Travel writer, Lydia Gard, explains how travelling with children doesn't mean that you should have to sacrifice adventure or style...
Before I had children, travel was a limitless horizon. You'd say adventure? I'd say send me heli-skiing! Drop me in a dense jungle! Mine's a horseback safari! Complete with frette linen and daily massages, thank you kindly.I always preferred to travel to cities with names I couldn't pronounce, and islands reached by a string of incrementally smaller planes and boats. Crucially of course, the hotel at the end had to be at once stylish and authentic; exciting and cocooning. Quite simply, I wanted the world on a plate. And the truth is, I still do.
Just as high fashion and a high IQ are not mutually exclusive, travelling with children does not mean that you should have to sacrifice adventure or style. I haven't lost my aesthetic sensibilities simply because I now have two small people in tow. Okay, the spirit of adventure has occasionally been tempered by the threat of malaria, the horror that is toddler jetlag, and sometimes the logistics of extra luggage. But, swapping a slow lap of the infinity pool for hurtling down a theme park water slide? I don't think so.
Travel is personal, visceral. One family's 'slept under stars' is another's 'night under damp canvas never to be spoken of'. We're no more aligned by having children than we are by having, say, feet. Yours in wedged Carolina Hererra espadrilles, mine in Penelope Chilvers' flats. Vive la difference! If not, just imagine the queues for sun beds? Personally, I'm still in pursuit of genuine luxury and substance, though my wish list has a couple more critical elements: space for a travel cot, availability of boiling water. When two have become three, four, five… there are more needs to consider, so it pays to think about what you need as a collective. If one wants downtime and another, recuperation (not the same thing, trust me) do you beach, spa or combine? Is a shared exploration likely to elicit harmony or quarrels? Smiling holiday snaps or snappy evening exchanges?
Then there's the extra opinions. Some children will burst into tears the instant a grain of sand spills onto their flip-flops, while others run straight to the water's edge and bury themselves up to the neck. One toddler may be stimulated by cooking, painting and dancing in a crèche, while another spends a happy week clasping a finger until they finally take their first steps across the terrace.
Families with older children might use downtime to reconnect with each other's busy lives, or spread into the far corners of a hotel for uninterrupted R&R, coming together at supper to share stories.
What your clan needs is going to be decided by the way you spend time together, rather than where you spend it. That's why Carrier's family escapes are set out by experience, rather than destination. Wherever you end up, by choosing a bespoke, tailor-made holiday you can be sure that even the most varying demands will be catered for. Except, perhaps, the 'going in a submarine with the Octonauts' one. You'll have to just pretend you didn't hear that.
Lydia Gard is a travel writer and regular contributor to many titles including Condé Nast Traveller and Tatler among others. She is the editor of Mr. Fox, the weekly email newsletter and website for modern, discerning parents. Dedicated to the pursuit of genuine luxury family travel, she rarely leaves home without her two boys in tow.