Welcome to our family travel series where we interview other family travelers to show you how they make travel with kids a reality.
You’ll hear from budget travelers, luxury travelers, families with babies, long-term travelers, digital nomads and those who fit travel inside a busy family and work lifestyle.
Introducing Tara from Travel Far Enough
I’ve gotten to know Tara over the past year as she’s a member of my mentoring group! She’s also a fellow lover of the USA having lived in Austin for some time. Travel has always been a part of her family’s life.
You’ll learn how she’s done this and now continues to travel with a teenager! Perhaps it’s not as scary as we think.
How do you fit travel into your lifestyle?
I think it’s more a case of ‘how do we fit life into our travel schedule?’
Travel has become a core focus for us and we’re traveling whenever we have an opportunity. Because of a custody arrangement for many years, we weren’t able to travel full time, despite our desire to do so. By the time the custody issue was resolved, Natalie was in the later years of high school.
Now she’s in her senior year, it makes it more challenging but we still make it work. Currently, it’s shorter trips with study books in tow.
We’re looking forward to travelling full time starting next year when Nat heads on her own life path beginning with University.
The plan is for her to join us when she can, no matter where we will be in the world. I’m looking forward to the day where she and I spend a long leisurely lunch catching up while sitting in a café in Italy.
How old are your children?
My daughter Natalie is 17. This time next year, she’ll be in Uni, studying to become a High School History teacher.
What’s your travel style?
We’re budget travellers, but love the occasional luxury. We love road trips, with the iTunes primed and audio books on standby.
How do you plan for your family travels?
We do it together. We decide where we want to go, then work together to plan the route and find interesting places to explore. We book the main stays and then go by the seat of our pants on the rest.
What about savings and travel budget – what’s your approach?
Let’s just say I’m as frugal as they come – in life and in travel. I will deal with underwear falling apart or delay getting a haircut to put that money toward travel.
I used to call my husband “Fiscal Boy’ but somehow the fiscal title has fallen to me. In fact, he was only saying the other day that he’s amazed at what I’ll give up to travel.
What things do you sacrifice in order to travel more?
A lot!…cafés, eating out, new clothes (we buy consignment or make do). We have worked very hard over the years to become debt free (no mortgage, car payment, credit card debt etc.) and because of that, are now full-time bloggers, planning for full-time travel next year. There is no empty nest syndrome here.
What do your kids think of travelling with you?
I have to say the attitude has been a rollercoaster over the years.
Travel has always been a part of our lives. I started traveling with Nat when she was a baby. When she was a toddler/school age I would pack a ‘secret backpack’ for her that was my secret weapon for successful travel during those years. She would get giddy about the secret backpack.
Now she’s 17, she’s looks forward to the next trip as soon as the last one ends. Travel has definitely had an affect on her: She’s ruled out returning to the U.S. for college (where she spent most of her life) and instead looking at Australia and New Zealand for her Uni degree. Crazy that N.Z. is on the list – we’ve only travelled there on a 12-day highlight trip last year.
Travel has definitely had an affect on her: She’s ruled out returning to the U.S. for college (where she spent most of her life) and instead looking at Australia and New Zealand for her Uni degree. Crazy that N.Z. is on the list – we’ve only travelled there on a 12-day highlight trip last year.
Do they help you plan your family travel trips?
Always. I had her plan the last road trip completely. It was a great ‘life lesson’.
Most times though we do it together. We decide what we want from the trip – why do we want to go there? What do we want to see? What have we heard about it? What are our expectations? Then we plan around that.
For example: On our New Zealand trip last year, Natalie wanted to see the ‘Lord of the Rings’ locations. I wanted to explore Milford Sound. My husband wanted the cultural experience. Then we mapped out where we needed to go, the best way to travel (flights, driving) and found interesting places along the way.
Do you have a funny or horror family travel story to share?
My horror story was on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles in 2009.
Natalie was overtired from the excitement of being around family for the first time in years, getting a lot of attention from aunties and cousins. By the time we boarded the flight home to Austin, she was emotionally strung out. She didn’t sleep the entire flight and ate very little, despite my efforts.
As we were waiting to disembark the plane in L.A., we had a line of people standing in the aisles, crowding us in our seats. It was claustrophobic to say the least. Natalie looked at me and said “I don’t feel well’.
