So, Mary from The World is a Book, What do you blog about? My tagline is cruising and exploring the world with kids. The blog includes guides and tips to help and inspire other families to travel the world with school age kids. There are quite a few posts on Southern California, cruising and our National Parks. I also have a weekly series which highlights 5 free family-friendly attractions from cities all over the world.
Favorite late night snack? I’m a chocoholic so anything with chocolate will do. Give me chocolate covered strawberries and I’m a very happy woman too.
Best food discovery? Churros con chocolate in Spain. One can never go wrong dipping crisp and sugary churros in warm chocolate.
One thing you can’t leave the house without? My iPhone. I’m lost without it and I don’t know how I ever functioned without it before. I’ve actually left work to retrieve my phone at home a couple of times.
Plane, train, car or boat? As much as I love to cruise, definitely the plane. The faster to get to the destination the better unless it’s going home after a vacation.
Carry on or checked bag? We try to stuff as much in a carry-on bag using space bags. It’s faster to get out of the airport without waiting for baggage. Plus, we don’t have to worry about our luggage getting lost.
What kind of luggage do you prefer? Suitcase, especially those hard case ones. For some reason, I always end up buying glass or ceramic souvenirs and these have protected them very well. I may regret buying too many of those breakables one day living in earthquake prone Southern California. Wish me luck!
Do you ever get tired of packing? Never! Packing means I’m going somewhere. Unpacking on the other hand is a chore I don’t look forward to doing knowing the pile of laundry I have to do when we get home.
Favorite place you have traveled to? Australia and New Zealand. We spent two weeks there during our honeymoon 12 years ago traveling to Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. The people were friendly, so many activities and the scenery was breathtaking. The 2000 Sydney Olympics inspired us to go. We would love to go back and take the kids there and show them this amazing part of the world.
Dreaming of going to next? I’ve been dreaming of Bavaria Germany and visiting all those spectacular castles and charming towns and then, a visit to nearby Salzburg, Austria. It looks like that dream will become a reality this summer. My daughter and I would love to do the Sound of Music Tour. My husband still needs a bit of convincing to do this tour with us.
One thing you search out on your travels? We love going to local grocery stores and especially the candy/sweet section. I like seeing their local items and the different packaging of familiar candies and cereals. I like to see how much things cost and what the locals eat. Iceland had lamb’s head and a lot of Skyr products (which is like yogurt), Japan had the best variety of sweets with toys and the pasta section in Italy is unbelievable. On the other hand, my husband needs to find Hard Rock Cafes. He’s got plenty of souvenir shirts to prove it.
Best travel advice? Be flexible and adjust accordingly when traveling with kids. I was such a planner that not having an hourly itinerary took some getting used to when I had kids. I still have a semi-planned itinerary now but know that plans will change and that times in the playground or a stop at a park is inevitable.
Worst travel advice? I was once told not to go on a cruise because it was a “floating buffet” and I’d suffer from claustrophobia among other things. We just finished our 12th cruise and found cruising to be one of the best value vacations that offer something for everyone in our family and the opportunity to visit many islands and places. I know cruising is debatable with many people. But, I always tell friends and family to try it once and you may actually like it.
Favorite jet lag trick? We try to schedule flights so we get to our destination at night. At times when we’ve arrived during the day, I make the kids sleep on the plane as long as possible to have enough energy to last through the day. We’ve found that adjusting to their time zone faster starts things off a little better.
Biggest travel pet peeve? Airlines nickel and diming us. I finally paid for carry-on luggage on a US airline last August. The airfare was cheap and the fee was about $15 but just the thought of it irritated me. I know one of these days I’m going to have to pay extra to sit with my kids. How hard is it to give us one price that included amenities instead of the a la carte pricing?
Most embarrassing incident while traveling? We walked in on another family when we opened the hotel room assigned to us in a Central California chain hotel. There was that momentary pause where neither of us knew what to do and we back tracked so embarrassed. Luckily, they were only watching TV. Can you imagine if my kids walked in on something compromising?
There was a bus full of tourists that had checked in earlier and amidst the chaos, someone inadvertently gave our room to a family whose last name had the first 2 letters of our last name. There was a disconnect in their system but I also found out that this has happened to fellow travelers even in 5 star hotels. We got upgraded to a suite but I’ve learned to never let my kids enter the room first and to put the chains on when I’m in the room.
Most beautiful sunset/sunrise? I’m not much of a morning person so I haven’t seen many sunrises. Most beautiful sunsets are a tie between Maui and Guam. Those tropical sunsets are extra special and seem more colorful. I grew up in Guam and I took those beautiful sunsets for granted but have come to miss them a lot.
Most amazing accidental discovery? We went to Chankanaab National Park in Cozumel, Mexico last year during a cruise stop. With three cruise ships in port, the beaches were getting pretty crowded. We decided to keep walking towards the end of the property and came upon white sand beach filled with palapas and hammocks tied to palm trees with hardly anyone around. It was a perfect picture of tropical paradise with hardly anyone around. Sometimes, it pays to walk a little further and away from the crowd.
And finally…sweet or savory? Sweet all the way.
Mary is an island girl at heart, a tech geek and a working mom who loves cruising, National Parks and traveling the world with her husband, 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son but calls San Diego home. You can follow the family’s adventures along with tips and guides at The World is a Book, on Twitter @worldbooktravel or on Facebook.
walking on travels: keep traveling, keep moving forward;
take your kids walking on life’s path to adventure