Former editor of Cosmopolitan and Cleo, Mia Freedman, is known for her topical, heart-on-sleeve approach. That’s why readers love her website, Mamamia, where she offers everything from parenting advice to political opinions and commentary. Here she provides a refreshingly honest perspective to suitcases&strollers about her experiences on family holidays with her 3 kids Remy (9), Coco (11) and Luca (20).
Before you had kids, where was your favourite destination to travel to?
New York, I reckon. I’d often be there on my own. I went there for two weeks when I turned 21 and I was going to move there to live but I met my husband and got pregnant instead!
How has travel changed for you since having kids?
After having kids I became terrified of flying which is quite common, I’m told. And that really affected my ability to travel over the following decade. I found it incredibly tough and unpleasant.
With little kids [travel is] also a whole different experience. I remember once complaining to my best friend about how exhausted I was up in Byron Bay with a baby and a toddler and she said, “Don’t think of it as a holiday, think of it as ‘moving the baby to a different location’”. Which is true! Except it’s even harder than being at home because you don’t have all your props. I never enjoyed any kind of travel when the kids were small for that reason.
How frequently are you traveling now?
I’m writing this from Alice Springs! And two nights ago I was in Albury!
I’ve traveled quite a bit this year. We opened an office in New York a couple of years ago. I never bring my kids with me when I’m travelling for work. For a start, it’s expensive! And they’re at school. I travel interstate a lot to give speeches at functions and conferences. I really enjoy it, I must say.
Is it important for kids to travel?
I think travel for kids is a bit overrated, particularly when they’re small. We took our kids to Europe for the first time a few years ago and they complained a lot. We could have saved a lot of money by staying in Australia!
What do kids get out of travelling that they don't get staying at home?
Exposing them to different cultures is really important. Also breaking them out of their routine can be healthy.
Where is your favourite destination to travel to with kids now?
Byron Bay. We go twice a year and I honestly can’t think of anywhere in Australia or overseas that I love more. It’s our default holiday.
Where is the most surprising place you've traveled to?
We went to Uluru and Kings Canyon this year with the youngest kids and we loved it. It was a really active holiday for us – biking and hiking – when we usually just lie around.
Where has been your kids' favourite place to travel to?
We went to Africa with our extended family last year and we all loved that. Safaris at 6am and seeing those animals and no wifi… It was a really immersive experience for all of us.
Where is the one place in the world you haven't taken your kids that you want to take them?
I’d really like them to visit a third world country so they can appreciate how fortunate they are. We have plans to do that in the near future.
Is there anywhere in the world you've been that you would not recommend for kids?
Anywhere historical. I found Rome to be not great with kids. No kid wants to visit the Vatican.
Which are your top 3 don't miss family-friendly holiday destinations?
1. Africa if you can afford it because it’s just so mind-blowing;
2. Uluru for sure because learning about indigenous Australia is such an important part of Australian history and culture;
3. And Byron Bay because of the dolphins!
What is your top tip for finding a good family-friendly holiday destination?
Ask other people with kids. There is no better way.