Francisca Kellett is the Travel editor at Tatler. Before that, she was the Digital Travel Editor at the Telegraph, and prior to that she spent five happy, busy years trotting around the globe writing for various nationals and glossy magazines, as well as writing a number of guidebooks. She has two little girls and worries that they are already far too well travelled.
Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
Walking over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I was born there and left when I was a baby, but we went back on a holiday when I was three, and I remember my father filming us on a Super 8 as my brother and I walked along hand-in-hand. It seemed very, very big.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
I’ve had so many – notably floating around India for 8 months, and driving across southern Africa in a bashed-up Mazda. But a more recent trip that stands out was to California and New Mexico with my husband and my three-year-old and four-month-old daughters. We rented a house in Santa Monica and lived out our “living like a local” LA fantasies, then flew to a family reunion in Santa Fe. We hung out in town during the day staring at all the art (and all the hippies), and in the evening drove into the desert to kick up our heels to live country and western beneath the moon. It was magical.
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
St Tropez. She was three months old and it was awful. We always stay in a little hilltop village outside town called Gassin, and in the evening we’d take it in turns to wheel her around the cobbled streets trying to get her to sleep (she didn’t like to sleep), while old ladies leaned out of their windows to shout advice to us in French.
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally?
The travel part is stressful, although lots of practice (and lots of use of an iPad) is making it easier. Once you’re away, though, it is of course a fabulously bonding experience. The key is to accept that your holidays have to adapt to a certain extent. One of my first big trips as a new mother was a roadtrip in South Africa – with a one-year-old who doesn’t like cars. I’ve learned that staying put on a beach, at least with very small children, has unlimited appeal.
Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?
Q: And your worst?
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
An iPad. You can fill it up with films, educational games and books. Wet wipes. A change of clothes for myself (my youngest was once sick on me at the start of a 10-hour flight and I had nothing to change into. The other passengers did not like me).
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
Get them excited about where you’re going a week or two before you leave. Show them on a map and talk about what you’re going to do there, and then let them “help” you pack. Prepare for jetlag by making bedtime twenty minutes earlier (or later, depending on which way you’re travelling) every few days for the week before. That will make it hit less hard when you arrive. Pack something for them to suck on when you land to prevent their ears from hurting. A sugar-free lollipop does the job nicely. Pack lots of little games and new toys for long haul flights. When I flew with my three-year-old to the Caribbean, I filled a bunch of envelopes with different “surprises” (a colouring book and crayons; a tiny toy horse; a little pot of Playdough), and she was allowed to open one every hour. It was a hit.