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Welcome to the next 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.
This week I’m happy to share that I’m featuring Lissa from Roots, Wings and Travel Things!
Hello! My name is Lissa and I write Roots, Wings and Travel Things– a family travel blog where we highlight how travel can help children grow strong roots and beautiful wings. My husband and I travel with our 10 year old identical twin boys who love all kinds of adventures!
How long have you been blogging for? Why’d you decide to start a travel blog?
Our family travel blog- Roots, Wings, and Travel Things- will be two years old this July. I started our blog because our family loves traveling and because I needed to get back to doing something I love. Our boys are 10 years old and I have been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom for all that time.
And I love it- I love it so much! But for the longest time, that was all I focused on. The summer before our boys turned 9, they were becoming more independent which meant I had a little more time to focus on myself and the things I like to do. I’ve always been a writer at heart. I love being able to communicate by sharing stories and painting pictures with words.
As for our family- we love to travel. Our boys are at their very best when we are off exploring so we travel as often as we possibly can. It just made sense to combine those things together- sharing our passion for travel via story-telling. And then voila! Roots, Wings, and Travel Things was born!
Do you have any tips for new travel bloggers/aspiring travel bloggers?
I have two tips for new and aspiring travel bloggers and together my two tips are a bit of an oxymoron! The first tip is to spend as much time as you can read other people’s travel blogs before you dive into starting your own. Read as many blogs as you can. Really take time to read them. Explore their writing style, their layouts, everything about them. Really see what is out there and what things attract you to any particular blog.
And then my second tip is to toss that all out the window and go do your own thing! Don’t try to copy anyone else. Find your own voice and your own style. There’s a lot to learn from other travel bloggers and I do think it’s really, really important to study as many blogs and bloggers as you can to learn from them.
But it’s also super important to be yourself. Take little bits of what you learned from others, but really focus on letting your own authentic voice and your own expertise shine through your blog. People will be drawn to it if you are real, honest, and able to be yourself!
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?
Oh gosh! I wish I knew how hard it would be to leave places. And I wish I knew how big of an impact saying goodbye to a place has on our boys. That caught us pretty off guard.
When most people think about travel, they think about how exciting it is to go to new places and do new things. But no one really talks about how hard it is to leave a little piece of your heart everywhere you go. Our boys have a painfully hard time saying goodbye to places.
Our last day in any given place is the only time they ever meltdown, but goodbye meltdowns are an absolute given in our family. I wish I had understood this when we started traveling with them. It wasn’t until one particular meltdown over a bowl of oatmeal at a café in San Francisco that we figured it out.
Our boys were being so incredibly difficult that morning- straight up defiant to be honest, and that wasn’t like them. We were trying to pack up 3 months’ worth of luggage into a rental car that was parked at what had to be a 45-degree angle (only in San Francisco!), we were beyond exhausted and they were standing there screaming and crying and refusing to get in the car.
We got to the café and they burst into tears again- and for the first time we realized they were grieving. They weren’t being defiant, they were sad. A really, really big sad- a sad too big for their little hearts to handle. They’re 10 now and they still cry when we leave a new place. I often cry a little bit too. Goodbyes are hard, so now we try to say “Until next time!”
Why do you love to travel?
I’ve always enjoyed traveling. I traveled a bit as a kid. My parents were even brave enough to send me off to Paris with a school exchange program when I was 10 years old! But I didn’t become truly passionate about travel until I had my own children.
We started traveling with our boys when they were infants and traveling simply brings out the best in them. They have always been incredibly curious kids, so being in a new place with new things to explore means they are in their element. I began to see the world through their eyes and that is just magical.
What’s your best and worst travel experience?
It’s super hard to choose my best travel experience because we’ve had so many! But I’m going to go with our trip to Hawaii last summer. After my freshman year in college, I didn’t want to come back home so I decided to go spend the summer semester at the University of Hawaii Manoa.
I was 19 and I went on my own- and it was the single best thing I ever did for myself. I fell in love with Hawaii, not just because it is Hawaii (that’s a given!) but also because of who I grew to be as a person while I was there. I started dating the man who is now my husband as soon as I returned home from that summer in Hawaii.
We got married four years later and shortly after that we had our twins. I have always, always wanted to take them Hawaii to share that place I fell in love with. Last summer, I was finally able to make that happen. We spent three weeks exploring three islands and it was absolutely incredible.
My husband kept saying it was a trip he only needed to do once in a lifetime, that once he experienced Hawaii he’d be all set! Guess who is already planning our next trip back to the islands?! That place just grabs hold of your heart!
Our worst travel story is a bit complicated and it makes me really sad because it was just a difficult set of circumstances. Our sons are actors and one of them booked a really big job that filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was a place all of us had always wanted to visit, but the experience was doomed right from the start.
A week before we left, my father passed away suddenly. Looking back, we should have pulled the plug on the whole thing. We were not in any position to be traveling. But everyone told us to go- that it’d take our minds off of everything, that my dad would have wanted us to go.
My husband was only able to come with us for the first week, and then he flew back home. My mom flew out to meet me, but it was all just super hard. None of us could grieve because we were so busy trying to survive in this new place while our son started a new job and we were away from their dad, which is just not our style.
It was really, really hard. We were living out of a hotel room for the first two weeks without knowing where we’d stay for the long term. It was November in Vancouver so it was this special kind of wet and cold and dreary that really gnawed at our already broken hearts.
