Name: Clara Belli
Kid(s) (+ ages): Giovanni, age 4
My family in three words: On the go!
Lives in: Kyiv, Ukraine
1. What is your favourite family holiday destination and why?
For us, our favorite destination is our home in the Reggio Emilia region of Italy. We have family nearby, good friends, a cozy house with lots of land and, of course, access to the best food in the world!
2. What is your kids’ favourite family holiday destination and why?
Gio really loves going anywhere. I cannot think of a place that he does not love visiting. He even gets excited when we stop at roadside hotels during our 3 day drive to Italy from Ukraine. If you were to ask him where he wants to go to most, though, his two standard answers are the moon and London. He has never been to either.
3. Tell us about your favourite family hotel
Our favorite place in the world is Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, Maryland, USA. It gives us the chance to be together (with our dog!) in our own cozy cabin in the middle of a beautiful forest. They bring hot muffins and fresh juice each morning and we spend our days exploring the trails.
4. What three things do you never leave home without when travelling with kids?
Snacks, Gio’s beloved stuffed dog “Big Tom” and the iPad.
5. What is your best tip for long-haul travel with kids?
Gio has done over 130 flights in his 4 years (his passport has only one remaining blank page!), most of them long-haul ones. We also regularly do a 3 day drive between Ukraine and Italy. For these trips we rely on plenty of snacks, lots of chances to walk (either in the aisles or at rest areas) and keeping to his sleep schedule as much as possible. The ipad loaded with favorite videos and games is also a must. Currently he is obessed with the Bugs Bunny Show!
6. What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you when travelling with children?
We have been lucky so far (now that I write this, our next trip is sure to be a disaster) and have not really had an horror stories. Considering the number of trips we have done already, we are certainly due! The most difficult period certainly was when Gio was just mobile and so not willing to sit for long on a flight. Until books and videos were able to capture his attention the long-haul flights were very challenging!
7. What do you enjoy best about travelling with kids?
I love Gio’s excitement about everywhere we go. He loves staying in hotels, greeting the flight attendants when we board airplanes, putting his own things on the belt for security, arriving back in the USA for visits with his beloved grandparents. His father and I see mostly the hassle of traveling; Gio reminds us of all of the fun and anticipation of it.
8. Where’s next on your family travel wish list? (for you? for your kids?)
Our dream is to visit the Maldives. We have tentative plans to go with my sister and her husband in the spring of 2014. Living in Ukraine, where the winter this year has lasted over 5 months with endless snow and bitter cold, the idea of spending a week or so in the tropics has me nearly drooling!
9. Tell us a bit about your blog and what inspired you to write about family travel. Any particular favourite blog posts?
I started my first blog (www.delhibellibaby.blogspot.com) out of laziness, frankly. I was exhausted from writing endless emails to all of my friends and family back in the US about our life in India and decided a blog would make communicating much easier. When we moved to Kyiv, I started a new one (www.bellisinkiev.blogspot.com). While the one in Delhi was almost entirely to share our experience as new parents, this current one tends to be more about what it is like to live in Ukraine, and I think much of it is helpful for my friends who live here in Kyiv. My more popular posts are about things I have found to do here with children which are well received by other families trying to navigate this city!
Photo & extract from Clara’s blog. “What qualifies for sheer excitement and raids on a supermarket here? Not snow predictions, certainly, but instead the discovery that Megamarket is now selling string cheese that actually tastes as good as the stuff in the States. We expats cleared the place of its inventory within 3 days! And yes, I took this photo illegally but for once the Megamarket security drones were looking the other way.”
10. In the spirit of BBC’s Desert Island Discs, if you were stranded on a desert island…
A. What would be the one luxury item and one essential item that you would take with you?
Well, if internet and electricity were available, I would pick my iPhone for my luxury item! And the essential item would be chocolate!
B. What would be the one luxury item and one essential item your kids(s) would take?
Gio would select his collection of superhero figures for his luxury item and his stuffed dog “Big Tom” for his essential one.
To follow the Belli’s adventures, you can visit Clara’s blog at http://www.bellisinkiev.blogspot.in/