Marina Fogle is founder of The Bump Class. Designed to prepare parents not only for childbirth, Fogle and her partners help to prepare participants with advice on every conceivable issue to arise with the birth of a baby and beyond. Marina herself offers the practical advice and authors Bump Mail, week-by-week guides to pregnancy and the first year of motherhood. She is married to Ben Fogle, Britain’s treasured adventurer, television presenter and broadcaster. They live in West London with their two children.
Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
My mother is Austrian and we’d go and spend every holiday near Salzburg with my grandparents. We’d spend glorious summers roaming the woods, building tree houses, helping out on the farm and climbing mountains. It was right out of the sound of music; we’d end up being barefoot for two months and more comfortable speaking German than English.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
I think my favorite holiday was in Antigua. Ben was rowing the Atlantic and the finish was in English Harbour. I’d followed his progress avidly for months, groaning with each set back and euphoric every time I switched on my computer and realized they’d done 50 miles overnight. About two weeks from the finish, their boat capsized in enormous seas and we lost all communication with them. The only indication they’d survived was the rate at which they sped towards the finish line and Ben’s family, my family and James Cracknell’s family all dashed to Antigua. We ended up staying in the most wonderful place, Carlisle Bay. We watched our emaciated boys row over the finish line and emerge from their boat, bearded and bow-legged, unable to walk and not quite able to comprehend their achievement. The holiday was the culmination of an intensely emotional few months. I fell in love with Ben’s family and gained a best friend in James’s wife, Bev. But it also cemented my relationship with Ben, and a few days afterwards he took me off in a boat to a deserted sandbank and proposed to me. It was definitely the best holiday ever!
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
When Ludo was about 3 weeks old, I took him to Dubai to visit my sister-in-law who lives out there with her twin sons. I was the typical anxious mother, unsure of whether or not my unpredictable son would scream for eight hours all the way to Dubai. As is so often the case with small babies, the white noise of the plane lulled him into a deep sleep and the flight was effortless. The desert sun of Dubai lifted my spirits after the January drizzle and hanging out with my sister-in-law and her twins was heavenly. Ludo loved kicking on the sand with no nappy on and meeting his cousins. So glorious was the trip that I ended up extending it.
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally?
Travelling with children can be exhausting, traumatic and stressful – it slightly depends on the age and their mood, but also how organized you are. I’m usually pleasantly surprised at how easy it is, but often there is one delay which is just the last straw and precipitates a fatigue-induced meltdown, such as slow car rental or fiddling around with hire car seats. I do love travelling with the children now though. They get so excited and I’ve told them that the pilot has a spy hole to every child on the plane and is watching them constantly to make sure they’re behaving. If he sees a child misbehaving he does a ‘bing,’ and if they get two ‘bings’ they get thrown off the plane. Predictably, they’re really well behaved now. After our last plane journey, I had two people approach me saying they were very impressed with my stories and wanted a transcript!
Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?
We went to the Martinhal Beach Resort at the western tip of the Algarve last Easter and it was just brilliant. The hotel is low-key luxury, but perfectly thought out for children. We stayed in a little house that had everything we needed – stair gates, high chairs, tupperware, bottle warmers – the lot! Just not having to lug all of that out made the planning so much easier. The hotel is set up for discerning adults who want to be spoilt in a beautiful place, and children are not only accommodated, but embraced. We’d have lunch at the beach restaurant and, because there was a supervised play area with Lego, colouring books and games, we could enjoy a leisurely glass of Rosé before our food arrived. It was the first holiday with the children where we returned genuinely relaxed and rejuvenated. The children played on the beach, made new friends, learnt to swim and, at the end of the day, collapsed into bed, exhausted and content. Just writing this makes me yearn for it again.
Q: And your worst?
We stayed at a hotel on a lake in Austria once and we arrived with the children and the dogs to find it could not have been less child or dog friendly. The dogs were not allowed in the lake and it was built up so we had to drive to find a patch of green for them to pee. The lake was stony and freezing cold so the children couldn’t get into it and it was the kind of place where people frowned at you if you made any noise. We all slept in a room together and the dogs kept on waking up the children and then Ben got lost trying to find somewhere for the dogs to pee and ended up being away for three hours with no phone, by which time I’d convinced myself that he’d been attacked. We left the next day.
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
I think most parents would say an iPad, but actually a much more useful tool is an active imagination. I tell the children lots of stories and we invent games to fit into whatever situation we’re in. I get them to contribute and I find that by distracting them I can get through pretty much any situation. My stories are probably pretty rubbish, but they have saved me on countless occasions.
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
We think carefully about games and things to do on the plane beforehand. They get to choose and then carry their games and toys in a rucksack. This gives them a sense of ownership, but also means one less thing for us to carry. On overnight flights I always put them in a sleeping bag as they never manage to keep a blanket on. Instead of letting them watch the iPad until they fall asleep, we do a deal that they can watch a certain amount on the understanding that they go to sleep afterwards. It’s amazing how well this works (although I have threatened to get the pilot to turn the plane around to take them back home). I’ve learnt not to be afraid of making threats I have no intention of carrying out….