Mishaps and mayhem of family travel according to one travel writer

Who says adventurous travel has to stop once there are kids in tow? Not the contributors to the latest release from Bradt Travel Guides, that’s for sure. Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Kidding Around features 35 travel tales that lift the lid on the highs and lows, memories and mishaps of travelling with babies, children and teenagers. Contributors include renowned travel writer Dervla Murphy, award-winning author Mike Unwin and our own regular contributor, Adrian Phillips to name just a few. Check out this extract from Maria Pieri, editorial director of National Geographic Traveller.

The husky ride

“Keep the huskies in the order assigned,” instructs Lionel, my hard-core husky entrepreneur.

“Don’t let them overtake one another; they work as a pack. And if you take your feet off the sledge, the huskies will go.”

Easier said than done, as I realise I’m physically trying to hold the dogs back.

We’re on a Christmas break at the Wild Arctic Husky Park in Finnish Lapland, and we’ve already been overtaken by another family trying to get the hang of the ‘controls’. I let them go ahead, but in the process have to brake sharper than I’d like — or, in fact, than the huskies like. One husky has taken issue with his team mate and the reins become entangled, until the husky is literally underneath the sledge.

The kids are beginning to panic, and I’m trying to reassure them everything will be fine. But I can’t step off the brake or help at all. “It’s going to die,” says my daughter, always one for melodrama. “Can you get the sledge off the husky?”

I can’t; Lionel’s instructions are still echoing around my head: “If you take your feet off the sledge, the huskies will go.”

After some shouting from the sledge in front, one of the guides returns and untangles the huskies. My kids are looking on in disbelief, teary and scared. “Do the dogs get on?” I ask. Yes, of course, our guide reassures us. After some further calming (kids and dogs), we set off but have to stop again — there’s been a crash. Ahead, between the trees and ferns we can see a family has overturned their sledge. They have to be assisted up and back onto the track.

Then we stop again.

“Now what?” says my daughter, full of bravado now we’re no longer the ones causing problems.

The yelling suggests it’s another incident. We began this illuminated one-hour husky safari at 4pm and by this point I’m willing this to end; the kids are complaining and we’re all hoping our team won’t be the ones to cause further distress. The dogs have other ideas, reaching across from time to time to snarl at one another. As we reach the penultimate ridge, they get tangled up again. I’ve had to pretty much brake the whole way to prevent the dogs catching up with the other sledges. Argh. And I still can’t step off the sledge.

Kidding Around is published by Bradt Travel Guides. RRP £10.99. Readers can receive 25% off copies of Kidding Around; enter ‘NATGEOKIDDING25’ at the check-out.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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