Kyle McCarthy is the co-founder and editor of Family Travel Forum’s vacation websites and has taken her family across four continents to complete 12 guidebooks for the Frommer’s series as well as stories for Child, Condé Nast Traveler, Departures, Wired, Backpacker and Cosmopolitan. She agreed to answer a few questions about her experiences and advice for traveling, specifically with tots in tow.
Cheapflights: What do you always do when you travel – any routine procedures?
Kyle McCarthy: I always pack the day before I leave, because it give me enough time to calmly review my wardrobe and leave half of it behind. This works well with kids, too, who can be very insecure about leaving possessions behind. As a Mom, I look at the itinerary of any family vacation and try to decide in advance what we can leave out. When we’re together, everyone is usually so tired and stressed out from work and school that the time we spend in a hotel room watching TV with room service is as special as catching the latest museum show or being first on the slopes.
CF: What is your travel pet peeve?
KM: Among minor pet peeves — like a hotel room that smells of smoke – it’s sitting between two large guys on a full flight. They always hog the armrests.
CF: What is your favorite kind of trip?
KM: I love every type of destination but my favorite trips are those taken with my family. In addition to the romance of discovering new things with my husband, we have the joy of seeing the world through a child’s eyes.
CF: What’s the best destination you have ever been to and why?
KM: There are too many bests and too many whys, but the places where local culture endures despite globalization are my absolute favorites.
CF: Where in the world do you think offers the best value for money?
KM: I was in Colombia last year and that beautiful country offers tremendous value for money. When I was writing about Southeast Asia for the Frommer guides, I would have said Asia, but prices there – still great value compared to the West — have risen over time.
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from, and is there a tip to make this airport experience great?
KM: That’s a toss up between Schiphol in Amsterdam and Changi in Singapore. At either, I would say the best experience would be to have enough time to enjoy all that these airports have to offer in terms of free city tours, great shopping, hip restaurants, mini-museums, cinemas and fun pools. With kids, you have to make getting there as fun as being there, and they do just that.
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 you most want to share a long haul with and whom would you least?
KM: I would love to share a row with Barack Obama and Shaun White, two people whose intelligence shines through their work. I think it would be fascinating to learn more about what motivates them to continue in very tough careers. As for least-favorite seatmates, it would have to be parents who ignore their kids’ needs to the detriment of other passengers. Crying babies don’t bother me if I can share tips with a receptive parent; it’s the ones who just put in their ear buds who drive me crazy.
CF: If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
KM: There are no bad trips. I always say about travel: “Today a nightmare, tomorrow a memory.”