Our son absolutely loved his job but everything else outside of his working was just hard. I wanted to love Vancouver, I really did. But I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I hope we can go back sometime because there’s so much we didn’t get to see and I think that outside of those circumstances, Vancouver might be wonderful. But we will not ever return to Vancouver in the winter- that is for certain!
Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people? Why?
I prefer traveling with my family! I know it’s healthy for parents to travel on their own sometimes, to get away without the kids, but we have a really hard time with that. We’ve only done it once (and that was to attend a funeral so I’m not sure it counts!). Anywhere we go we want to share with our boys!
That being said, our family doesn’t like to travel with other people. We don’t like to be tied to anything in particular. We like to do our own thing and go at our own pace. When our boys are tired or need a break, we like being able to slow down and let them rest or pick the next activity to help them get re-energized.
We’ve found that’s hard to do when we travel with other people. When we’ve traveled with others, we have found ourselves pushing past our boys’ limits and then they get crabby, so we get crabby (because crabby kids make for crabby parents) and then things just aren’t fun for anyone anymore. So we travel as a family but as a family, we fly solo!
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? Why?
Well, I’ve already told you about Hawaii so I’ll pick another place that is really special to me and that is New York City. I had always dreamed of going to New York City since I was a little girl but I didn’t get to go until I was grown up. Our boys were two and a half years old the first time we all went to NYC.
Our boys were captivated by the city. I know this is going to sound strange, but all they wanted to see was Teddy Roosevelt’s birthplace! They were SO excited to sit on the front steps of the brownstone Teddy Roosevelt was born in! Since then, we have returned to NYC more times than I can count. Our boys work there often, so we are there every few months. If we go more than a few months without needing to go to NYC, we go just to feed our souls.
I’ve watched our boys grow up visiting New York City. They love the architecture, the subway, the parks, the art, the museums, the food, the energy. The city just has this amazing energy and our boys thrive on it! One time when they were eight, they bought their own scooters with their own money while we were in the city.
At first we made them scooter right next to us because it’s a big bustling city and they were so little. But now they scooter way up ahead of us on the city streets. It seems silly to us as adults- but they think they are SO independent, being out there “alone” on the streets of New York City.
We’re always right behind them and we can see them at all times, but I love that the city gives them that first real taste of freedom. I hope they keep that sense of freedom and adventure with them for the rest of their lives!
What’s your biggest travel tip?
My biggest travel tip is this- Do NOT stop traveling just because you have kids! Travel BECAUSE you have kids! Sure, you have to adjust your expectations and adjust how you travel. Travel is different when you have kids and it will be different at every step of their development. But don’t be afraid of traveling with kids. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever get to see or do!
Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place that you visit?
Not me personally. If I see a nice hooded sweatshirt or a coffee mug, I like to have those things from places we’ve traveled, but you can only have so many hoodies and coffee mugs (or can you?!)
But our youngest twin- oh bless his little heart! He is a rock collector. Not at home. No, at home he could care less about rocks. Doesn’t give ‘em a second thought. But when we travel, he always finds a rock or a stone that he is truly passionate about and it must come home with us.
Of course, most of the time he falls head over heels in love with the biggest rock he can find within a 50 mile radius and there is simply no persuading him to check out that much smaller rock next to it. I can’t tell you how many times security has had to check his backpack because there’s a massive rock in the bottom of it.
(Yes- we make him lug his own giant rocks through the airport!) Even when we try to explain it’s just a rock- they always have to empty his bag and take a look. He gets really excited if a TSA agent is impressed with his treasure and it’s kind of become a family joke- to see the look on the face of the TSA agent who gets to discover the rock in the Harry Potter backpack!
He had a really hard time when we went to Hawaii because Hawaiians ask that you not disturb Pele by taking any rocks or stones from the islands. It is important to us that our sons learn to respect the native people and cultures of the lands we visit- and he understood why it was important not to bring home any of his beloved treasures- but there were oh so many tears! Instead, he took pictures of ALL of the rocks in Hawaii he loved and I’m now the proud owner of an iPhone photo gallery of more than 200 different rocks from the Hawaiian Islands!
Is there one particular food that you’ve tried while traveling that you loved? What food was it and why do you love it so much?
Because of a medical condition my sons and I have, we are allergic to a lot of foods. Our youngest twin cannot tolerate gluten, so our entire family went gluten-free with him four years ago. I am also allergic to chocolate, strawberries, tomatoes and any food that is fermented- so that makes trying new foods a big challenge for us.
We are exceptionally careful with what we eat while traveling because that is not the time you want to have an allergic reaction and end up in the hospital (although it’s happened on more than one trip!). So- I’m going to go way back in my travel memories and say that one particular food I fell in love with was a Beaver Tail in Montreal!
It’s a big flat piece of fried dough with toppings on it that you can get at food carts throughout the city. This was back when my husband and I were just dating and I hadn’t gotten sick yet, so I could eat anything I wanted. I loved getting my Beaver Tails with Nutella, bananas, strawberries and powdered sugar. That would literally kill me now- but I love the memory of it!
Plane or train? Plane. But I desperately want to travel Europe by train!
Hotel or hostel? Hotel
City or nature? I need both in my life!
Popular site or off the beaten path? Definitely off the beaten path
Suitcase or backpack? Carry-on suitcase. But my husband prefers a backpack, which we can then use when we go out for the day- so I get the best of both worlds!
Fast travel or slow travel? Slow
Professional camera or iPhone photography? iPhone
Warm or cold weather? Cold but not too cold. If I can wear a hoodie, I’m happy. But I don’t like winter coats, just a hoodie!
All photos used throughout this post are taken by Lissa of Roots, Wings and Travel Things.