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.
Beth Beckam loves everything about New York City and she and her son spend their days "exploring NYC and beyond, one playground at a time". She is the creator and face behind the Instagram account @littlekidnyc (although you mostly see her 4-year-old son in front of the camera!) and its accompanying website. She started "Lil Kid Big City" as a way to showcase her love affair with New York City through the eyes of a toddler. We know you'll love her perspective on adventuring with her son and living life to the fullest!
1. Tell us about your family.
Hello! We are a family of 4 fun loving New Yorkers – My husband and myself, our 4-year-old son, and a mini dachshund named Hot Dog, with a not so mini personality! She is our first baby and absolutely considered a member of our family.
2. Where do you live now? Have you always lived there? Where do you consider "home"?
While we are currently (and will forever be) New Yorkers we originally hail from Wisconsin. My husband and I both are originally from Wisconsin (however we didn’t meet there – another story in itself!). We currently live in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. We've lived in Lower Manhattan for 15 years, and have seen the area change drastically. When I first moved down here it was a desolate area - with no grocery, very few restaurants and residents. We've had the incredible opportunity to watch the neighborhood drastically change and grow - now home to many families, schools, movie theaters, and things to do (and even soon to be Whole Foods!) it is most definitely “home.” Couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international?
We travel as often as possible (and as financially feasible!). We love exploring a new city, location, country or town. To me, traveling is everything. It is a cultural experience, an opening to a new way of thinking, and a better learning experience than any school setting.
4. What would you say your typical week looks like?
I recently left a long career in fashion to concentrate on writing and photography full time. I went from long days at an office to working at home and exploring. While my days do feel busier than ever – I have never been happier. I love spending more time with our son, seeing him grow and exploring our city together. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I didn’t like working for the weekend. Everyday can be a weekend.
5. You do a lot of local adventures and activities with your son around the NYC area. How do you find all of the fun activities you plan? What motivates you to get out so much and explore where you live?
I had the misfortune in my life to have several family members pass while I was young. Life is such a blessing – and we never know what the future could bring. My motivation is simple - to live each day to the fullest, to surround yourself with loved ones, and to experience and see as much as possible.
There’s no better place to do this than New York City. I am completely and totally driven by the energy and beauty of our incredible city. The cultures and people of this city are everything. We’re so lucky to live in such an amazing city. I couldn’t imagine not taking part of this energy.
We have often been asked how we find activities. As I have been living (and exploring!) in the city so long – much of the annual events and activities are committed to memory. Years ago, I compiled a picture book of the city – and walked every single city block from lower Manhattan to 100th street. It took an entire summer – but I learned so much about our city, the neighborhoods, restaurants, architecture, and history. So much so that the city feels quite small to me now. In addition to all my city knowledge, I do also spend a bit of time Googling current events, joining mailing lists, and the usual roster of city experience websites, always trying to stay on top of the latest art opening, and special events.
All of this is what inspired us to start our website. Our friends and followers trusted our research, our city knowledge, and were looking for a curated list of activities. Lil Kid Big City was born.
6. Why do you like to travel and adventure around NYC with your son?
I’ve always been a city explorer – way before our son was born. I would tear open an issue of Time Out New York with as much enthusiasm as a present on Christmas morning. To my delight – our son is just as much of an explorer as me. He loves experiencing new things, seeing the city, and learning about our world (often asking me to take him to see things!). My utmost joy comes from watching his reactions, and discoveries. Experiencing the city again through a child’s eyes may be the best gift of all.
7. What's a memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
My husband and I recently celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary in Las Vegas, with a vow renewal ceremony. We were originally married there, by Elvis, and hired the same Elvis to perform the ceremony. It was so special to have our son there by our side (Vegas can be fantastic for kids!). Now our little guy is the biggest Elvis fan, and is so excited to see Graceland next month.
8. What's the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with young kids?
Now at age 4 – traveling with our son is a breeze. A loaded iPad, a plethora of "dollar store" toys and small books and games make the time fly by. The challenges always come from the things you can't control – delays, unexpected travel changes and weather. Pack for the worst, hope for the best – you'll always be okay (just be sure you have a great back-up battery and used the bathroom before leaving!
9. What are your favorite travel resources?
I love to search and discover a city before traveling – often making our own itineraries way before leaving. I cross reference many different platforms and sites in doing this – everything from local bloggers, travel websites, tourism boards, Instagram, and more...
10. What are three items you never leave home without?
Back-up cell phone battery (I have a mega one that would last about a week if needed – its heavy and big, but I love the peace of mind!), iPad (a must now these days, no?), and a supply of snacks. You never know when you may be delayed, or need to fill a hunger pain.
11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to explore where they live with their kids but is nervous or isn't sure how to get started?
No need to be nervous! I find that fear comes from not being prepared. Do a little research (Where to? Opening hours? How to get there?) and pack smart so you feel comfortable for anything (diapers, snacks, wipes, change of clothes, etc.) Once I feel confident in these things I feel like I could take on anything.
Regarding getting started – the amazing internet resources today make it so easy. A quick Google will usually yield many choices – but I urge you to find the resource that calls to you personally. There are many company sites with journalist approach to activities with a basic synopsis, and many sites that offer opinions and first-hand experiences. There are (very!) large sites that seem to list everything – which is great for an explorer! But this may be overwhelming for someone looking for a quick activity and a small sampling. Search for what calls to you. You’ll get more out of it, find yourself inspired, and (most likely!) enjoy your experience even more.
12. What's your next travel adventure?
Memphis and Nashville next month! Our son has been asking to see Elvis’s home. My husband and I have been before – but are excited to share the experience with him. In addition to this we have arranged for our son to be the Honorary Duck Master at the Peabody Hotel! Nashville is a quick drive away! We’re exciting to visit this fun music city again. We have a very exciting stop to make while we are there. We recently wrote a children’s travel book on NYC and are working with an illustrator who lives there. We will be visiting her and her studio while in town. More to come on this soon!