Our first interview in the travelling with children series is from Talon over at 1 Dad, 1 Kid, 1 Crazy Adventure. He seeks to live his life without regrets, and wants to “world school” his son through the lifestyle of travel. Check out his excellent blog, as well as connect with him on twitter, google+, or pinterest.
Travelling With Children With 1Dad,1Kid
What was your travel style like before you had children?
Fast and furious! When I traveled it was during a vacation from work, so I had limited time. When I got to an area, I was all over it. Often I found places locals didn’t even know about. When I went to Paris, friends back home said I saw more in 4 days than they did in 1 month. I also always planned a lot. I had my reservations secured beforehand and a list of places I wanted to see or activities I wanted to do. I always left room for spontaneity, but I never would’ve dreamed of traveling somewhere without having a reservation in advance at least.
What ages were your children when you started travelling with them?
My son was 6 when we did his first road trip. He’s adopted, though, so I didn’t have him earlier than that age or else we would’ve begun earlier. His first international trip was at age 9.
Why did you decide that exposing your children to travel was important?
Kids have a natural curiosity. They like to explore and discover. Where an adult might be more judgmental, a child can see a different cultural aspect and simply accept it’s just a difference. I think it’s important to take advantage of those attributes early on. I also have never been a fan of the typical American ethnocentric culture. I wanted my children to learn there are other ways of doing things, to appreciate their life more, to learn the valuable things that other cultures can teach us and so on. As an adult I had friends who had grown up in other countries, and I thought it was such a unique way of raising children. That really struck me hard when I was in the Philippines and saw how much fun kids were having playing in the river, turning a plastic grocery bag into a kite and so on. Southeast Asian cultures are very strong about community as well. These were things I wanted my children to grow up with. I also wanted my kids to grow up feeling a deeper connection to the rest of the world instead of just one nation. The more we travel, the more we care about what’s going on in other places.
What is your travel style now that you travel with children? How did it change from before you were a parent?
I went from fast and furious to the way of the tortoise. I’m okay with not seeing everything in an area. We often don’t know where we’re staying when we arrive in a town. I rarely ever can tell you how long we’ll be in an area or where the next destination is. I’m also more adapted to just having a day where we will chill around the house (or wherever we’re staying), whereas before you’d only see me in my room if I was ready to go to bed. I also have to cut down on museums and old churches to keep the young one from being bored out of his mind.
What has been the most difficult thing about travelling with children?
To be honest just the extra charge for lodging and transportation. In the States you generally pay for the room, not by the person, but in Latin America many of the places charge per person and don’t give a discount for children (unless they’re infants). And of course where a ticket to Spain might cost me $429, it’s now over $800 (although non-US airlines often will give a 25%-50% discount for kids under 12). Other than that it’s actually been pretty easy.
What has been the most rewarding part of travelling with children?
Seeing the changes in my son and seeing the world through his eyes. Kids remind you to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like chasing pigeons in the park. And aside from that it’s all the quality time we have together. We’re building a foundation of memories that will last his whole life. Those are irreplaceable.
What is your favourite travel memory of travelling as a family?
When we first arrived on the island of Cozumel, Mexico, the taxi was taking us to our hostel. He saw the bright, clear, light blue of the ocean and said “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” The other people in the van agreed, and we all ended up sharing this moment that might not have happened if it wasn’t for the innocent exuberance of a young child among us.
According to your child, what is their favourite part about travel?
I would have to say the new activities and the foods.
According to your child, what was their favourite place you have travelled as a family?
Probably Ecuador. It just kind felt like home.
According to your child, where in the world do they most want to travel to next?
Asia, especially Thailand. It sounds really interesting.
What tips would you offer parents when it comes to travel with children?
Don’t let it intimidate you. It really is much easier than it may seem. Make your children part of the planning and other discussions. We started when my son was 9, and he’s been part of the entire process. We plan future destinations, activities, etc., together. Sometimes we do things only I’m interested in, and then we also do stuff that only he thinks are fun. It’s an invaluable lesson for kids, and it’s opened up some great discussion, and really helped me learn even more about he thinks, etc.
Are there certain destination or holiday types you would recommend for parents travelling with children?
Most kids love water, so it’s usually hard to go wrong with picking a place with a good beach. We try to travel to a new location during its off season so that we have less crowds to deal with and prices are usually lower. Overland travel is usually much cheaper than air travel, but I always check because sometimes you can find amazing deals, especially in Europe and Asia.
And finally – what are you upcoming travel plans?
After 1-1/2 years in Latin America, we’re finally heading to the other side of the planet. In October we’ll begin our European adventure starting with Spain. We’re both really looking forward to it. We may be ringing in 2013 from Paris depending on how things work out. We may escape to Asia to get away from Europe’s cold winter and then come back in the spring, but we just never know.