On family travel
The mother of travel guides shares her family travel secrets with KidTripster.
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah sat down with Pauline Frommer, editorial director for Frommer guidebooks and publisher of Frommers.com. She’s co-president of Frommer Media with her father, Arthur, and the two host a nationally syndicated, weekly travel radio show, which you can hear via podcast. She’s also the mother of two teenaged girls.
Growing up with your father as a travel guru, what was your most memorable travel experience as a child?
I met a boy in Greece when I was probably five or six. He didn’t speak English; I didn’t speak Greek, but we played for days. He showed me all these hidden places on the beach, and we went under the boardwalk. I was sure that he was going to be my best friend forever! I remember just adoring my time on that Greek beach, because I made a friend.
That tells you something about the value of travel.
Absolutely, I’ve brought up my children traveling. I think it makes them more open, more curious people. They understand that our way of life is not the only one.
What’s been your favorite family vacation with your own children?
My favorite family vacation with them was Belize, because for an entire week, they didn’t argue once! We had a different adventure every single day, like rappelling down cliffs and swimming into caves where the Mayans did ancient rituals and artifacts are calcified to the floor. It was just extraordinary! A guide took us into the jungle and showed us how to survive. And my older daughter, who’s a picky eater, ate an ant and declared it “minty.”
Sounds like the lesson there is, if you have teenagers, keep them busy.
Keep them busy. I think until they’re six, you don’t have to worry about your vacation being kid-friendly. I’ve seen so many people take babies to Disney World. That’s such an expensive vacation; they won’t remember it, and it means nothing to them. Take them when they’re seven.
What’s the one thing that you never left home without when you were traveling with younger kids?
I never left home without pipe cleaners. You can bend them and make them into all kinds of shapes. I’m kind of a militant mom; I didn’t let my kids have screen time until they were six. I really felt like they should be reading books that they held in their hands. So I had to be very creative, bringing along Cheerios, pipe cleaners, things for them to draw on, and books to read.
What are your three top choices for family travel destinations?
Belize is just extraordinary. Ireland is an amazing place for families to go. The Irish love children. I was at a B&B in Ireland when my younger child was one and the older one was five. And the older one was a little bored, waiting to go out to dinner. And the inn owner invited over neighbors to play croquet on the lawn with my daughter. That’s what they do in Ireland; they’re so friendly. It’s a great family-oriented vacation.
In the United States, go to our national parks. We went camping in Yellowstone. We’ve been to the Grand Canyon. I think it was the first time that my kids just stood silently in awe for 20 minutes, just drinking it in. The national parks are really our greatest treasure.