Wildlife & Nature
Going on a Family adventure? Read Rosie's advice
Travel, they say, does two things. It broadens the mind, and it provides memories. Particularly if you are a bit adventurous about it. My favourite moment in a holiday? Arriving. Stepping out of the plane, coach or boat; feeling the sun ( or rain) on my skin, hearing people talking in a different language. Being on another bit of the earth is just such a treat. “It’s magic!” I say to my children. Even hopping on the Eurostar amazes me. Sharing the magic with your children is of course one of the true delights in being a parent. Taking your child on a dawn ride in a jeep to see lion; climbing up the Duomo in Florence after breakfast, swimming with turtles, sailing down the Nile on a felucca. The wonders of the world are out there, and you can experience them with your children. It really is the perfect combination.
Understandably some parents feel anxious about travelling with their children. Will they be safe? Will they annoy other people? Will they be sick? Well, as a lifelong sufferer from travel sickness I completely understand what a nightmare this can be, but be assured; there are things out there to help you! As the world shrinks, and more people travel, the market for specialised things such as anti-travel sickness wrist bands (they really work) has expanded hugely.
How family-friendly will it be? I think the UK is unusual in having ‘family’ areas in which to coop children. Most places in the world are far more relaxed about children, and people are far more likely to smile at your kids, not grimace, anyway, if they try a little bit of the local language.
And as for safety- this is one of the key advantages to travelling with the Adventure Company. You will be with a trusted, local guide at all times. Someone who speaks the language. Someone who has an infrastructure to rely on, in case of a problem. Your guide will help you achieve the best holiday possible, and is your safety net in case of difficulty. He or she will also play football with your kids, if you’re lucky.
What if your child doesn’t like any of the food? I have the world’s fussiest small boy. He hates everything bar bread, pizza and bananas. Three guesses what he eats on holiday. Doesn’t seem to harm him. But let your children see you enjoying the food, the chances are they’ll want to join in. And if not – well, nobody is going to starve.
What about skipping school term time? I’ve done it. I took two of my four out of primary school one year,for six weeks. I regarded it as a wholly instructive trip and had no qualms about it. Don’t do it too often, though. And you’ll find the Adventure Company sticks pretty much to the holiday schedules.
What about security? Those little reins are rather handy, and I’ve used them from time to time. Writing your mobile on the back of your child’s hand (not a sweaty palm) is also a good idea. Trunkies, which have a space for an emergency number, are also useful. As is a loud voice. Be ready to shout in an airport should your child wander off.
I have a word to say about injections and pills. All my children had to have them when I took them to the Amazon rainforest. They wailed at the jabs and complained about the anti-malarials. But I found a way of bribing them with croissants and chocolate milk, and after two days, they were taking the large pills quite happily. Show your children you mean it when you say ‘you have to do this’, and show them you are taking the pills too. I don’t think you need to travel with an entire hospital on board, though. Unless your child has a serious condition such as a nut allergy, then I would simply take liquid paracetamol (in sachets), antihistamine cream, plasters and lipsalve.
Toys? Leave anything electronic at home. It will only cause arguments, and then run out. A notepad and pencil case full of felt-tips is essential, for all those games of Boxes, Hangman and Battleships. Tracing paper is great for making stained glass windows, to be stuck on the plane windows. An origami set will keep them quiet for hours. Cards, of course, are fundamental. You have to be prepared to join in, though. You will find your children respond beautifully to you if you get your nose out of your novel, and play with them. The time will go so much quicker! Although on an Adventure Company holiday, your child will usually have the best plaything ever. Another child. You’ll find they will not be able to dump you fast enough. Have a great time
Rosie Millard is a travel journalist, broadcaster, author and intrepid mum, who is our ambassador for family adventures. She goes on our tours regularly, find out more.