Mary Solio is an island girl at heart (via Philippines and Guam) who now calls San Diego, CA home. She has traveled the world with two kids in tow while juggling a full-time job as a computer programmer and writing about the family’s travels with tips and guides on her blog, The World Is A Book. She loves national parks, cruises, castles and quirky museums.
|Mary, cuddling a koala in the world’s biggest koala sanctuary, Lone Pine Koala sanctuary in Brisbane. Photo by Mary Solio.|
How did the whole concept of the blog came into fruition?
I started this family travel blog three years ago as a way to document our travels for my kids and for something for my kids to read about our adventures. We knew they weren’t going to remember the details and parts of their trips despite the many photos and videos. I also had family and friends who asked us for travel tips and itineraries to specific cities so the blog was some place to refer them to.It evolved into inspiring other family travelers to go out there and explore with their kids no matter what age and sharing our tips and stories.
Who constructs the itinerary for the day? Is there an itinerary to begin with, or do you simply go with gut feel?
I usually take care of the itineraries, do most of the research before the trip and do most of the bookings. I am my family’s travel agent. I’m too much of a planner not to have an itinerary. My husband gives his input too. As the kids have gotten older, they have also started contributing to the itineraries and help research.
|Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Photo by Mary Solio.|
Do you allow your kid to explore outdoor activities (e.g. hiking,spelunking)?
Absolutely. My kids are outdoor enthusiasts. They love hiking and especially exploring the American national parks and the beach. They’re also big fans of water activities. My husband and I have always believed that it’s important for the kids to enjoy nature and the great outdoors.
What’s that one thing you can’t leave home without when packing with kids?
The camera. We love taking photos and I’m sure you can see that from our blog. In the end, we only have our memories and photos after these trips are over.
Name a favorite place you and your family will never tire of visiting.
Japan. I have been fascinated with Japan and anything Japanese since I was small. I’ve visited a few times and my family has visited twice and we can’t wait to return. It’s an enchanting country with some of the most helpful and friendliest people we’ve ever met.
|Mary with her family in one of her favorite places in the world: Nagoya Castle. Photo by Mary Solio.|
How do you fund your travels? What tip can you give moms who plan on long-term traveling, finance-wise?
My husband and I work full-time so we set aside money for our travels.We’re not full-time travelers or do long-term travels but I believe it’s always important to set something aside strictly for travel purposes, no matter how small, every month. Be vigilant about evaluating your expenses.
As a traveling parent, what challenges does having a kid on board travels bear on you as a parent?
When my kids were younger, it was more challenging to travel with them.Traveling was a little bit slower. We had to be more flexible with our itineraries and not do too many things in one day. We scheduled things around nap times, stopped at playgrounds and parks and slept a little earlier. As they have gotten older, it has gotten so much better and easier to travel with them.
How do you keep up with chores/ tasks while on the road? Do you delegate? Who babysits when you’re busy doing mom duties?
Chores such as picking and cleaning up after themselves still apply to everyone. Everyone is responsible for their personal items while traveling especially on planes and when we’re sightseeing. When there’s any driving involved in a foreign country, my husband is the designated chauffeur. I have always traveled with my husband so if any mom duties popped up, he was there to babysit.
|Mary’s kids enjoying the sunset in Hawaii’s . Photo by Mary Solio.|
Let’s talk tantrums and all those not-so-fun stuff associated with traveling with kids. How do you deal with those? Do you do games? How ’bout food?
My kids have thrown tantrums during trips of course and they have fought with each other. My husband and I would have to take each child somewhere private and deal with the situation accordingly. Just because we’re on vacation doesn’t mean the rules we have at home don’t apply anymore.
My kids are picky eaters and we’ve learned to introduce new foods slowlyand start with something familiar. It also helps to promise them adelicious dessert if they try something new or finish their food. Ialways carry quite a bit of snacks, papers and crayons for drawing, andelectronics are a big help. Well-fed and well-rested kids make for bettertravel companions.
Is there a point when all the traveling with the kids gets tiring andyou question yourself, “Why the heck am I even doing this?”
Luckily, after over 11 years of traveling with kids, I haven’t reached that point. All the challenges have been worth it to see the excitement as they help plan our itineraries. The joys on their faces when they finally see an attraction or experience something during our travels have been priceless. I know that in the long run, traveling with my kids will help them be more aware of the world they live in, see and understand the differences in people and culture and be better global citizens.
|Stunning Gulfoss Falls in Iceland. Photo by Mary Solio.|
Has motherhood bettered you as a traveler, or the opposite?
It has absolutely made me a much better traveler. I am more aware of my surroundings, pay more attention to details and I have slowed down the way I sightsee and travel. I see things from different perspectives now and it’s been interesting to see the world through my children’s eyes. I’ve also become a better multitasker and planner.
What crucial life lesson do you take from all this as a traveling mother?
Cherish the time you spend as a family and have fun despite the challenges. Take funny photos and funny poses. Enjoy each destination as if this is the last time you will visit.
Last shout-out to moms on traveling with kids of all stages, and nay-sayers who don’t believe women be left to travel solo or with the kids.
Don’t wait until your kids are old enough to travel anywhere or for you to have enough money to start traveling. The memories and experiences will always overcome all the challenges along the way. You only have a few precious years with your kids and you never know what the future holds for all of you. Go out there and see the world. You can start by exploring your own town or city.
|One of Mary’s Tacky Tourist collections. The kids “hanging on the edge of a cliff” at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Photo by Mary Solio.
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