Wednesday series is back on. Below you can read an interview with another amazing blogger Genevieve and learn all about her blog It’s a Necessity. Her family of four has been traveling for a little over five years now. For most of that time they have called their 41 ft Morgan sailboat our home. In that boat they have sailed from the States down to the Spanish Virgins, and back and forth and back and forth, while raising their girls from infancy to the preschoolers they are today. They have just spent their last 6 months living in the Dominican Republic, working with a Canadian non-profit, as project coordinators, rebuilding homes for the less fortunate. Genevieve has been blogging about their adventures for the last 18 months.
1. Do you think traveling with kids is the best way to travel and why?
We love traveling with our girls. But of course it is not for everyone. If you are looking to get for a bender in Vegas, maybe having kids in tow would not be appropriate! But for traveling the way we do, with a more PG13 experience, we love it. There are two main reasons. The first is that we get to experience every destination through their eyes. Everywhere we go is a new adventure for them, full of learning, and new experiences. And it is also funny to see the things that catch their eye, or intrigue them, as they are often very different from the things that we, as adults, would be drawn to. The second reason we love traveling with them is that it has opened many doors for us. I am not saying this in a greedy way, but rather that people always seem more open to seeing a family with small children traveling around. The locals often seem more willing to come up and talk to us, share their stories with us, and invite us in to their lives and get a glimpse of what life is like for them. Not saying that we wouldn’t have these opportunities as solo travelers, but people are drawn to kids, and they are an easy conversation starter.
2. What was your first trip as a family like? Did you complicate, brought too much stuff along, chose the safest possible destination, etc?
Our first trip with Arias, our oldest, was when she was five weeks old. I flew with her to the Bahamas, where we met up with my husband, who had already been there for two weeks. You may think, oh Bahamas, easy. Well, we were going down there to meet him and be on our sailboat, which was in the middle of many renos. Everything there was a mess, we had no running water, and our boat was on the hard, meaning it was up on land. Which meant having to climb up and down a ladder every time we wanted to get in or out of our boat. I did not pack a bunch of stuff since I knew we were going to the boat. But the major mistake that I did do was, as a first time parent I was naive and did not know that I needed my husband’s written consent to be flying alone with our daughter. I had no issues with this coming from Canada, through the States, to the Bahamas, but on my way back from Bahamas via the States, I got stopped at the Canadian border (of all places) being asked for those documents. I stood there clueless with our 7 week old in arm, trying to explain that I thought that clause was only for separated couples, not married ones. I won’t make that mistake again!
3. What is still your favorite destination and why?
People always ask us this question and we always feel so unprepared for it. It is so hard to chose just one, of the many that we have visited. All were unique, of course. But for our travels as a family, there are two that treated us well. The first is Gergetown, Bahamas. We love this place because they hold a yearly regatta, where approximately 350 boats will meet up for about a month of fun organized activities. There is everything from beach volleyball, to poker nights, to sand castle competitions, to potlucks around bonfires. And because we have participated in this regatta three years, we have come across many of these boaters several times, and they have become family. They watched us go from being pregnant to raising two small children on a boat. The second destination we really enjoyed was the Dominican Republic. We lived there for a little over a year, and had a great time making friends, living in one place for an extended period (which is not normal for us), learning a lot of Spanish, and discovering the island of Hispaniola. The Dominicans in general are extremely friendly and caring, and our daughters took to living there no problem. There were also a ton of activities for us, including kite-boarding, surfing, hiking, swimming, and adventure.
4. How would you encourage other parents to travel with kids? What do they absolutely need to know?
I would say that if they have the inkling of a desire to do it, then do it. I know many will protest that it’s not that easy, and of course it’s not, but if you are intrigued, then at least make the sacrifices and give it a try. If it is not for you, well at least you gave it a try and wont live with the “what ifs…” after. Yes you may have to make some sacrifices, such as spending less money to be able to save up for the trip, and no you can’t travel like you did as a solo backpacker and just leave the kids in the hotel room while you go for a night out on the town, but traveling as a family is so enriching, you can’t go wrong. Children are portable and surprisingly accommodating. Give them the opportunity to learn from the world.
5. What makes a travel Mom?
I would say that one of my greatest assets is being able to adapt to many situations. That is a huge plus to have as a “travel Mom”. Because not every destination is going to be what you had in mind, and as a parent you are pretty much the “event coordinator, entertainment, and responsible adult” 24/7 , and you need to be able to think fast, adapt, and make the surroundings an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
6. What are your plans for 2015?
That is a good question, we are not even sure of that one yet. Right now, we are thinking that by the end of November we will be leaving the Dominican Republic, by sailboat, and either sailing North back to the Bahamas (possibly via Cuba) to go spend another regatta season there. Or, head further south and experience the virgin islands, and down to Grenada. Sailing season lasts until around the beginning of May. But we have been throwing around the idea of flying back to Canada, leaving the girls with their grandparents for two weeks, while Eben and I fly to India to take part in a race there. After which, his entire family would fly, with our girls (with their permission weavers!) to Vienna where we would meet up with them, and do a family bicycling trip there. That is really as far as we know. In the distant (or not so distant) future we have thought about buying land, in a tropical country, and starting a business of our own.
7. What is your favorite thing to do when you travel?
We do our best to get to know the locals. We love getting that closer, more intimate, more “off the beaten” track feel. And honestly, one of the best ways to get to know people is through food. People love eating, and so hanging out with new friends, sharing stories, and sharing new food experiences is a definite highlight in our books. And both our girls LOVE to eat, and are not afraid to try new things. It’s an adventure for the taste buds, and brings people closer in the midst of it.