Photo: Mike Goren
I’m Louis, AKA Explorason. I’m 11 years old and I travel the world with my mum. We’ve been to 65 countries in the past 4 years. and we are still traveling. I love my life, but sometimes I think parents need to understand how kids think about a few things. So I’m here to stick up for all the traveling kids and give you a few tips.
1. Don’t take us to too many museums, churches, ruins, or zoos and expect us to be excited and happy, or whatever you think we will be.
Because we won’t be! Us kids might cope with one or two churches, or ruins, but after a while they seem ALL the same. Room after room of BOOOOORING! I personally don’t like boring, old museums taking the real history and putting it all under one big roof. Why do I need to go to a museum when I am travelling? Take me to where I can ACTUALLY experience the real thing, because in real life, it is way better. Sadly in Cairo Egypt, we can’t experience the whole of the Sphinx’s — it is missing the NOSE, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte. (If you don’t know the legend, he and his nosey troops may have shot the nose off using it as target practice.)
2. We need some “down time”.
We are not always like Speedy Gonzales. I can’t say rushed travel is my most favorite thing. Kids can’t deal with traveling every second of the day. Don’t try to put us to sleep at 11 p.m. and wake up 3:30 a.m., expecting us to go to the airport and catch a flight. Or in other words… Give us “down time” so we can sleep, watch TV, and play video games. (But I’m not saying we need to do this all day.) And when you plan your tours and flights, think of us.
3. Please control our sugar intake.
Don’t give us sugar at Customs and Border Control, and expect us to be on our best behavior. Be fair parents, and think. You gave us the sugar, so if we go hyper at borders or in the airport, don’t punish us as if it’s our fault for mucking around.
4. Why no technology?
If you thought I went around the world with no technology, well, you’re wrong! Do you expect your child to go traveling without an iPad or a 3DS, or some kind of entertainment system? I’m a technology kid — and parents need to make sure we balance our time with it, I agree — but in some places there is no TV, and it can be wet and cold outside, so what do you want us to do? When we’re in the hotel room at nighttime with nothing to do, it gets tough for us kids. Do you think we are just gonna go to sleep at 5:30 p.m.? We need something to do. After a while there is only so much coloring a kid can do!
5. Have a plan in place if you get lost — because you know you parents are always wandering off!
Have you ever thought what would happen if we got lost in a totally different country? Well, parents, you need to have a plan in place (for both big and little kids). When I was little and we went to airports, I had to wear a bracelet that had a stretchy cable attached to the other bracelet that Mum was wearing. So if Mum’s hands were full, we were still linked. I felt safe. Both Mum and I also wear an I.D. bracelet with 3 emergency phone and passport numbers engraved inside. This is in case something happens to Mum, or me. When we are at hotels, Mum always talks to the concierge and gets two hotel business cards, and puts it in my pocket of what I am wearing, and she takes one too. She tells them if I get lost that I will ring the number on the card, and so will she and they can then tell the other person where we are.
6. Comfort food rules.
We don’t always like eating exotic food. Sometimes we just like eating our fattening western deep fried foods. Sure, we will try something new, but at times you guys push it a little too far with eating exotic foods, and we just need a break. Just sometimes, we need a good ol’ dose of ‘fast food’.
7. Expeditions and day-long hikes? No way.
Sorry, but most kids don’t like super long hikes. We can only go for so long, and our little legs get tired. I just don’t understand why someone would want to go through the trouble of dangerous-life-threatening risk-taking rock climbing, just for a view. Sure maybe we can do it when we are 17 or 18, or when we are up for the challenge, but not as a little kid. Even as we grow up, we still can’t hack it for hours on end.
8. Research the rules, and manners.
Parents do your research before you tell us off, especially in public.
Every country in the world has different manners. But please, if we do something wrong in public, and you tell us off when we didn’t know the “low-down’, well, that’s just mean. In Mongolia, it’s polite to burp after a meal (it means you enjoyed your meal), but it sure isn’t polite in England. In America, it’s not the done thing to hold your knife in your right hand after you cut up our food. You switch hands with your fork and put the knife on the plate edge. In Australia, people think that is all wrong and wacky. We hold our knife and fork all the time. In some countries you wear your shoes inside; in other countries, that’s very wrong, and the homeowner will be offended. Give us the low-down before we get there so we save face.
9. Parents, learn to take turns.
My Mum and I have a great rule where each first day it’s ‘My Day’, and each second day it’s ‘Mum’s Day’. I really like this rule, because everyone gets a turn to do what they want (I wouldn’t suggest it if you have a family of 12 though). It works great too when Mum wants to go out at night and talk to adults, and I get to sit and play my technology. She wins, and I win.
10. We don’t really like long or big tours.
Us children don’t like a lot of tours, especially big group tours, mainly filled with adults. They are often too fast and boring. The worst thing about a tour is that you don’t get to do what you want. And they make you do things you don’t want to do too. I remember going on a tour and a vampire rose out of a coffin in Transylvania, Romania — creepy!
I remember a few years back I went on a tour with a friend (let’s call him Martin) and we had to go into a toy museum as part of the tour. Inside the toy museum, there were REALLY creepy dolls. And then on the highest floor of the museum, there was a BIG wooden door. It was slightly opened, and there was a red light on in the room that the door led into. Then at the top of the door there was a skeleton hanging down, and blood all over the door. The tour guide led us to the door, and he said that this was the scary bit. Martin wasn’t afraid, so he went in. I stayed back and went down to the bottom level. When Martin came back he said, “it was AWESOME”, but his little sister was petrified.
So all kids are different. But anyway, I don’t like being stuck on big group or long tours because I like to do our own thing, stop and take photos when we like or go to the toilet when we need to — that kind of thing. Parents, talk to your tour guides so they can understand what we kids need too.
11. My last tip: Parents, remember you need to have a bit of fun too.
We love it when you act like big kids and join in with us as long as you don’t embarrass us. Because your actions can embarrass us, jut as much as our actions can embarrass you!