Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
My Mum tells me I went on lots of European camping trips when I was one or two years old, but the first I remember was a package holiday to the Costa del Sol when I was six or seven. I remember doughnuts for breakfast, doing Damien Hirst style spin paintings somewhere and bringing a toy donkey that was bigger than me back on the plane (these donkeys were all the rage in the 70’s).
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
Either a tour of Rajastan (plus Goa) in India or a driving holiday through the southern USA states. The latter we structured as a journey through US music history – taking in ‘mountain’ music along the Blue Ridge Mountains, bluegrass, country and western (Nashville), soul (Stax), blues (Clarksville and the Mississippi Delta) and rock ‘n’ roll (Memphis).
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
We did a driving holiday through Texas and Louisiana when by daughter was five months old. It was brilliant. It was an easy flight because she was so small and we found that American restaurants – even the high end ones – had no problem with us bringing her in the buggy. We just went wherever we wanted to with her and I was breastfeeding so things were straightforward – it gets more complicated when they get older!
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally? A wonderful, bonding experience or traumatic and stressful? Or a bit of both?
A bit of both but mostly positive. We always carefully tailor our holidays to ensure the children will enjoy it – lots of outdoor things to do etc. Sometimes we book trips because they have said they want to see something, such as a few days in Paris because a lot of their school friends are French or New York because my son became obsessed with the Lego Statue of Liberty card. I feel better when some elements are more about my own interests: ‘yes, we ARE going to the world’s best comic shop because Mummy wants to!’
Do you ever travel with your children for work?
They come to most of the Big Fish Little Fish family raves I put on so, once or twice a month, we head out of London for a weekend that sees an event a bit further afield. They usually help out now by giving out glowsticks, transferring tattoos and dancing on stage.
Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?
Either the trip to New England last year where we had this amazing cabin in the Adirondacks and did ‘tubing’ down the river or the Isle of Skye when the whole family made the climb up Old Man of Storr. It was a glorious sunny day and a strenuous climb for all of us (and they were still very little). Once we reached where we were heading we realised we’d walked through a bit that we shouldn’t have due to the risk of falling rocks, which added a certain frisson of excitement. A photo of us taken by my partner David looks like a Led Zeppelin cover with the kids and the weird geology.
Q: And your worst?
Well, if taking kids to Glastonbury Festival counts as travelling…we went in 2014 and it was very rainy. We were pushing a double bike trailer with the kids (then aged two and four) around the muddy site and it was very hard work because of all the hills. As a bit of light relief, we decided to visit our favourite place to eat – the Sushi Yurt – which was an hour’s hard march from where we were on site. We finally arrived to find our four year old sound asleep (so we left her asleep in the trailer in the covered entrance to the yurt, three yards from where we were eating) and took our two year old in. The Sushi Yurt is an oasis of calm and cleanliness in the Festival mayhem and so we sat down gratefully on the comfy mats ready to order. Our two year old then chose this moment to do a total poonami. My boyfriend took him outside to change him, where it was raining, and he had to do it on an exposed grass bank. He then retuned and checked on our daughter in the trailer. She had wet herself and, though still sound asleep, all the cushions and entire footwell were sodden. So I woke her (she was NOT amused) and had to change her and attempt to dry and clean everything with just a packet of wet wipes. What happened next? We all sat down and ate some lovely sushi and the adults downed some beers – to fortify us for the return journey.
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
Colouring pens and paper thankfully keep them entertained for ages.
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
For younger children, I strongly recommend the large NSCessity travel cot and sunshade. It collapses down to fit easily in your luggage and, together with a baby sleeping bag, means you can get them to sleep anywhere (it used up to around three years of age). The Gro travel blackout blinds are also wonderful to help sleeping.
If you’re travelling with a young baby, travel using a backward facing car seat that can be turned into pram. On flights, the stem goes in the hold and you can take baby on board in the seat. Once on board, they will store the seat in the overhead lockers and your baby can go in the bassinet (book bulkhead seats for the tray to be able to strap the bassinet into). I also changed young babies on the floor in front of me on flights.
For older children, an iPad with downloaded content (plus chargers), colouring pens and paper. Give them a small suitcase they can pull behind them (ours have koala ones with a small matching rucksack) to put pens, books, iPads, water bottles and a small cuddly toy in. This gives them the ability to help carry their tinges but is also a way to keep them close as they are far less likely to run off! Not to mention, they look adorable.
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