My Inspiration To Start Traveling
fell in love with travel when I was a teenager during my first trip abroad to
Europe. Travel helps me to slow down and savor the moment, and to really take
in the beauty and wonder of the world.
I launched TravelMamas.com when my kids were wee as a way to help other
parents travel better with their children. Seeking out content for the site has
been a great excuse to explore all sorts of destinations as a family. Travel
brings us closer together as we navigate the unknown. We rely upon one another
more on the road as we make sense of confusing languages, maps and directions,
transportation schedules, different cultures, and more.
My Travel Frequency And How I Prepare For My Trips
typical year, I probably travel about once per month. That includes solo trips,
travels with just one or both kids, romantic getaways with just my husband, or
trips with the whole family.
I create an Excel
spreadsheet for most weeklong+ trips detailing every day. I include
transportation, tours, prices, possible activities, links to helpful blog
posts, restaurants recommended on Yelp, and more. I print them out to bring
along and keep us on track. It makes things a lot easier and avoids wasting
precious vacation time deciding what to do and when.
How I Pick My Travel Destinations
Often, I let low
airfares determine my destination. I’ll get an email alert for a low fare from
Scott’s Cheap Flights and I jump on the deal.
Sometimes, though, I get my heart
set on a destination and set up a fare alert from Kayak so I can buy flights as
soon as prices dip.
For road trips, I’ll play with Google maps and come up with
a route that works for the amount of time we have available. In summer, our
family is often trying to escape the desert heat in Scottsdale, AZ where we
live so we’ll plan a trip to someplace cooler like Northern Arizona, Alaska,
Oregon or to visit extended family in Minnesota.
Our trips vary from as
short as one or two nights for a quick getaway to month-long stays in one particular
place. We spent a month in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico one summer and a month
in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I love the longer stays because it’s not as
hectic as being on the move all the time and because it gives us a chance to
slow down and see what it’s like to live in that destination like a local.
Longer travel isn’t always possible, especially now that my kids are older, so
it’s nice to break up the year with weekend getaways and weeklong journeys,
How I Pack For My Trips
I always use a packing list for my travels, no matter
how long or short the journey is. When I’ve tried to wing it in the past, thinking
“I know what’s on the list already!” — I’ve forgotten important items.
Must-haves in my
carry-on include a remote charger, gluten-free snacks for my sensitive stomach,
antibacterial gel, and antibacterial wipes.
Managing My Work And Traveling Simultaneously
Since I own a travel
blog, travel is an important part of my job. If I travel too much, however, I
get really stressed out because being on the road means less time to keep the
wheels turning in terms of writing and editing stories, answering emails,
working on paid projects, and improving old content.
One of the challenges
for my family has always been that my husband only gets a few weeks of vacation
time per year. That means a lot of times I need to travel with just one or both
of my kids while he stays at home to work at his job. Now that my kids are in
high school and middle school, it’s harder for them to travel as much, too.
Number of Countries I've Visited And My Bucket List
I had to count them
up! I have visited 32 states plus Washington DC. I’ve been to 37 countries on 5
Every place is on my
bucket list! In particular, I’d love to visit Australia and New Zealand, go on
an animal photography safari in an African country, and explore more of Asia.
We had to cancel trips to Poland and Portugal due to the pandemic, so those are on top of my list right now. Someday I’d love to live in Spain so I really want to travel
around that country to find the ideal spot to settle down.
How I Got Inspired To Write “The Travel Mamas’ Guide”
The writing was my hobby.
In fact, I took writing classes for fun for about 10 years before I launched my
As a new mom, I was searching for tips for traveling with babies but I
couldn’t find what I was looking for. After a few trips with my little girl, I
wanted to share what I had learned with other parents to make their travels
easier. I had never submitted anything for publication but I decided to write
some tips for traveling with a baby or toddler as a potential magazine article.
But then I just kept writing and writing and writing. Eventually, I realized I
was actually writing a book, not merely an article.
So then I wrote a book
proposal and was lucky enough to sign with a book agent. My agent advised me to
start a blog. I wound up self-publishing “The Travel Mamas’ Guide,"
though because publishers said that people could find those types of tips for
free via blogs, ironically!
After 12.5 years as
the editor of a family travel blog, I have oodles of travel tips for parents.
Some things that pop to mind include:
- Make sleep a priority for every member of the
family, including you! That means trying to get onto the local time zone as
soon as possible, not skipping naps for little ones, and maintaining bedtime
routines. You might also consider booking connecting hotel rooms, a suite with a separate bedroom, or a vacation rental home for more space, privacy, and rest.
- Don’t overdo it. Schedule a mellow the first
day after arriving from a long flight so everyone can sleep in. Alternate
"up days" of adventuring with "down days" of driving on
road trips or doing something relaxing like hanging out by the hotel pool or
going on a mellow hike. Trying to squeeze too much “fun” into your family
vacation will leave everyone exhausted and cranky.
- Plan, plan, plan but then be prepared to
adjust, adjust, adjust!
Why I Started My Travel Blog
When my then book
agent advised me to start a blog to build my platform as a family travel
expert, I honestly didn’t really understand what a blog was. I had this
misconception, that many people still hold, that a blog is merely an online
journal. Of course, blogs can also be wonderful tools that provide readers with
useful tips and information on anything from traveling, cooking, or gardening
to parenting, fashion, and DIY projects!
My goal when writing
any blog post is to provide the information I would have liked to have found
before planning my trip. Travel Mamas is a resource for travelers of all sorts
who want to make the most of their travels. Our mission is to help parents
connect with their children and the world around them through travel and
A Memorable Travel Story
One story that comes
to mind took place long before I was married or had children.
At age 20, I was
traveling solo around Europe for about 7 weeks in the summer after my college
year abroad in France. I spent much of this time riding trains through
expensive Scandinavia and I was on a minuscule budget.
I was barely surviving
on meals of bread, cheese, apples, and nuts. (In fact, when I arrived back
home, my family was worried I’d gotten a tapeworm or something because I was
too skinny!) I saved my money for more important things like beers shared with
fellow youth hostelers and experiences like sailing through the fjords in
During that fjord boat tour, surrounded by travelers from around the
world, I was the only person not traveling with family or friends. When it came
time to order lunch, I demurred. There was no way I was going to shell out the
Krones required so I decided to go hungry.
Soon, one of the other passengers
gave me a piece of bread from her plate. I tried to turn her down, but she
insisted. Then another traveler spooned a scoopful of miniature shrimp onto my
bread. And another asked the crew for an extra cup and poured me half of her
coffee. I came on board awkward and alone, and left feeling so nurtured and
part of a global community.
Biggest Challenges To Traveling With A Family
Money, kids’ school
schedules, time away from work, and our two dogs prevent us from traveling
more. Plus, my family and I like our downtime. If it were up to me, I’d live in
a different country every two or three years, putting down temporary roots and
doing periodic short-term explorations from our home base.
Advice to The Readers Who Are Planning To
Start Long-Term Travel With Kids
I would advise choosing to
stay for longer periods of time (like a few weeks or months) in some
destinations rather than hopping from spot to spot every few days. Traveling
gets very tiresome and you’ll still need time to do things like homework, pay
bills, laundry, exercise, and work.