Travel writer Pauline Frommer is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host on WOR NewsTalk Radio 710 and publishes a series of award-winning worldwide travel guides. Pauline has been traveling since she was a child and now shares her passion for exploring the world with her daughters, ages 8 and 12.
I was fortunate enough to take her guidebook seminar at the annual Travel Writers and Photographers Conference in Corte Madera, California and witnessed first-hand how Pauline evaluates and describes experiences. Her remarkable insight and engaging descriptions flow naturally. If you want to be inspired to travel — with or without kids — meet Pauline. You can follow her on Twitter @PaulineFrommer.
Pauline Frommer and her family in Northern Ireland
What is your favorite destination with your kids?
Anyplace that has outdoor attractions. I’ve raised city kids so when they go to places that have natural features, or even just water, they will spend hours playing outside. Even our European vacations include days spent out in the open. We recently visited Ireland and my kids loved scrambling over rocks and simply being outside.
Do your kids share your passion for travel?
My little one does and the older one does not. They are very different kids. My older daughter takes after her father and needs hotel downtime while my youngest can constantly be on the go. We try and make it work as a family but sometimes we choose to split up.
As my older daughter is now 12, social interaction is paramount. Tweens start to have trouble being out of touch with their friends back home. So, to keep the peace, we make sure to give her time to email and text her buddies.
Is there any destination you wouldn’t go with kids?
It depends on the age of the children. When my kids were babies I was nervous about taking them to places without good medical care. Now that they’re older, I wouldn’t bring them to Iran, Iraq or crazy dangerous regions. There are some countries that people consider dangerous that I take a more nuanced view of, like Mexico for example. It’s a huge country and while I wouldn’t bring them to the border regions, there are many areas that are safe where I’d have no qualms visiting with my daughters.
What resources do you use when planning a trip?
I use guidebooks authored by writers who visit every major hotel in an area and dozens of minor ones. As a result, their recommendations are based on a large pool of information. In addition, many guidebook writers live in the destination they cover so they constantly have access and updates on resources. This perspective is essential as many people who write reviews on user-generated sites have just visited one place with no comparative data points.
What are your tips for incorporating budget travel into family travel?
Don’t assume that budget travel is not possible with kids — they might actually prefer it. A big tip is that kids love to rough it. They get excited about traveling to interesting places and staying at unusual accommodations that aren’t standard hotels. Kids are happiest when they’re in a tent in a national park. The outdoors is the cheapest type of vacation.
We were in England recently and had a great time at a bed & breakfast with no bathroom in the room and no TV. This forced my kids to go to the lounge where they met other kids.
Hostels can be great too, as they love meeting the teen and early 20’s travelers, but one of the best things for families to do is to rent an apartment or exchange their home with another family. Rentals have access to a kitchen; this is helpful given that food can be tricky with kids. My children pick at restaurant meals and then are hungry an hour later. And when you exchange homes with other families, they come with bikes, games, and socket covers.
Budget travel also teaches a moral lesson. If a vacation is a luxury blow out, it becomes more about the room service and the size of the swimming pool and less about the destination itself. Travel is not about the hotel but about the history and culture of the places you’re visiting.
WOR710 is hosting a giveaway right now for $5,000 in airfare, a $500 American Express Gift Card, and a 5-year membership to HomeExchange.com.
Entries must be received by 11:59 EST on October 14, 2011. Click here for more information.