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Family Travel and Rolf Potts on taking kids to Ecuador

Rolf Potts in Burma’s Mergui Archipelago (courtesy Rolf Potts)The excellent travel website World Hum has a regular column called “Ask Rolf,” by talented travel writer Rolf Potts.

Haven’t heard of him?

Browse the Stories or Essays section of his Web site, or see how he makes an ancient French version of tennis into something interesting.

He’s also the guy who convinced me to visit his stomping grounds, the Flint Hills in Kansas, which was one of the highlights of a Midwest road trip with my teen daughter.

Rolf graciously invited me to assist him with his most recent column; answering a Dad who wants to take his 9-year-old daughter to Ecuador, and is wondering if it’s safe to do so. The trip is a precursor to a possible round-the-world trip with his entire family.

In addition to my tips (how to plan a family trip, quit carrying all that stuff, remember to eat) Rolf has some great input on Ecuador from a guy who just spent two months there with his kids. He gives specific advice about places like Quito, Otavalo and the Galapagos. Down in the comments are more good ideas, including some from regular Family Travel reader Debbie over at Delicious Baby.

Not all of my input could fit into Rolf’s column (there’s a surprise!) so here are the other two family travel tips from me:

  • Little legs are shorter than yours. Just because you can walk forever in your trusty Rockports or Tevas does not mean that the Stride Rite group agrees with you. “But, they have so much energy, they’ll be fine.” No, you will end up carrying them. Pace yourselves, literally and figuratively. Use a child carrier backpack rather than a stroller; it leaves your hands free, escalators and stairs are no problem and your child can see the view instead of looking at people’s knees at stroller level.
  • Travel through your own backyard. I cannot tell you how many people I know who aren’t aware of the fun family things that are within a two-hour drive of their home. Buy a guidebook for your hometown and your home state, and then go do some or all of the items suggested. Don’t be the New Yorker who never makes it to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.

Thanks very much to Rolf and World Hum for including my input. If you have any experience with family travel in Ecuador, please leave them the comments section of Rolf’s column.