We’re excited to introduce you to our newest regular contributors to the blog.
yTravel is growing at an extraordinary rate and we can’t adequately help you travel more on our own.
Our current travel story is within Australia and we travel with two small children. We’ve got so much content to give you in regards to that. But, we know many of you are interested in family travel in other countries and with children who are a little older.
Even though lately it feels like Kalyra has the attitude of a teenager (can’t wait until she gets there!) we don’t understand the issues and challenges of that age group.
We’ve been eagerly awaiting the family travel adventures of Dish Our Town for months now.
They’ve been planning for their travels around South East Asia for some time and, as a personal mentor, and friend I’ve been excited for them to start living the travel life they’ve been dreaming of and planning for.
Their story is interesting and relevant so we’ve asked them to become regular contributors. They’ll be writing once a month on family travel (with an almost teenage girl) in South East Asia.
Please let us know in the comments at the bottom any particular tips or articles you’d love Andrew, from Dish our Town write about?
And jump in our virtual travel suitcase so you don’t miss a relevant article.
For now, let’s learn more about the Tolentino family!
Where did you grow up?
Both Brenda and I emigrated from the Philippines, me at 4 years of age and Brenda at 11. I spent most of my life in the Lower East Side of New York City. Brenda grew up across the bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Did you travel much with your family as a child? How did it impact your life today?
Both Brenda and I are products of a generation of immigrants doing their best to make it in a new land. With that came some sacrifices, and travel was unfortunately one of them.
So both of us did very little traveling. We both share a few stories of our childhood trips that were basically made up of long driving somewhere nearby. We were both daydreamers though and traveled through the books we read and the movies we watched.
Now as adults, the lack of it makes us want more of it for our child Bailey.
Where are you now?
Currently, we are in our ancestral country, the Philippines with our 11 year-old daughter, Bailey. The island of Boracay to be precise.
What were you doing before the adventure started?
For work, Brenda and I were in Luxury Goods, High Fashion to be specific. We both spent close to 20 years in the industry. We lived in the Little Italy Neighborhood of New York City, living a typical hectic urban life.
What made you decide to go against the grain and travel the world with your child?
This endeavor is the fruition of years of daydreaming, reading books and watching movies that are travel inspired. The impetus of actually acting upon it was due to a detour in our careers.
Within a course of a years time, Brenda was laid off and I was unhappy with the company I worked for, which led to me leaving the industry.
We were also starved for time with our daughter, and needed a career and lifestyle change that can afford us more time with each other.
Traveling with each other, depending on each other, ultimately binds us even closer. We needed bonding and though we are only at an early phase of our full-time travel, I already feel that we all much more in tuned with each other.
What are your plans?
Our plans are to build up our website as a viable business. Along the way, wet our thirst for travel and introduce our child to the world and it’s many cultures. It will be the basis for Bailey’s education, and I’m sure we will be learning quite a bit ourselves.
How are you currently funding your travels?
At the moment, we are receiving a bit of passive income through our affiliates and the work we take on through the streams that come our way via the website.
We are at the nascent stages of our journey and funding a majority of it through our savings and sponsorship. We plan on changing that real quick.
What did you want to be growing up?
As children, Brenda wanted to be a dancer and I wanted to be a professional athlete. Later on, I think we both wanted to be rock stars (OMG – me too!!! Caz)
Along with travel and food, we both had an affinity for fashion and we lived out a fantasy career for close to two decades. Bailey was the game changer, and the industry didn’t befit what we wanted out of life anymore.
We always wanted to do something with food (maybe open a brick and mortar establishment or something) but that would have meant not seeing our daughter, again.
We spent most of our hard-earned money on traveling, simply because to us there was no greater cleanser.
So are we still figuring it out?, I don’t think so. We lived out a good life in a career we actually chose to be part of and now we are at a phase in which we, again, are doing exactly what we want to. This doesn’t mean we don’t question our decisions.
What are you MOST proud of about your home country?
