Rachel started travelling with her mum, the inimitable travel writer Dervla Murphy, at the age of just four – and they certainly jumped in at the deep end, travelling to Baltistan (a region nowadays administered by India and mainly Pakistan).
Our very own Hilary Bradt travelled to Ireland to meet Rachel and discuss the trials and tribulations of travelling with a young family. As you can imagine, the adventure came with its fair share of bad fortune but, perhaps predictably enough, Rachel's first memory is not one of hardship but of happiness – honey in a bottle:
Despite the largely happy memories, family adventure travel isn't all plain sailing. Towards the end of the trip, Rachel suffered a lice infestation and recalls the filth she and her mum were experiencing. In typically postive spririt, however, Rachel's reaction and almost tongue-in-cheek comment about it to her mother (see the video) is priceless!
Trust in travel
One of the clear benefits of travel, Hilary and Rachel agree, is that it teaches you to trust people – it's impossibly difficult to explore remote destinations without the help of locals. While travelling in Baltistan, Rachel and her mum Dervla fell victim to brucellosis (an infection associated with consuming unpasteurised milk and cheese). As the infection did not hit Rachel as badly as her mum, she went out into the village – just five years old at the time – to find a doctor. With the help of the locals, Rachel found the help she sought and they were soon both cured.
Taking your children out of school
The age-old debate for so many parents interested in family travel is that of is it acceptable to take your children out of school to be able to travel long-term. For Rachel, who was regularly taken travelling by her mother, she never felt like there was a problem. Although she wasn't formally following a curriculum or learning the like of maths or science, Rachel was reading and writing regularly – including keeping a diary – and says she found it easy to catch up at school as soon as she came home.
What's more, when Rachel turned ten, her mum stopped taking her out of school to let her focus on her studies. It's also clear from the video that Rachel values the fantastic life experience much more than a traditional education!
For more on Dervla and Rachel's adventures, check out Kidding Around, our latest anthology, released in collaboration with BritMums and Our Tribe Travels.