Henley Vazquez, co-founder of Passported, an online travel agency for families who want to travel the world in style, gives her best advice on how to pull off a successful vacation with the kids.
Traveling with kids is a big stress for parents. Even adventurous ones. How does Passported tackle trip-planning with the clan?
Passported started out of frustration with the way travel involving children was treated — either as something impossible and terrible or as the kind of vacation that could be solved only with Disney or an all-inclusive package.
Despite working in the industry myself, I couldn't find a good source of information for bringing my kids to places like Ibiza or Jose Ignacio or Thailand. We wanted to provide support to other parents who wanted to travel well and with children. My daughter had her passport before she was two months old, and now her brother comes with us everywhere as well. It helps that my in-laws live in Spain, so I was forced to attack the overnight flights and longer trips from the get-go.
Can you give general tips or a specific rule of thumb for parents traveling with young kids?
You may have backpacked around South America before kids, but winging it is not an option when you've got little ones along for the ride. There's no destination that is off-limits for children as long as you've planned well. For example, always pair an activity with a meal. Knowing where to get a decent lunch after visiting the Tower of London or how to score the best fried chicken in Hong Kong is essential, particularly when your whole crew is jet-lagged. Things fall apart when people are hungry, tired, and need to make decisions. Plus, why waste a chance to eat something awesome?
My other tip is get on the local schedule immediately when you arrive. If you're somewhere like Cartagena, where dinner is later in the evening, let everyone take an afternoon nap so the kids can keep up. Although I'm a stickler for routines and bedtimes at home, there's nothing fun about sitting in a dark hotel room while the kids sleep. And throw any limitations on screen time out the window. iPads make the flights manageable as soon as the kids are old enough to pay attention to them.
HENLEY'S LIST FOR STYLISH PLACES THAT WELCOME KIDS
A Few Favorite Hotels
Harmony Hotel, Costa Rica
Guiones Beach, Nosara; +506-2682-4114
The coolest place to stay in Nosara, equally good for families and for couples getting away without kids. They book up way ahead of time and rooms are reasonably priced, so planning ahead is the only way to get in.
Hotel Esencia, Tulum, Mexico
Carretera Cancún-Tulum, k.m. 265, Quintana Roo; +52-984-873-4830
Whitewashed walls, mid-century furnishings, and a house party vibe — kids and adults make new best friends while hanging around the pool eating as much guacamole as possible. It's just twenty minutes north of Tulum, so you can hop into town for lunch without straying too far from this super private, boho-chic hotel.
Le Bristol, Paris, France
112 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré; +33-01-5343-4300
Totally the polar opposite of the first two I mentioned. This is over-the-top Parisian with a rooftop pool and two resident cats that kids adore. It's not cheap, but it's the place to splurge.
Four Seasons and Rosewood Hotels, Worldwide
When you need an easy vacation, a great kids' club, and the ability to turn off a bit, you know their resorts are going to pull through. As much as I love to get off the beaten path and be adventurous with my family, there are still times when this is exactly the kind of break we all need.
A Few Favorite Restaurants
Cami de Balafia, Ibiza, Spain
Carretera San Joan de Labritja, k.m. 15.4; +34-9-7132-5019
Grilled meat, tomato salad, and french fries served on a simple patio underneath a lemon tree. This is my favorite dinner in Ibiza.
Panther Coffee, Miami, Florida
2390 N.W. 2nd Ave., 33127; +305-677-3952
The place to grab a morning latte before visiting the Wynwood Walls in Miami.
Paloma Beach, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
1 Route de Sainte-Hospice; +33-4-9301-6471
Casual eats for lunch or dinner. Sunset dining while the kids play in the water is pretty much perfect.
Sunset Beach, Shelter Island, New York
35 Shore Rd., Shelter Island Heights; +631-749-2001
Shelter Island is my happy place, and Sunset Beach is the best spot for a fun lunch with friends. The kids play ping pong and splash in the water, you watch the sea planes landing, and there is no Hamptons traffic.
Context has amazing tour guides around the world, including many who know how to educate and entertain kids at the same time. I'm currently obsessed with British Museum guide Lawrence Owens, who blew my daughter away with stories of Aztecs and ancient civilizations and tales from the active archeological digs he runs in Peru and Egypt.
A luggage shipping company that's great for getting your stuff around so you can travel with a carry-on. I use it for ski trips so I don't have to worry about suitcases with snowsuits disappearing on a layover.
They take the pictures so you don't have to. I often travel alone with my kids, and I tried the service in Lisbon last year. We finally have cute photos of us!
In Hong Kong, if you want to get skyline views from the water and don't want to pay a fortune for touristy harbor cruises, take the Star Ferry from Kowloon.