Robin’s blog is a mix of her passions: Life, Education and Travel, that follows the idea of Grabbing the Opportunities that come along. That is how this all started. She decided to sell everything back in the US and with her family started to travel this globe. She kindly offered to answer our questions so let’s hear her!
How was the first trip as a travel family?
My first trip with my daughter was when she was three weeks old! We fly back from Seattle where she was born to where I was going to school in New Mexico. We have been travelling ever since – to see family spread across the country or because of long-distance moves. I also took my family with me on work trips whenever possible. When they were babies a sling to carry them in was essential. I never used a stroller, I found them too bulky and just another thing to had to juggle. I also breastfed, so never had a need to carry bottles, formula, etc. I used a backpack instead of luggage. “Stuff” on my back and baby on my front – ready to go! We didn’t take our first trip overseas until my daughter was 18 and son was 11. This was due to financial limitations not because of a lack of desire!
What did you think that was going to be the worst of the trip and turned out not to be that bad? How about the other way around?
What I always worry about when travelling is making sure each member of the family gets to explore what is interesting to them. My family members have extremely different interests so this can be a challenge. We have learned to compromise and take turns. We tough it out when one family member drags us to someplace we don’t want to go, knowing that we will have our turn! The hardest part is after being on the road for many months, you are likely to get homesick. We then try to focus on how fortunate we are to have the experiences we do and although the homesickness doesn’t go away it makes it easier to appreciate the here and now.
What is always on your luggage? What don’t you take any more in your luggage but once thought you wouldn’t survive without it?
I make sure everyone packs layers, extra socks, and rain gear! Preparing for the weather means we don’t have to stop exploring when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. I used to pack clean clothes for at least a week. I got over that long ago – I only pack 2-3 of each item now. We wear everything multiple times and wash only when needed (i.e., the sniff test). We also always wear our hiking boots on the plane since they are bulky. We only pack one other pair of shoes (depending on what is appropriate for the climate).
Which tricks do you use to survive on your commute to your final destination?
We make sure to drink LOTS of water on flights. When driving we take frequent breaks to get out, stretch, and explore a little. We always have plenty of healthy snacks, so we don’t have to rely on air plane or gas station food. This helps prevent people being cranky! Very important!
What are your saving tips for these family trips?
Over the last few years, we book accommodations that have a kitchen or kitchenette so that we can cook most of our meals. When we do eat out we make an effort to do so at lunch because it usually costs less. We also don’t spend money on alcoholic drinks, which quickly saves you a ton when you eat out. For activities, we enjoy nature areas that have no admission fees. We tend to choose locations where there aren’t as many people, they tend to be less expensive. I love mass transit, so whenever possible we take advantage of that too. We always make sure to ask for child/student discounts.
How do you plan your family trips?
We usually plan for trips based on our current interests, family we want to visit, or adding a few days to a work trip. Once we have figured out “where” we are going, we each pick a few places that we’d love to visit and then we leave the rest unplanned. We enjoy going with the flow and leaving ourselves open. This allows us to not be disappointed if we don’t see everything on our list and gives us extra time in our schedule in case we happen upon something we didn’t know about before our arrival. Often locals will tip us off to someplace to go or something to do that we wouldn’t have found in a guidebook. These often turn out to be the best parts of the trip!
As for organising our luggage, each family member is responsible for carrying what they want to bring so it minimises what comes along. This has been the case since my children were probably 6 or 7. My 18-year-old now thanks me because when she travels with her friends they are shocked at what she manages to carry by herself! J
Share with us an anecdote of one of those family trips
The most dramatic part of our recent travel worldschooling adventure was when I had an asthma attack and my husband drove 110 mpg through the desert!! You can read the whole story here
What destination do you think is a family must? Which would you suggest to avoid at all cost?
Mexico is a fantastic for family travel. Mexico is one of the most family centred countries I have ever experienced. It is refreshing to see families (from newborns to great grandparents) in the parks, at restaurants, walking along the malecón, and at festivals. Many restaurants even have play areas for the children so you can enjoy eating a leisurely meal! That was always such a treat when my children were little. Mexico is also welcoming and friendly; it is very unlikely you will go anyplace where you feel your kids are unwelcome!
Personally, I would avoid traveling with kids in many areas of the US. Unlike Mexico where kids are generally welcome with open arms, restaurants, museums, and even some stores seem unafraid to show disdain for children. Especially if they dare make noise or act like kids! In many parts of the US, you cannot even breastfeed your baby in public without being shamed or asked to leave. It is totally ridiculous. Of course, there is also the issue of safety, since again many parents in the US feel that cannot take their eyes off their children for a second. Kids in the US don’t have the same freedom or confidence as the children in Mexico.
What is your next trip as a family?
We are currently travelling full time and have been in Mexico for almost 3 months. We will be here at least another month and then we plan to head to Europe. You can read all about how we landed in Mexico here
Getting to Europe will be tricky and surely exhausting as we need to go back to Seattle first and then arrange to have our dogs fly over with us. We will be going to visit friends and family and hopefully getting my son up to the mountains to do some snowboarding. We will be planning as we go and not too far in advance. It is liberating to let things unfold naturally.
What would be your advice to (us) any family that wants to start travelling?
Start! Seriously, do it! I believe the meaning of life is to experience it! Too often we wait, we plan, we think “some day” and that day never comes. Then, we have regrets. People say how can you afford to travel – for us we could no longer afford not to! We were priced out of our community. Travelling has increased our quality of life exponentially! Don’ wait. Let go of all the reason you think you cannot travel and grab any and all opportunity to do so!
You will regret it more if you don’t follow your heart than if you try and it doesn’t go exactly as planned.