Everything you do with your kids has the potential to be the best (or the worst) experience you've ever had – that's just the nature of the beast! This may be doubly true when traveling with kids, but Hans Lagerweij, former president of Quark Expeditions® and now Portfolio Managing Director European And Canadian Expeditions, Travelopia, says that with a little preparation, you can swing the balance to the good side and keep it there.
Hans, wife Isabelle and children Kevin and Aimee travel often and recently took an Antarctic expedition with Quark. In Part 2 of our Traveling with Kids series, Hans shares what it takes to make the best family vacation come together.
The Best Family Vacations Give Everyone a Chance to Relax
The last thing you want to do during a family vacation is go, go, go every waking moment of the day! A little of that is fine, but a reasonable pace that allows everyone to do what they want is ideal.
“Take it easy,” says Hans. “A half-day activity is enough; the other half is well spent swimming, playing games together or relaxing. When driving, try to plan a 3-hour drive as the maximum.”
Antarctic vacations allow you to do as much or as little as you want. Morning and afternoon expeditions can include Zodiac cruising, shore visits, wildlife viewing, walking amongst penguins and more.
Imagine the delight on your child's face – from his or her perch in a Zodiac – when experiencing a whale breaching at water level. Picture their amazement while cruising amongst the most spectacular sea ice on the planet. These are the experiences that make lifelong memories!
Prepare for Traveling with Kids
All Quark expeditions take place in the austral summer, but that doesn't mean you should pack shorts and sandals. Weather can be unpredictable, going from sunny and mild to cold and stormy within a short period of time.
“Although Antarctica's summer never gets really cold (around 0°C to -5°C), it is important to dress for snow (our kids loved rolling and diving in the most snow they had ever seen) and some splashes of water on the Zodiacs,” says Hans. “Quark provided parkas and advice for other clothes to bring on the trip, so we were nice and warm.”
Books are a good idea, as well as handheld electronic devices. Cameras and other essential packing items are a must, as this is a trip your kids will want to look back on for years to come. Check out the spectacular immersive 360° Virtual Reality videos for an idea of the kinds of things you may see and the types of footage you might come home with.
On board our expedition ships, everything from the itinerary to the menu is family- friendly. Dinners are casual, and the galley can accommodate most meal requirements.
Adventure Travel Stimulates Young Minds
Education is a big part of the adventure for all age groups. Quark's Scientists in Residence provide illustrated on-board talks while crossing the Drake Passage, as well as on-shore learning opportunities. Hans thinks the learning opportunities on Quark's cruises, both on board and during landings, are exceptional.
“A guided walk with someone who is used to inspiring children – who can stimulate their thinking and interest – is a huge plus,” he says.
Kids are the original experiential tourists. According to Hans, “Kevin and Aimee loved watching the wildlife, big (whales, seals, orcas, penguins and more) and small (our son was excited to hold and release tiny krill from his hands). They also liked to look for 10,000 year-old ‘black ice' while Zodiac cruising. As it would melt anyway, they were allowed to bring some black ice back to the ship to enjoy in their drinks.”
How Antarctic Family Cruises Deliver the Essentials
An Antarctic expedition is an opportunity for families to relax and reconnect, away from everyday pressures while experiencing one of the last pristine wilderness areas of the planet. It's an unparalleled chance to learn as a family unit about world culture and heritage, as well as the fragile environments and our place in the world. Even better, it's set against the spectacularly pristine backdrop of the Antarctic Peninsula.
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Contact one of our experienced Polar Travel Advisers today to learn more about planning the perfect family expedition to Antarctica.