Over the past five years, Ciao Bambino founder Amie O’Shaughnessy has helped hundreds of families to experience the joys of traveling together in Europe. O’Shaughnessy values travel as one of the most powerful forms of education for children and parents alike. In the following interview, she comments on some of the specific rewards of exploring the world as a family.
In working with families to coordinate travel abroad, what would you say parents value the most about taking the whole family to Italy?
What parents value most varies with the age of the children. Parents with very young children appreciate the family-oriented culture in Italy. Many of our clients return from trips with stories about Italians going out of the way to do special things for babies and toddlers – gifts and treats are not uncommon. Interestingly, many of our clients are returning to Italy versus experiencing it for the first time. In doing so with young kids, they are thrilled to revisit a place they love in this new phase of their lives.
Parents with children old enough to truly appreciate the culture and sights of Italy value the unbelievable educational experience international travel offers kids. For many families, their trip to Italy is the highlight of the entire year – it has all the components people want in a fabulous trip – wonderful food, people, culture, and sights.
In your opinion, what is the most popular region for family travel to Italy and why?
Tuscany. It is touristy for a reason – there are incredible sights and the scenery is spectacular. Because Tuscany is so popular, there is a wide variety of family-friendly accommodations in Tuscany, activities (sports and cultural), and resources. I also think parents feel more comfortable visiting a region that is more familiar with young children versus going off the beaten path.
What is the average age of children traveling with their family abroad?
The original focus of CiaoBambino.com was travel with young children, so my perspective is skewed. That said, I think that more people feel comfortable going abroad with school age kids than they do with babies and toddlers and, as a consequence, the overall numbers are larger in that category.
Do you have any suggestions for preventing “teenage doldrums” on extended trips when planning activities for teens in Italy?
Teenagers want “cool” and interesting things to do. Urban areas like Rome and Florence have a wide variety of sights, shopping, and places to loiter. Many of our clients with older kids also opt for countryside accommodations with sports opportunities nearby. I also think that an overly scheduled trip with complicated itineraries makes these trips more difficult – a good balance between memorable, structured activities and time to “hang out” is perfect.
Finally, can you recount some of the more special trip reports/stories that illustrate in particular the benefits of family travel to Europe?
One of my favorite stories is from our trip to Marbella in Spain when our son was 3 years old. He was in the wading pool with children from around the world – literally – Germany, Holland, the Netherlands, France, and Australia. Kids are kids irrespective of where they are from or what language they speak; it was magical for us to experience that point firsthand and know that he may not remember the specifics, but this exposure to people from around the world is invaluable.Add to favorites