What do you never leave home without when travelling with kids?
A plan. Research the destination and have an adaptable itinerary. When travelling across challenging terrain, little works to schedule, so have a list of possibilities for every stop. Allowing for change spurs spontaneity; take advantage of circumstances. We missed the train for Agra and took a taxi there – a ride that at least two of us spent in prayer.
What was your worst moment on the road? How did you deal with it?
Two frights: First, he fell into a hotel pool in Udaipur while I was underwater and Suzy was organizing towels poolside. We each thought the other had an eye on him and, by the time I surfaced at the far end, he was in trouble. Suzy leapt in and I covered the distance in what felt like three strokes. I also lost sight of him at New Delhi’s international airport. It was only for minutes but I’d convinced myself he’d been whisked off and sold to a multinational human-trafficking ring. Only funny in hindsight.
How do you justify taking kids out of school? What should parents tell skeptical teachers?
You can learn about the world from textbook or by going online but nothing equals being there. The world is humanity’s classroom, one we should all experience as much as we can afford it.
Michael Palmer (michaelandrewpalmer.com) lives in Calgary with his wife and three children, Andrew, 10, Ryan, 8, and Jenna, 6. Currently he is finishing No Tranquilizers! 17,000 kms, 63 Days, 3 Kids, 1 Van, a book based upon his family’s cross-Canada trip.
What is your top tip for parents?
Parents shouldn’t get lazy and allow kids to get continuously tranquilized by screens while the scenery and experiences pass them by. Keep them engaged with what’s going on around them. And entertainment bags are a nice additive: Fill with books, puzzles, crafts and make one for each child. We made them easily accessible at the foot of their seats in the van.
What do you never leave home without?
We experienced two roadside pullovers involving tantrums, negotiations and ultimatums. It ended with an adjustment of the seating arrangement in our van involving the unpacking and packing of luggage, much to the amusement of drivers passing by, hammering on their horns. So there are two things we wouldn’t leave home without: patience and ABBA CDs. Sure, I wanted to burn those CDs by the end of our trip but while on the road, they became our therapist, our anthem.
How do you justify taking your kids out of school?
For our upcoming around-the-world odyssey lasting the better part of a year we’ll home-school the kids. Experiences will become our children’s text books – three dimensional, interactive, all-encompassing, 24/7, emotional, intuitive. You can’t put a price on that – it’s true-blue education. It builds the intangibles within a person’s mind that become so useful later on in life.
Nadia Carriere lives in Ontario with her three children and husband. ChildMode.com allows her to share her passion for family travel and luxury destinations around the world. Follow Nadia’s travel adventures on Instagram or Twitter @ChildMode.
What surprised you most during your travels (in relation to your kids)?
Their patience. My hesitation to travel with younger children was just that – my own personal fear. Kids are very resilient and do quite well as long as you prepare accordingly.
What is your top tip for parents?
Unplug and talk to your kids. Whether traveling by car or plane, this is a great time to interact and talk with your kids. Put away the digital devices and be present as a family!
What do you never leave home without when travelling with your kids?
Digital audio books and journals. Audio books are a great way to get in a good dose of literature. I like to encourage journaling as much as possible, especially on the road. It’s a great way for kids to record fun activities and important aspects of their trip.
What do you wish you’d known before your first big trip as a family?
That you’ll only need half of what you think you’ll need. Families (me included) tend to overpack, which wouldn’t be that big of a deal if you didn’t have to pay for luggage fees. With practice, we’ve scaled down and now manage to travel with one carry-on per person.