We, as a family are very proud of being Americans. The country provides us with so many opportunities. We live in a democracy that allows us the freedom to do and say what we wish.
Through our travels, we learn to appreciate that freedom and the opportunities given us, more and more every day. Knowing that it doesn’t necessarily exist everywhere.
What’s it been like returning to the Philippines? In what ways are you reconnecting?
Reconnecting with the culture has been absolutely amazing. Though I grew up in a household that spoke the native tongue (Tagalog) I lost most of it through the years of not speaking it every day.
It’s been fun challenging myself to speak it exclusively. It’s been much harder for Brenda. Bailey finds the language phonetically funny, and she gives it a go every so often.
Introducing Bailey to the culture has been a great education for all three of us. She plays the student and we the teachers.
We of course, have been using food as the main vehicle. We have already tasted flavor profiles we haven’t had since our childhood.
Taste memory is amazing. Every time Brenda and I put something in our mouths, we get into a time machine that brings us to a time in our lives that we have no real other memory of.
But we taste our past.
It’s really an amazing sensation. For Bailey, it expands her palate and her understanding of the many cultures that influence the country. In the Philippines, the country’s history can be told in a dish and it’s preparation.
Why should parents travel with their kids?
We all get older and the lens we see life through gets a bit fogged up. So much so that we tend to under-appreciate the splendor that exists in this world.
Seeing the world through the eyes of a child can be a form of renewal to one’s eyes and opening their eyes to that splendor is extremely rewarding.
What does your daughter think about long-term travel?
Bailey is quickly realizing the difference between a life journey and a vacation. It’s not a respite from ordinary life, it is our life, and we aren’t going home in a couple of weeks.
There are definitely growing pains, mostly in the social spectrum. She misses her friends dearly, but thankfully for technology, she is able to connect.
Also, living on an island isn’t like living in a big city, she misses the diversity and the amenities that she’s accustomed to.
As the days have gone by however, she has started to show us signs that she’s going to champion this endeavor and gets herself excited for what the day brings. And they’ve brought a lot. For which she is thankful.
What fears do you have and how are you overcoming them?
Well, there is always that fear of our business not thriving and running out of money. We overcome these fears by busting our asses and using the joys we experience every day as a catalyst for inspiration and giving us a reason to believe in our dream, in ourselves.
It sounds romantic, I know, but we’ve been through financial hell in the past and the dreadfulness from that experience stayed with us for quite some time, even when things were good.
We got ourselves out of it, and don’t ever want that again, and that alone has given us the drive these past few years. It’s no different now.
Our greatest fear however, is that Bailey will not take to this lifestyle well. We overcome this by simply being the best and most loving parents we can be.
I used this quote on a facebook post once, and I paraphrase, “we don’t have to be proud of it, we only have to do it well”.
Favorite activity/experience so far?
The other day, the owners of the property we were staying in, hosted us to a day at a river. We took a sailboat over to another island. The wind was just right, we got some good speed on the catamaran, and the water was as clear as day. We had a lot of laughs as we got soaked by the waves crashing on us every so often.
Upon reaching the other side, we hiked the most beautiful hills and reached a place along the river where we had a wonderful cookout provided by a friend of theirs.
We swam the clear, fresh water river all day and dove off rocks where the water was deep enough.
Their friend, owned some of the land that surrounded the river and he grew the most wonderful garden there. He made us the best salad, Brenda and I have ever tasted, literally from the fruits of his labor.
There was grilled fish, pork and chicken to boot. And of course the obligatory coconut drink.
What are you most looking forward to?
There is so much to look forward to, but if there was one thing to have to choose from, at least at this juncture, it would have to be meeting Brenda’s side of the family when we get to Manila.
Bailey is looking very forward to meeting her cousins and also staying at the Peninsula Hotel.
Favourite movies or books to inspire travel?
For me, it’s Hemingway’s, “The Sun Also Rises”. For Brenda, it’s also a Hemingway classic, “A Moveable Feast,’ and for Bailey it would have to be the Madeline books when she was young, and now, “The Fault in Our Stars”, by John Green.
