If you're considering taking your family on a round the world trip or family gap year, read our interview and tips from the Monneron family, based in France:
The trip: Paris - Phuket - Mumbai // Chennai - Bangkok - Sydney - Auckland - Papeete - Santiago // Rio de Janeiro - Paris
The Family: Luc Monneron, Karine Bourdais-Monneron and their 2 year old daughter, Valentine, from France.
Firstly, the age of our daughter. We wanted to travel before she had to go to school. We'd been thinking about this type of travel for a long time... we just had to do it! We're fortunate that French law allows us to take a one year sabbatical every four years if your firm has more than 200 people. On the other hand, we had no income!
We excluded all the countries where malaria is particularly dangerous, then we excluded all the countries we'd already visited. Finally, we didn't want to visit Africa this time. We'd prefer to visit Africa later when Valentine will be old enough to enjoy the safaris. Also, Africa isn't too far away..... so it's easier to do it later, several times!
With guides and information from the internet, but in reality our budget was not enough for travelling with a young child. We have realised that travelling with a little girl means making sure you always find rooms and hotels that are clean, safe and quiet, because of her rests in the afternoon. And because so many hotels are really noisy (even at night), this kind of accommodation is more expensive. For food, even if we shared, we often ate more than two peoples' worth of food. For transport, we often had to pay for a full price (or similar) ticket for our daughter, even though she was small. Over all, travelling with a small child means travelling really differently and this had a cost.
Yes. The lack of hygiene in some countries like in India (which isn't a great destination with a 3 year old), combined with the customs, sometimes made it hard. It is difficult to explain to a child, "please don't touch that!". We also found in some countries that local people wanted to touch her, especially in poorer countries. By the end, she felt some insecurity. In terms of food, you obviously have to choose food that your young child can eat and enjoy - sometimes it's easy, sometimes its a battle!
The best part is that we've been together every day. Between the ages of 2 and 3 there are so many changes and as parents, we have seen each of them in Valentine. It really is a great opportunity. We can also say now that we both know each other very, very, very well!
Activities: Anywhere with slides, swimming or sand castles! Countries: Definitely Australia (everything is planned for families, it's paradise!). Also Polynesia (Valentine spent all her time in the lagoon which made her very happy); Peru (we rented a flat for one month and it was almost like at home. She found a friend to play with and she even went to school!)
Australia, above all the others countries.
Good airlines: Air Tahiti, Qantas, Cathay Pacific
Bad airlines: LAN Chile, LAN Peru, LAN Argentina
Hotels: Difficult to say, there were so many! And we never stayed in any big hotels.
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