One of my favorite things about social media is meeting other families that love to travel and adventure. I like to dig in and find out what works for them and what draws their family to want to be "on the go" so we started a little series here on the blog where we spotlight other families who love to travel. We hope you will enjoy the next installment of the "Travel Family Spotlight" series.
Kim Christenson is a mom of three, a journalist, novelist, and dreamer. She is based in Utah and you can find her on Instagram at @talkwordytome_ and on her website www.talkingwordy.com. She writes about travel, family, food, health & fitness, and books. She is also a co-founder of Brunchettes, a bi-monthy brunch to build up women and provide an atmosphere that avoids competing and comparing and instead focuses on sisterhood. Kim loves to travel with her family and is helping her kids learn how to put their focus on collecting experiences, not things. We hope you'll enjoy our interview with Kim!
1. Tell us about your family.
My husband, Clay, and I have been married for 10 years. We met through a mutual friend in our hometowns (Draper/Sandy) and kept dating when we moved to Provo. Clay played and coached soccer for BYU and I got my English degree there. We started having kids after three and a half years and we have three little ones now.
2. Where do you live? Has your family moved around at all?
We lived in Provo for eight years, and we just bought our first home in Lehi, Utah. We love it here. Clay lived in the same house his whole life aside from a two-year mission for our church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I moved with my family around Utah and then to Brisbane, Australia, where I went to high school.
3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international? Where has been your favorite place your family has traveled?
Growing up, my family often went on little trips to St. George. But my real love for travel was born once we moved to Australia and I saw how big and amazing the world was. When CIay and I got married, we immediately opened a travel fund in our bank, so we could always keep travel as a priority.
When we were newlyweds, we mostly went on local getaways, but were lucky enough to travel with the BYU soccer team and I took my husband to Australia for the first time before we started having kids.
Now that we have kids, we plan a trip to somewhere warm every January to soothe the winter blues. Looking forward to that trip all year and remembering it afterwards really rallies us through those dreary winter months! Clay’s side of the family does a Lake Powell trip every summer, and we go to Park City every year just with our little family. I want my kids to have a spot they have happy memories of with our family and where they can return to with their own families.
Now that our third isn’t nursing anymore, we have a goal to get away on a trip every year without the kids. Leaving three kids in other people’s care comes with some anxiety and major planning, but it’s always worth it. I also try and get away with my sisters or friends as often as I can. Our traveling looks a little different every year depending on the stage our family is in, but our motto is to always say yes to travel when we can.
My favorite place I have traveled with my little family is Hawaii. It's not too far away, and it's so kid-friendly. It's paradise for me, and pure childhood joy for the kids. I feel like we're all just happier and more carefree there.
4. Tell us a little bit about your blog and how you incorporate travel into your blog and in your life? What is your travel philosophy?
We took our kids to Newport, California a little while ago and I decided to make a video of our time there. When my kids watched it, they were in tears because they’d never watched their own memories like that, set to heart-wrenching music. It made them desperately want to go back to California. Ever since, they’ve demanded that I make a video of every trip we take. We love documenting our memories like that.
I post the videos on my website as well as travel tips. I love getting travel tips from like-minded friends who have been where I’m going, so I hope my tips can help other families get the most out of their trips.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but traveling grounds me. It grounds me in who I really am and what I want out of life. Stepping away from my everyday life gives me a refreshed perspective on the blessings I have and what I need to change in my life. It also reminds me not to get stuck in my own way of thinking and viewing the world. It makes me more open-minded and understanding of other cultures and mindsets. It’s important to me that my kids have those experiences too. We’re trying to collect experiences, not things. Traveling as a family is a fun way to do that.
5. Why do you like to travel with your kids? Do you ever leave them home?
I love traveling with my kids because they love it. They get so excited about taking off and experiencing new things. Watching them do that is so satisfying. Adventuring together binds us as a family and adds a depth of joy and fulfillment to our relationships.
A lot of people have asked in wonder how and why we take our kids on bigger trips but I feel like it's often easier to take them than leave them! Leaving them means worrying and scheduling babysitters and rides and meals. And when we bring them, we don’t feel a rush to get back home and “save” them. When we leave them, we’re always saying things like, “Oh Ellie would love this!” or “I wish Camden could see that.”
With that said, I strongly believe in getting away without kids regularly. In my book, traveling together has marriage-saving power.
6. What's a memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
It’s hard to pick one because I feel like every one of our trips together are memorable. Our most recent trip as a family, in Kauai, comes to mind. We stayed there in a condo for 10 days and met up with some close friends from Australia who made our trip even more enjoyable. My mom was there to help with the kids and let us get away to hike the Napali Coast, so that was a huge help! Our kids slept well and were so content playing on the beach and in the pool for hours, and eating their favorite treat: Shave ice. Given the chance, we would move to Kauai in a heartbeat. Life just feels slower and more stripped down to the basics there. The weather and jaw-dropping scenery is a draw too.
7. What are the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with young kids for you?
I’m a bit of an organizational freak and love packing. Always have. I have positive associations with it because if I’m packing, it means I’m going somewhere fun. So packing is the easiest part for me. I also love gathering recommendations for our destination. I think food is a crucial part of a trip, so I always try to find out the best places to eat before we head out. The hardest part of traveling is coming home! And being on a long flight with a toddler who just wants to move around.
8. What are your favorite travel resources?
I love following @flightsfromhome.slc on Instagram to find the best flights leaving from my home airport, Salt Lake City. Google Flights has sort of become a leader in finding the best flight deals, so I check that too. I use Airbnb a lot because it’s a more cozy, personal travel experience. I also get the free Scott Keyes e-mail. Uber is a must too!
9. What are three items you never leave home without?
Lotion. We all are prone to dry skin in my family, and air travel can really dry you out.
A book. I’m a bookworm and can’t imagine a trip without something to read. Reading by the beach or poolside is the epitome of relaxation! Well, that and a massage. Books are great for keeping kids entertained on flights too.
Extra binkies! It would be mayhem if we were out of the specific binkies our baby takes mid-flight. Those things always seem to disappear.
10. What's your next travel adventure?
I’m heading on a trip with my sisters for my birthday. We’re headed to Monterey, California during the peak of whale watching season! St. George, Park City, Lake Powell and California (San Francisco and our go-to spot, Newport) are on the list too. If we can find great flights, we may head to Australia at the end of the year. Boston is another possibility. We’ll see how much we can fit in!
Anything else you want to tell us?
I traveled to England for the first time last year, and the rolling hills and medieval villages of the Cotswolds inspired me to write my first novel. As soon as I finish it, I’m rewarding myself with a trip back there! Now I just need to find time to write with three little ones.