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Meet Priyanka – the vacation pre-planning ‘ninja’

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Meet Priyanka Chaudhery who loves to explore the world with her husband and son. This is the first of many Family Traveler series – interviews with families that love to travel, can’t get enough of new experiences and love creating lasting memories.

I enjoyed exchanging notes with Priyanka on why she thinks family travel is important, memorable destinations and ideas on how to make the trip fun for everyone. Let me dive right in!

Priyanka atop the Burj Khalifa, what an experience!

What kind of travel do you like to do with your family?

We love traveling! Of course, that means planning your next vacation while you are on the flight back home and promising to come back to the city you just visited.

Anything that gives us a chance to explore something new, a new cuisine (super important), new experiences, sights & sounds, anything that’s an adventure and we come back richer and smarter!

Oh, and I’m a vacation-pre-planning ninja so we don’t get to wing-it 🙂

Why do you think family travel is important?

Working parent(s) need to make opportunities for quality time with their kids. My husband and son have an hour to spend together on weekdays, mostly spent negotiating bedtime and waking up time, so we need constructive family time! Vacations are the perfect time to get to know your kid, their lives and have them open up to you.

Shared experiences and adventures have a way of creating bonds, laughs and stories that can be retold forever!

The three Musketeers on one of our restaurant endeavours. An adventure always awaits!

Our recent favourite was when dad got himself repeatedly stuck in the carousel at a metro station, and my son and I were laughing uncontrollably. Of course, the lesson learnt was on how to use the metro as well.

What resources do you use to plan your trips?

I love to use Airbnb for apartments, it works well to have living spaces when traveling as a family.

Fodors and Frommers, both have fantastic itineraries and travel suggestions. Another favourite is Rick Steves, who also features many travel forums.

For food, Yelp and Zomato have tried and tested reviews that are failsafe.

Share your favourite Indian and international travel destinations.

Gulmarg is a stunning gem, and words can simply not do justice to how breathtaking a place can be! If you haven’t been yet, I suggest pack your bags and go now.

And as cliched as it sounds, Goa. There’s something about the sound of the sea that’s so soothing. They coined the word susegad. There’s a Goa for every budget, for every type of traveler and for every season! Fab food and stunning sunsets, vacation win-win!

Packing bags for a long flight? Portugal all the way! It’s gorgeous in summer and winter, the weather is fantastic, prices are reasonable, people are amazing, food is better and it’s breathtaking. No kidding. It’s going to be where I build my make-believe vacation home.

A view of Porto from Gaia, where wine is never a bad idea.

Closer to home, I have to say, Sri Lanka. Whale watching, tea gardens, cardamom fields, pristine beaches and the biggest smiles you can imagine! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s filled with beautiful boutique resorts!

But be warned, I fall in love easily, my heart lies everywhere from London to San Francisco to Bali.

 

Share some travel tips to keep your son engaged during travels.

My 8-year old now helps me to research our holidays. So he stays involved from the get-go. I use Youtube, for sure, they have fantastic videos to help your child get acquainted with your travel destination.

Give them a sense of responsibility, from planning to helping you pack. A sense of ownership and partnership, even if it’s just letting them hold their own ticket.

My personal favourite? Google map every ice cream spot in the vicinity of where we stay. A big hit!

Me and Little A, on top of the Austrian Alps.

Or figure out every means of transport in the city and take a new one every day. Always fun!

What are your top tips for parents traveling with toddlers?

They can smell your fear.

Ok, too dramatic.

They are tiny mirrors of your mood. Anxious? Panicked? They will mirror it. Just try to be calm, they create their own storms anyway.

And everyone has either had or will have or is related to young children, so don’t be embarrassed or overly apologetic for their behaviour!

Also, my handbag always has snacks. Always. You never know where hunger strikes.

For more Travel Tips, do read – Travelling the world with a Toddler 

What’s the absolute travel essential(s) you would pack for your son?

I’m not averse to giving my son access to supervised technology. So my iPad travels everywhere with us.

Wet wipes are another must have, many incidents have been avoided thanks to them.

Medicines (duh) – not all countries have familiar brands and you don’t want to make midnight runs in an unknown place.

And hand sanitizer. I have a boy. Enough said.

What’s your top ‘not to do‘ during travels?

Don’t try to do EVERYTHING. It’s a vacation, not capital punishment.

Enjoy the little things, get lost a little, sit in a park, walk by the river, breathe! Then you won’t need a vacation after a vacation!

Do-nothing-days are the best! Relax and unwind 🙂

What’s your top ‘must do‘?

Reservations! Wherever you can, restaurants, theatres, museums, theme parks.

You don’t want to reach for your stress ball when you’re 700th in line at the Louvre or waiting 40 minutes in 40 degrees for a ride at Disney. Most of these fast-track or skip the line services are purchasable before your trip at reasonable rates. Trust me THIS will be the best money you spend!


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Priyanka left the corporate world behind to raise her son and eventually pursue a career in wine. She now enjoys blogging (check out her blog Princess SmartyPants) and exploring other passions including travel, food and yoga.


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