As time goes by, we wonder how things will turn out and how we will get back to “normal”. However, the answer may be to create a “new-normal”. At the end of the day, only time will tell.
We like to stay positive and think that this new-normal will always include traveling in any shape or form, whether it is a walk in the forest, a bike ride to the lake, a road trip to a lovely nearby town, or train ride or a holiday to that place you have always dreamed of going… We love to imagine our next getaway and make all the respective planning. It does not only help us stay positive, but it gives us a sense of pursuit and hope.
In looking for ways to keep our travel spirit alive, we got in touch with a lovely family of travel journalists, bloggers and YouTubers, who agreed to share their own travel experience and stories, how they cope nowadays, and how they live their life as an on-the-go family. We spoke directly to Anne-Sophie, married to Peter and mom of three kids.
These are the stories we have the pleasure to read from her. Enjoy!
Tell us about yourselves
We are a French family of five traveling around the world. And this is me, Anne-Sophie! I’m the very talkative type of person writing our Instagram posts, our blog articles and dealing with all the emails. There is Pete, my husband, the artist in our family. He’s in charge of all the creative part; taking all the pictures and making all the videos which will be our best memories for years to come.
Maïa is my stepdaughter, she is 11. She is not with us all the time since she also lives with her mom. She’s always in a good mood, willing to help others and always open to new adventures.
Eliott is our 5-year-old son. He is rarely in a good mood, very chatty and exhausting. He lives to travel. He loves animals and waking up in new places. Eliott is the happiest when we are around the world.
Ezra is 2. He is used to be taken everywhere and he does not mind as long as his family is with him. He is very loving, and he enjoys running everywhere, laughing hard and discovering new foods.
Together, we try and live all kinds of adventures. Close from our home in the Caribbean, around the world, it doesn’t really matter as long as we get to spend time together (which will not last forever… we know that!).
How many years have you been traveling as a family?
We have always been traveling together.
I met Maïa when she was two. Our first trip together was to Florida… to meet her favorite Disney characters!
Eliott crossed the ocean for the first time when he was one month old. I have to admit, I felt pretty stressed about taking an 8-hour flight with a newborn (would he cry much? Would I manage changing his diaper easily? Would other passengers be nice to me?), but 4 years later, when I took my first flight with Ezra and Eliott (and WITHOUT their dad), I couldn’t care less. I guess I had learnt that the more relaxed you are, the easiest it is to travel with kids.
So far, we have been traveling only during holiday periods because of our jobs. But, we feel like we are still missing out of so much. These days, I have discovered I love teaching my kids… I’m not scared about home-schooling anymore!
We might leave for a full-time adventure soon too!
How did you end up being a traveling family?
I grew up in a traveling family so I guess it was obvious for me that I would travel with my husband and my kids someday.
My parents used to take me everywhere! My father is such an inspiration to me, he sailed across the Atlantic several times and even sank in the Mediterranean Sea before being rescued by a Greek cargo ship.
We used to have a sailing boat in the Caribbean where we spent several weeks every year.
I remember that once, my brother and I really dreamed of traveling to the US, but my mother, who didn’t have many holidays, wanted to take some horseback riding courses. My father told my mother to do what she really wanted to do, and he took my brother and I to the US. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to try and be as cool as my father once I had kids of my own.
I kept traveling by myself, spent one summer in Hawaii with my best friend, fell in love in South Africa, went to university in Montreal and San Francisco and worked in New York.
When I met my husband, we spent our first summer together traveling across Europe and I came back convinced that someone who loved traveling as much as I did was worth trying to live with.
Do you prefer any particular modes of travel? Plane, train, cruise or road-trip?
We really love all kinds of adventure; whether it’s swimming with whales 10-minutes away from our home or taking 5 different planes to go and discover black rhinos in Kenya. Spending one week on a Disney cruise ship to see our kids have the time of their life or sleeping in a freezing cold tent in Glacier National Park, before going on a 4-hour-hike hoping not to see grizzly bears from too close. We enjoy every minute spent together, no matter where, no matter how!
Which are your must-have things to travel with?
I’m not a light traveler; I’m not going to lie. Not even because I’m traveling with kids… it’s just the way I am.
I can’t decide on leaving things that might be super useful later. Which is silly, I know, because only a few things are really essential. I am very lucky because my husband is super talented at packing. Whether it is in a bag, in a car, or in a cruise ship room, he has the superpower to make everything fit. And he never complains that I brought too much with us… even if he would be so right to do it (but please, don’t tell him!).
We have some must-haves, though! Things I have been using every time with the kids. I would start with a good diaper bag. Mine comes from @meromero_collection. It is French, resilient, super convenient and beautiful; those 3 qualities are so difficult to find in one diaper bag, I’m sure a lot of parents will know what I mean. This one has a plus: while you walk with your sleeping jet-lagged toddler in the plane, this diaper bag can be used as a toddler carrier!, meaning you still have 2 free hands to carry all the other bags you’ve brought.
