- You don’t have to go long term to get the benefits and enjoyment of travel, but I do thinking going slowly and not trying to pack too much into any one trip is important.
- We generally stay in vacation rentals and use Airbnb to book most of our stays. (Use my code to get a discount on your first time using Airbnb) By booking for a month, we usually get a substantial monthly discount, but most places offer weekly discounts, as well. Staying in an Airbnb saves us money of food, too, as we can cook many of our own meals.
- We often use public transportation (instead of renting a car or taking a guided tour) both to save money and to add to the experience. There is nothing like a train trip through Switzerland!
- Unfortunately, you do need to book your lodging in most places in advance. I’d like to be more spontaneous, but with so many people traveling these days, it can be hard to show up somewhere and get a place that works for you.
I have always enjoyed travel. As a kid growing up in southern California with a single mom, we did a lot of local travel — camping in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, skiing in Big Bear, exploring Solvang or the La Brea Tar Pits, and many more. These types of closer-to-home travels and small adventures are still some of my favorite trips.
As I got older, I continued these travel adventures, often with an outdoorsy bent, and added International outings. My first trip out of the country (other than Canada and Mexico) was to China in 1995. To say it was different than I was used to is an understatement. In my twenties, I spent time in Central and South America, as these were often the least expensive places for me to get to and travel in. Plus, my high school Spanish worked pretty well.
Since then, I’ve trekked in Peru, watched polar bears and the Aurora borealis in Manitoba, Canada, and found other ways to entertain myself in far flung places.
In 2016, my husband and I decided to sell our house in Montana and most of our stuff to travel around Europe for a year with our kiddos, then eight- and nine-years-old. I think we were feeling restless and wanted some sort of change. We figured if we could travel for a year, why wouldn’t we? We stayed in a different country each month and tried to get as deep into the culture and place as we could in that short time.
Since we’ve returned from that year abroad, we’ve spent a few months in Central America and Mexico — yay for high school Spanish, again! — drove around the eastern United States for 40 days, lived in Europe for three months last summer, and are now in Hungary and Slovakia for the winter. In between all those big trips, we’ve had a bunch of little ones — floating the San Juan River in Utah and the Smith River in Montana, skiing and hiking in Yellowstone National Park (our backyard), and road trip around neighboring states.
As a mom, I want my kids to grow up as world citizens. Our little town in Montana has an amazing community and we love it dearly, but there is so much more out there to see. I want my kids to understand that people live differently…and that’s mostly a good thing. Diversity makes us stronger as a people. I believe that travel opens our minds, teaches responsibility, and builds resilience. And it’s really fun. I wrote about Why Travel with Kids here.
In another five years, I hope we are still traveling a lot. My boys will be 16 and 18, so who knows what life will look like at that point. Right now we are trying to figure out a way to live in Montana about half the year and travel the other half, because another things we’ve learned from travel is that we really like being home among our friends and community, too. But first, we are spending the rest of December in Budapest and January in Slovakia.
Tips for Families Who Want to Travel