Family Traveller Magazine Spring/Summer 2022. Order online now for free UK postage.

Shape of a Boy: why you should travel with your young kids

seonaidmcgill
25th March 2022

On the new Family Traveller Podcast we talk to Shape of a Boy author, Kate Wickers, about why travelling with younger kids is always worthwhile. So if you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘are my kids too young to remember?’, here is what Kate has to say.


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Hear Kate Wickers talk about her travel experiences on the Family Traveller Podcast

Listen to more of Kate Wickers on the Family Traveller Podcast

‘Remember that day when you and Dad had food poisoning?’ my middle son Ben, aged eighteen, asked me one day during the first Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. ‘That was such a great day.’

That wasn’t quite my memory of it, as he was referring to a holiday on the Thai island of Koh Samui, when after eating blue swimmer crab my husband Neil and I spent twenty-four horrendous hours hurling up our guts.

‘You mean the day you ran completely feral?’ I asked.

‘You tried to send us to kids’ club, but we escaped,’ my youngest son Freddie, aged fourteen, said.

‘And we lay on the sun loungers playing on our DSs all day and ordered pizza from room-service,’ chipped in the oldest, Josh, aged nineteen.

I still have the note that a five-year-old Freddie wrote to me to let me know that the cleaners had arrived to clean their adjoining room. It says, ‘peapol ar in me rom. Luv Freddie x’. I took comfort in the fact that at least he could spell his own name.

What places are you dreaming of right now?

‘What place are you dreaming of right now?’ I asked my sons.

‘Somewhere warm with a beach, like Thailand,’ said Josh.

‘A European city, perhaps Amsterdam or Paris,’ replied Ben.

Immediately I could imagine them. Josh with a backpack; Ben inter-railing with friends. How wonderful, I thought, to have all those adventures in front of you.

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Kate Wickers’ three sons making memories on safari in Tanzania

Why lockdown inspired Kate Wickers to write Shape of a Boy?

When Covid-19 struck the world, locked down together at home, we often reminisced about our travels. ‘Remember the time when we…?’ someone would begin, and we’d all soon be declaring our version of events, laughing until tears ran. On every trip we’d taken I’d kept journals, which I now dug out to read and amidst the funny anecdotes and specifics of these many holidays from Borneo to Cuba, I was struck by how many quite-by-chance life lessons that our sons have learned while travelling (for the above episode, it would have been ‘seize the day’) and the idea for Shape of a Boy came to me. It was a joy to write about happier times, during the months when life on this beautiful planet appeared so bleak.

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What kids remember about your travels might surprise you

How to share travel memories with even your younger kids

What we experienced as a family often took us by surprise. Most experiences were magical and exceptional, and on very rare occasions disconcerting. All were life-defining, and influential in shaping my sons into the adults they’d become, whether they remembered them or not. After all, memory is a tricky one to define, often triggered by a smell or taste; a photograph or story shared within a family. The importance of spending quality time together is perhaps the biggest life lesson of all.

Read Shape of a Boy and listen to Kate Wickers on the Family Traveller Podcast

‘Anyone who has travelled with children will find this book uplifting, life-affirming and laugh-out-loud funny.’

Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones’s Diary

‘Highly entertaining, often hilarious…inspiring to all parents.’

Bel Mooney, The Daily Mail

‘Travel writing at its finest – transports you to another place. Thoughtful and moving, this is a reminder of the bonding effect travel can have on a family.’

The Scotsman 

‘One page made me laugh, the next made me cry. It’s incredible how Kate makes you feel like you’re on this journey together…’

Katie Bowman, Editor of Family Traveller Magazine


Listen to the new Family Traveller Podcast on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Kate Wickers, Shape of a Boy, is now available to buy on Amazon.

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