Our interview with Colleen Lanin from travelmamas.com Travel Blog:
Why did you start travelling?
I am not nomadic, but I fell in love with traveling during a trip to Europe with my family in high school. It was on that trip that the largeness and wonder of the world struck me on a personal level. The Eiffel Tower was no longer an exotic thing I’d seen in photos but an actual place I could go and see myself. I launched my blog, TravelMamas.com in March of 2009 to help other parents and caregivers make the most of their travels with children. We also cover romantic retreats, girlfriend getaways, and solo travel because mom and dad need a break sometimes, too!
What is most important during your travels?
Travel provides an opportunity to slow down and connect with a destination and its residents, and with myself and my travel mates. Each trip’s focus varies. When traveling with my kids, my goal is to connect with them and see the world through their eyes. When traveling with my spouse, I remember why we fell in love the first time—romantic travel is essential for marriage sanity. If I embark on a girlfriend getaway, I try to build our friendship and connect over new experiences. When traveling solo, often I want to focus on the sites and experiences I would otherwise miss if I was distracted by friends or family.
What is the most important experience that you had during your travels?
When I was 17, I went to France to live with a host family for one month. I could barely communicate or understand any French, so it was an incredibly lonely experience for me. During that month, I visit the beaches of Normandy, where so many young American soldiers had lost their lives in the name of freedom. After looking at row upon row upon row of graves, I had lunch at the house of my host friend’s grandmother. She cried because she was so sad that I was having a difficult time in her country. Her father had told her it was her duty to take care of any American in her country, because we had given so much to help France win the war. I decided to be happy for her sake and for the sake of the young soldiers whose lives had been cut short. It was a revelation for me—that I was in charge of my own happiness. That I was the creator of my life’s path and that life was not just something that happened TO me.
What is the most beautiful place that you have been to?
It’s pretty hard to beat Hawaii’s beauty. I like to look for the beauty in everyday things and post #findbeauty photos on Instagram. When I visit Hawaii, I don’t know where to point the camera first, everything is just so gorgeous there.
What do you avoid when you travel?
I avoid putting myself or my travel partners in danger. This means bringing along booster seats for my kids, avoiding drinking unsafe water, staying hydrated, packing medicines and vitamins, and listening to my instincts. If I get a bad feeling about a neighborhood, hotel, person, or whatever…I listen to that. I would rather be safe than worry about inconvenience or looking stupid.
What is your biggest travel dream?
I have so many! I would really like to visit Asia and I have always dreamed of embarking on an African safari. My ultimate dream is to live in a foreign country again someday. I lived in France for one year during college and it was one of the most interesting, difficult and wonderful years of my life. All the better if I can live in another country with my kids. It would open their eyes to the world and teach them so much about our global community.
What are you favourites travelers? Which blogs do you read?
I am a big fan of Samantha Brown (she reminds me of my bubbly sister!) and I was super excited to get the opportunity to interview her for a post last year. I have so many blogs that I read – it’s impossible for me to name them all. Some favorites include TheVacationGals.com (for quick, fun travel tips for women), GoExploreNature.com (which focuses on nature exploration more than travel), WalkingOnTravels.com (for beautiful family travel photography), 1Dad1Kid.com (for a dad’s take on traveling with his son), and ThisIsMyHappiness.com (for keeping it real). I also adore TinyBuddha.com for valuable life lessons.