Editors of the new travel website, www.101familyholidays.co.uk, William and Sally Gray have spent the last decade researching and writing guidebooks for Footprint – starting with Travel with Kids, an award-winning guide to family travel worldwide, and, most recently, Cornwall with Kids. They have travelled extensively with their twins, Joe and Ellie, now aged ten. Ecuador was their last trip, Iceland is next (ash clouds permitting).
Cheapflights: What do you do when you travel – any routine procedures?
WG/SG: Leave things to the last minute is our usual routine. An hour before leaving we always play “hunt the luggage padlock keys”. And now that we have a neurotic labrador we always have to make sure she doesn’t see any packed cases in the days before we leave.
CF: What is your travel pet peeve?
WG: People who spoil magical moments, like getting a text message while gazing at Machu Picchu (oops, that was me!).
CF: What is your favourite kind of trip?
WG/SG: Taking our children and showing them how amazing the world is. To watch their faces, their expressions as they see things like the Taj Mahal or Victoria Falls is just as rewarding as the spectacles themselves.
CF: Best destination you have ever been to and why?
WG/SG: Difficult one. Probably our most recent trip to the Galapagos Islands. A wildlife cruise in itself is fantastic fun for a family holiday, but when it’s to this amazing archipelago with its extraordinary, fearless wildlife, it makes it extra special. How can we top snorkelling with sea lions, turtles and penguins? We also love touring holidays – South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe…
CF: Where in the world offers the best value for money?
WG/SG: With India’s growing network of low-cost flights it’s easier to see more of this vast country in one trip. We still like the trains out there though, and they’re also great value.
CF: Where would you pay to stay? Is there anywhere you think offers great value and a great deal?
WG/SG: For families, holiday parks in Europe offer some great deals, especially when you consider all the onsite facilities and activities for children. And we’d always pay to stay in a cottage in Cornwall – somewhere to get away from it all, close to a good surf beach for the kids, clifftop walks… Priceless. Classic Cottages (www.classic.co.uk) have the pick of the bunch.
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from and is there a tip to make this airport experience great?
WG/SG:Mmm, that’s a tricky one. In our minds, an airport experience is “great” anywhere as long as the check-in queues are small, there’s no delay on the flights, there’s somewhere to buy a coffee and (for Sally and Ellie) somewhere to grab a free squirt of duty-free perfume. We once arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, where a live band was playing Island in the Sun to the queue for immigration. That was a nice touch. Heathrow should try something similar…
CF: When you fly is there a tip you can share to make the experience a great one?
WG/SG: If you’re flying with young children, pack some surprises for them in your hand luggage. Also, make sure your holiday starts the minute you arrive at the airport. Relax, smile, treat everyone to their favourite magazine at WH Smith.
CF: As a travel specialist what is the most important piece of travel advice you can give?
WG/SG: If you have children, don’t delay. Start travelling now. Kids grow up fast and travel is a brilliant way to enrich their minds, and yours. Don’t underestimate what they can do/eat/walk etc. We took our twins hiking with Bushmen in Namibia when they were five and it still stands out as one of the best travel experiences we’ve ever shared.
CF: At one point in your life, you will have to sit in the middle seat when you fly. If you have two people next to you, who do you most want to share a long haul with and whom would you least? And why.
WG: David Attenborough and Bill Bryson. Why? Their passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for the world. Would least like to sit next to a flight bore who insists on recounting all their near-disaster flight stories.
SG: Colin Firth and Gary Barlow. Or if I’m feeling intellectual… Um, no, Colin and Gary would be fine. Would least like to sit next to someone with very broad shoulders who takes up more than their seat.
CF: If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
WG/SG: Finding ourselves (particularly with the children) anywhere where a volatile, dangerous situation suddenly arose.
(Galapagos Islands image – David Berkowitz)