This interview is with Rachel Denning from Discover Share Inspire. She is part of a travelling family of seven, who have embraced the concept of slow travel and the nomadic lifestyle. You can read about the family’s adventures at discovershareinspire.com or connect with them on facebook or twitter.
What was your travel style like before you had children?
Before we had kids, I didn’t travel
What ages were your children when you started travelling with them?
We had four children when we started traveling. Our oldest was four, then three, eighteen months and three months old.
Why did you decide that exposing your children to travel was important?
My husband and I wanted our kids to learn Spanish, and we also wanted them to see how other cultures lived, and to be exposed to new experiences. We knew that travel would help them avoid growing up with a myopic view of ‘the way the world is.’
What is your travel style now that you travel with children? How did it change from before you were a parent?
We currently travel overland with our (now five) children. We have a Ford F250 that runs on waste vegetable oil. When we’re on the road, we often camp, or we’ll rent a house for a few months at a time. Before traveling with our kids, my husband took a couple of trips to Central and South America, while I stayed home with the kids.
What has been the most difficult thing about travelling with children?
The most difficult part is learning to parent them in varying situations, and learning to model the example I want them to follow – being patient in difficult circumstances, etc.
What has been the most rewarding part of travelling with children?
Seeing their confidence levels grow, and their familiarity with people, customs and new situations. They’re not afraid to try new things, or to push past fears.
What is your favourite travel memory of travelling as a family?
One of my fondest memories is the time we spent together living in the Dominican Republic. We rented a little house on the beach that we called our ‘Walden’. There was no phone, no internet, no hot water. We washed our clothes by hand and made all our meals from scratch. Ever day we went to the white sand beach and swam in the warm Caribbean waters. We took walks each evening through the coconut grove and explored tide pools while watching the sun set. It was idyllic.
According to your child, what is their favourite part about travel?
Parker (8): It’s boring when we stay in the same place and do the same thing everyday. I like to travel because we get to do fun things everyday.
Kyah (10): I like that wherever you go there are always nice people.
According to your child, what was their favourite place you have travelled as a family?
Kyah (10): India!! It’s a girl dress up place, with saree’s and bindis and bangles.
Parker (8): That’s hard…I’d say Costa Rica right now.
Kimball (7): Mexico, cuz we got to swim in that lake (Laguna Bacalar). It was so awesome.
According to your child, where in the world do they most want to travel to next?
Parker (8): China! Kung fu.
Kimball (7): Utah, cuz grandma’s there.
Kyah (10): Spain and Europe, because it’s easy to travel to lots of different places (countries).
What tips would you offer parents when it comes to travel with children?
There’s always highs and lows while traveling. The highs are amazing, but it’s the lows that make traveling with children even more difficult. Work on improving yourself, and set the example of what you want your kids to model. Learn to adapt and deal with setback and challenges, and your experiences will be much better overall.
Are there certain destination or holiday types you would recommend for parents travelling with children?
We prefer slow travel that avoids tourist destinations, and allows us the opportunity to be involved in the culture. Living in a country is a great way to ‘travel’ with kids, as opposed to taking them on vacation.
And finally – what are you upcoming travel plans?
We’re currently in Panajachel, Guatemala along our Alaska to Argentina road trip. We plan to explore Guatemala for a few more months, then we’ll head into El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc. The long term destination is Ushuaia, and then to Brazil in time for the 2016 Olympics.