The bloggers behind Irish Twin Travels have a motto we adore: Travel doesn't stop once kids pop. Travis, Marina, Maverick, and Cardiff are currently traveling the world full-time, sharing their adventures and travel tips on their blog and Instagram. Thanks, Marina, for taking the time to chat with Parennial Travel!
Parennial Travel: Why do you think it's important to travel with your family?
Irish Twin Travels: Because making memories with the people you love, whether those be good, bad, or even stressful memories, is what we believe to be most important in life. You always hear the same answer to a lifelong question older people get asked. "What would you change about your life looking back?" And most of the time the answer is they would have spent more time with their family and possibly worked less. We don't want that regret. That's why we choose to create memories with our kids growing up in place of a paycheck for now. Plus, showing them new sites and seeing it from their perspective is pretty rad, too.
PT: What's the first major trip you took as a family, and how did it go?
ITT: Our first major trip as a family of four, with two babies, age 3 months and 15 months at the time, was to Seattle and Canada. We flew into Seattle for a week and then drove to the ferry to cross into Victoria, Canada. It was really amazing and completely doable even though people doubted it would be fun. There was only one time of panic when Cardiff pooped herself really bad on the ferry and it was a whole scene to change her while Maverick was running around. We managed and laughed about it over a beer later that night. Other notable mentions from the trip: we shared a double bed with all four of us because Maverick came down with a fever... that was snuggly. We got compliments on the plane ride there from people saying "Oh my goodness, I didn't even know you had kids with you." "They are so well behaved!" Which we did not receive on the plane ride home. And we also got stuck in a lighthouse for a few hours because it started to pour rain outside and we didn't want to make a break for it and get the kids soaked. Just a few of our many, many memories.
PT: What made you decide to travel full-time?
ITT: To be honest, it was a death in the family. We lost my uncle (Marina's uncle) in January of 2017. He was 38 years young and one of my best friends and biggest travel supporters. When I was on the fence about moving to Spain for a job on a whim he was the one to convince me to go for it. One of the last times I was able to meet up with him was in Milan, Italy and we spent the whole time riding a tram and talking. In his passing, he left everything to me, which included an RV. On the drive home from going through his personal items we started talking about how life is short and losing him only proved this point further. We started brainstorming about fixing up his RV and living in it to save for a once in a lifetime trip around the world. We eventually pitched the idea to my parents, as we were hopeful they would let us park it on their property rent-free. They agreed and our plan went into motion. We lived in a 24-foot trailer with two babies for 16 months.
PT: How has the experience been so far for your family?
ITT: I'd love to say that everything has been amazing and wonderful, but I don't want to lie... it's been tough. Tough, incredible, fulfilling, ever-changing, exhausting, boring, exciting, nerve-racking, and interesting, to say the least. We have babies so the day to day is always changing as much as it stays the same. We still eat breakfast and try to make it to the gym. But then instead of walking to our neighborhood park like we did back home, we rented a car and explored a waterfall. Not every day is magical and adventurous, and not every day does one of the kids have a melt down. It's a good mix and we are happy with it. :)
PT: What are some of the biggest challenges of traveling with kids, and how do you manage them?
ITT: Top two biggest challenges:
- Schedules. When you are traveling, your schedule is all over the place. Different time zones, moving from place to place, naps while out and about, activities that don't coincide with their schedules like night markets or early morning day trips. To combat this, we try our hardest not to overexert the family by booking too much in a short period of time. One day we will have a big day out where we are away from the apartment from 6am-9pm, and then the next two days we stay in and watch movies, make lunch and go to the pool. We like to keep it balanced so nobody gets burnt out.
- Boredom. I want to see the temples in Bangkok, Kata lookout point in Phuket, the best rooftop bar in New York City, but my two babies do not. They want to see the same playground at the same park, the beach (daily), and the inside of our hotel/Airbnb. So we try and mix it up and keep it interesting while bringing along a ton of distractions. We will start our day at the park and then head to the rooftop bar for an afternoon cocktail while they are napping so we can enjoy the view. Or we will take them to the beach in the morning to tire them out and then put them in the car to drive to a lookout point while they nap. No matter what we do, we always have distractions with us. This includes toys, snacks, an ipad mini, and lollipops, if for some reason Maverick is having a really tough time adjusting to the activity. Some parents may not agree, but a bribe can go a long way when you're just trying to be quiet at a temple for 20 minutes.
PT: What are some of your favorite memories from the road with your kids so far?
ITT: Some of our best memories are from recent. We were able to spend a day at an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and although rainy and wet, the kids had a blast feeding the elephants and getting to watch them play. Maverick especially liked to feed them bananas and wipe the dirt off her hands after they took it with their trunk from her palm. Other memories we love are of the kids meeting new people and discovering new faces. Maverick has played with numerous locals at the park and has gotten better at sharing and talking with them even when they don't speak the same language. The beach is another huge one for us. Maverick would not go in the water anywhere in the United States. When we got to Koh Chang, she ran for the ocean, clothes and all, and literally had the time of her life getting knocked over by waves. It was so cool to see her come out of her water phobia shell and play like a kid in the water. Now we can't get her out when we go to the beach.
PT: Any advice for people who want to travel more with their kids but are nervous about it?
ITT: Literally, JUST DO IT! Everything you think that might go wrong probably will. Accept it and charge forward. They will throw fits, scream on planes, poop themselves five minutes before departure. There are so, so, so many "what ifs" or "buts" that you can come up with for you to stay home and not book the 14-hour plane ride to Europe, but you will regret it. I hear a lot of my friends who are parents say, "I don't know how you do it... you're crazy." No, we just do it and work together as a team if a problem arises while adventuring. I like to tell people, "We will literally be doing the same exact thing we are doing day to day, just in a new country." Maverick will throw a fit in Cabo San Lucas the same she is going to throw in our home. Cardiff is going to teethe and not sleep through the night whether we are in Chiang Mai, Thailand or California. You just have to push through the tough times and know your kids are learning new skills, sights, and sounds and will eventually be pro travelers.