Interview with Cora Montgomery of family travel website Tropic of Candycorn about the family holidays kids like the best. Cora is 11 years old and has already been to over 10 countries including exotic destinations such as Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Panama and Spain and around much of the USA. She and her siblings Hero (9), Philippa (6) and Minerva (3) typically do on 6 week trip a year with their parents as well as additional smaller trips throughout the year. This jetsetter tells suitcases&strollers her very frank (and sassy!) opinions about what kids like (and don’t like!) about family travel.

What do you like about family travel?

Doing things I didn’t think existed, like who ever heard of floating in a mud volcano or visiting an island made of reed? Eating junk food and getting out of the daily life makes traveling fun.

What don’t you like about traveling?

A few things I absolutely hate:

1. Driving. Because there always seems to be someone crying or screaming and no size bag of flaming hot Cheetos (a vacation treat I love) can make up for that.

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2. Sometimes my mom makes us wear the same clothes as each other and let’s just say that wearing the same clothes as a three year old doesn’t appeal to me.

3. I don’t like it when I am out of touch with my friends for 6 weeks. Although sometimes I skip school for that long, Skype my entire class once a week and let my whole class pick me up when I get back.

4. I can never sleep on a plane or in a car or on a train or anything like that.

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Where has been your favorite place to family holiday and why did you like it so much?

I am tied between Costa Rica and Guatemala. We spent several weeks in Nosara, Costa Rica surfing, swimming and eating ice cream all in one day every day. Sounds good to me.

But in Antigua, Guatemala we had the most amazing house. It had a courtyard, an indoor garden, an indoor waterfall (of course, it was never on because we had little kids) and a spiral staircase leading up to a flat roof. One of my best friends, Zeke, and I would sneak up to the roof every night after we thought everyone else was asleep to look at the stars even though we were not allowed to go up there.

We also went to this really fun Spanish school where we could go get ice cream if we could order it in Spanish by ourselves. We liked playing games in Spanish: Uno, Monopoly and Phase 10. And for both of those trips we had some of our best friends with us.

I would recommend these places to kids because they were really fun but if the kids are not very adventurous they might not like it. You have to be prepared for zip-lining like crazy, dealing with getting Rotavirus, whitewater tubing and almost running into a porcupine and falling over a small waterfall while you worry that it will shoot its quills at your tub! Families who can’t handle that should definitely avoid this.


Are there any family holidays that you’ve been on that you didn’t like?

Yes, when we stayed in the Sacred Valley of Peru. I don’t really enjoy walking to school anyway, but when you have to walk 30 minutes each way with a 3-year-old named Philippa five days every week for a month it gets old. There were a few dead cats on the side of the road and some other crazy animals too. I would wake up groaning (and not just because I don’t like mornings) and rejoicing on Saturdays and Sundays because of no school. I also didn’t understand a word my teacher was telling me.

Somehow, my grandma managed to make it worse. She stayed with us for one week and was extremely annoyed by all the ants so decided to spray the entire house in bug-spray the day before she left. The smell was torture.

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The only things I really liked were this really good pizza place, making little houses out of cereal boxes, glue, glitter, Pringles cans and string and doodling things. After one month, my dad arrived and we started exploring more of Peru. It turned into a great vacation (probably because we weren’t in school during our summer break!).

Is there somewhere you regularly go on family holidays?

Not really, we try to go to different places. But almost every year we go to Zion National Park [in Utah] which is really fun. We filmed our intro to our website there.


What is the best thing you’ve ever seen or done on family holidays?

I have done some really cool things on trips with my family but I really could never pick just one. Some trips I was too little to remember much and there are just so many to choose from.

If the world depended on it, I would probably choose tubing through a cave that had skeletons and crystals on the walls and ceiling in Belize. Or going to a friend’s private island in Colombia and trying to get the special algae in the water to glow in the dark. We couldn’t see it because there was a full moon.

What was the worst thing you’ve ever seen or done on family holidays?

Everyone in our house getting Rotavirus in Antigua except for my friend Zeke and me after eating bad beans. It was miserable. My mum was really worried about Philippa (my sister who was 2 years old). We had to drink these really gross smoothies that felt like someone put tiny grains of sand in them and not being able to go anywhere because people where barfing every five minutes!

Where is the one place in the world you haven’t been to that you would like to go?

I don’t want to go to any place in particular but I would like to travel to every continent on the globe because I want the experience.

What do you think you get out of traveling that you don’t get when you stay at home?

Good memories because you really only remember the bad things that happen in your day to day life. Like I remember when I came walking home from school hearing fire trucks the finding out they were at my house because a small fire started.

If you could plan the perfect family holiday for you, where would it be and what would you do?

France, Italy, Spain, Norway and Sweden. Eat fun pastries and chocolate, sleep in, look at cool castles and other stuff like that. 

What are the three best things that make a great family holiday for kids?

1. Sleep. I can never get enough of it.

2. Adventure. [This is what] creates the memories, the fun.

3. Food. If it’s really good you remember it for the rest of your life. Like great tacos and gelato.

Images: Tropic of Candycorn