An interview with Candace Queathem @cqueathem
Do you ever look at families travelling with young children and wonder how they do it? Prior to the pandemic, my husband and I rarely travelled with our kids but our friends Candace and Eric are the masters of it. They have encouraged us to take our kids with us. It’s more work but also more fun. Even during covid, this amazing family haa managed to get away frequently. I interviewed Candace about how she and Eric do it back in late 2019 but when I was about to post it, the pandemic hit. Finally, it feels right to post it but keep in mind that this was almost 2 years ago when life was very different. There is some amazing advice on everything from jet lag to packing tips.
I feel like you are constantly travelling with your little ones. How often do you go away? How often are you on a plane with them?
We love 48-hour and 72-hour trips with kids. Living in London, we have so many great short flights at our fingertips, so we're able to go out of town with less fuss. My husband also travels and expenses a lot for work, so we are fortunate to have flight and hotel points to work with. In peak travel months, we are gone at least two weekends per month. During the shoulder season (look it up! it's a thing!), we are gone more. For instance, our October looks like this: Eric in China for work, Eric in NYC for work, Candace and Eric in Mauritius and Seychelles, Eric in Florida for work, Eric in Japan for work, Candace meeting Eric in Japan. We're on planes with the girls two or three times every month. We actually rarely train around Europe unless we're training around somewhere we've already flown to from London. At this point, I don't think I could count Riley's (2.5 years) total number of flights, but she's already blown through one passport and needed a renewal if that tells you something about her travel exposure! Lately she's been having dreams about airplanes when she sleeps. How do you keep it from getting cost prohibitive? What are your tips for sticking to a budget but still having an amazing experience? There are two parts to this answer. The first is that my husband chooses to be loyal to certain points programs very strategically (this could be a totally separate topic and I'm sure Eric would get right on it!). Our loyalty is with the Marriott group, Delta when we're primarily in the States, British Airways when we're in London, and AMEX for credit card points. It really does enable us to use free nights everywhere we go and even enables us to get our family back and forth to visit us for free. The upgrades to Business for international flights are almost sweeter than the free flights! The second part to it, with our travel experience we know what and how much to prioritize on trips. We try to research the best street food or market food and "go big" for just one Michelin rated restaurant in the country we are visiting. We prioritize experiences rather than consumption, meaning we don't shop much on vacation. Looking back, it's always worth it to me to forego the new bathing suit before the trip and souvenir procuring in the hotel gift shop in exchange for the half-day trip on the water we always try to do in beach locations. We try to stay at the airport on arrival and departure days and forego the central location if we're with our kids.
How much planning goes into your travel? Are you spontaneous or do you have a process? Eric and I make a great team when it comes to our trip planning. Eric is the booking master and I'm the big picture researcher. I put the vision of the itinerary and scenery together (pictures matter when you're not souveniering in any other way!) and Eric gets the flights and hotel in place. Once we have the bare bones of transit and accommodation in place, we usually plan our one or two nice dinners and book tickets for any experiences that require advance. Our spontaneity hit an all-time-high when we decided to visit our best friends in Australia over Christmas and bought our tickets in mid-December. Best decision! Sometimes it pays off and sometimes you just simply pay more that makes sense for being spontaneous Give it to us straight...how do you keep your kids happy and quietish in an airport/on a plane? Choosing the right flight time is the important thing here. Even the best behaved kid will vocalize discomfort when he's on a miserably cramped night flight. We try to set the girls up for best possible behavior, even if that means I'm traveling by myself and Eric is having to meet us somewhere. I try to keep in mind that if it's a less desireable flight for me, kids just feel the same emotions and fail to filter when comes from those feelings. So, day flights day flights day flights. And, start the white noise at an early age so that you can use it as a cue for naptime if it has to be on a flight. While we don't want our kids to be consuming too much media at home, I don't monitor it as heavily on planes. It's ok to me that my kids check out with media for a day, because the alternative is that they recognize and track that they are cramped, regulated and stuck in place for an unnatural amount of time. When that doesn't work, I've had a lot of success with flashcards, Riley eats up a learning activity where she's the sole focus, and "busy bags" that let you empty out the random junk drawer with curious trashable trinkets. We also have amazing kid magazines in the UK with stickers and mini toys and I stock up on those like crazy. Not to mention the gallon bag of snacks I roll with. Plane snacks just don't do the trick and airport kiosks are so damn expensive. Tips on jet lag? This is the one that really sometimes just kicks the most experienced travelers in the ass when kids are in the picture. Plain and simple, an adult can medicate jet lag away, a kid usually can't. While melatonin works for some kids, the sleeping aids appropriate for little ones always end up being more of a risk than a reward for me. Both my girls are fighters, and if they fight sleep while being forced-drowsy, it's a unique type of shit show. The best answer we've found for this is not to stay in bed at that 3 o' clock hour that your kid is bright eyed. Instead, wake up, go for a drive, pick up some donuts and put them (and yourself) down for an early nap.