There's something beautiful about planning. Especially when it comes to travel. It's the way that it builds anticipation and excitement. Those hours spent exploring accommodation options and Google images of remote beaches. It gives you some evening inspiration to explore rather than zoning out in front of Netflix for countless hours.Read More
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Filtering by Tag: travelling with children
Don't look now, but I'm heading to Nepal in three sleeps! It's an especially exciting trip for me because I left a piece of my heart in Nepal nearly a decade ago.Read More
I love to travel. But I HATE to transit! Especially since having children. So I'm all for making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. And do you know what the key is? SLEEP!Read More
My compulsion to fit as much as possible into every trip (and every hour, actually - my husband is regularly frustrated by my being late because I just had to squeeze one more thing into my day) is legendary. It's a running joke among friends who have joined me on various trips; just the other day one friend, who we'll be visiting in London in August, said she was thrilled the "Webster juggernaut" would be pausing in her honour for a whole week.
What can I say? I'm acutely aware of just how big the world is and how little of it I can ever hope to see.
That said, in recent years, I have taken the foot off the pedal just a little bit - and I've really enjoyed it. Travelling with kids makes it necessary to make it enjoyable, so now I have a minimum three night rule (although I will say that rules are made to be broken - but it's good to have goals). And the side effect, apart from enhanced family harmony, has been a greater appreciation of the nuances of each small corner of the world (and definitely less post-trip exhaustion). And while I wouldn't presume to say that a week enables me to become a San Sebastian cafe regular (sorry Ben), I will concur that it gives a much better glimpse into the lives and experiences of the people who are.
I'm heading to Europe for four weeks next month. I'm aiming to make the most of each day - by savouring it.
WORDS: Ben Groundwater
There's a temptation to view the world like a breakfast buffet. Or at least, the way I view a breakfast buffet.
It's easy to feel that the only way to do this earth justice is to travel to as much of it as possible in the short amount of time you've been allotted, to feed your travelling face with as many sweet and savoury delicacies as you can fit on your plate. A small portion of south-east Asia. A dollop of Europe. A drizzling of the United States.
So you plan journeys that take in 15 countries in a couple of weeks. You go on tours that call through every single European highlight there is. You settle for a day here, a day there, a few hours at this museum, a few hours at that gallery. And before long, like the breakfast buffet, you've overdone things and you need to go lie down for a while to let things settle.
(Or is that just the way I do it?)
That's certainly the way I used to travel. As far as I was concerned, you only get a finite amount of time to see the world in this lifetime, and I wanted to see as much of it as possible.
If that meant having an eight-hour stopover in Abu Dhabi and cramming in four or five attractions, then so be it. If it required two overnight bus journeys in order to spend about six hours in Cappadocia in central Turkey, then that was fine.
You're here for a good time, not a long time, right? It's better to see four hours' worth of Vaduz and know you've been to Liechtenstein than to not go at all. It's worth spending just one day in Mexico City so that you can at least tick the box.
But recently, things have changed. I've decided to take things at a more moderate pace. If we're going to torture this food metaphor just a little bit further, then I've gone from stuffing my face at a buffet to sitting down to a long, leisurely brunch.
It's slow travel. Like slow food, the idea is to take time to enjoy just a few good things rather than hurry through as much as possible.
Here's the idea. I've got a month-long trip to Europe coming up. Back in the day, I would have used this fairly substantial amount of time to go on a touristic blitz. I would have booked a rail pass and tried to see all of the little towns and big cities that I haven't seen before. It would have been a tour de force, a whirlwind of "if it's Monday, I must be in Hamburg" moments.
But not this time. This time, in four weeks I'm going to five cities. I've got six days in San Sebastian. I've got an entire week in Rome.
The objective is not to see as much as possible, but to enjoy as much as possible. I want to become a regular at a local café in San Seb. I want to spend an entire day walking around the Villa Borghese. I want to sit and watch the world go by and not be worried about the flight I have to catch that afternoon, or the train I should be on to the next destination.
