Its a great time to travel - kids open doors - enough said!!
1. Don’t go to Paris! Not joking – it took me a long time to find somewhere that would take a mum and toddler – finally someone sent me to a ‘cheapish’ hotel run by an English couple that would take young children! Think about the likely ‘rules’ in cheap accommodation – hostels and backpackers that you would want to stay in (this is assuming you don’t have a car and the ability to easily go camping) In Europe the southern zones are more flexible – Spain, Greece, Italy and it’s easier to pitch up at a backpackers and be able to share a bed with your toddler or have a spare little mattress thrown in at little or no cost, or, simply to get a cheaper single room than you would in the likes of the UK or Australia. It will always depend on the type of hostel what they allow and a lot of hostels now have family rooms, but they can be expensive. Next point....
2. Choose countries where kids are adored – yes back to Spain Italy Greece - but of course the whole of Central America and South America can pretty much be added to the list. It makes life a lot easier. It can also act as a great protection – in some of these countries I heard incessant tales of pick-pocketing woe etc but we were never touched – ever. My only problem in Central America (and maybe it’s not so much a problem now as this was back in 1993/4 ) was the number of child-loving locals who would literally run up to touch and hug my toddler daughter. She did get completely sick of it and it meant I had to keep her on my back a lot of the time to avoid too much hugging!! And - don’t forget Africa either.
3. Take it slow – don’t try and rush too much. If you are trying to push through a whole lot of places it will cost more – more transport, more quick grab food at the more expensive places by rail stations etc, higher accommodation costs than if you go slow and take the time to find a good cheap place that may have amenities (pets, swimming pools, a bit of garden etc) that will help entertain your child and give you time to relax.
4. Make the most of the fuss local people make of your kids – it is such a door-opener and you are going to get opportunities to meet families and make friends wherever you go just because of them. We got invited into the homes of all kinds of people on our travels – it was wonderful and made for great local knowledge - including where the cheap eats and the like were.
5. Equally enjoy the fuss of fellow backpackers. I often had my kids whisked away by other backpackers – telling me to go out and they would babysit because they wanted to hang with the kids (truly). My favourite were always the younger guys from the USA – wherever I went, they would be totally into playing ball or whatever with my toddlers or kids – fantastic time out for me and great entertainment for the kids –thanks guys!!
6. Take the free entertainment there is – kids tend to love watching street artists, playgrounds anywhere, other kids, interesting steps and walls and the like to jump and climb on, beaches, water and so on. Take it slow and give them time to enjoy what’s there – it gives you time to relax as well!
7. It goes without saying - choose the cheaper countries to start with – they tend to be more flexible as well and often don’t charge for kids on transport or accommodation – perfect!