Welcome to today’s installment in my new travel blogger interview series! The goal of this weekly series is to help spread the blogging love and introduce you to some other awesome travel bloggers! Any travel blogger, whether new or experienced, can sign up to be featured in this new series. Today I’m happy to share that I’m featuring Jenny from Traveling Party of Four.
My name is Jenny, and I am a family travel blogger at Traveling Party of Four. I live in Florida in the United States. I am an over-planner by nature. I love to study a destination and make lots of checklists. The entire process of planning family travel fascinates me. From deciding where to go, researching food and attractions, and planning travel day, the planning stage excites me almost as much as the actual vacation. Due to the recent changes to travel worldwide, I have added a new category to the Traveling Party of Four featuring travel health, safety, and wellness. And I have massively upgraded a fill-in-the-blank travel planner (it’s now 50 pages). I keep dreaming of the day I will get to see the world again.
I have been blogging for almost two years. I decided on a whim to start a family travel website. I wanted my kids and extended family to have a place to upload pictures and journal about their adventures and share with the family, like a virtual scrapbook. But then I discovered the powerful WordPress, and I was off to the races. I have been blogging about family travel since.
My #1 bit of advice is not to give up. Blogging takes time and patience. Whoever quoted that blogging is a marathon, and not a sprint was on point. Just keep going. Tip #2, invest in courses that will help you put it all together in a concise and organized manner rather than trying to figure it all out on your own; this will save you a ton of time. #3, find a mentor or two. They are out there waiting and wanting to help you and watch you succeed.
I learned over the years, especially recently, while traveling with teenagers, that it isn’t about seeing all of the popular tourist sites and checking everything off my bucket list. Often the touristy experience left me frustrated and anxious because of the crowds and the time I spent waiting and waiting. And then, becoming disappointed because it did not live up to my expectations.
Travel is more about immersing ourselves into a city or culture, learning about struggles and triumphs, tasting cuisine with history, learning a new language, finding nature, and spending time with family.
The excitement I feel when I have researched and planned, my itinerary is ready, I am on the airplane, seatbelt on, preparing for takeoff, thoughts swirling around my mind; the exhilaration of this moment is why I love to travel. Of course, I love getting away from the everyday tasks of family life and spending unrushed time with my family.
My favorite way to see a city is by walking, it is the best way to immerse yourself in the sites, scents, and sounds, meet the people and learn the soul of the city. I love the feeling of home even when I am miles away. And my favorite attraction in a new place is the food. The food on your plate tells a story; food is history.
Wow, best travel experience? There are so many. We have spent a week on a catamaran in the British Virgin Islands the past few summers. The experience of waking up, stepping outside on the boat, watching the sunrise, surrounded by the crystal clear blue sea, is my favorite. The sunrise from anywhere in the world is breathtaking, but there is something special about the Caribbean.
While spending the week on the water in the British Virgin Islands, you have your water sports choice: stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, and my personal favorite, floating on a noodle while sipping champagne. Swim through caves, scuba dive the most popular sites in the world, and Caribbean food consist of the freshest seafood and tropical fruits, and anything they can think of to create with conch. The entire family is active, happy, and healthy—my favorite.
Our worst travel experience has to be a day in the US Virgin Islands. I didn’t check the cruise ship schedule, big mistake. That day, there were six gigantic cruise ships docked and who knows how many passengers flooded the city. I am not big on crowds, and it was a super hot summer day. No one was happy; it seemed. Live and learn…ALWAYS check the cruise ship schedule on a Caribbean Island.
I prefer traveling with my family. My kids are teenagers, and my time with them is limited. Vacation time is slower, relaxed, and our responsibilities are to each other. Admittedly, I typically get up early while traveling to have peaceful and quiet time to myself, take a walk, drink a coffee, or both. So, maybe my answer should be both.
I have to stand by the British Virgin Islands with endless palm tree-lined beaches, soft white sand, crystal clear blue water, warm climate, delicious and fresh seafood, caves, turtles, bright tropical fish, and relaxation. It is my favorite place to spend my vacation time.
I have two important tips. Tip #1 ~ Don’t overbook. Over the years, I learned not to overbook my family because of my need not to miss a thing. I tried this approach several times, and I am the one who suffered from cranky kids and husband. I have since stepped way back from an overbooked itinerary. If I want to see something that I can’t squeeze into the day with them, I do it by myself in the morning before they wake up.
Tip #2 ~ Stay healthy. Be sure to start the day with a healthy breakfast, get some exercise, hydrate, use sunscreen, rest, and relax, and don’t drink too much.
The cuisine of a city or country tells a fascinating history. I have mentioned this before, my favorite thing to do in a new city or country is to eat the local food.
And souvenirs, I always buy an ornament for the Christmas tree. Then, each year, when I am decorating, I am taken back to the time I was traveling—remembering the time spent with family. Admittedly, I also have a fun collection of shot glasses and bottle opener magnets.
Food, my favorite attraction anywhere I go. Puerto Rican food is the best and the perfect example of a history written on your plate. Puerto Rican food, known on the island as Cocina Criolla, is a multicultural infusion beginning with the Taino Indians who first inhabited the island. When Ponce De León arrived with Columbus in 1492, he added a Spanish culinary influence. The Spaniards began planting sugar cane, and Puerto Rico became known as one of the leading Spanish sugar colonies internationally. Sugar cane production led to slave labor requirements. The African slaves added more ingredients and a new method of cooking…frying.
See what I mean? History, the struggles and triumphs, right there on your plate.
Plane or train? Plane, it’s quicker and I can cross the ocean.
Hotel or hostel? Hotel (or catamaran).
City or nature? Nature, absolutely.
Popular site or off the beaten path? A mixture of both.
Suitcase or backpack? Suitcase, usually overpacked.
Fast travel or slow travel? Combination.
Professional camera or phone photography? This has to also be both.
Warm or cold weather? Warm weather is a must.
All photos used throughout this post are taken by Jenny from Traveling Party of Four.