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Family travel: Tips from an expert

By JD Rinne
January 12, 2022
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Traveling with kids can be rough. We talked with Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco, author of The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies & Young Children, for some tips for parents—including great Web resources.

Traveling with kids can be expensive. Do you have an advice for parents about keeping costs down?

Don't have too many children! More seriously, though, travel doesn't have to be expensive. After all, tickets, accommodation and food for babies and infants are pretty much free. More importantly, older children really don't need tailor made Disney-type experiences. I'm always struck by the things children mention as the best bits of their travels: a kitten, the stream, sleeping in a tent or cooking out of doors. Children don't need luxury—although parents might!

There are plenty of economy tips for families in the book, but one of the biggest savings you can make is in the area of accommodation—for instance, you can swap homes (homelink.org), including homes pre-adapted for special needs (matchinghouses.com), camp for next to nothing, or volunteer on small farms around the world in return for food and board (wwoof.org).

Tell us about your book. What advice can parents find in it?

Well for starters, the book is designed to work for families traveling with one or both parents, babies as well as older children, and children with special needs. I’m hoping parents will be able to hang on to it for some years and find it useful for very different kinds of trips. In terms of content, most of the book centers on preparation—all the things parents need to think through and do before leaving home: health, insurance, accommodation, keeping the budget down, packing, entertainment, preparing the children, etc.—as well as issues for different types of transport and trips.

What do you never leave home without?

Lots of things—and that's usually part of the difficulty—"essential" is a very relative term! But wet-wipes get the thumbs up from most parents—they are incredibly useful for keeping clean on the go.

What is your number one tip for getting kids through the boring parts of the trip?

Well if it has to be one, it would be to see travel as an opportunity to spend time with your children. Just being prepared to talk and read to them, play games and so on, sets the kind of mood which helps everything fall into place.

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