We asked for your handy hints to survive a journey with the little ones.

The following is the patented Howard Method of feeding a toddler a banana in a car seat. This method ensures minimal mess, maximum ingestion, and optimises travelling distance per unit time. Grateful parents may forward royalties, at values of their choosing via the Travel Editor.

Howard Method:
1. Bananas should always be held at the stalk end and eaten from the other. The Howard Method is similar.

2. Make a circular cut just through the banana skin about 25.4mm from the top end. Make a longitudinal cut just through the banana skin, from the cut line to the top of the banana. Peel this 1 inch section of banana skin from the banana and discard in an ecologically appropriate manner.

3. Hand the partially peeled banana to your little bundle of joy and watch their eyes light up. After they have sucked the top off the banana, expose another 1 inch section as above, and repeat till you both reach the stalk end.


Howard Family,

Tell stories about well-loved characters or even themselves doing weird or desired things, such as space travel. Or combine fairy tale characters, such as Little Red Riding Hood meeting Cinderella on the beach, or for the slightly older ones, maybe a ninja character meeting a superhero. This works best if you sit between the kids in the back.

Linda Moore,
Snells Beach

Letters to the Travel Editor

Dear Sir,

I found your piece 'Better than a Band Aid' and the wider feature in the New Zealand Herald's Travel section's edition on 'voluntourism' [January 19] to be ethically problematic.

Read the article here:
Ethiopia: Better than a Band Aid

While Needham's piece did not extensively explain what kind of voluntourism he engaged in, I'd like to draw your attention to the long-term effects of most types of voluntourism - effects that will linger long after Needham drives away on the dirt road, listening to the final refrains of Bob Marley.

Within many contemporary anthropology academic circles, the humanitarian sector, and racial justice communities, voluntourism has long been regarded as culturally damaging and ineffective.

Consider this: a bunch of well-meaning Western 18-year-olds teach English in an orphanage in Ghana for two months. Despite having no teaching degree, and little understanding of the local culture, they are put in a position of power. The Western teens may leave with widened eyes and a deeper appreciation of their 'first world problems' - as Needham joked - but they also might leave with a fortified White Saviour Complex. Ghanaian children are left with a disrupted education and a revolving door: a new teacher enters every two months.

Now, don't get me wrong. Altruism is a powerful force; one we should thoughtfully encourage. But when we mix altruistic volunteer efforts with self-serving tourism, a damaging hybrid phenomenon can result. When voluntourism is carried out poorly, locals lose job opportunities to privileged Western volunteers. Locals can also have their culture negatively influenced by those who have not taken time to appreciate it or protect it.

If a traveller's intent is truly altruistic, then why not use that money to fund a teachers' college, which up-skills local builders, or teachers, or doctors? Or, if a person is set on becoming a volunteer in a developing country, make sure you can offer tangible skills that don't detract from a local person's opportunities.

Please - think about the implications of what you glamorously condone.

Sincerely, Mattea Mrkusic
Send your letters to travel@nzherald.co.nz