The book makes her want to go to Amsterdam.
What experiences do you seek most when you travel?
We are a food and travel website after all, so we are looking forward to having the best local food experiences to share on our blog.
Brenda finally signed me up on Facebook when we built the business. I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve gotten connected with people I lost along the way, which is my favorite facet.
Brenda loves Pinterest.
If you could eat your way through one country, which country would it be?
We’ve eaten through Italy, France and Spain for a month in the past. Spain won that battle. We are now eating our way through the Philippines.
To answer your question, I would have to say China. I think people in the West don’t realize how diverse the food culture is over there. It’s a big place, a month may not be enough.
If we were to come over to your place for dinner, what signature dish would you cook for us?
We actually do have a family signature dish, and that’s my spaghetti with beef ragu.
I put a little soy sauce in with the beef when browning. It gives it a bit of a smokey finish. I also add a bit of sugar to to counteract the tartiness of the tomatoes.
I use spaghetti, because I think it binds better on long pasta. I promise, when I finally cook this for you, Craig and the kids, there will be second helpings.
It washes down nicely with a bottle or two of easy drinking red wine, like a Valpolicella. (well, I’ve never tried that grape before so I’m in! – Caz)
If you came to a pub in Australia, what drink could we order for you?
Both Brenda and I are wine people, and you guys have great wine out there. So, I can see Brenda wanting to start with a wine, probably red.
I, however have a bit of an adversity to having wine in a pub, so a good lager is always good for me.
What do you do to relax in your spare time?
I know this may sound cliche by now, because we’re always pushing food. Truth be told, all three of us are most relaxed cooking and watching television while doing it.
What’s one of your guilty pleasures?
Hands down a cigarette. I sneak one or two in every so often. I always get caught.
For Brenda, it’s probably potato chips and ice cream in one sitting. Bailey isn’t guilty about much, but she’s good at taking pleasure in most things.
How has travel made a difference in your outlook on life?
The “haves” and “have nots” has become a little more apparent to all of us. Which is good, especially coming from a superficial field such as high fashion, and living in a city like New York, where one can get numb and less empathetic.
It also makes me question my faith and beliefs sometimes, which is a nice struggle to have.
What’s your top tip for travel with kids?
Travel slow… I know it works for you guys. It does for us as well.
Bailey is eleven, and we involve her in our planning, giving her a say. Also, get yourself a good drink at the end of the day. (ha ha. The only solution! Don’t try and do Feb Fast when you travel with kids. Does not work.- Caz)
What’s your top tip for saving money on travel?
To approach your day to day as you would as if you were home. For example, we don’t eat out every meal at home, nor should we when we are traveling.
Here in Southeast Asia, Cash is King and it’s a lot easier to keep track of your actual expenditures when you see what you started with in your pocket at the beginning of the day versus what you end up with.
There are definitely advantages in using credit cards, but sometimes it gives you less of a real perspective of what you’ve actually spent.
Tell us about your travel blog and its purpose?
Dish Our Town is a Food and Travel Website. It uses a story-telling format. The concept behind Dish Our Town, is using food as the vehicle of transport, either literally or figuratively.
We’ve all tasted and drank something that transports us somewhere, that’s what we try to capture in our stories.
We also travel as a family, but it’s not necessarily targeted to only families. It’s targeted to all people who love food and travel.
The purpose, is to inspire the aspiring traveler to taste and see the world.
We can be found at: Dish Our Town.
Well, I’m inspired!
I had goosebumps reading a lot of that. It’s going to be a great journey to follow. We’re looking forward to sharing that with you all.
The Dish Our Town travel plans
- Boracay – until August 5.
- Manila – August 5-9
- Palawan – August 9 – 18
- Manila – August 19 – 31
- Taiwan– September
- Thailand – October
- Indonesia/Malaysia – November (not set in stone yet)
- Philippines – December
What would you love to learn about family travel in South East Asia and with older children?