Interview with: Kirstie Pelling

Interview with: Kirstie Pelling

In this month’s ‘Interview with’ series, we talk to Kirstie from The Family Adventure Project about everything travel, best places to visit, travel favourites and top tips.

Tell us about your blog..

Our blog The Family Adventure Project specialises in family travel and family adventure. It is run by myself and my husband Stuart Wickes. We started it over ten years ago to record our family travels and it has grown into a magazine style site about travel, the outdoors and families adventuring and enjoying the world together.

What do you love most about travel?

Getting out of my comfort zone and challenging myself.  I love to come up with epic journeys that I’m not altogether sure I can complete in the time available, like this summer’s Interrail journey from home to Istanbul taking in 25 trains, 12 countries and 18 cities. For me, travel is about taking yourself out of routine, shaking things up and testing your relationships and your mettle.

Where has been your favourite place to visit?

A trip to Japan and the Philippines a few summers ago introduced us to new cultures and some exciting activities like sky ziplining, but my favourite destination has been Iceland for many years. One summer we cycled chunks of it over several weeks and then hired a 4WD to explore the interior. Some memorable highlights included family arctic rafting at Hafgrimsstadir, puffin watching in Vestmannaeyjar, glacier hiking on Skaftafell and swimming in a hot volcanic crater at Askja. One spring we attended the Children’s Festival where we played vegetables in an orchestra! Everyday Icelandic life can be quirky – for example popping into a café for a takeout coffee can involve putting a few stitches into a giant communal sock. 

What is your favourite place in Italy?

This is a hard one as we recently spent time in Rome, Venice, Bari and Naples which are all pretty weighty and historic places, but last year’s trip to Emilia Romagna is still very much in my mind. The city of Ferrara was a cyclist’s paradise with everyone from grannies to businessmen pedalling in the old town. And we loved the stylish Mirabilandia theme park, and the supercar museums. Since visiting Motor Valley I have asked for a Pagani for my birthday and Christmas but no one has taken the hint.   

What’s your best tip for a traveller or holiday goer?

Don’t rush it or over-schedule. Plan just one thing to do a day and leave space for locals to recommend their favourite places or for stumbling across something new and fresh. I always ask people in coffee shops and hotels what they recommend.    

How do you decide what to do when you go to new destination?

See above! I also use online staples like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and of course travel blogs.   

How do you decide which place is next on the go to list?

Sadly with five of us travelling, budget and time is often a factor. Otherwise I’d be road tripping the Canadian mountains right now. We do seek out more unusual places though and often we look for cycle-friendly countries. Children have never been a barrier to our adventures. We cycled the whole of New Zealand pulling a three and a four year old in trailers behind us, while I was pregnant with Hannah.       

What’s your favourite photo from your adventure and why?

When the children were younger, at the start of a cross-Europe bike ride from Amsterdam to Venice, we took a family photo on the beach at Ijmuiden. Last year we went back and stood on the same spot on the beach to recreate the photograph. The kids looked like giants in comparison to before and Hannah was very hard to carry!   

What’s your go to dinner party anecdote about your travels?

Too long to tell in full here but our honeymoon involved being amongst the first cyclists to ever complete the unpaved road to Villa O’Higgins on Chile’s Carretera Austral. We were also hosted for a week on an island inhabited only by police as we tried and failed to cross a disused border into Argentina, and then put our bikes on horseback to cross the Andes.

Which Bookings for You Villas tempt you the most?

Definitely villas on Lake Maggiore. When I was in my twenties I took my Mum to stay at Lake Maggiore and the views blew me away, especially early in the morning when the mist was hanging over the islands. I’d love to take her back. Halfway through the week we jumped on a train to Florence to look at Michelangelo’s David. We still talk about it now.

And finally, do you have a favourite saying or quote about travel or sightseeing?

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been. Travellers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux