through travel.
What is your family travel? Full-time, part-time, digital nomads etc.
At the moment we are travelling only on school holidays, though we treat every weekend as an adventure and enjoy the wonderful natural wonders of Western Australia frequently. In the past few years (when kids were smaller) we spent longer stints overseas of 3-4 months at a time and were Peruvian residents when our daughter was born.
How has your travel style changed since becoming a family?
Kids have changed nearly everything! The consistent element is that we are still independent travellers. With kids, we are much more cautious and plan ahead. We look for hotels with pools and gardens, even if it costs more. We think about what they will like at the hotel… and we often take private transport rather than public transport because it’s so much easier. We are currently trying to adapt our interest in local, authentic experiences with the needs of the kids which at times seems to be more suited to 3-4 stars. (At the time of writing that, kids aged 6 and 3… I can see within 2 years the kids will be older and more tolerant so we can perhaps return to a style of travel more like we did pre-kids.)
What was your baby(ie)’s first trip? Why did you chose to go there? What were the highlights/lowlights etc?
Our daughter’s first trip was to Lima, Peru when she was 2 months old. We travelled there for a travel industry conference. The highlight was staying in a flash hotel (unusual for us at the time). The lowlight was missing much of the conference because I was too exhausted from broken sleep!
What is your favourite family travel gadget and why?
We wouldn’t leave home without an Ergo Baby Carrier. (Up until the present when our son is 4 years old) I feel that this answer will change though, in the near future.
What is your favourite family travel destination and why?
Bali. It is tourist friendly and accessible for people with all types of travel experience. There really are options for everyone, which means that ALL people enjoy it. We thought that because it was so heavily touristed it would be difficult to have unique, off the beaten track experiences with our kids. We were wrong – there were plenty of places that we enjoyed on the North Coast and away from the Denpasar/Kuta/Nusa Dua area. We also found that it was a spiritual place, and many people apparently unaffected by the many tourists that visit. This was a nice surprise!
What is the most family friendly accommodation you have ever visited?
That’s a toughie! Resorts are typically very family friendly, with a Kids Club, Children’s menu, pools of ranging depths, activities for kids and even baby-sitting for the folks! That said, some of the most highly rated ‘family friendly’ resorts have had all the ‘perks’ and we feel that they lack authenticity. We’re hesitant to nominate one place but in short, the room needs to be large with a bath tub, to have a not too deep pool and a garden to play in… and of course friendly staff who genuinely love our kids. Even when they are throwing a face down, all legs kicking tantrum in the middle of the reception floor!
Family travel bloggers can be guilty of showing only the good stuff – what is your worst family travel experience?
No one experience springs to mind! Numerous jet lags where one kid wakes up the other and then they play at 1am… and just won’t go back to sleep! Lots of hours of screaming babies/ and later kids in car seats as you drive on, determined and resolute. And finally, taking your 1 year old to stay overnight in high altitude Peruvian communities (eg 4000 metres/13000ft) as guest of Quechua indigenous people in their stone huts… and having her cry all night from cold and altitude…
What are your top three tips for other families who wish to travel?
- Be open-minded and flexible.
- Plan lots of time where the kids do stuff that makes THEM happy (namely, pools, and playgrounds.) Screens don’t count.
- It doesn’t have to be big or grand to appeal to kids. A beach walk, looking for shells, and their parents playing with them can be as rewarding as a big, expensive water park.
What do you wish you had known or done before starting family travel?
The same as parenting in general – that you really do have to put the kids first. It doesn’t matter how much you want to see that museum (or church… or whatever) you need to work with their rhythm and every one will be happier. Forcing things just ends up in tears (yours, theirs or both of you).
What are your future family travel plans?
So many! Plan A for 2017 went down in flames due to the US refusing visas for Papa Traveller’s two teenage boys to come to visit us in Australia, and we can’t afford to pay several thousand dollars extra for some more complex flight routings. So Plan B is currently being worked on… perhaps we’ll head to Central America and see the boys (though this will be super costly) or perhaps stick closer to home with a Bali trip or perhaps even Far North Queensland. A trip to see Pacific Islands is on the wish list after most of the family has fallen in love with Moana! (But highly unlikely due to $$)
We had an AMAZING 2016 so are still feeling very content to be at home and relish the wonders of a rich home life, with our veggie garden, chooks and plenty of things to explore nearby. While we are travellers, we also embrace routine and notice that being settled brings out the best in both children. (Yes we all enjoy travelling, but their behaviour tends to be better while at home!)
You can read our best of 2016 here