Family Travel Inspiration with Walkingon Travels
As founders of the Family Travel Bloggers Association, we know a lot of family travel bloggers. I am always happy to share their travels and tips. One such family travel expert, Keryn Means, is the publisher of Walkingon Travels. I love Walkingon Travels for the breadth of experiences that Keryn shares, as well as the wide range of extremely useful travel tips and practical wisdom. She walks the walk, and smiles and has fun doing it (look at those photos!). It's a site that not only educates, but inspires. And for this, I am happy to share Walkingon Travels.
We had a chance to catch up with Keryn and ask her about her site, language learning, digging deeply into a new culture, traveling off the beaten path, and more. Here's what she had to say...
Great Wall of China
WE: Please tell us about Walkingon Travels...
KM: I started Walkingon Travels to give hope to couples and new parents who thought that life ended when kids came into their lives. I was told we would never travel again by some, and if we did it would only be to Disney World. Others even predicted we would never go out for a decent meal after my first son was born. This was obviously very discouraging. And after having a hormone-induced cry over it, I began to think. People weren't always right about everything, why should this be any different? I love to travel, I really love to eat. My mission was clear; I had to prove everyone wrong.
WE: What was the genesis of your site?
KM: I had been thinking about starting a blog for several months before I finally jumped in. When my son was 14 months old I took him and my husband on a business trip with me to China. We tacked on an extra week after my project was finished so we could explore Beijing. I had so many memories that would be forgotten if I did not write them down. I also had a lot of friends asking me how in the world we did it. For me the actually travel came pretty easy and I really wanted people to see that it was possible. Sure we had our ups and downs, but we have those at home as well. Parenting is hard no matter where you are in the world, just like it is rewarding.
WE: How can travel sites truly get across a sense of place, and experience?
KM: Images are key to my site. I pack as many pictures into each post as possible. Don't forget the words though. Pictures can show you a place and experience, but words can help you hear it through a description, or taste and smell that hickory-smoked pork that just came off the BBQ. If you can activate as many senses as possible in your readers, they will be begging for more.
WE: You've got a Language Learning series going on right now - what can readers find there? What surprised you about this series?
KM: This series will be diving into the many ways an individual and family can learn a new language. Whether you are looking for fluency or just a few phrases for an upcoming trip, there are a wealth of information and opinions out there on the best way to do it. I'm not looking for right or wrong, I just want to show how other people have tackled it through resources like immersion, education, and technology.
WE: How can travelers best dig deeply into a culture/new place?
KM: My favorite way to travel is by side street and to purposely get lost. If I am exploring on foot, I will quickly get off the main drag and poke my head around the corner. More often than not, you can see the locals at work and play that way. I've even found one of the best crepe shops in France by winding my way around the back alleys of St. Remy. I could never tell you how to get back there, but I'm sure glad I took a wrong turn that morning.
If you have a car, go for a drive. If you turn left, see where that takes you. Then take a right. Don't worry about the map or what your GPS says. In fact, turn off your GPS and just drive and follow what looks interesting to you.
Fairmont Empress Afternoon Tea
WE: What are your top tips for traveling off the beaten path?
KM: Enjoy your guidebook but don't rely on it. Guidebooks are meant to be resources, not the be all end all of how your trip should progress. Once you get to a major tourist site, start poking around. What else is there? Usually there is a reason that location was chosen, especially if it is a historical site.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
KM: Don't be afraid to push boundaries and ignore the naysayers in the world. No one knows what you can and can't do better than you. My life would not be as rich, exciting or entertaining if I had listened to those who told me traveling with my kids was not possible. I've seen more of the world with them and I've even eaten some incredible meals along the way. And we have yet to step foot in Disney World.
WE: Thanks so much, Keryn. We love your site and highly recommend it to our Wandering Educators!
All photos courtesy and copyright Keryn Means