I also have the Minu stroller from @uppababy_france. It’s the strongest and most convenient stroller I’ve ever had. And trust me, I have had several of them! You can fold it on the plane, and it comes with a great travel bag that protects it if you want to check it in.
Every time we leave on an adventure, I get 3 surprise bags ready for the kids. I take their carry-on bags, one for each, and I fill them with surprises. I have always done that, and they are crazy about it! It adds some magic to our trips and… helps a lot!
I try to find books about what we are going to do/see – activity books (mess free coloring kits, sticker activity books, scratch magic books or cards) – things that won’t ask me to look under seats for missing pen caps or clean all my kids clothes before arriving somewhere. Also, their favorite toys – Ma Fabrique à Histoires @luniimaginaire, which is a French interactive screen-free storyteller (available in English too) that my kids can’t live without whether we are in a plane, a train or on a road trip… it’s the best!
What is the best travel advise you can give to families traveling with children?
To all the families hesitating to travel because they fear what other people will think, or they fear that it will be too challenging, I feel you! It will be exhausting and even scary sometimes BUT you will learn… and earn… and grow so much on your adventures!
Travel will be easier with practice! You will become more confident, more relaxed and your kids will get used to that. The thing is to learn to let go. For sure, your kids won’t always be able to take a nap, they’ll go to bed way past their bedtime, they won’t always eat a healthy meal, spend too much time watching cartoons on a plane, or only shower one day out of two. Bur, so what? Is that really what you will remember 10 years from now?
Are you still traveling these days?
Since March 15th, we are respecting the French lock-down. We are in our house, in Guadeloupe, French West Indies. We spend our days homeschooling the kids, working, swimming, since we are lucky enough to have a pool, and looking at the whales in the ocean in front of our house. We can’t really complain, but we miss our family, especially my parents who are in the South West of France.
How do you and your job cope with the current situation as it is?
It is really frustrating for us to be locked in our home, as it may be for many. We were supposed to travel to Egypt, to spend Easter with my parents. My mother had a plane ticket to come and celebrate my birthday in Guadeloupe, and well, right now we just hope everybody is safe and that we are able to go to France in July.
The kids miss going to the beach, seeing their friends and going to birthday parties. And my husband misses surfing. It’s even harder as we have had beautiful waves that he can see from our balcony every day. I miss having time alone… silence… and being able to spend time with my husband. Just the two of us in a restaurant, for example.
Do you travel at all these days?
Unfortunately, We can’t leave home for a couple more weeks here in Guadeloupe as it’s a French island. Since all our plans for this summer are cancelled, I’m traveling in my head by imagining some new itineraries. I look up places in France that I would not normally have considered otherwise. We enjoy watching some of our travel videos with the kids and we talk a lot about what they liked most about some of the places we discovered together. And, of course, we work on the around-the-world tour that we have all been dreaming of! Instagram is also a cool place to hang out. Some people are getting very creative while stuck at home. In France, Jessica from @mesptitsboutdumonde created a challenge in which people recreate some of their travel pictures but… indoors. I also love supporting brands that make me travel while carrying strong messages such as @offtolove_brand.
What is your best advice for those who are unable to travel right now?
Many people, us included, are locked down right now. Some were planning trips, and now are dealing with the stress of cancellation and don’t know when and how they’ll be able to travel. We try to focus on the fact that we are all healthy and that the situation could be worse than what we are currently experiencing. But it is challenging and disturbing. Now might be the perfect time to think about our way of life and try and change certain things. We, particularly, try our best to minimize our impact on the planet, for example. We are far from being perfect but we know that little changes matter, so we try and do our best and teach our kids the same.
What should we expect from the travel industry in the next months?
We can’t be certain. In France, a lot of people say we should try to stay in our country this summer to favor our own tourism. Indeed, all the hotels and restaurants have been closed for almost 2 months now. It is the same for the airlines. We have not decided what we will or won’t do this summer. For now, we’ll try to do our best to spend time togethe rand keep our kids dreaming while staying safe.
What to do after…?
I think it will take a long time for people to feel comfortable again, sitting on a plane next to a stranger. We trust that when we are told it is safe to travel again, it will be safe. And I am certain that we will be among the first ones to do so. With extra caution, of course, but no extra fear. Starting on our island, climbing the volcano, hiking in the rain forest, swimming with whales and dolphins. Because adventure starts here and takes the shape you’re willing to give to it.
Anne-Sophie still does not own any JetKids products (yet) and we thought it was time to fix that. So, we will hopefully soon be seeing her and her kids traveling the world again and adding our brand as one of her must-haves to travel with.
We thank Anne-Sophie and her family for giving us their insight on how they make their family life adventurous, by showing us that it is possible to keep the adventure spirit alive, regardless of the circumstances.
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