Estelle Lee, editor-in-chief of Smallish magazine, started her career in advertising, creating TV and print campaigns for many well-known brands. She launched the magazine Smallish (formerly baby&me) when her two children were born, making it her mission to create a magazine for modern parents; a stylish and intelligent edit of fashion, toys, interiors and travel from birth to ten. Smallish magazine is available online and across the UK and we are lucky enough to have Estelle chatting all things travel and tots with kodomo.com
Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
My strongest memories of travel as a young child are of spending summer holidays in Ireland with my maternal cousins on the beaches of southern Kilkenny. We’d spend hours sitting in rock pools, draping each other in seaweed pretending to be mermaids. I have a huge Irish family (my mother is one of six) so there’d be at least ten cousins sitting amongst the sand dunes eating hot chips. Smell is so evocative, and for that reason, I still can’t go near a car ferry!
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
I’ve been so fortunate to travel to some amazing places in the world, but clearly children (especially young children) completely redefine the notion of what it means to go on holiday. I think my most treasured trip was with my husband Andrew, when we were first together and he swept me off to the Amalfi Coast where we stayed high up in Ravello, away from the heat and the tourists. The views from there are magnificent and the food at, what was then, Palazzo Sasso, was out of this world. It was incredibly romantic and I’d love to go back one day.
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
Like many mothers, I found the experience of taking a newborn anywhere reasonably daunting and I’m not of the ilk who chuck their kids in a backpack and travel the world like nothing has changed. I was also pregnant again when my first child was five months old, so there wasn’t much time! But once my second son came along we began to stretch our legs a bit. The Martinhal in the Algarve is fabulous for kids of any age, as is Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, which is just stunning.
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally? A wonderful, bonding experience or traumatic and stressful?
Definitely both. It’s all in the planning and being prepared for the worst to happen. I’ve travelled with my eldest son for work, which has been very special, a bit of time away for both of us. We’ve had some spectacular meltdowns on aeroplanes, in Italian pizzerias etc… but we’ve also experienced the kindness of other cultures who love kids. it’s all good, unless they’re hungry and tired!
Do you ever travel with your children for work?
Yes, they are lucky enough to be brought on review experiences as and when we can get away. I hate travelling without them. Actually, the first solo night’s sleep is rather nice…
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
An iPad, charger, cashmere wrap to double as blanket and comforter, lots of sticker books, play dough and lollypops for the plane!
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
When they are small, take your regular buggy you know they will sleep in. There’s no point buying a neatly folding travel item if they’re not used to taking naps in it. Our various Bugaboos came everywhere with us. Take lots of snacks – foreign snacks are not always acceptable for fussy eaters! Call ahead if there are any issues with allergies and diet and request a list of what can be prepared that is dairy or gluten free for intolerant tummies. Initially, I found this stressful with a small child that couldn’t eat many things, but ultimately if they live on tomato pasta for a week, it won’t kill them!
What inspired you to launch Smallish magazine? Can you tell us a little more about what you’re doing with it and your hopes for its future?
At the time the magazine was in planning, there was no UK monthly magazine which stood out to me in an editorial sense with strong kids’ fashion and features that went beyond the usual baby-centric pieces. Of course, mothers want to know about bottles and development stages and so on, but in my experience of having had zero time to read magazines, I wanted a bit of mental escapism with the kind of intelligent and news-led features I was used to reading in women’s glossies. I think women today are utterly inundated with advice and products as new mothers and look to various trusted sources. We wanted to provide beautiful and original ideas for women, who might be in the early stages of pregnancy or have children up to the age of ten. Feedback from mothers and advertisers has been wonderful, and I know we’ve created something unique and special.
The next issue of Smallish Magazine is out on February 25th.