Natalie, Wife and Mother of two manages to balance her love for travel with her family back home in Carolina. Her three loves (other than caramel frappachinos and the three at home!) are reading, writing and travelling, describing herself as a “reading-writing-researching nerd” blogging along with freelance writing was a no-brainer for her. We thought we should stop in for a chat with her, to find out more:
- Why did you decide to start travelling the world?
My parents have been a massive influence on my love of travel. From the time I was small, they made sure that my sister and I went on adventures both locally and abroad whenever they had extra money. Now that I’m a parent, I know that they made a lot of personal sacrifices in order to give my sister and I those experiences, and I am so grateful that I grew up with such a broad world view.
Once I was in college, I continued the tradition, and anytime I’d have even a little extra money, I’d find a way to travel! For me, travelling isn’t an optional thing: at this point in my life, it is a part of my life–and that of my family.
- Did you have anybody telling you this path was a bad idea? How did you overcome that?
It’s funny: friends and family are usually intrigued when they find out that I’m a travel writer and travel constantly with my two young children. However, after they realize that I’m going on yet another trip in a short time span, I start to get the “Why don’t you stay home for a while?” comments.
I also get A LOT of “Why are you bothering to take your kids? They’re too small to remember any of this,” which is frustrating. They are very small, and they probably won’t remember all of it, but that’s not what my husband and I are trying to accomplish. We’re trying to instil a sense of wonderment, learning, and passion into our kids one trip at a time–and they will remember that in the long run. Plus, travelling with them forces us to really live in the moment!
When I get those side-eye glances and less-than-supportive comments, I just have to remember that it doesn’t matter if everyone I meet agrees with my decisions. Their lives and perspectives are important, but I have to do what is compelling and best for myself and my family, which is travel.
- Did you ever think it was too big a challenge for you?
Often! I am not a trust fund baby, so all of my travels have been painstakingly paid for by whatever means necessary. In college, that meant not going out with friends or buying tickets to the next football game. Nowadays, that means not having the latest model car or brand new clothes. These days, I pay for my travels exclusively through what I can earn from my blog and freelance writing, so I hustle and work whenever I have a free moment.
Right now, the biggest challenge is balancing my workload (the blogging and writing that allows me to fund my trips) with my day-to-day life with a 4-year-old and an 8-month-old. It’s not easy, and requires many, many late nights and early mornings.
- Have you met anybody that has given your adventures direction?
My uncle, a retired biology professor, always had these bigger-than-life adventures that he would tell me when I was a kid: he did research on black bears in Appalachia and studied migratory patterns of birds in Ecuador. He’s now in his late 70s and still riding camels in Egypt, exploring castles in the UK, and cruising in Alaska. His combination of immersive travel and educational perspective is very similar to how I like to travel.
- What was your first big travelling adventure like as you were getting on the plane heading into the unknown?
As a child, it was the first time I went on an aeroplane: we were going to California, and I was 5. I’d never been on an aeroplane before, and it was the most thrilling thing that my kindergarten mind could imagine!
As an adult, that first big adventure was when I went overseas for the first time alone. I studied abroad in London while I was in college, and that experience was terrifying but so rewarding. My time there literally changed the course of my life, as I ended up quitting law school a few years down the road in order to get a degree in British Literature. That love of writing, reading, and learning ultimately drove me to create my blog and devote myself to a life of travel!
- What’s been your favourite location to date and why?
I have been obsessed with the UK since I took British Literature in the 11th grade. Since then, I’ve been to the country 6 times (including that study abroad experience I talked about above), and I’ve traveled extensively around Ireland (not the UK, but still in the British Isles).
As a devoted Anglophile, I am in love with the history and literature of England and Scotland and even wrote my M.A. thesis on post-World War II literature set in London.
The bustle of London, the quaint towns of the Cotswolds, and the picturesque lochs in Scotland feel like a second home to me. England and Scotland were the first places that I took my husband after we were married, and he fell in love, too. I’m already trying to plan another trip back so I can introduce my kids to the UK!
- What’s the biggest reward you get from travelling?
I love the depth of knowledge that I get from experiencing new places: the history, the food, the culture, the customs. It’s so true that the more I learn, the less I know, but that knowledge that I am able to grasp makes my life so much richer.
- If you could give anybody three pieces of advice looking to get into travelling what would they be?
Plan, plan, plan. You cannot ever plan too much. Traveling is not cheap, so I make sure that I am making the most out of every coin and bill.
Know that your plan will probably change when you’re on the ground. One upside of planning as much as I do is that I always have an alternative if we miss a train or find out an attraction closed suddenly. Plus, it gives us options based on how we feel each day of our travels!
You will feel uncomfortable, but it’s likely no one will notice but you. Being out of your element is disconcerting, and part of the experience of travel is learning to be comfortable in inherently uncomfortable situations. If you’re nervous, that’s perfectly normal: strike up a conversation with a few locals or take in a meal, and those jitters will be gone quickly.
- Finally, what’s next on your Bucket List?
I’m headed to Puerto Rico with my husband in September, then we’re taking our kids with us to go camping in the Florida Keys in January 2018. We’re also hoping to go to either Angkor Wat, Cambodia, or Machu Picchu in Peru in 2018, both of which are major bucket list items for me!
Massive thank you to Natalie for her inspiration! To find out more on Natalie’s mad organisation skills and colour coordinated wardrobe head over to her blog!
If you travel with children/babies we want to hear about how you manage,! Drop us a message below.