Why hello yeah – it’s been a while. Not much – how ’bout you?
With all due apologies to England Dan and John Ford Coley and their 1976 soft-rock hit, it’s been some time since I’ve written regularly here and I feel that some re-introductions are in order.
It’s me, Mara, and this is my website. I love to share stories here about traveling with kids, both around the globe and around the block. My mission is always to inspire and show parents that not only is family travel possible, it’s one of the best things you can spend your time and treasure on. I feel so strongly about this in fact that I also wrote the how-to book on family travel.
When I first started the Mother of all Trips in June of 2008 there were many things I didn’t trouble myself too much about. I didn’t have an editorial calendar, but simply wrote about my family’s adventures as we had them. It never occurred to me that anyone would ever offer to send me on a trip or ask me to review their destination and I didn’t seek out those opportunities, although slowly but surely they started appearing in my inbox and just as slowly and surely I started pursuing them. My children were young and didn’t have a lot of extracurricular activities, my husband’s job was very flexible, and I had energy in spades, working every day during nap time and late into the evenings, pouring myself into this website.
Things have changed a lot since those days.
This spring I’ve got one child who is about to turn 10 and another who will shortly be 13 – that’s right, double digits and a teenager all in one year. Not to mention the fact that I will be turning 45. Let the march toward 50 begin in earnest. It definitely takes more exercise and sleep to keep me going these days. Add that to the baseball-karate-music lesson-homework facts of my life, the fact that I am now a board member at the Passports with Purpose fundraiser, as well as a freelance writer and blogging, doesn’t seem like such a simple proposition anymore. Not forgetting that the husband has a new big job. I’m really proud of him. He has been waiting for this moment for a long time now, and he has finally got his big break. I don’t think there was anything wrong with his old job. I think he just wanted a change. If anything, this made his exit interview easier to handle, as his old company has now introduced that to help make their company a place where people prefer to be, (look here for more info about how they did it), so this will mean that our whole family will be going through a big transition.
And all of that has meant some absence from the Mother of all Trips, longer than at times than I intended or wanted.
I’m proud to say that my essential priorities haven’t changed. I was surprised and pleased to discover that in 2014 my family clocked a total of over 9 weeks on the road (and I traveled without them for 3 and a half more). This despite the fact that both my kids are in a competitive school and have numerous commitments. As they get older and we get closer to high school and then college it’s felt even more important to me that we take advantage of this time, busy as it is, to travel together. And as always, I never regret that choice. The photos in this post show you the kind of memories we have been busily making.
That’s the good stuff – and it’s what I care about first and foremost.
Where I’ve been
Although I haven’t been posting very much on this site, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there in internet land sharing stories and advice. You can find my writing on Minitime, MapQuest, Travel Mindset, and Viator. I also write regularly about Vermont and skiing (two of my favorite topics) at the All Mountain Mamas website. Other exciting opportunities for me in 2014 included speaking about families and skiing at the Mountain Travel Symposium in Breckenridge, Colorado in March and about my annual Back to Ski campaign at the North American TBEX conference in Cancun, Mexico in September.
Wait – I did all that, plus my Back to Ski campaign, and spent 90 days on the road? It’s no wonder that blogging sometimes took a backseat.
And of course, I never stop planning more travel. Between now and the beginning of April we will be in Vermont twice to ski; will spend ten day in Italy visiting Ferrara, Bologna, and Venice; and will take a multi-generational trip with my husband Matt’s parents to San Diego, California. I’m also headed to San Francisco solo at the end of February to speak about family travel at the second annual Women’s Travel Fest. And that’s just the travel I’ve already got planned – you can be sure that the last eight months of the year will hold many other adventures.
My long-term travel dreams are big and broad. I want to visit new continents with my children. I want them outside their comfort zones. I want us to do service together and to experience the Southern Hemisphere. As I formulate these plans and aspirations, I hope to share them here.
I want this to once again be a place of dreams.
Changes to the website
Can you believe that the Mother of all Trips hasn’t had an update in almost four years? That’s about to change. Look for a fresh new look and logo for my site, along with a mobile-responsive design that means you can easily take me with you on the road.
And that’s not all that’s in store. I’m proud of the brand relationships and partnerships I’ve developed over the years. I have executed all of the sponsored content on my site carefully and have chosen to work only with companies I felt good about recommending to my readers while always maintaining the highest standard of disclosure. With that said, I have been feeling more and more like it is time for me to become even more selective about the partnerships I engage in.
My plan is to replace these relationships (and the income they bring) with more freelance publishing of my travel writing. More stories, less selling. More writing, less worrying about where the next sponsorship will come from. That’s what I’d like 2015 to be about.
What’s old is new again
Part of my plans include revisiting content on my site, giving it a bit of spit and polish (and updating it to make sure it’s still accurate). There are over 800 posts on the Mother of all Trips, and so many of them contain stories that I love. I’m planning to bring my favorites back to light while also sharing new trips and projects.
To make sure you don’t miss any of this, I recommend that you sign up to receive my newsletter, which I will launch in March. I’m only going to send it every six weeks or so and I’m planning for it to contain bonus stories and information including sneak peeks at the places my family will be visiting and tips about planning family travel. The newsletter will be the perfect way for you to keep up with the Mother of all Trips, and it will come right to you.
The pictures in this post show some of my family’s adventures over the past year, because we’ve never stopped traveling. Day trips may be fewer and farther between; there may be more use of headphones and a lot more eye rolling than there was in 2008, but the essential fact remains: We value experience more than stuff. My children’s inheritance is the world; their gift the courage to explore it. Thanks for coming along for the ride.