If you’re a parent, then you know that traveling with kids is no easy feat. It seems most parents with young children travel less frequently or not at all. But not Colleen Lanin. When she became a mother five years ago, the consummate adventurer was determined to continue exploring the world — with her kids in tow. Colleen sought advice from other parents and read what little books were available on the subject. The tips she collected proved helpful, impelling her to share them with the moms and dads of the world. And thus was the genesis of Travel Mamas, a website for traveling with babies, toddlers, children and teens. Currently, Travel Mamas is celebrating its first anniversary with discounts and giveaways. Learn more here.
Read about Colleen’s adventures as a travel mama in our interview below. Need additional guidance? Ask your questions in the comments section.
- What is the most kid-friendly vacation you’ve taken?
The most kid-friendly vacation I’ve ever taken is a Disney Mediterranean Cruise, which I took when my daughter was two-and-a-half-years-old. Some vacations seem to focus more on the children’s needs than the parents, while others are more grown-up centric. However, this vacation was such fun for every member of our family! My husband and I loved eating the food, experiencing the cultures and learning about the history of different countries during our excursions. Our daughter learned so much about the world, heard different languages and even said “hi” and “thank you” in Italian, Spanish & French in the varying port towns. She loved throwing a penny in the Trevi Fountain and playing in various parks with local children during the day and then being greeted by Donald Duck when we re-boarded the ship. A lot of people envision a Disney Cruise as an assault on the senses but the ship was really very classy and subdued. And the customer service? Forget about it!
- What’s the biggest kid-related snafu you’ve encountered on a trip?
On our flight home to San Diego from Barcelona from our Disney Cruise, our connecting flight in Atlanta was delayed several hours while maintenance tried to fix the plane’s air conditioning. This meant we sat on a HOT plane for three hours while they tried to fix the problem. Then we disembarked for another hour. Finally we re-boarded and took off. Unfortunately half-way through the flight the pilot announced that due to noise control regulations, it was too late in the night and our plane could not land in San Diego. Instead, we were diverted to Los Angeles where we boarded a charter bus for the hour and a half ride home. Our long trip home had become an incredibly, ridiculously long trek home. Thank goodness my older sister (a Travel Mama of triplets) had advised me to always pack twice the diapers, snacks, and bottles than you think you will need for just such a delay!
- Did you always know you wanted children?
I have always wanted children. They can be a lot of work and there are definitely days when I look at the clock and count down the hours until bedtime but I have never once wished I didn’t have kids. I can’t imagine a life without being a mom. I wouldn’t want to.
- What invention in the last ten years has most transformed your traveling with kids experience?
I’ve only been a mom for five years, but I would say the biggest invention that has changed travel in my lifetime is rolling wheels on luggage. Can you believe we used to lug our heavy bags to and fro in airports?! What a simple thing, yet such a huge thing!
- Name three places you plan to return to, with or without the kids!
I do have a few places I could happily return to again and again. One would definitely be Hawaii. I’ve been to all of the islands besides the forbidden island and the Big Island. Another is France. I lived in Montpellier in Southern France during one year of college. There is absolutely nothing in the world like a fresh-baked croissant with a cup of café crème in France! For my third pick, I think I’ll choose San Antonio, Texas. My family and I visited San Antonio earlier this month for a few days and there was so much that I still wanted to see and explore. River Walk was so romantic…I’d love to return for a getaway with just my husband next time!
- Thus far, which travel destination has been most awe-inspiring to your kids?
Both of my kids are still pretty young (my son just turned two and my daughter just turned five) so they are still pretty awed by simple things! My daughter’s favorite destination is always the last place she visited. Moments where we connect with nature are usually the most awe-inspiring to children and adults, I think. We often visit botanical gardens when we travel to give the kids a chance to run around and get some fresh air. I hope to plan a couple of trips that allow us to connect with nature over the next year. I’d love to visit a national park, like Yosemite, or take the kids skiing, or…gulp…take the kids camping!
Need more tips on traveling with kids? Check out the wealth of information on www.travelmamas.com.