I had just enough time to grab the ‘barf bag’ and put it to her mouth before she unloaded. Let’s just say that not all made the bag. We got stares from those standing above us, but luckily the girl on the aisle seat sitting in our row was a camp counsellor and used to kids getting sick. Somehow she managed to get some blankets to help clean things up.
Once we deplaned, got through immigration, I grabbed my bag from the carousel, pulled out fresh clothes for both of us and sent the nasties on to our next flight.
I considered staying in L.A. overnight to make sure Nat was ok, but once I got food in her, encouraged her to sleep during our 7-hour layover, we were back on board and headed to Austin. A worried husband was waiting at the other end for us, ready to deliver big hugs after what seemed to be the longest flight in history.
Morale of that story? Make sure you all get sleep, food and chill time before you get on the plane! Have snacks that the kids are interested in and carry on baby wipes at all times. In fact, I’ve handed over many to other parents on flights since!
How do you cope with the challenges of family travel?
I actually find it easy to travel with my daughter. She’s a really easy traveller and always has been. Maybe it was that secret backpack that set the tone!
I find it harder to travel with my daughter and husband together. I think having clear communication on the daily plan is key for my family. Everyone knows where we are going and when and it eases the tension when everyone knows the plan.
What do you love most about travelling with your kids?
She has told me many times that she loves travelling with me and the last time we travelled, she said that I come alive when I travel. That leads me to reconnect with her again, no matter how much of a sarcastic, hormonal teenager she can be. For me, that’s priceless time.
What do you hate about travelling with your kids?
I think my family is unlike most. We don’t travel a lot as a family. I travel with my husband and I travel with my daughter. Separately. I get to travel A LOT.
The only time I’ve hated travelling with my daughter was when she was around 13. She was hormonal, bitchy, and wasn’t interested in anything. She went kicking and screaming but with iPod/iPhone glued to her head, she eventually relented. It wouldn’t be until we got on the road that the attitude lifted.
What are your top tips for making family travel work?
- When they are young (4-11): Have a secret backpack for travelling with young ones.
- Have music you can all listen to when taking road trips. Take a trip to the library and pick out an audio book or two. To avoid your teenager wearing headphones the entire trip, have a 30 min rule where you each have a time to listen to your own music. Maybe you’ll expand your music library as a result!
- Have quiet time every day. Everyone needs it – kids and adults alike.
What are your biggest fears with travelling with kids and how do you overcome them?
I don’t have any fears travelling with my daughter. I did when she was younger, not long after 9/11. Oh, the discussions of what to say/not to say going through security. Like the time she asked why we had to take our shoes off. Now she just knows she has to do it, as sad as that is.
Why do you travel with your kids?
Why? Oh, let me count the ways!
I’ve always travelled and I knew after I had Nat that that would not change. I just packed her up and took her with me whenever and wherever I could.
I want to show her as much of the world as I can. I want Natalie to grow up to know the world. I want her to see with her own eyes what travel has to offer. I don’t want her to grow up in the isolated bubble of video games and cable TV that most kids experience nowadays.
By travelling, I’m giving my daughter the practical tools she needs to build confidence and live independently.
And, by travelling we connect, no matter how crazy daily life becomes.
Do you have any great resources you can share for helping people travel with their kids?
Other than my own website? We have lots of tips on travelling successfully with kids on our site. Spoken from experience, every one of them!
One tip which helps get teenagers engaged in travelling and aware of their surroundings (which, let’s face it, can be a challenge in this social media world) is geocaching. You can do this will little ones as well – it’s like a worldwide scavenger hunt!
What are some of your dream destinations to travel with kids or where do you think is a great destination for family travellers?
Our current dream is to go to Italy with Natalie as a family. She is studying Ancient History and we’d love to take her to Rome and Pompeii to view the ruins.
Otherwise, I think taking an epic road trip is a MUST for all parents to do one on one with their kids. We drove through the American mid-west together and it changed our lives. I don’t think the destination matters for this, as long as you plan it together and be present for every priceless moment.
Where can people connect with you?
Tara Marlow is the founder, writer, photographer and creative genius behind www.TravelFarEnough.com. Faced with the reality of working insatiable work weeks in a corporate job, she questioned the path she was on. One night, the following quote flashed before her eyes as she surfed Pinterest: “Travel Far Enough…You’ll Find Yourself.” Given that she was simply existing in her life at the time, she jumped head first. She quit her 20+ year corporate career to travel, write and photograph the world. She’s now on a completely new adventure to make her life matter. She is currently in Australia.