Families on the Move – Meet the Family Behind WalkingonTravels.com

Families on the Move – Meet the Family Behind WalkingonTravels.com
August 31, 2012 Lainie Liberti

Families on the Move

We have been blessed to connect with many amazing families online, all of whom have adapted a travel lifestyle in one form or another.  We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to them here and highlight the positive aspects travel has had on their families. Welcome our interview series called Families on the Move. Miro & I are honored to a part of this global community we consider our extended family.

Meet the Amazing Family Behind WalkingonTravels.com

Keryn – mom- the family travel dreamer, location scout, ex-production manager, but somehow always working on something
Mike – dad- ready and willing to go anywhere Keryn wants to bring him, but also the voice of reason when her wanderlust gets a little too big and out of control
Dek – 3 years old- loves rocks of all shapes and sizes, jumping off of ever increasingly high heights and eating his weight in watermelon
Ty – 3 months old- smiles all day long when he isn’t trying to stuff both fists in his mouth at once.

Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?

We travel out of Seattle, WA a few times a year. My first plane ride was at 13 years old and I haven’t stopped since. Dek got on a plane at 3 months and Ty was on a plane at 7 weeks. I’ve driven up and down the east coast of the USA countless times. I’ve also been to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Singapore, Italy, France, Poland, Moldova and Portugal by myself, mostly before I got married. Mike and I traveled to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the UK, Italy and France after getting married. Since having kids we have been to China and Hong Kong twice, Japan, Canada, the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui, and continue to explore the Pacific Northwest.

Why do you travel as a family?

Life is busy. Too busy. We travel as a family so we can get away from the everyday distractions- work, home repair, appointments, grocery shopping, etc. Travel, especially international travel, allows us to unplug from our daily lives and just be a family.

 

What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?

Our travels have brought us closer together and really helped us learn who each other are. Dek discovered rocks while traveling through Japan. Over a year later and that kid still loves rocks. He has a free spirit that just won’t be squashed, not that we have tried too. Strangers don’t faze him, although I wish sometimes they would. He walks up to people and says hi, whether they can understand him or not. Either way his beautiful smile seems to light up their day. This has brought us into contact with more locals than my husband and I ever had before kids. Ty is continuing in his big brother’s footsteps. His flirting has already begun, which Is opening up people’s hearts to our traveling family.

What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to see the world. At 16 years old I left the country for the first time. Ever since I have been strategizing ways to get out and explore. When I met Mike he was happy to come along for the ride. We didn’t make travel a priority for a while though. We were too busy building careers. I feel like one day we woke up and realized our lives were all about work and nothing else. Something had to change. Having kids was just the kick in the pants we needed.

While we used to only go back east to visit our families for a week each year, we now prioritize several trips, both short and long, as just our little family unit. We love visiting our extended family back east, but Mike and I quickly realized that we had to regroup a few times a year, spend dedicated time with the kids and not just run around trying to see every relative.

How do you address education while you are traveling?

My kids are still very young. We haven’t had to address the education question yet, but that doesn’t mean our kids aren’t learning all of the time. With each trip Dek’s vocabulary has grown leaps and bounds. He is learning about geology (volcanoes are now big in our house), expanding his taste buds, learning about foreign currency, and picking up a few words in the local language wherever we go. In fact, right now he and I are studying a little Italian for an upcoming trip. We are building the foundation for a kid who is flexible and open to learning and experiencing new things.

How do you and your family experience being global citizens?

With every trip we try to rent an apartment. This gets us out of the tourist zone and into the neighborhoods. We also try to study the language before we leave. I never expect anyone to speak English to us. We aren’t fluent by any means but I have found that if we just try to speak the language the locals will be much more willing to help us out.

Having children has helped us ingrain ourselves in the local culture as well. Dek is so curious. We head to local parks and he instantly finds kids to talk to and play with. He doesn’t care that they have no idea what he is saying. Play is a universal language.

Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?

Just before we left for China Dek started to walk. He was 14 months old. I was so relieved. He was desperate to move on his own, but I couldn’t really imagine letting him crawl all over Beijing. He would do it, but his knees sure would have gotten sore. He got to walk through the Forbidden City, getting an amazing view of this magnificent tribute to Chinese history and culture. With him so low to the ground we noticed more details that many visitors probably just breezed right past. But the most memorable moment of the trip was when he walked along the Great Wall of China, a sight most people never even dream of seeing in person. I was in awe standing on top of the wall, but seeing my baby boy practice his walking was a moment that has stuck ever since.

Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.

As a new parent back in 2009 I had no idea what to expect from our first trip with Dek. We took it very slow. At 3 months old we headed back to Philadelphia for the holidays to introduce him to our families. I swear we packed the nursery.

After boarding the plane I grabbed a diaper and headed into the bathroom to change Dek. There was a nice little fold down changing table. What I didn’t know is that the lock on the table made the most awful sound. It terrified Dek and he immediately freaked out. I had to leave the bathroom and calm him down before changing him. Passengers were still boarding the plane and giving me slightly nervous looks like “oh crap, we have a screamer on board.”

Once I got Dek calmed down I put him on the changing table. He promptly peed all over himself and my fresh diaper. Could this have gotten any worse? Probably not. So I mopped him up, grabbed a paper towel to cover him up, marched myself back to our seat. Naked baby coming through! I grabbed new clothes and a diaper from a very surprised Mike, headed back to the bathroom and got Dek dressed. When I came back out of bathroom those nervous looks the passengers had given me had now turned into sympathetic smiles.

Dek did amazing the rest of the flight. I knew in that moment that if I could handle that I could handle anything. We would be learning loads more over the next few years, but nothing has proven to me more that we could travel with kids and survive.

What’s next?

In October I will be headed to Europe with my two little guys as we wander around England, Switzerland, Italy and Sicily visiting friends for 5+ weeks. Mike will join us towards the end of the trip. After that we are headed back to Kauai for a few weeks in the New Year then who knows. I’m already dreaming about visiting friends in Guatemala this winter. I think it’s time for us to head south.

Name: Keryn Means
twitter: @walkingontravel
web site: WalkingonTravels.com

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