The Local Passport Family talks living and learning abroad

The six members of the Local Passport Family have ventured all over the world together, sharing their travels with their thousands of followers on Instagram (@localpassportfamily) and their blog, which encourages learning like locals at home and abroad. From budget and packing tips to destination guides, you'll find tons of family travel inspiration on their site. Local Passport Family matriarch Preethi recently agreed to answer a few of Parennial Travel's questions — here's what she had to say!

Parennial Travel: How has your travel style evolved as your family has grown?

Preethi at Local Passport Family: We’ve definitely had to consider a wider range of abilities and interests. The fun thing as kids get older, though, is they’re capable of doing more things, and we in turn have gotten more adventurous about bringing the younger ones along. For instance, it took us a little while to get into hiking when our oldest two were tiny, but now that they love and are great at it, the little ones get toted along for the ride.
Local Passport Family
PT: What's the hardest part about traveling with so many kids? And the best?
LPF: The hardest part is probably just managing so many bodies — feeding, getting enough rest, bathing... the work just multiplies with more kids. But the best part is that when we travel now, our kids all become even closer to each other and here’s constantly a friend around. It’s really fun to watch how they bond.
PT: You talk about "learning like locals" wherever you go. Can you share a bit about how you do that?
LPF: Wherever we travel we make an effort to get to know a bit about the local history, culture, arts, food, and people. We try to think about the kinds of things we’d know if we were to live in a place, and learn about those things before, during, and after a trip. We also like to make an effort to connect with local families through visiting parks, grocery stores, and church. Of course, we enjoy seeing famous sites, but we try to dig a little deeper into the kinds of things that would become part of our cultural lexicon if we were to actually live somewhere.
family travel tips Local Passport Family
PT: How do you keep your packing under control with such a large family?
LPF: We do a lot of laundry, and we’re okay rewearing clothes. We typically pack 4-5 outfits per person, per trip, and many of these items can mix and match. We usually do a full load of laundry every 1-1.5 weeks, and wash undergarments more frequently (either in a washing machine or just hand washing in a sink). It’s worth it to not have to carry around a lot of stuff. We also try to remember that we can purchase MOST things in MOST places. So it’s not the end of the world if we forget something.
PT: What are your favorite types of destinations? Any you avoid?
LPF: We love so many different styles of trips! It’s difficult to choose a particular favorite. We love cities for their history, arts, and energy, and we love middle-of-nowhere National Parks for the serenity, connection, and amazing hiking they usually bring. We love desert and beach and mountains. We love ancient historic sites and palaces around the world. We’ve found something to love about every place we’ve been. Basically, we can’t choose — maybe that’s why we have to keep traveling!
We do try to be cautious about places with specific health & safety concerns (e.g. Zika-prone areas while pregnant, areas not recommended by the US Department of State for travel, etc.), but beyond that, we love exploring all different types of locations.
PT: What's some of your favorite family travel gear?
LPF: We try to travel very light, so we try to ensure our gear really works for us. For kid-specific gear, we love the Mifold booster seat and the Kidco Peapod because they provide safety and comfort for car travel/sleep, but are still very compact and lightweight. We always have a portable charger with us. We love our lightweight luggage and couldn't travel without packing cubes. Basically, anything that helps us stay organized and doesn't take up much space/weight is a winner in our books.
Local Passport Family
PT: What's your approach to planning an itinerary?
LPF: We try to go with the "planned but flexible" approach. We like to look up activities, food, and accommodations in advance so we have our days mostly settled. We always have a few options for each day for sites/food, and then we're able to choose from those as we go along. It's no big deal if we need to cut something out or don't get to everything, but we'd much rather have several options from which to choose than to be stuck trying to figure things out along the way.
PT: Any last words for families who are just getting into traveling with their kids?
LPF: Just do it! Like most things, there's nothing like sheer practice that will make it easier and more comfortable. You'll adapt, your kids will adapt, and more than likely, you'll have an incredible time connecting with each other and the world around you.
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