Introducing my next Travel Blogger, Colleen Lanin of Travel Mamas. I like the name…travel mama *smiles*
While doing my ‘quest check’ on travel bloggers, I was checking out one of my favourite travel mom bloggers’, Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel, facebook page when I saw a link concerning a travel conference on how to travel with babies and kids. Colleen was going to be one of the guest speakers. So I clicked on her site and voila! I got hooked!
Q. Please kindly introduce yourself
A. My name is Colleen Lanin. I am the author of the Travel Mama’s Guide and the founder of TravelMamas.com. I teach blogging classes and speak as a family travel expert. I have a master’s degree in Business Administration with a background in marketing. As a freelance writer, my articles have appeared online and in print on the “Today’s Show” website, on NBCNews.com, in the Chicago Tribune, Working Mother Magazine and more. I have lived in Arizona, Minnesota and Southern France. Now I make my home in San Diego with my husband, two children, a perpetually shedding dog and a somewhat cranky cat. My greatest passions in life are parenting, travel, writing, teaching and hotel pools (not neccessarily in that order).
Q. Describe yourself in three words.
A. Energetic, silly and driven.
Q. Tell us more about your blog. When did you start it and what inspired you to start one?
A. I launched TravelMamas.com in March of 2009. I wanted to create the site I wished had existed when I first became a mom. I want to help parents connect better with their children and the world around them through travel.
Q. How many countries have you travelled to?
A. I have travelled to about 25 countries in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. Someday I hope to travel to Africa, Asia, Australia and South America.
Q. Where are your “Must-Travel” destinations for individuals, couples, family and groups?
A. For women travelling alone, I recommend a trip to Scandinavia. I spent seven-and-a-half weeks exploring Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Finland as a college student one summer years ago and always felt welcomed and safe. I remember taking a train up to the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland and I couldn’t sleep for the excitement of chasing the sun, which refused to set. The region’s natural beauty is spectacular with green, green, green everywhere. Plus, pretty much everyone speaks English fluently, a bonus for Americans and other English speakers.
For couples, I have a soft spot for Jamaica, where my husband and I honeymooned. The locals are so friendly and the beaches so alluring with clear blue water and powdery beaches that seem to stretch on forever.
For families, you really can’t go wrong with a visit to any of the Hawaiian islands. Warm weather, water activities galore, luaus, the laidback attitude of the locals make for a relaxing vacation for children and adults alike.
As for multigenerational groups, I suggest a Disney Cruise. You might think Disney is all about children and children only, but really a Disney Cruise offers something for all ages…from spas, adult-only upscale dining and Broadway calibre live entertainment to poolside movies, pirate-themed parties and kids’ clubs for children of all ages, including teens. Large families can go their separate ways during the day, exploring Alaska, the Mediterranean and beyond…and then gather together on the boat to swap stories about their adventures over dinner.
Q. You wrote a book, “Travel Mamas’ Guide”. Please tell us more about it and what inspired you to write it.
A. “The Travel Mamas’ Guide” is 22 chapters of humorous stories and advice for travelling with babies and children. Based on my personal experience as well as tips from other travel aficionados, childcare experts, and regular moms and dads—the book takes the worry out of family travels.
When I first became a mom I looked for a book on how to travel with kids but I couldn’t find what I wanted. So, I started asking everyone I knew for travel tips. I had been taking writing classes for years but hadn’t submitted anything for publication. I started writing down all of my tips and pretty soon I realized I was writing a book!
Q. How do you handle yor travel finances? E.g. Saving tips
A. Here are just a few ideas to save money when traveling: try to travel off-season, eat simple items for breakfast in your hotel room or choose a hotel with included breakfast, and sign up for rewards programs to earn discounts and get upgrades.
Q. A lot of people, especially working moms, are looking for ways to leave the “white-collar” jobs and start their own business (e.g. the blogging business). What’s your advice to them?
A. I teach blogging classes and I always tell my students to write about their passion. People want to read good writing and you will write well when you write about what inspires you. Whether it’s cooking, crafting, sports, humour, you kids, or your cat…someone else shares your interests. Blogging provides a wonderful opportunity to share your life’s passion with like-minded people. I also suggest taking a writing class and photography class or two before you get started. Many bloggers are focused solely on the business side of blogging, but there is an art to it that should not be ignored.
Q. What were/are your challenges in managing your blog?
A. Time! It is a constant struggle for me to balance my blog, my book, teaching classes, doing speaking engagements, writing freelance writing projects and, of course, parenting! Blogging can be a grind but if can be a whole lot of fun too.
Q. Please give us your personal experience of how your blog has changed your life.
A. Blogging has made me take risks I would not have otherwise. I am more open to trying new things for the sake of my blog…like parasailing, dog-sledding, and surfing. It has forced me out of my comfort zone to do public speaking and make television appearances. And it has introduced me to others who share my passion for travel. I have met some of my best friends through blogging.
Q. A word or two to our readers.
A. Don’t be afraid to pack up the kids and travel, whether to another area of the world or the next town over. There is something to be learned and new experiences to be had, no matter the destination. Don’t wait until the kids are grown to get out there—life is meant to be lived today!