A friend of mine is planning a big celebratory trip to NYC & the Caribbean over Christmas. She was bemoaning the exorbitant prices of resorts during that peak time period and felt she was going round in circles pricing things up herself. ‘Why don’t you get a travel agent to do it for you?’ I asked. ‘In fact, I know just the lady!’ Turns out my school friend Caroline is a seasoned travel professional. She spent over 15 years with Trailfinders and is now working for herself at Travel Counsellors. She has jetted all over the world, testing out the latest and greatest in hotels and experiences. She is highly knowledgeable on where to go and having two young kids herself, understands the trials and tribulations of family travel. After all these years of seeking out her wisdom, I thought it was high time to interview her for Jetlag & Mayhem…
That is literally the hardest question ever as there are SO many places in the world which I love. I think South Africa is one of my absolute favourite places as it offers so much variety and so much of what I enjoy. Great food & wine, fantastic beaches, sunny weather, interesting cities and safari!
Again, so many to choose from, I’m going to need to cheat on this one! My favourite Beach hotel is probably The Residence in Zanzibar, partly as I went there on my first holiday with my (now) husband. My favourite safari lodge is Somalisa in Zimbabwe (the picture speaks for itself) and my favourite city hotel is probably La Faena in Buenos Aires for the stunning design! That said, anything by Six Senses is also very much up there!
Where’s on your bucket list for 2019?
I’m thinking of Mauritius this year as with a 3 and 1 year old I’m looking for somewhere family friendly and convenient! If I could ditch the kids for a few days then I’d sneak in a long weekend in the Masai Mara for a safari fix!
Any insider tips for booking travel, especially as a family?
Plan ahead. I know that spontaneity is fun, but generally speaking with travel it pays to plan ahead so you can ensure you get exactly what you want at the best possible price.
This is even more important when traveling as a family in school holidays as everything gets more and more expensive as things get busier.
How has traveling with kids changed your travel style?
I arrive at the airport a lot earlier! I was always the kind of person who shows up an hour before a flight, but those days are gone. My husband gets stressed by that at the best of times, but with kids it’s 100 times worse as someone always poops at the worst possible moment. I also now research soft play areas at airports so the kids can let off some energy before boarding flights!
Top family travel products?
Dare I say a tablet to keep my son entertained on flights. He’s the kind of 3 year old who never sits still unless there’s a screen in front of him, so his tablet has been a huge help on flights, and even at the airport when you just need to keep him still for a while! I’ve not tried them yet, but I think next time we fly long haul I’m going to get one of those Fly-Tot things. When we flew to Thailand last year I used my roller bag and some cushions to make a version of it for my son, but it kept falling over!
Any funny holiday stories or disasters?
I’ve travelled so much I’ve had my fair share of mishaps! The most extreme was probably Antarctica. The boat I was due to go on starting sinking while I was flying down to Buenos Aires. I actually had a client due to go on the same ship who was on the same flight. I was standing at baggage reclaim, minding my own business when she came up to me, white as a sheet and just said “the boat is sinking”. It was all very surreal. Happily for my client I was able to help her on the spot and we quickly found her another ship to go on. Sadly for me, I was on a free of charge work trip so I there was nothing that could be done. I just spent a week trekking in Patagonia instead and went home! Luckily I made it to Antarctica the following year!
Why should people book through you?
I offer expert advice and guidance: the best destinations for the time of year; which hotels would work best for you; which sights to see and which to skip. I believe booking a holiday should be a pleasurable, exciting and hassle free experience and I’ll do everything in my power to make it so.
With over 15 years’ experience in the travel industry at Trailfinders I have a wealth of experience and insights covering the whole spectrum of holidays around the world. I will advise you on all aspects of travel including visa information, immunisations, how to get the best seats on the plane, and even what to put in your suitcase!
People can email me at Caroline.Dobson@travelcounsellors.com or call me on 0203 292 0521.