My name’s Vyki, I’m 40 (as of October!), I have three kids aged 17, 7 and 5, and we live in London.
Q1. How old was your child when you first went abroad/first staycation?
My first family holiday was when my eldest was 12 weeks old. Her dad wanted to escape Christmas so we took a last minute holiday to Cyprus, I think it was off Teletext! It was nice but a little unexciting, so while we were there we took an impulse cruise to Egypt. The arranged tours were dire, so we stopped taking them and just explored the stops on our own. My best memory is walking down a local street market in Alexandria with the baby in the sling, with everyone cooing at her and stall holders waving live sea fish at us as a gift!
Q2. What was the journey like? Be honest good bits and bad bits?
Two adults and a baby on a relatively short flight is probably the easiest introduction to family travel. Since then I’ve travelled a number of times with kids of all ages. We once took all three for a weekend break to Legoland – in California! And I took six month Museum Girl to Australia, all on my own. The worst bit was the 17 hour flight with the fasten seatbelt sign on the whole time. I couldn’t use the baby bassinet and she stayed awake the whole time, just on top of me. It was horrific, but the trip was worth it and we had a much easier journey back. We are currently avoiding long haul til the kids are a bit older, and are enjoying seeing more of Europe.
Q3. What’s this best thing about travelling with kids?
Seeing new places, experiencing different cultures, and spending quality time together. Being away from all the distractions of home makes it much easier to focus on them. And going somewhere you’ve never been before is an adventure for all ages!
Q4. What’s the worst thing about travelling with kids?
The worst is when they are sick – my teenager had bad tonsillitis whilst we were in Amsterdam last year, and my son once had food poisoning (caught in the UK). Every healthcare system is different so it can be difficult to work out where to go for help and what to expect. Apart from that, tiredness and boredom can creep in on the journeys – we try to make sure we have time to recover from the journey, and wherever possible avoid the very earliest flights, even it it means paying a bit more.
Q5. What are your must haves in your suitcase?
Within easy reach will be an iPad, volume limiting headphones, a new sticker book and some colouring in. Card games go down well with my middle one. And lollipops or chewy sweets help with ears popping on planes. In our suitcase I pack a favourite soft toy and blanket each, and a story book or two in English – they all help with settling in.
Q6. What are your travel plans for the future?
We have booked a week in Bordeaux for October half term and a week in Lapland for February half term, and are currently firming up a week in Lille over the Christmas break. Aside from that I’m looking forward to what else 2020 brings.
Q7. What are you top travel trips?
Consider a home exchange – we have completed 11 house swaps now and absolutely love it! We always exchange with families with kids of a similar age so we have new (to us) toys to play with, child friendly bedrooms, and days out tips from locals. I’ve written a post about what’s so good about home exchanging here https://museummum.com/2018/10/06/house-swapping-7-reasons-we-love-to-exchange-homes/.
Don’t pack too much into your schedule – it’s a holiday after all. We usually aim for one thing a day, and then have lots of downtime. I usually find out what the word for ‘playground’ is in the local language, and save in Google maps those nearest the museums or heritage sites we are planning to visit. That way we can do something cultural and still enjoy a run around. We also include a theme park and/or zoo outing in our holidays too as these work well for kids of all ages.