For me, now, this is the way travel should be done. The idea isn't to see a lot of places, but to really get to know a few. When you've got a whole week at your disposal you can start to move with the rhythm of local life; you can stumble across hidden gems; you can ditch the guidebook and embrace the notion of wandering with no set plan and no ideas.
Slow travel leaves time for the unexpected. It means you can have a chance meeting and end up in a place you never would have previously discovered. It means you can pick up snippets of local language and find the nuances of the culture.
You can still do the touristy things. But you can also spend entire days doing pretty much nothing. That's something people often reserve for sun-lounges at beach resorts, but it's just as valuable to do it at a café in Rome, or Barcelona. Whole new worlds reveal themselves when you've got nothing to do. New places, new people, new foods.
The hustle of the 15-countries-in-two-weeks itineraries will feel laughable once you've mastered the art of just chilling out. Slow travel is about seeking out the small things, and enjoying them. It's about the fun of foreign normality.
It's not about overnight bus trips. And it's not about four-hour stopovers. It's about a long brunch. And no buffets.
Travelling with children hey....you know the kind that kick the back of your seat on the train, scream the entire way on the plane and interrupt your sunset view with their crying and snotting. Sounds amazing right?
To be completely honest, for me one of the main reasons that the concept of having my own children seemed so inconceivable for so long, was because it didn't really reconcile with my love of travel. All I really had to go on was the back-of-the-seat-kicking, the screaming and the flailing. I can actually remember having conversations with Elissa (who became a parent before me) about what it was like to travel with children and she assured me travelling with kids ADDED to the experience rather than detracted from it. I must admit part of me thought this may have been a bit of an exaggeration or that perhaps she was overcompensating with positivity because really it was the worst thing in the world but since she was already stuck with said children, she had better just pretend it was great because there was no going back now! Really I imagined she must be gouging out her eyeballs on long haul flights and pining for the days of solitude and bliss.
But then, eventually, I joined the world of parenthood myself. Of course travel was on the agenda early on and we took our eight-month-old on a six week trip to Europe - travelling through Italy, France and parts of Spain. And we all absolutely loved it! Of course it was different to travelling just the two of us. But it was brilliant. And I finally understood what Elissa meant when she said having children on the adventure actually added to the experience. We found that travelling with our baby was a magnet for engaging with local people. We had more conversations, more recommendations and discovered more hidden gems than perhaps we ever had before. All because people wanted to talk to Samuel.
And it was remarkable to see the world through Samuel's eyes as he experienced not only foreign lands and cultures for the first time, but also the wonder of first time experiences of absolutely everything - from interaction with locals who stopped to greet him with a "Ciao bello," everywhere we went in Italy, to the breathtaking magic of a new vista, another uninterrupted view, the crystal clear waters of a stream, the vivid green of a tree, the undulating hills dotted with castles, the scent of fresh garlic and herbs cooking in an Italian trattoria or the pungent cheeses to be sample at a French market. How amazing is the world!
Critics might say that you're crazy to take your kids travelling before they are old enough to remember it. But for us, having an extended period of time off exploring together, especially with a young baby, was the perfect way to begin this new season in our lives. This particular journey will always hold a special place in our hearts and memories as it solidified our new life as a "family" and gave us time and space to enjoy each other and establish ourselves in this new phase of life in the best way we know how - by travelling!
I'm certainly no expert in this field though - in fact as a family with just one child, you could say I'm really just a beginner. Rachel Denning on the other hand, is somewhat of an expert. She is permanently travelling with her husband and SIX children (eight years, 13 countries and counting!).
If you are considering taking your family on the road, I would recommend checking out the Live Your Legend blog and especially the tips Rachel provides for permanently travelling with kids.
And in the meantime - be kind to your fellow travellers! Whether you are travelling alone, with your partner or friends or with your brood of children, remember everyone is in a different phase of life and has different priorities and experiences. A smile, a friendly conversation and a dose of respect will always be the right attitude no matter what situation you find yourselves in.
And if you're planning a trip with your bambino...this booties are made for walking... (actually, they're not, but they are definitely up for some international crawling)