Elaine is the creator of the family travel blog Carpe-Travel.com, a travel site focused on balancing work, life & traveling with kids. Elaine talks to us about her proudest moments and traveling as a family.
What inspired you to start traveling?
My dad. He had this plan for retirement – travel the world. But cancer took him at when he was only 53 years old. His “someday I’ll do this” never happened. I was sitting on a patio in New Orleans a few months after he died thinking about how he never got see Italy, Greece or any of the places he wanted to visit. So I made MY make it happen list. And I started making it happen.
What is your proudest accomplishment you achieved while traveling?
There really are quite a few. I think first, getting over my fears and just doing it is the biggest one. But a specific accomplishment would have to be traveling solo with my (newly adopted) two-year-old daughter from Chita, Siberia (Russia) back into Moscow and then home to Denver. She barely knew me. Didn’t speak English and my Russian is laughable. Given she had never been out of the orphanage, everything was new and terrifying for her. The car ride to the airport. Entering the airport. The crowds. Going through security. Visiting the airport bathroom, which scared her for life, (I did write about that one, it’s pretty funny now). Boarding the plane, which meant walking the length of a football field in negative 34 degrees to board. And then enduring a seven-hour flight back into Moscow on a tiny, turbulent plane.
When we landed in Moscow I felt like I could finally breath. She and I conquered it all, with very few tears; although I did feel like crying more times than one. Now when I think back on how hard that trip was I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that I did it. When we travel with the girls now and things start to get difficult I look back on this experience and take a breath. We can conquer anything.
What is your travel mantra?
Don’t wait, just do it. (Sorry to sound like a Nike commercial).
You travel as a family, is it difficult to travel with children?
Yes and no. When we first started traveling with our kids it felt a lot harder. We were new parents so we had all the “stuff” you’re “supposed to have” along with the nerves and fears about taking a baby places, until we traveled with a baby. (Our first daughter was racking up airline miles when she was just a few months old.) Once you travel with kids and you know how to prepare for it and you set your travel expectations it’s much easier. There are still bumps in the road but as long as we make it fun for them – who knew a three-hour delay could be fun – traveling with our kids isn’t as hard as people tend to think.
Did you make any rookie mistakes when you first started traveling?
Of course! We almost got kidnapped in Brazil when we first arrived in Rio. We quickly learned only to take taxis from the taxi stand. And in Russia, we went nearly a day without being able to buy food. You always have to carry cash; the credit card machines regularly tend to be down.
What’s the best bit of travel advice you have ever received?
Don’t wait. Do it while you can really experience it.
Fun Fast Five…
What was the first overseas trip you took?
If you had to chose a country other than your own to settle down in, where would it be and why?
I don’t think I’ve traveled to one I could live in long-term, at least not yet. Perhaps Italy…but I may get bored with their wine (I say that sarcastically). I do know what countries I wouldn’t settle down in. That’s a good start.
What city was best value for money?
I’m not sure if you can still get as much bang for your buck in Roatan, Honduras. But on my first trip there I had just one day to soak it in and only $20 in my pocket. With that I was able eat an amazing lunch, shop in the market, grab a boat taxi to rent snorkeling gear and go snorkeling with a group of friends. I still had $2 left at the end of the day so I grabbed a few beers and watched the sunset before heading out.
What is your preferred method of travel; Trains, Planes, Driving or Cruising?
I like to go on cruises and really do enjoy them but they do limit where you can go and what you can see. I also love to take trains since you can see so much of a country and meet some interesting people along the way. But I prefer planes. They’re just faster and if I have a place I want to get to, I want to be there already. Planes usually make that happen.
If you could only describe yourself as one would it be: beach bum, city slicker or country bumpkin?
I’d have to say a city slicker. While I love being a beach bum I bore easily and need to get out and do something.
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