Q: What does “Well Traveled” mean to your family?
To me “Well Traveled” means saying yes more than saying no when it comes to travel opportunities. And by that I mean that my definition of travel is broad and includes everything from round-the-world travel to adventures in the next neighborhood. I’m always looking for new places to visit and love nothing more than to play tourist in a nearby city or town. To me being well traveled is a mindset – it’s about being open to new experiences everywhere you go.
Q: How does your family make travel a priority?
We make travel a priority in just about every way. We sit down in January and figure out where we want to go during the next calendar year and what we need to do budgetarily and time-wise to make that travel happen. It means that after 15 years my husband and I are still living with the same bedroom furniture as when we were a young married couple, but that’s because both of us would rather spend our money on experiences than things. It also means that our children sometimes have to make choices about their participation in activities. Our older son loves playing Little League and so we don’t travel much during his season. But we’ve all agreed that he doesn’t need to participate in the summer All Stars season because that would interfere with our ability to go away in July and August.
Q: What advice would you have for parents looking to travel more?
My advice is to be creative and unafraid when it comes to travel. You don’t need huge amounts of money or large chunks of time to make family travel happen, just an open mind. Look for destinations that are within a couple of hours of where you live and fit trips into weekends. Even day trips can be like mini vacations – check out a new neighborhood or museum and cap off your day by eating at a restaurant that serves food from a country you’ve never visited. And if you have a larger dream trip in mind, start planning early – make a budget and put aside some money each month until you can cover your expenses. Treat travel like you would any other important budget item.
Q: What are your top 3 must-have items when heading out on vacation?
Increasingly I use my cell phone as a multi-tasking device when I travel – I have apps that help organize my itinerary, find and make reservations at local restaurants, call cabs, and take and share gorgeous photos. My two other travel must-haves are water bottles for every member of my family (I hate paying for water and the environmental impact of disposable bottles) and an emergency kit with sunscreen, bandages, disinfectant, pain meds, antihistimines and hand sanitzer. It never hurts to be prepared.
Q: What is the most unique thing you’ve experienced during your travels as a family?
It’s very hard for me to say what the most unique thing we’ve ever experience is because we’ve had so many fabulous trips over the past decade. Moments that stand out include the time we kayaked with manatees in Fort Myers, Florida and my older son was able to reach over the edge of our kayak and touch one that was pushing our boat, swimming in Lac Leman in Switzerland, and getting caught in a huge rainstorm in the middle of Paris.
6. Where is next on your family’s travel bucket list?
In the immediate future we have trips planned to the Upper Midwestern United States as well as Maine and Vermont; my husband and I will also visited Scotland without the kids this fall in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary. But our big travel dream is to take a few months and circumnavigate, stopping in places like Australia and China. We’re hoping that will come true in 2015.
Mara Gorman may live at sea level in Delaware, but she’s a native New Englander and mountain aficionado who grew up skiing and hiking in Vermont. Mara travels with her husband and two school-age sons and blogs about her family’s many travel adventures at The Mother of all Trips. She is also an award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in various USA Today print publications as well as on websites such as Expedia and AOL Travel. When there’s no snow to ski on, Mara and her family can be found hiking, biking, and eating around the United States and Europe.