Tom Parker Bowles is a food writer and broadcaster who has a weekly column for The Mail on Sunday, is Food Editor for Esquire Magazine and Editor-at-Large of Family Traveller. He co-founded the Quintessentially Group back in 2000 and has authored several books. The son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, he is father to Lola and Freddy.
Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
Landing in Naples airport, going down the steps towards the bus, and my cousin Ben bending down to kiss the soft, hot tarmac, like the Pope. He got a bollocking from my grandmother.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
God, I don’t think I could choose one. It’s like asking me about my favourite restaurant. It changes not just daily, but hourly, depending on my mood.
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
We went to Carlisle Bay in Antigua. The way over was easy. The holiday, wonderful. But the way back was hellish. Lola bawled for the whole 9 hours.
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?)
Both. It can sometimes resemble a military operation, with all the books, dvds, sweets, crisps and various other sundries needed to keep them occupied. But as long as they’re not having a meltdown during take off or landing, I do enjoy it. I love taking my children to different countries.
Q. How does food factor into your vacation choices? What have been your experiences of feeding a baby or toddler abroad?
Food is of huge importance. In fact, embarrassed as I am to admit it, I don’t think I could travel to a country where the food is universally shoddy. That said, all cuisines have something to recommend. But over the past 5 years, with the children, it’s always been Italy. Children are always very welcome in any restaurant, and they love the food too.
Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?
We went with friends to a villa in Sicily for a few years, and we loved that. Lots of children, bombing around, playing in the pool, trying to adopt stray, flea bitten kittens. I liked the freedom they had, the squeals of joy, being outside all day long. And they sleep deeply too.
Q: And your worst?
Probably a holiday we had a few years back in Cornwall. The house was wonderful but it just pissed with rain, every single day. Grey, cold and ghastly. Terminal ennui set in, and we all started to whine. I was amazed no one was actually murdered by the end of it.
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
The holy triumvirate of Ipad, sweets and crisps.
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
Keep them distracted. And use sugar or salt based bribery when all else fails?