So good to interview Preeti Parameshwaran, a corporate executive who loves to explore this planet with her husband and son. This is part of my for my Family Traveler Series where I enjoy sharing stories and tips by ardent travelers. Dive straight in!
What kind of travel do you like to do with your family?
We like to travel to everywhere, whether it is Africa to see the wildlife or Barcelona to see a football match or to the North East of India to see the natural beauty of our country or to Mauritius to experience the beach life.
Why do you think family travel is important?
Travel is a great educator. The experiences that you gain are irreplaceable. It’s a great time for bonding as a family away from the home environment. Getting children involved in travel at a young age makes them more adaptable and makes them better travelers.
The whole process of planning the trip together, location, sightseeing, packing are as exciting as the travel too.
What resources do you use to plan your trips?
I usually go via a travel agency to help me customise my trip according to the budget and the places I would like to cover including visa formalities if it is an international trip. Travel sites like booking.com help me choose the property giving actual pictures and reviews. For within India trips, I usually check the net for reviews and do the bookings directly.
Share your favourite Indian and international travel destinations.
My absolute favourite international destinations have been Botswana to see the wildlife and just experience the raw natural beauty of Africa. Recently went to Prague which was lovely and Switzerland which lived up to its reputation of being one of the most beautiful places in the world. The other place we loved was Spain, there is so much to see and enjoy and it is just so incredibly unexpectedly beautiful.
Among the Indian destinations, we enjoyed Lachung in the north of Sikkim and Manipur for their unsurpassed natural beauty; and Ladakh for its amazing landscape.
Share some travel tips you have used to keep kids engaged during travels.
Simple word games during travels like Atlas, Pictionary, card games, name/place/animal thing. Get them to pen a few lines daily as a simple travelogue for fond memories. Keep engaging them by explaining what is happening, what you are seeing etc, don’t leave them alone with their iPad or phone for too long.
What are your top tips for parents traveling with toddlers?
Start young, that’s the best advice so that you don’t have to plan holidays revolving around children trying to entertain them instead of having the holiday you want. It should be the other way around. Take your holidays as you would enjoy them, historical places, places with natural beauty and the children will learn to appreciate all this at an early enough age.
A lot of people start when children turn 8 so that the child remembers the travels. I don’t subscribe to that since then your travels become more child centric and not your own.
Start young, start early, children learn to adapt earlier that way.
What’s the absolute travel essential(s) you would pack for on family trips?
A small kettle (absolute must for international and domestic travel), basic medicines, biscuits, milk powder and dry snacks and some ready to eat foods. Jam, Nutella etc which you can make a quick sandwich for in between meals. Cup noodles and ready-to-eat dishes like upma can be life savers. Keep sugar, salt and ketchup handy to make the food more palatable for younger children.
Mosquito repellant is a must too. I carry disposable cups and plates and basic cutlery as well along with little dishwasher liquid and soap. I always carry some liquid detergent that come handy in case you need to wash your clothes in an emergency.
What are your top ‘not to do’ on your trips?
Don’t overpack the clothes, it just becomes impossible to lug the bags around. One medium sized bag and one backpack for each family member is what we have finally figured out works for us so each one lugs their own bag.
Don’t bother buying too many souvenirs, you don’t end up using them eventually.
Try not to carry too much currency, I use a low limit credit card for my purchases.
What’s your top “tips for travel”?
Try to stay at service apartments wherever possible since it is possible to do your basic cooking, heating and more importantly it guarantees a little more space for the kids apart from working out well economically.
Get your international package with your mobile operator activated before you leave for emergencies and take a data card from a local service provider, while local card always works out cheaper than taking an international package from India; I prefer to keep at least the Indian package on for emergencies.
Read up about the place, just google and try and read up blogs or see you tube videos about the place so that you can cover whatever is required to be seen beforehand itself. Recently I heard a tip that take a picture of your luggage so that it is easy to identify during any lost baggage claim situation.
Preeti Parameshwaran is a banker by profession, who developed a love for travelling at an early age. She had parents who were avid travellers and thus started young. Preeti is a mother of a 12-year-old son who has inherited the travel genes and has a supportive husband who has developed his passion for travel over the years.
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Would you try an outdoor / adventure holiday with your family? Share with us in the comments section below.
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