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After having her son, Amie O’Shaughnessy, family travel expert and founder of Ciao Bambino, realized that seeing the world with kids is an entirely different ballgame. She shared her thoughts with TravelAge West.
Why is family travel different?Hand-selecting where you stay is truly important. The fact is, families like to stay in a single configuration; they don’t want to be down the hall from one another. A very real challenge, particularly in places such as Europe, is that you need configurations that actually sleep three or four people. Location is always important and, of course, you want to feel welcomed where you’re staying.
What are some places that are becoming more popular with families?Because of the accessibility of information on the internet, families are really going everywhere. As an example, I just got back from a trip to Colombia with my son. We saw tons of families there, and now we’re sending our clients there. The conflict and history of these destinations is part of the impact. In Bogota, we took an amazing graffiti tour, which is an important social communication mechanism in a lot of countries.
Why do you think traveling as a family is so important?In addition to creating global citizens and the awareness of what different people are doing around the world, I like to say we all need to disconnect to reconnect. Our daily lives are full of structure and interruption, and leaving that kind of environment (and you don’t even need to go far) is practically the only way to escape and actually be present with one another.
Do you have any advice for agents who are working with families?The age of the kids ultimately needs to be the driver for the destination you’re selecting, the route that you’re recommending, where you’re staying and the activities you’re doing. Some suppliers think working with children means providing a cute picture book and milk and cookies at bedtime. Well, that might be great for a 3-year-old, but every age and stage has different requirements, so you need to understand what those are.