While doing research for their new Jaguar Stones series of children’s novels (you may have seen the first in the series, Middleworld, featured on the Today Show), authors Pamela and Jon Voelkel, along with all three of their children, visited numerous Mayan sites—from the most famous to some of the most remote—throughout the Yucatan and Central America. Pamela was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions about their family’s travels, and offered her own commonsense tips (see below) to those of you who may be considering more adventurous travel to the region with your own young children.
Q: How old were your children the first time you took them to Central America?
Pamela: The first time we traveled to Central America to research The Jaguar Stones Series, our children were ten, eight and two. I was extremely worried that the youngest would get eaten by jaguars or something, but in the event, the worst thing was trying to make her swallow the anti-malaria medicine before we went.
Q: Had you traveled much with your children before that?
Pamela: We’ve always traveled with our children, right from when they were born, because Jon’s family lives in Arizona and mine are in England, so we’ve flown to and fro zillions of times. Our first major adventure as parents was a 36-hour, 3-leg flight from London to Fiji when our oldest child was 18 months. He was never a sleeper, so we took it in turns to have two hours on and two hours off. During your shift, you were responsible for baby’s every need. But during your blissful two hours off duty, it was all the other parent’s problem. That worked very well and it set the pattern for future trips. Now our two oldest help us keep the little one amused.
Q: What was your most challenging moment traveling with young kids?
Pamela: We’ve definitely had some rock-bottom moments, mostly involving projectile vomit, but I believe that travel has brought us together as a family.
Q: What do you think has been the best thing about sharing these adventures with your kids?
Pamela: At home, everyone has their separate friends and interests. But when you’re huddled together in a thatched shack as a troop of howler monkeys scream like banshees on your roof in the middle of the night, it’s quite a bonding moment. For adults, the big bonus of traveling with children is that it’s easier to get talking to the locals. If you don’t feel like taking in the sights, just sit in the park or the town square – you’ll make new friends and learn a lot about local culture.
Related posts, pages, and chapters:
Food and water safety tips for travel with babies and young children
Healthy travels with babies and young children + in case of illness
Chapter 8 of Travels with Baby: Going farther afield