You probably never hear an exotic or exciting travel experience, like hiking in Peru or exploring India, suggested as being “kid-friendly.” Maybe it’s because traveling can be stressful enough and jetting off to a thrilling locale is packed with unpredictability, but whatever the reason — there’s a disconnect when people think about seeing the world and bring their children along. It seems a lot of travelers believe being parents prevents them from chasing their globetrotting dreams (at least before the kids are teenagers)
But Katja Gaskell begs to differ.
While most people seem to think a kid under the age of 10 (or worse, in diapers) is the last companion you’d want on an international adventure, Gaskell, a mother of three, is proving them wrong. A co-founder of Globetotting.com, she regularly writes about her experiences living abroad with her family in Australia, India, and Mexico, as well jetting off to journeys to Asia and Canada.
“It’s always hard to narrow down your travel experiences so I’ll give two,” she says when asked about her favorite family trip. “The first is trekking in Nepal with my kids and my parents when my children were 4-1/2 and 2-years-old. This was honestly one of our most memorable family holidays ever.
“The second is exploring Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, as a family. We’d since welcomed another baby into the world and our early-morning boat ride across the still waters in search of bears was one of those magical, cinematic moments that you never forget.”
A veteran travel writer, Gaskell has penned guidebooks for Lonely Planet (sharing her knowledge on visiting China, Australia, and India), composed hotel reviews for the luxury hospitality brand Mr & Mrs Smith (where she’s “discovered the finer things in life”), and written for Hotelier International, BBC Food, and many more.
Along her travels she met Victoria Westmacott, a fellow travel writer and parent. Both were living in New Delhi at the time and were frustrated by the lack of reliable info about traveling around India that wasn’t geared towards backpackers or visitors with high-end tastes. They found nothing reliable for family travel. That annoyance would eventually lead the two to launch Globetotting, a web destination created to meet the gap they found in the travel market: adventurous family travel.
“We are big believers that you can – and should! – take your kids everywhere,” says Gaskell. “Cuba rather than Disneyworld for example.”
But despite being an advocate for fearless family travel, Gaskell admits she’s not immune from the hardships of hitting the road with kids that many parents fear. “We’ve had lots of canceled flight stories with kids, which are never fun,” she says. “Possible our worst was when we found ourselves stranded in Newark Airport during ‘snowmaggedon’ (the Polar Vortex of 2014) with two small children and no winter clothes. Not an experience any of us want to repeat!”
For Gaskell, such experiences are par for the globetrotting course and she advises remembering that can be key to keeping one’s paternal patience. “Don’t expect everything to go perfectly,” she explains. “Flights may be canceled, trains delayed, hotels double-booked…that’s the nature of travel!”
Looking for a new undiscovered destination? Gaskell suggests Mexico City. “[It] has been on people’s radars for the last year or so and I’d say that it’s definitely a city on the up with lots to offer.”
Gaskell also advises that trekking parents shouldn’t be so concerned that their children will love the same parts of the trip as them. “If you think your kids will be as excited as you about the ancient city, world-famous museum, or award-winning restaurant, then you will probably be sorely disappointed! They’re more likely to remember the local ice cream shop than a wonder of the world,” she says. “And that’s OK!”
Oh, she recommends taking it easy on the road. “Don’t try to do too much, Gaskell says. “It’s better to travel slowly and for everyone to enjoy themselves than to try and cram your itinerary full with every sight and attraction possible.”
In the end, Gaskell stresses her ultimate goal is to inspire parents to share the joy of travel with their kids, wherever it takes them. “Travel doesn’t have to be to the other side of the world, it can be to your neighboring village,” she says. “But the more you leave home with kids in tow, the easier and more enjoyable it gets.
— OneTravel (@OneTravel) February 21, 2017