Traveling Mom Interview Series
BMA: Introduce yourself!
Hello my name is Serena, I reside in Brooklyn New York. Mother to a six year old girl. By day, I’m an Operations Officer at a not-for-profit, and I freelance on various PR/Marketing and Music projects when time permits.
BMA: What age did you and your kids receive your passport?
Got my passport, the first year it became mandatory, which was 2006. Before that, US citizens could use state i.d. and a birth certificate. My little girl received and got her first passport stamp when she was just a year old
BMA: Do you speak or are you currently learning a language other than English?
I speak conversational Spanish. Before I travel to any place I try to learn basic tourist terms.
BMA: What city or country is your favorite and least favorite place to visit? Why?
Favorite place I’ve traveled to so far is Thailand because of the food, the hospitality and cultural pride. I’d say my least favorite place traveled to was Doha, Qatar. Honestly, it’s mostly because it was just a layover so didn’t get to absorb much of the city. I lost my DSLR camera there as well, which REALLY put a damper on my perception. I’m willing to visit again, as my issues were internal for the most part and has nothing to do with the city.
BMA: Why bring the kids?
I believe that much of what we learn is through experience. Because it’s an experience, several senses are involved, so information is absorbed better. As parents, it’s our job to teach our children about the world that we live in. Not only about their day to day life, but what it’s like to live in this world as someone else. The more we understand about each other, the easier it is to coexist. So now I ask you…. Do you think you would prefer sitting in a classroom learning about the history of country, or actually going and experiencing life in that country? The taste of the food, hearing the authentic music, seeing the architecture, can’t be captured/described in a textbook. I’m no professor, so don’t quote me. These are just my beliefs 🙂
BMA: Have you had any negative experiences traveling with kids?
There were two things that happened when we went to Brazil that really affected me from a parental perspective. While in Rio, my bank continuously denied my transactions and withdrawal attempts which led me to constantly having to be on the phone with them in the middle of the street with my child. Rio is not exactly the safest city in the world, so I was really upset, yet tried to remain alert and aware of my surroundings while I worked through the issue with my bank.
The other situation was with TAM airlines. I flew there with my partner and our child, but somehow, the airlines separated us and my daughter and I had to sit next to stranger who gave me funny vibes (it’s mommy thing) on a full plane for 10 hours. Would you believe, no one wanted to switch seats? Most of the people on my plane were families as well, so I understand. I had to keep my child in my lap the entire flight home, while trying to sleep lightly, standing guard. I arrived back to NY with red eyes and a crook in my neck. My baby got some sleep though, so that’s what really matters.
BMA: Tell us when you were first bitten by the ‘travel bug’.
The November after 9/11. I had never been on a plane before that. My cousin who is also a best friend of mine had recently moved down to North Carolina. We would spend hours and hours on the phone to try to compensate for lost face to face time. It was the trip to visit her that got me on my first flight ever. It was short and ideal for a first time flier. It [9/11] gave me motivation to get over my fear of flying. I haven’t been able to stay grounded since.
BMA: List all the cities or countries visited.
I’ll try 🙂
- U.S.A: Nevada / Georgia / North Carolina / South Carolina/ Washington DC / Florida / Maine / Rhode Island / Pennsylvania/ New York
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Negril & Ocho Rios, Jamaica
- St. Martin
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Cancun, Mexico
- Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Abu Dhabi & Dubai, UAE
- Doha, Qatar
- Thailand: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Phi Phi Islands
BMA: What do you wish you knew before you decided to start traveling?
I wish I would’ve joined all of my travel reward incentive programs earlier. I only started a few years ago. The only thing that mattered to me back then, was booking the next flight. I can only imagine the amount of points/rewards I’d have by now.
BMA: How do your kid/s feel about traveling?
My daughter loves traveling. It’s exciting and of course, it’s time off from our normal day to day lives (work/school).
BMA: What’s your advice for parents who are thinking of traveling with kids?
When planning and prepping for your vacation, keep in mind that’s, although it’s a vacation from life, it’s also normal day to day life in some ways, just NOT in your own home. This way you’ll be fully prepared. It may be vacation from the day job and the daily commute, when your babies are with you, it’s NOT a vacation from being MOMMY.
BMA: How do you finance your traveling?
I use my own earned income. Each destination I decide to travel to, I research beforehand. My research covers peak and off peak travel times, flight frequency to local airports, local currency strength etc. From that information I gather, I determine what average costs would be, and begin planning from there. Some of my travel dates are pre-planned (school recess) while others might me more spontaneous or based upon a deal found.
BMA: How often do you travel?
We travel at least three times a year (a combination of international and domestic travel).
BMA: What are your top 3 travel tips for parents?
- When booking travel, consider all parties involved. Their needs, interests, and possible costs. This will keep everyone happy!
- I always start my planning from my interests/activities. I believe this helps with deciding lodging. The closer you are to your activities, the more money you save on transportation.
- When booking hotels and resorts, always investigate any incentive programs and/or promotions before you go. I’ve been able to take advantage of deals before my trip simply my subscribing to newsletters/promotions. Another way to save money!
BMA: What are your favorite travel resources?
BMA: What’s your traveling style?
Very detailed planner. I know what I want to get out of my travels, so by planning every detail myself, I ensure that. (Control freak much? Lol)
BMA: Tell us a travel story we’d enjoy!
While in Dubai, we stayed on JBR walk, which is near the beach. One night while taking a late night stroll (due to the 8 hour time difference) my family stumbled upon a televised/sponsored break dancing competition being held on the boardwalk. So we decided to spectate. Our little one who was 5 at the time, began to show some of her own moves. A few of the event organizers spotted her in the crowd, and then escorted her to the front and into the event, beyond the red ropes to dance alongside the stage (leaving both her dad and I on the OTHER side of the ropes) We found it funny and pretty much laughed at the ordeal, as we were allowed to stand close by, so no worries. The perks of having a talented kid!
BMA: How can we follow your travels?
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