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13 tips for raising a travel-obsessed child

Condé Nast Traveler US asked their young editors what they loved (and hated) about their childhood adventures: favourite memories, regrets, and rearview-mirror advice for their parents


By Bridget Hallinan and Louis Cheslaw, Condé Nast Traveler 

1

Start us young

I can clearly remember my first trip abroad: I was five, and my parents and I were exploring the Irish countryside, driving through County Tipperary to see where my father’s family came from. We ate in pubs, hiked to castles and saw a spectacularly large pig on a farm that made me question reality (seriously, this was the pig to end all pigs). Sure, I only ate chicken strips and chips in said pubs, but I credit that holiday with prompting little me to ask constantly: ‘Where am I going next?’ Curiosity was born. By Bridget Hallinan



2

Give us the guide books before the trip

In addition to Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, my bookshelves were lined with Rick Steves and Fodor’s Travel guides. My mum would encourage me to leaf through books to plan our trip itineraries: we’re talking restaurants, activities, even hotels (though I probably didn’t have nearly as much control over that as I thought). It got me engaged with the destination right away, and made the anticipation leading up to the trip that much better. Plus, some of the picks ended up being lifelong favourites – when we visited London for the first time in 2010, I dragged my parents to Indian Zing, a popular West London spot I'd read about when I was 15. We still talk about that curry. BH

Style & Culture

Let us pack our own suitcases

Since we were teeny (around six years old), my mother would always give my sister, brother and I our own packing lists. They weren't overly instructive, but prescriptive enough that we didn't end up with 25 T-shirts and no shorts. She'd list each item with its respective quantity (two pairs of jeans, five jumpers). It allowed us to pack what we wanted to wear and gave us some semblance of responsibility, which is monumentally important to children. By Erin Florio

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Indulge us a little

The day we would board our plane to America to visit family (we lived in Seoul at the time), my parents would give each of us 1,000 won – about 70p – and let us go to the local shop to spend it on the sweet of our choice for the plane ride ahead. This was the early 1990s, before planes had individual screens, so the promise of that treat mid-flight was as exciting then as realising today that your flight has the complete box set of The Sopranos. EF

Family Holidays

Sign us up for language classes (and make sure we stick with them)

My parents enrolled me in after-school Spanish classes when I was pretty young, around five or six. For two hours each week, I’d go over to the teacher’s house with a few other students and play computer games, have conversations, use flash cards ­– slowly but surely building a strong vocabulary. That is, until I decided to quit after six months. That’s still one of my biggest regrets to date: I barely remember any words (even after taking it again for two years in middle school), and to know it now, especially as a travel writer, would be extremely beneficial. BH



6

Let us fetch breakfast…

When I was about seven, my parents made the bold decision to let me go out onto the streets of Brittany, France ­– alone – to pick up breakfast for everyone. This was huge. I was only a year older than my twin siblings, but on those walks I felt I'd grown two feet taller. My parents must have known I would only ever be on the two streets that led to the bakery, but I felt as though I’d been given a whole universe to explore. I watched how locals ordered their coffees, how they spoke to each other. I felt as if I had my parents’ trust (which ultimately led to fewer fights). Although thinking about it now, I realise it might have just been an excuse for them to sleep in. By Louis Cheslaw

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Blog

… and order at the restaurants

Just because you’re excited to be at a new food spot in a cool place doesn’t mean your children feel the same. When your parents decide what you’re eating (and it’s almost always off the kids’ menu) it can feel as if you’re in the kitchen at home. So my parents began to brief me on the correct way to pronounce all the food we were ordering, so that I could order for everyone – yes, everyone – when the waiter came. Not only did it create a bond with the waiting staff for the whole meal (as long as they were patient), but it also gave me early confidence to talk to strangers, as well as respect – the fact that they understand English doesn’t give you the right to not make an effort. LC



8

Don’t tell us we’re 'almost there'

On long car rides I was a member of the clichéd ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ club. And though there was always a hit of instant gratification when I was told – for the 12th time – we were ‘close’, I now think I would have rather been told about the places we were driving through. I’m not saying parents need to know the ins and outs of every town, but it’s no wonder children feel the journey is taking forever when they don’t understand where they are or why there’s such distance left to go. I wish those clues had been turned into a game for me to spot. LC

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Blog

Off-grid adventures make us brave

For much of our childhood, my sisters and I couldn't believe we were forced to go camping while our friends were splashing around at beautiful Hawaiian escapes. I mean, really, tents? We were outraged. Of course, now I realise I travel as much and as far as I do because of those early experiences. A crash course in adventure in all its glory – the comfortable and uncomfortable – was the best lesson my parents taught me. By Megan Spurrell



10

Lead by example

Language can be intimidating when you're travelling, but we had an unfair advantage, given that my mother is fluent in four languages. We'd all go mute the second we landed and leave the getting around to her. She encouraged us to pick up some phrases and speak in the language of the country we were visiting, but I could be pretty shy. Still, she led the charge. Once, on a flight to Italy (Italian being a language she didn't speak), I watched her enthusiastically alternate between a phrase book and the Italian gentleman sitting next to her. She was practising, and he was gamely helping her. By the time we landed, she could steer us around Florence. Seeing how people responded to her taught me to get over my shyness and just start trying, not worrying about the mistakes I (inevitably) made. By Corina Quinn

Blog

Make us try new things

When we travelled, my mother always had one rule when it came to eating out: you had to try something new and unfamiliar (it possibly started when I tried to order a chicken sandwich at our first meal in Italy together). You didn't have to finish it; you just had to try it. It turned into a challenge that led to some adventurous dishes: frog’s legs and fried alligator, sweetbreads and reindeer. I found there was very little I didn't like, and I think it's made me a fairly adaptable traveller, since my only expectations for food are discovery. CQ

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Give us a break

Growing up, my mum would always book the earliest flight – I mean pre-dawn – and then wouldn't let us relax once we’d arrived at our hotel. She'd have an entire itinerary planned for the day, and we had to follow it to a T. It was more stressful than anything and really influenced the way I go on holidays now – I'm very go-with-the-flow and hate having a really structured schedule. By Alexandra Sanidad



13

Let us be the tour guides

My son just turned 13, and for our recent trip to Rome I encouraged him to read up on a neighbourhood or attraction we were going to and then conduct a tour for us with anecdotes and facts that he'd learned. I'd also put him in charge of plotting our route on Google Maps or leading the way to the metro stations. This got him really psyched and involved with the trip. AS
Inspiration, Family-friendly, Family Holidays

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U.S. Daily News: 13 tips for raising a travel-obsessed child
13 tips for raising a travel-obsessed child
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