Daisy Garnett is a freelance journalist who has worked for Vogue, both in London and New York. She is also the author of Cooking Lessons, a book she wrote after sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a small boat with four men and realising she had to cook for them. She co-founded the insider’s guide to London, A-Littlebird.com in 2010, and has two small children.
Q. What is your first childhood memory of travel?
Travelling to Mallorca from Glouctershire with my parents and two sisters in a large Citroen – a car that was notorious for making its inhabitants travel sick. The journey was endless. (“How much longer, Dad?” “Oh, thirteen hours or so.”) The ferries were late – the one from Barcelona to Mallorca about 12 hours late – or at least that’s how my memory has it – and my mum, not a great traveler at the best of times, went spare. Presumably we three sisters, probably aged around 4, 5 and 7, fought non stop, but I don’t recall the bickering – just the endless waiting and process of ‘getting there’. But my dad was determined and calm. He has always been a fabulous traveller and taught us all to travel well, too. The reason we had driven, rather than taken an aeroplane, was so that he could return with vast terracotta pots for the garden, and that’s what we did. One of those pots now lives in my garden, and I think of that first long journey often when I look at it.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
So many, for so many different reasons. Inter-railing across Europe with four girlfriends when I was a newly liberated 18 year old. My first holiday with my now husband, when we rented a perfect (for us) villa in Corfu. A week long 40th birthday party in Tangier with my best friends. Seeing Machu Pichu for the first time aged 16 with my father – a trip which really sealed my appetite for travel.
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
We took our daughter Rose, the summer she was six months old, to stay with a friend in Tangier. It was all easy, except for the flight out there, which was at 7pm. I thought (hoped) that she’d just go to sleep because it was her bedtime, which she did, but after much crying and screaming. I was that mother on a plane with that endlessly screaming baby. But it passed, and the rest of the holiday was terrific. We carried her everywhere in a baby bjorn so she could see the delights of Tangier and the Tangerines could see her (Morocco is a great place to take kids, as they aren’t treated as an inconvenience there), and she just cooed in a bouncy chair whenever we sat down to eat a meal. She was the perfect baby. It lasted for that week’s holiday.
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally? A wonderful, bonding experience, for example, or traumatic and stressful? Or a bit of both?
A bit of both. Mostly wonderful – but we’ve purposely been quite tame about travelling with the kids and haven’t taken our youngest, who is 16 months, away yet, except to the seaside in Sussex. We’ve always stayed with friends in houses we know, so we’ve controlled the risk element somewhat.
Q. Do you ever travel with your children for work?
No. Nor, while my kids are the ages they are (4 and 16 months) could I.
Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?
Either Tangier (where we’ve taken Rose, who is 4, twice: a roaring success both times) or Kerry, West Ireland. That was also fantastic: big white beaches, ever-changing weather, ponies to ride, old school circuses in little towns, eating too many bags of crisps, blustery walks and lots of games.
Q: And your worst?
Yet to come, no doubt.
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
Stuff for them to do. As much as you can carry – the full extent of which is to be revealed gradually. Colouring books and pens. DVDs for rainy moments and long journeys, story books and the like.
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
Know your terrain. That doesn’t necessarily lead to new adventures, of course, but I figure we’ll get to that. I avoid hotels and long journeys and stick to houses and places that I know, unequivocally, are welcoming.