Travelling Mom's Successful Tips For Active Travel With Your Family
We indulge in travel for a variety of reasons; some to break free from the monotony of life, some to discover new places, and others to experience matchless adventures. While travelling as a family can be daunting for many reasons including heavy costs, Claudia Laroye from The Travelling Mom begs to differ.
Claudia speaks about her travel blogging adventures and breaks the myths behind family travel, including reasons to initiate active travel during family getaways.
Could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
I live in Vancouver, Canada, with my husband and two teenage boys. I’ve been travelling since a young age, and have lived abroad as an exchange student during my youth. Travel has shaped my identity and worldview. When we had our children, we wanted to share the benefits of a travel life. We’ve been travelling with our kids since our youngest was a few months old, and have raised them to be conscientious, inquisitive travellers. They’ve been blessed to travel to many destinations around the world with us and also their extended family, and have greatly benefitted from discovering the world around them.
What inspired you to start your travel blog, The Travelling Mom?
I was inspired to begin The Travelling Mom seven years ago, out of a desire to share my passion for educating children through the travel experience, and to demonstrate to other parents that traveling with kids is possible. Many young parents are unsure or even afraid to travel with their kids. There is a need to help people know the ‘hows and whys’ of getting out there and discovering the world around us, without having to mortgage the house to do it.
Would you like to share an interesting memory where you felt blessed to have taken your kids with you?
We have been very fortunate to enjoy many incredible family holidays and memories with our children. During our most recent spring break holiday, the value of eighteen years of family travel hit home in the best way.
My eldest posted an Instagram photo of our family after a wonderful day visiting Puerto Vallarta, stating ‘family trips are the best’. That encapsulated everything we believe in and have done as a family during our travels – educating our children through travel, enjoying each other’s company, and creating lifelong memories.
What were your biggest challenges while travelling with kids and did the challenges change as they got older?
For me, the toddler years were the most challenging. Toddlers are mobile, filled with energy, attitude, and a desire to exert their own opinions, often in public displays. It was a fun, but exhausting time to travel. Now that we travel with teenagers, the challenge lies in finding what appeals to them – activities, museums, music, food. Teens need space, connectivity, and they like to sleep in, so it’s important to recognize their needs at their stage of life, within limits (i.e. they can’t be online 24/7).
On our recent Mexican cruise, we booked a separate cabin for our boys, so they could retain independence and come and go at their leisure. We met every night for dinner, and for shore excursions and activities. It was a great holiday for us as parents, and they loved every minute of ‘their time’ together.
What do you do when travel starts to feel pedestrian? How do you keep each destination exciting?
Part of keeping travel excitement alive for me comes from pre-trip planning and research. I look for hidden destination gems by reading other travel blogs and local publications. We like to swim against the mass travel tide, avoiding crowds and overly popular traps, though sometimes that’s impossible. Every destination has its own magic, and if you haven’t found it before you arrive, talk to the locals. They are often the best sources of information and destination tips on the ground, and can lead you to memorable places and experiences.
People assume that travelling with kids can be expensive and difficult. What is your best advice to people who want to make their family holiday a success?
Successful holidays (with or without kids) begin with solid trip planning. Sit down as a family and determine the where, how and when of your travels, and research, research, research. Find the best, budget-friendly ways to achieve those goals. Take advantage of free kids programs at resorts, restaurants, and transportation companies. You may be pleasantly surprised by the money can be saved by traveling as a family.
We like to plan trips one year in advance, and book flights and hotels the same way to save money. If you’ve got airline and hotel reward points, save them up and use them to cover as much trip expense as you can.
Finally, ensure everyone in the family gets a say in planning a portion of the trip. If you’re heading to Paris and the top items are the Eiffel Tower, punting boats in the Jardins du Luxembourg, and shopping for macarons, make those dreams come true. It’s not that difficult or expensive. You’re in Paris after all!
What sort of budget friendly places would you recommend to first time parents or families with multiple kids?
We love camping in the great outdoors. It’s economical, fun and kids love it. You can rent equipment from local outfitters so you don’t have to invest in all that gear if your family doesn’t take to camping out under the stars. Camping locally is great for first time parents as you won’t be far from home should you need to return.
For international trips, I recommend saving money by renting an apartment with a kitchen, or doing a house exchange. You can do this in any location you’d like to visit. Having your own home base with amenities so you can do laundry, cook some of your own meals and save on expensive hotel rooms (you may need more than one room with a large family) is the best way to travel wisely and save money on the road.
We’ve enjoyed some great stays in hostels too. Many European hostels have private family rooms, with excellent breakfasts included. They are usually cheaper than hotels, centrally located so you may not need a car, and it’s always fun to meet other travellers from around the world.
How do you make time as a couple when you travel with kids?
When our children were young, our couple time took place during naps, after putting the kids down for bed, or during multigenerational trips with parents who could babysit. They felt like stolen, precious moments because they were hard to get. I remember a date night in Paris that felt like a wonderful dream! With older children, it’s much easier to find that couple time and reconnect with one another. It’s the reward for the hard work of childrearing during those early years.
As a travel blogger, what tips would you give to people, especially female bloggers with kids, who would like to break into this industry?
Write about what you know, and be authentic. No one else can tell your story, so be passionate in your storytelling. And don’t worry too much about what other folks are doing - keeping up with the Jones’ of the world will sap your energy and take the fun out of your travel writing.
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