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Ep. 247: How this mother of 4 gained freedom as an online travel expert with Amanda Keeley-Thurman

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In this episode, I speak with Amanda who is a mother of 4 and an online entrepreneur. 

She is the creator of Hot Mama Travel, which is a blog that was founded in 2014 and has since grown to include a YouTube channel and, more recently, a travel agency. 

The goal of HotMamaTravel is to help families travel more easily, affordably, and frequently. 

Listen on to find out how Amanda has gained freedom with her family as an online travel expert.

Listen Below:

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Transcription:

Debbie:

Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited to be speaking to my guests today. I’m here with Amanda.

Hey Amanda.

Amanda:

Hi.

Debbie:

Thank you so much for joining us today. Before we get to all of the juicy details. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Amanda:

Yeah.

So I am a mother of four and I love to travel and I made my whole lifestyle around those two passions: being a mom and traveling, and created the family travel blog Hot Mama Travel. So I could also just do it forever, right? Do what you love, you never work.

Debbie:

I love that. And the combination of the two: traveling and being a mother, being a parent are two of the things that most people find really important in their life, right?

And I think the thing that’s interesting about that is people think that it’s either one or the other, right? You either travel before you have kids and then once you do start traveling, it’s very limited and it’s only during summer breaks. And with you, you’ve made it into a whole career. How are you able to do this, Amanda?

Amanda:

Well, yeah, so that was the thing. When I was young, I had a lot of friends that were like, “I’m gonna travel as much as I can before kids.” And in my heart, I always knew I wanted to travel with my kids because I was still upset when I heard about my parents’ travels that they did before I was born. They can’t control that I wasn’t born yet but I’d be upset like, “Why did I miss that?”

So I didn’t want my kids to feel that. I was like, “I gotta do everything with them.” So I knew I wanted to be a writer, I knew I wanted to be a world traveler and I wanted to be a mom – and I wanted to be all those at the same time. And it didn’t sound very realistic, but I was like, “I’m gonna try and make this work.” So I thought, “Well, let me do the linear thing first.”

So I tried to pursue the writing career and I thought that meant working at a big magazine or a newspaper and jet-setting on fun assignments and then getting stable and having your family. But I graduated in 2007 and it was during a recession and newspapers and magazines were kind of making a shift to digital content and they were letting people go.

And I had my little job lined up after college at a newspaper paper and they emailed me, no, they sent me a letter that was the days of the letters. And they sent me a letter that they were actually letting staff go and they weren’t gonna bring any people on. So I was starting from scratch as a graduate and I was like, “Well, this is gonna put a cramp in my style, ’cause I had a plan I had to get moving.”

And so I decided to take an internship for a magazine just so I could continue to write. And I was noticing that editors were packing up their offices and being let go. And I was like, “Ah! This isn’t gonna turn into a job.” And that’s when I discovered blogging.

It was fairly new. People weren’t huge on blogging but I was hearing stories and I thought, “Well, it’s a way to write and I can kind of do my own thing. And I continued to take freelance writing jobs and I wasn’t very happy with the slow pace ’cause in my brain, I was like, “I have to get the job and I have to get secure and have the kids.”

So I just kind of hit a crossroad and I was like, “What am I gonna do? I can’t keep putting off having kids,” ’cause I knew I wanted to be a mom of at least four and I wanted to travel with them. So I was like, “I gotta be young to do this, right? You gotta have energy.”

So my husband and I were like, “Let’s just start the family while we pursue our jobs because you can’t control the job market.” So that’s what we decided to do. And I had started a little blog before I had my daughter and it was called Luxury On a Budget.

And it was aimed at traveling on a small income but not sacrificing your style because that’s what I was doing. I was bartending, serving. My husband was a graduate student. We didn’t have a lot of money but we still loved to travel when we could. And we’re kind of really good at travel hacking and doing travel deals, finding specials, saving money, but having really fun trips.

And that was the first blog but I knew nothing about the blogging industry on how to make it a business, how to make it lucrative. So I was just kind of treading water. Then I had my daughter, then I thought, “I’m gonna make a blog about her and her little adventures as a baby,” ’cause we traveled with her and we started taking her on things.

And that was fun. I thought, “Well, if there’s a dog that had a really popular blog, some of you had a dog blog and everyone loved it. And I was like, “Well, if she can make this popular about a dog, I’m sure people like seeing a baby travel, right?” But I was writing and I was making the blog fun, but it wasn’t making money.

And so I just continued to do my thing. I was writing and I was freelance writing, continuing to try and blog, bartending. I had my second baby which is my son and we were traveling a lot and we loved going to Vegas. And I noticed a lot of people were asking me questions, especially when I would like to bartend my customers and stuff, like, “How would you take time off of and how are you always going on trips and you’re taking your babies to Vegas.”

And I never thought taking your kids to Vegas was a provocative thing ’cause I grew up going to Vegas. But I noticed a lot of people had some kind of stigma around like, “Is it family-friendly? I thought it was an adult playground and blah, blah blah.”

So I thought, “I have some information to give, maybe I’m gonna shift my blog that way. And so I created a new blog, Hot Mama Travel, in 2014 when my son was a toddler and I became the Vegas lady – taking your kids to Vegas.

And so that was the first thing. And then I threw myself into learning about the blogging business. I took courses. I tried to learn everything I could and that’s where I just really started. And since then I’ve continued to expand my family and I have four kids now.

Debbie:

Just like you wanted it.

Yeah, just like I wanted and I’m still traveling. And now my blog is actually a business and it expanded into a vlog. And now I’m recently a travel agent services.

