About Me

Mabuhay! A Filipino welcome greeting from me to you.

It's been five years since I started blogging about our Family Wanderlust - sharing family travel photos and experiences. I think a proper introduction is in order.

I'm Karen, and today (07 October 2014) I turned 37. I'm an avid reader, a self-confessed glazomaniac and a writer wannabe.  I’m a big fan of the arts – mainly novels, music and dancing. A couch potato when it comes to crime scene investigations and the like, but then there’s Suits which sometimes makes me think I want to be a legal secretary (if not the lawyer). When I'm free, I love to read travel guidebooks and watch travel-related shows which give me ideas for future travel destinations.

I have two sons. Kelvin, who is in Secondary 2, is often serious but knows just exactly when to crack us up. He's a gadget fan who always keeps the family abreast when it comes to technology. He's recently been into "iphonegraphy" and has been snapping photos of just about anything whenever we're out. Ira, who is currently in Primary 4, is the energy ball in the family. Wherever we are he always finds something to keep him busy for hours, mostly physical activities like running around and exploring, even a pile of rocks can entertain him. He always has a big smile on his face which melts everyone's hearts.

Mark is my husband who has been our family's sole provider, constant joker, handyman, financial planner and holiday chauffeur. He’s a salt-water fish tank aficionado and has been taking care of several species of colorful fishes at home. My soul-mate and best pal, we’ve ventured into several memorable escapades before the kids arrived and we can’t wait to bring the them to those places and reminisce with them.

My interest in travelling was sparked during my years as a Tourism student. After passing a nerve-wrecking panel interview with respectable professors in different fields in the tourism industry, I told myself that was where I was meant to be. Every subject was interesting and I enjoyed learning - especially about enchanting places in my home country and in different continents. It's like my world has opened up into a vast unknown and I couldn't wait to make the first step of this lifelong exploration.  Our long and arduous field trip to Banaue in the northern Philippines to see the famous Banaue Rice Terraces was a very memorable one. That’s more than 12 hours of bus ride to Banaue town proper from our university campus, then couple or so more hours of local jeepney ride on rough roads, traversing dangerous cliffs along the mountainside to reach the famed spot. I could imagine the very hardworking and dedicated ancient indigenous people hand-carving mountain sides to create the rice terraces tourist have been admiring for years. It was breathtaking. It made me yearn to see more captivating landscapes and experience different cultures within and beyond the Philippines.

I daydreamed about going to so-called romantic cities like Paris, Venice and Buenos Aires; strolling along the streets of New York and Los Angeles; walking along the white sand beaches of Boracay, Maldives and Phuket; going on a cruise to nowhere; being in touch with nature in Australia and New Zealand; and the list goes on. I delighted in planning travel itineraries and making up marketing plans for different places of interest. I was then an excited Tourism student eager to explore and conquer the world. Things took a different turn though - I got married, had a baby, and moved to another country.

I became a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) in 2001 and became preoccupied with adjusting to a new life, raising a family in a foreign country. I knew then that the dream of traveling would have to be put on hold, at least until our son was old enough to travel with us (and if budget permits). But in 2002 we went on our first overseas holiday, flew to Hong Kong (and a side trip to Macau) with our two-year-old son, and ventured into the unknown. Imagine me carrying a baby bag complete with feeding bottles, diapers, wet wipes and other baby stuff, pushing a stroller along the streets of Hong Kong and Macau. It wasn't easy but it wasn’t that difficult either. It was all new to us but we managed quite well. I was able to put into practice some of the things I've learned in school. I planned a simple itinerary, one that brought us to the more popular attractions in the city that were of interest to us with the limited time we had. Kelvin enjoyed the parks and beach strolls, cable car ride and animal encounters. My husband and I marveled at the scenery - from the Victoria Harbour and The Peak. I felt fulfilled, period. It wasn't as challenging as I had imagined after all (going on a holiday with a baby or toddler in tow).

Few months after our Hong Kong/Macau trip, we went on our first long haul flight – to California – on the day of my birthday! How wonderful that was. Cross continent flight was a breeze even with a 2-year-old, thanks to new toy cars we brought along to keep him company. He was pretty easy to please and he wasn’t that fussy during the flight. We met Mickey and Minnie and the Disney gang, had a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoyed a picnic at Lake Tahoe. Thanks to relatives who were more than generous with their time with us. The following year, we went on a weekend trip by coach to Genting Highlands, Malaysia and took the cable car from the highlands down to the bus station on our way back. It was yet another first for the family. A month after, we were back to the USA for a coast-to-coast trip, visiting some of our relatives, and the famous attractions in both coasts, for the first time. We had our first family road trip then. Kelvin marveled at the train trucks along the California highway, making the “choo choo!” sound as they passed by. That was the longest, but most enjoyable and memorable, month we’ve spent on a holiday.

Then came my stint as a travel advisor and baby number 2. A toddler and new-born and a job to keep, surely travelling wasn’t in our list of priorities but we didn’t want to totally strike it off our list. Lo and behold, when baby number 2 was 3 months old we (hubby, me, Kelvin at 4, and 2 aunties, my brother and my mom who all came over for Ira’s baptism) went on an overnight getaway to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was six hours of cradling, feeding and comforting the baby. He was just in awe of the new surroundings – the spotlight in the coach pretty much was his entertainment throughout the trip. That makes two strollers and one big baby bag that we had to bring along. The shocking part was that it wasn’t that difficult. We were able to explore the places we wanted to see, and then some. It helped that we hired a van with a tour guide who brought us around the city. And although the baby didn’t really have an idea what everything was about, he was part of this yet another eventful holiday even if it was just for two days.

From then on, we have traveled almost every year, making lasting memories and several family firsts as we trotted around the globe. Dreams do come true after all. We haven't ticked everything in our bucket list and interesting places seem to keep adding on to it. This just inspires us to keep on dreaming because travelling with the family has so far broaden our horizons, filling our treasure chest of memories.

Having a family does make travelling a lot more challenging especially with little kids (or even teenagers) but it can be done, and within the budget, too! Planning in advance does the trick and knowing what you really want to see and do, not just relying on what is the most popular. These are some of the things that we have always considered when we decide to go on holidays. We always plan ahead and save for our trip so it doesn't adversely affect our financial future, too ;)

One other challenge I encountered was the lack of travel guidebooks and other resources that cater specifically to families. I do love the colorful photos and attraction details most travel guidebooks and blogs have. I usually use them when planning for our trips. Then I thought I could share our family travel stories and photos as well as planning tips and travel experiences (it was more about sharing with family and friends overseas at first). Through sharing our family travel stories in my blog, I hope to be able to help other families (as well as individuals) plan their own unforgettable family escapades around the world (even in their home cities, too!).

Travelling gives our family the opportunity to explore and learn more about different places and cultures, and meet interesting people along the way. Most importantly, travelling teaches us new things about each other, as a family. It builds our confidence in walking or driving into the unknown. It reinforces our trust in each other (especially my family's trust in me as I lead them to uncharted territory). It teaches us to tolerate each other's quirkiness. It strengthens our bond as a family. Travelling (which doesn't need to be to a far away place) is definitely a life-enriching, eye-opening experience. 
So come and join me and my boys (husband included) as we explore the interesting world we all call home.
  



  


2 comments:

  1. Like you, I enjoy travelling, and these days it is with the kids in tow.

    Please hop over to a site we've just started, www.kidsonboard.net, a community share site for parents to share travel stories. I'd love love love to work with you, to feature your family's adventure.

    Best, Celeste

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Celeste! Thanks for the invitation. Looking forward to working with you.

      Delete

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