Boston parents Tif and Ali Elidrissi globetrot with two daughters, Rania, 10, and Nahla, 9, at least once a year. Originally from Morocco, they speak French, Arabic and English, while their daughters have a fourth language — Chinese — under their belts. They got to use it last year in Asia. Here’s how the family adventures together.
Q. What’s your “travel philosophy?”
A. Discover the world and come back rich!
Q. What made you want to travel as an adult and how has that rubbed off on your kids?
A. When I was a child, I always wanted to be a pilot or work for an airline. My husband and I both love to travel. Now that we have kids, we want them to experience the world for themselves. Traveling introduces them to new things; they get to meet and interact with people in all walks of life, which make them become more social and open-minded. My kids understand there are many different cultures and we have to respect them all. Whenever we go to a new place, they can’t stop talking about it back home months after; my girls have been traveling since they were about six months old.
Q. Do people think you’re “crazy” for traveling with your kids or do they applaud you? Do you make sure to have separate couples’ trips in addition to the family vacations?
A. Some would applaud while others think we are crazy! When my first daughter was 5 months old, we took her to the Bahamas, and this pregnant lady came to me and told me I was so brave for bringing my “fragile” baby to an island. I believe the baby years are among the best to travel with the kids, they sleep most of the time and they are portable — and they never complain!
Q. What passport stamps have you gotten in the past five years as a family?
A. My kids love the beach, so we’ve taken them to many Caribbean islands, like Barbados, Turks & Caicos, St. Croix, Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico. But also Canada, Morocco, France, China and Costa Rica, too.
Q. What’s next on your bucket list?
A. Fiji, New Zealand, Peru, Dubai, Japan, South Korea, Iceland … It looks like the destinations are getting further and pricier!
Q. Advice for other parents bringing kids?
A. Don’t be afraid, but plan for everything. Get immunizations, check that everyone’s passport is up to date, get GPS coordinates for the nearest hospitals, pharmacy, supermarket, the U.S. embassy (and print everything out in case your phone dies). Pack the medication, wipes, hand sanitizers and anything you use on a daily basis. And, of course, be patient!
Q. Biggest challenge of traveling with kids (planes, boredom, food aversions?) and how to deal with it?
A. My girls love airports and planes; they don’t mind long trips and have never complained. They try to keep themselves entertained with books and iPads. Even when they were little, once the plane took off, they would fall asleep. The only challenge we have is one of my daughters has a food allergy; we stay at American hotels and take them to eat at the food chains we are familiar with.
Q. Do your kids complain about not going to Disney or are they cool with your adventures?
A. We’ve given them the choice to go there but they’ve always picked a new adventure.
Q. How do you determine booking a kids’ club or a hotel that’s good for kids vs. an AirBnB?
A. The only time I picked a kids’ club was last year in Morocco, I wanted them to be busy all day and have fun with other kids. I do lot of homework before I book — reading reviews and/or emailing the owners/the hotels with all my questions.
I have always used VRBO.com and was never disappointed. Going to the islands we never stay at all-inclusive hotels, but we always get a rental car. We love to go to the local supermarkets, drive around and discover the cultures and the places on our own. We enjoy talking to local people and hearing about their country.
In China, we opted for an American hotel; the front desk spoke English, which made our stay comfortable. They helped us with the guide, called the cabs for us, helped us find good places to eat around the hotel and more.
Q. What’s your budget advice?
A. Reserve airplane tickets in advance, depending on the season, since some countries are cheaper to fly to in certain months.
Q. Any airlines and hotels you find that are kid-friendly?
A. The girls love flying with American Airlines; they sent the CEO a letter and he mailed them back. They were ecstatic.
Q. Top tip for planning?
A. Get the kids involved!
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