Natasha Poliszczuk is the Assistant Editor at GLAMOUR (UK) and the co-founder of Wear & Where. She has a daughter, Claudia.
Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
Endless sunny days on the beach (on the Greek islands) and sticky nights, lying under the mosquito net, listening to the crickets chirrup and the quiet clink of glasses. And holidaying in France (which we did most years): my parents would rent a gite and we would take the ferry over and drive down those long, tree-lined roads.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
It was either a stolen few days in Venice or a lazy two weeks pottering around the Sicilian Aeolian islands. Both pre-baby: they would be very different experiences now! My husband (then boyfriend) took me on a completely luxurious trip to Venice during a bitterly cold February, when the city was alternately shrouded in mist and dazzling in the bright winter sunshine. We stayed at the utterly incredible Ca’Maria Adele in the Sala Noir room and spent a blissful few days wallowing in Venice’s many delights: the art, the hidden cafes and cosy bars, the islands, the food, the bellinis… It was freezing and romantic and unforgettable.
Our trip to the Aeolian islands was one of those dreamy sun-drenched holidays where we spent the days scooter-ing around Lipari in search of an idyllic deserted beach, or island-hopping on little boats operated by smiling locals (who would suddenly stop and announce that here was the perfect swimming spot or look, over there, a school of playful dolphins). Nights were spent drinking wine and eating granitas on Lipari’s main square, with its view of the harbour.
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
Our first trip was when Claudia was three and a half months old, to a little village in Farnham, Dorset – we stayed in the fabulously appointed Cowshed. It basically takes its cue from Babington House: all the luxe (White Company linen, Ren toiletries, a wood-burning stove), none of the fuss. and so well-stocked (it literally has everything from the sterilizer to a buggy to a playroom packed with toys) that I hardly needed any of the baby paraphernalia I had squeezed into the car. We tramped along country lanes with Claudia in the Baby Bjorn; went to the beach; ate at the village pub.
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally?
I think, as long as it is carefully planned and thought-through to appeal to your children and not just you, then it’s terrific. For me, it was a case of adjusting my mindset as to what a holiday involves. (You cannot spend hours in galleries, sightseeing in picturesque hilltop towns, reading in cafes, or whatever it is that you did pre-child. Especially not with a toddler.) Once you do that, it’s wonderful: we love hanging out with her and seeing the world through her eyes, and she loves having both of us around.
Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?
We learnt from the Umbria experience (see below)! The following summer we went to one of our long-time favourite holiday haunts: the Ile de Re. We booked a fabulous villa in pretty La Flotte, which overlooked the seafront promenade and was two seconds from a brilliant playground. The flight is barely an hour, the drive from airport to island a quick hop in a taxi, the beaches are perfect for sandcastle building, there’s plenty to explore in easy cycling distance. We’d get up in the morning and potter to the boulangerie and the village market, or to a café for croissant and coffee; then pop on our hired bikes to find a beach or have ice creams in chi-chi Saint Martin.
Q: And your worst?
It wasn’t bad per se, just ill-conceived. Our first trip abroad when Clauds was six months old, was to Umbria. We booked a lovely, sprawling villa with incredible grounds and a fabulous pool. We even booked the resident babysitters (inviting my parents to stay for a week). However…. The villa was three hours from the airport (too far after a flight with a baby) and miles from the local village down a long, unmade track; and the mountains were spectacularly beautiful but meant that we were subject to swirling fog and spectacular rainstorms. Not exactly the long lazy days by the pool whilst the baby naps which we had planned (although there were some of those, eventually).
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
Travelling with a toddler is all about keeping them busy. So, their very own in-flight bag packed with the essentials (a change of clothes, an abundance of wet wipes) and things you can procure at canny intervals: stickers (always pack stickers), a new book or two, crayons, paper, snacks which take A Long Time to eat (anything small, healthy and fiddly is excellent) and (I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but it works) an iPad onto which you have downloaded their favourite programme – along with children’s headphones so fellow passengers (and you) don’t have to listen to Peppa Pig ad nauseum. Oh, and I never go anywhere, not even to the grandparents, without our Gro-anywhere blackout blind. Insufficient sleep does not a good holiday make!
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
We bought a pop-up Samsonite travel cot – and it was a genius buy. Small and light enough to pack into a suitcase, it meant Clauds could have a nap by the pool (if the hotel didn’t have baby-listening service or the baby monitor’s reach didn’t extend that far), and that we never had to worry about the standard of travel cot provided. On a similar note, we found that a bath can be a rarity on the continent, so we bought a very small, very cheap blow-up bath (or it could be a mini paddling pool) which worked a treat. Slow your pace and be realistic about what can be achieved: allow time for exploring that fascinating patch of grass, an interesting doorway, the friendly ladybird and so on. Obvious, I know, but always travel with an emergency first aid kit: Calpol, Ibuprofen, Pirotin (the one for children), and rehydration sachets.