Summer Travel Series: Shanti, The Kensington Diary
- 17th July 2019
We talk to our favourite travel bloggers about what they’ve learnt from around the globe, their top travel tips, and what they have planned this Summer. Read on to get to know luxury travel blogger Shanti, The Kensington Diary.
Most likely to travel with: husband and son
Most likely to travel to: Cape Town
Hi Shanti! As a medical director (by day!), what inspired you to start a blog?
Great question! Even though I work in the medical field, many of my interests fall into the travel, art and fashion areas. In the past I used to work hard, party & travel hard as you would say, and often used to get many questions from friends and family regarding recommendations on places to go, where to eat, what to wear, etc.. Some also suggested quite a few years back, that I start a blog, but I didn’t really know much about the blogging industry then, as it was all still new. When I went on maternity leave, I started getting additional questions about travelling with our son Alexander, who took his first trip to Europe when he was 3 months old and long haul at 4 months, from new mothers and mums-to-be. I then realised that I could share really helpful tips and reviews on products and experiences, to help other families and parents-to-be. That was the start of my blogging journey.
What do think traveling as a family gives you in terms of new experiences and has it taught you flexibility as a new parent?
Travelling as a family is the most valuable experience. As working parents we truly switch off and enjoy every moment with our son. It’s our perfect undivided quality time. It allows us the possibility to explore new cultures, experiences and countries with him so he will be growing up with a broader perspective already, we believe. Travelling has made not just us, but him more adaptable and flexible. As he is exposed to new environments when we travel, even though he has a semi-routine (nap and meal times), he adapts so easily to new situations we are in. I’ve learnt to adapt his meals and nap times, how to keep him entertained with minimal toys, and it’s also amazing to see how much he changes & grows each time we travel. I can’t wait to share all pictures and videos we have of our adventures with him, when he is older!
What are your top tips for traveling with kids? What are the restrictions vs benefits? Are you all about routine or spontaneity?
My top tips are to be relaxed, get a packing list, research the country you are travelling to in advance, and talk to your kids about it, so that they can get excited about the new destination. The benefits are certainly that you are in a new exciting environment which most kids will love as it offers a new exploration & learning ground. On the downside, this might also be a little surprising for kids who don’t like too much change. I am the parent who mixes routine and spontaneity. We like to prepare by making sure our accommodation is prepared for our son in terms of space, things to do and also a few toys we bring along. We get a rough idea of what activities we might like to do in advance but most of the time we take each day as it comes and learn to change the itinerary if our son is maybe a little tired or not up for it.
Which countries are most conducive to family travel?
From the places we have been to with Alexander so far, definitely most Southern and Northern European Countries, US, South Africa and UAE. They are welcoming to families, hotels provide amenities to make kids will feel at home and they cater for kids at restaurants and in supermarkets (baby pouches for example). I advise always checking what viruses a country has. Avoid, for example, a zika-infected country when you are pregnant or have very young kids. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource for advise (https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html). Avoid temperatures that are too extreme. Kids don’t regulate their body temperatures as well as adults. The countries I mentioned are all safe for children from a health perspective and accommodation tends to be more conducive for kids.
What, in your opinion, are the activities to save on, and which are ones to spend on?
We tend to spend on activities that are not available in London, where we live, and that we know our son will enjoy. If it can be replicated in London, we usually prioritise it lower unless it offers something quite unique. In South Africa for example, we spent loads of time visiting the penguins & seals, on safaris, exploring the parks and children’s farms in the wine region, and splashing away at the beach. We spent less time at traditional parks and zoos as we are spoilt for choice with those in London. Most toddlers and younger kids have free entry to these experiences so that’s always also another plus point. We don’t buy into any experiences our son won’t enjoy and don’t take him along for a specific exhibit at a museum for example (even if we might love it), unless he has an interest.
What have been your child’s favourite destinations? Is it trickier to have city breaks or beach breaks?
Alexander definitely loved Sardinia and South Africa the most it seems. Both countries have loads of child friendly activities (safaris, zoos, penguin colonies) and beaches. Mediterranean beaches in particular are great for kids as there are many shallow water areas, the waves are not too wild, and sandy beaches are a hit with most kids. It’s definitely easier to have beach breaks with a toddler. Most kids love the water so it’s easy to keep them occupied at the beach and making sand castles. City breaks tend to be interesting if you have the right activities planned for them, but more breaks are needed, and your itinerary has to have more flexibility, especially if you have younger kids.
Lastly, what are your summer plans?
We’ve been spoilt this Spring/Summer and so far have been to the South of France, Sardinia (Italy) and Germany. We will most likely be heading over to Greece or Portugal towards the latter part of the season for another beach break.
You can keep up to date with Shanti on The Kensington Diary.