Some of the most vivid childhood memories come from travelling. These nostalgic feelings can last a lifetime, often inspiring the desire in parents to promote similar experiences for a new generation. But family trips aren’t without their difficulties and constraints. Finding and maintaining a balance between adventure, education, and the opportunity to connect with your children is no mean feat.
This was the starting point for a dynamic discussion between a community of families and travel enthusiasts at the Blueflower Travel Salon.
Over a four-course Italian meal prepared by chef Andrea Oschetti, questions were raised about long-haul travels with infants. How to encourage teens to engage more with new cultures and less with their smartphone. And the different ways to create memories that families will cherish for a lifetime.
Guest speakers Tania Reinhart of the parenting website Nika Kai Travels, and Isabelle Demenge, author of the Leap & Hop children’s travel literature series opened the discussion panel.
Nika Kai Travels hosts adventure guides and travel tips for modern parents, as well as a range of interviews and sharing sessions from parents and travellers. Tania’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter has travelled to more than 18 countries as a toddler – an enviable number of destinations for most adults.
Many of the trips mother and daughter have done together involved unaccompanied, long-haul flights, in which Tania had to resort to novel modes of entertainment, including improvised toys obtained from everyday objects, and creative ideas that do not rely on technology. Tania advised families with younger children that full bellies make for happier and less restless children.
Bringing back home the knowledge obtained from travel experiences, and allowing it to enrich your life, is regarded by many to be the ultimate purpose of travel. Tania shared with the audience a quote from an interviewee on her website, equating half a day of travel to an entire week of development gained at home.
“The simplicity of a holiday can bring out so much magic, and opening up children to a new, unpredictable environment creates a huge impact, and every journey we take her on, teaches her something new,” she said.
GO ON AN AMAZING FAMILY HOLIDAY
The second panellist for the evening, Isabelle, left the legal world when her family relocated to Hong Kong. A keen traveller, Isabelle was reluctant to give up her life of adventure after she became a mother, instead embracing the opposite: integrating her children into a life of travel.
What began as a hobby to keep the children busy on a trip to Cambodia, eventually turned into a lengthy activity book and itinerary, which was soon repeated for Sri-Lanka and India. The Leap & Hop series was picked up by a publishing house and has since made its way to 11 destinations.
Isabelle’s key piece of advice for parents was to democratise the travel process. Children of all ages are happier to integrate and communicate, and far more likely to enjoy themselves if they feel like they’ve had a part to play in creating the journey.
“Trips are successful when everyone’s done something special for them”, Isabelle explained to the audience.
“When your kids are given the responsibility of planning a day, a dinner, or even navigating a new city’s underground system,” she said, “they become invested in the outcome and it becomes a rewarding experience for all."
On what makes family travels truly enriching, Isabelle concluded the evening by explaining:
“Children’s enjoyment is a family project. Give them a map and let them loose in the city; give your teens a day or a meal to plan for the group. They’ll become engaged, and they’ll take ownership, and it’s very different because they’re a part of it.”