According to some pundits, mommy bloggers are some of the most well-read, trusted bloggers around today. They offer first-hand, well-researched content targeted to other busy moms (and dads) – making them a perfect source of advice and inspiration for families who love to travel.
Travel writer Jacqui Gibson spoke to International Food Wine and Travel Writer Association mommy blogger Catherine Parker to find out how she got started in mommy blogging – and to get her top tips on where to take the kids this winter.
Q: Catherine, tell us how long you’ve been mommy blogging and what got you started?
I started blogging as a way for friends and family to follow our road trip adventures. Over time, that morphed into writing articles about my favorite destinations to help other families plan road trips across the United States and Canada.
Q: What did you do before blogging and how did it help?
The time I spent as an American Airlines flight attendant based in New York City changed my life. It blew open the doors of my mind when I landed in NYC and LAX for the first time in one day.
A crew job is coveted for good reason. Flying for pocket change shrunk my world and broadened my horizons. Learning to live in one of the world’s most expensive cities taught me how to explore on the cheap. I learned to make memories instead of money and my life has been all the richer because of my journey.
One of the hardest things I’ve done is walk away from my job after the 9/11 attacks. I knew I couldn’t fly with a broken heart so I left and started a family the next year. I didn’t know it at the time but I started my journey to becoming a family travel writer; my first trip was with my six-month-old baby girl.
I also worked with the iconic punk band, Black Flag, at SST Records as their social media coordinator and in-house photographer. The job had me covering Black Flag concerts across the southeastern United States. Dodging stage divers and crowd surfers while shooting from behind the crowd barricades toughened my professional skin.
After leaving my post at SST Records, I decided that I was done creating content for others and dove into professional travel writing head-first.
Q: What’s best about traveling with kids?
My kids are naturally inquisitive so I follow them with my camera and discover a destination through their eyes. They love to travel and never complain, though they get a little testy when it rains when we’re camping.
Q: As a mommy blogger, what makes your perspective on travel unique?
I put my kids at the centre of the travel experience.
Since I was a traveler before I had children, I wanted to teach my kids the art of traveling. I set out to drive my kids through our own country before they started traveling to other countries.
Travelers act as informal ambassadors when traveling abroad. So I wanted to ensure my kids had seen the monumental and iconic sites of our country. This summer, we drove close to 10,000 miles, exploring the national parks of the western United States for nine weeks.
Q: What’s the best feedback from a reader or follower you ever got?
I am thrilled any time someone reaches out for more information. This summer a park ranger at Saguaro National Park in Arizona pulled out a printed copy of one of my posts, 8 Junior Ranger Badges to Earn at Home. I was floored that a park ranger found my article and was sharing it with her visitors.
Catherine’s top tips: where to take the kids this winter
TOP TIP 1: I love Lake Tahoe at this time of year. With 15 different resorts within an hour’s drive, it’s my go-to destination for family ski trips. The blue bird skies make for some epic mountain runs and the near constant sun keeps the air warm for the kids.
TOP TIP 2: Love Disney but hate crowds? I suggest visiting Disney in January. After the New Year’s holiday, the crowds are the lowest of the year with prices to match.
TOP TIP 3: For family hikers, I suggest a desert national park in the Southwest, my favorites are Big Bend National Park in Texas, Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona and the legendary Death Valley National Park, four hours from Los Angeles. Mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine make for exceptional adventures when most national parks are shuttered for winter.