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Founder’s note: Experiential travel and children

Families with young children should not shy away from experiential travel - it can be incredibly rewarding for both parents and the children.

Words by Geordie Mackay Lewis

One thing that has been evident since the launch of Pelorus is that parents with young children are more tentative in their approach towards experiential travel. For years, the default has been to book a villa holiday with less moving parts because it seems easier and less stressful. These days, however, we can provide the same level of childcare and create a stress-free environment in more exotic corners of the world, meaning parents can relax and enjoy the innovative experiences we design for them. In fact, we relish the chance to work on a brief involving young children as it opens up a new immersive dynamic.

I believe that the greatest gift we can give the next generation is the opportunity to experience the best of what our planet has to offer – with the worsening effects of climate change and the endangered species list growing fast, this has never been more relevant. There are few more rewarding aspects to my job than seeing a child discover a new environment and being truly blown away by it.

The design process remains the same when young children are involved, as we still cover off all eventualities in every planning meeting to ensure a meticulous level of detail goes into safety and logistics. In this planning meeting we determine what the clients want their children to experience – once we know what the children like and dislike we can dive into the detail and build this into the itinerary. We also look into babysitters, tutors or even playmates to join the family if required. Finally, we identify ways for even the youngest member of the family to get involved in all the activities; for example, we use glass-bottom boats to allow children to watch their siblings and parents diving so that they feel part of the moment.

Our Private Adventures team recently created a survival experience on a deserted island in the Caribbean, where children learnt how to forage, fish and make fire; all while weaving a pirate theme into the day to make it as enjoyable as possible. We are currently building a Blue Planet experience for a mother and son in the Galapagos Islands, which will allow them to take part in a marine conservation project under the guidance of a dive master. We are confident it will be an experience the son will never forget and it’s a privilege to be part of that.

Many parts of Africa are also ideal for families as they offer such a range of different activities to keep all ages happy. Previously we have created treasure hunts across the deserts of Namibia, involving riding, quad bikes, a hot air balloon and an element of safari.

Another popular request is planning a series of experiences to make the most of children’s school holidays, involving an element of education to ensure they are taking something valuable away from each experience. These can run over the course of a year or five years. The timing and duration of school holidays means we can design very different experiences in very interesting parts of the world; places that offer plenty of variety to adults and children alike. Where applicable, we will draft in field experts to accompany the family to enhance the experience – it is one thing to snorkel incredible corals, but it is another altogether to experience it with a marine biologist, for example.

There are, of course, certain experiences and environments that aren’t suitable for young children. I would not recommend young children take part in some of our mountain experiences, however where possible we try and get them to meet the rest of their family at the top of a climb or bottom of a slope – if there is a way to ensure everyone can be involved in an experience, without compromising on safety, we will endeavour to make it happen. Our approach to experiential travel ensures that we are creating multiple itineraries every day to give each family member the opportunity to do something extraordinary.

If you are looking at planning an experience that is suitable for young children, we’d love to hear from you.

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