Debbie:

That is incredible.

You know what’s really funny? I’ve talked to a lot of people on this show and one of the things that I’ve noticed is a lot of my guests have turned something that was unfortunate, right? Like you, you left college and it wasn’t the best of time to create, or not even create, but just find a job, right?

Amanda:

Right.

Debbie:

And you turned it into something, to an opportunity for yourself. Because if you had ended up getting a job at a magazine, you may not even be doing this, right? You may not even have a blog, you may still be at a desk job, you may not have all of the freedom that you have now.

So it’s really interesting how if you just look at certain things in our lives, it could be a tragedy, it could be something that wasn’t what we thought our life would turn into and turn it into an opportunity where it can actually lead us.

So this gives me a lot of hope when I definitely listen to you talk about this, Amanda, because it’s incredible how you still got what you wanted, but not in the way you thought it was gonna be, but it’s kind of better.

Amanda:

I did.

I got all three things, I travel, I am writing at my own pace what I wanna write. I’m not being told like assignments and having to be in the office. I get to be available to my kids and we can more or less live a freedom lifestyle and we can be location independent if we want to. But the kids are very excited, they love school and we’re close to family.

So we do have other things that keep us based in California. But yeah, it turned out to be exactly what I wanted and I didn’t even know that’s what it looked like the time I started.

Debbie:

Yeah.

Sometimes the universe just gives you something you didn’t want but it was actually something that you need.

Amanda:

Yes.

Debbie:

So it’s so interesting that way. But I do wanna go back to when this was all happening to you, right? And this was at a time where yeah, there weren’t a lot of jobs and it must have been a really scary time for you.

Amanda:

Yes.

Debbie:

And for most people, we wait until we have a child so when we’re financially stable, you wait, wait and wait. And it’s interesting how your husband was like, “If we keep waiting, it may not happen.” He was like, “We’re just gonna do it and things are going to be okay.”

So how did you make that decision? Because that is a big decision, right?

Amanda:

Yeah.

Debbie:

You are still uncertain about what was gonna happen, but you both made this really big decision and it worked out.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Well, I had such a strong feeling of like wanting to be a younger mom. I wanted to be a mom and I knew I wanted to have four kids. So I had to start at some point, if I was gonna not bust them all out each year, I wanted some space, you know?

So we were living on a college campus apartment and so our rent was low. I was bartending and I was making okay, he was a graduate student. We didn’t have a lot of overhead so what we thought was we had good insurance through the university at that time. And we were had low overhead and I was like, “Well, if this is the time, there’s no right time.” That’s the thing with big decisions.

There’s no right time. You could come up with a million reasons not to do it, not to take the leap – fear is huge. But it’s just like, “What is my life gonna look like if I became and pursued this writing thing and never became a mom, would I be happy?” And I was like, “No, I’d always feel that longing that I missed that.”

If I became a mom and just wrote on my own and for pennies, ’cause you can always write you don’t have to be even published. You can write whenever you want to. Would I be happy? And I thought, “Yeah, I’d be happier there than I would be the other way. So let me do the thing that would make me the happiest first and work on the rest later or at the same time.”

So that’s kind of the decision I made. You just have to think about your life in the future. If you could only have one, what would make you the happiest? And that’s the way I went and it all worked out.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And you didn’t have to sacrifice anything. And obviously in the beginning it’s hard, it’s hard for everybody and it takes a while for things to grow and for it to come into fruition and for you to be in the position that you are now, because honestly, we all suffer for something that we love, right? But it all works out in the end.

And I think what I often see, and I do this myself too, is we tend to overthink certain things and we stop ourselves from pushing forward or doing something that’s really out of our comfort zone because we overthink it or there’s a lot of fear.

So when you actually take that risk or you just do what you wanna do, like you did Amanda and your husband, it will work that because you work harder that way, when there’s that extra little push for you to do it.

Amanda:

Yeah.

You’re like, “I made this decision. I gotta go for it. I gotta make this work.” Because everybody looked at you like you’re crazy at that time. They’re like, “What are you doing? You don’t have a stable job.” I had a job at a restaurant, but I mean, I didn’t have my career going and everyone always thinks, “You gotta get your stability first. You’re purposely having kids outside of that stability. What are you talking about?” And I was like, “Well I’m just doing me.”

Debbie:

And hat’s the most important thing: you’re doing yourself. Like, you are making yourself happy and it looks different for everybody, right? There are some people like you, Amanda, who having children is extremely important and that’s what want your legacy to be a part of.

And then there are certain people that their career and other things are more important which is fine too. But you have to understand what comes first and for you, that was a family. And I love that you were able to do this and now you are able to have a family, travel, writing your blog.

Amanda:

Yes.

Debbie:

So it’s a happy ending. It’s not even an ending yet, so we don’t even know what’s gonna happen.

Amanda:

I’m just going with the flow. I’m here today. I didn’t know I was gonna do that.

Debbie:

Exactly.

So now let’s look into when you’re with four children, you and your husband, there’re six of you, and it must be a lot of fun. Well, I’m sure it’s stressful too, but to kind of plan all of this stuff out, right?

Amanda:

It is.

Debbie:

Especially when you had small children, when they’re all older, like it’s a lot easier in a way. Well, I don’t have any kids, but I would imagine it’s easier to kind of lug people around, but…

Amanda:

Yeah.

All ages come with different challenges. And at the time too, in 2007, a lot of people were struggling financially when the recession was happening including my parents. So it was all this time happening. We all decided to move in together. After I had my daughter, I lived in the apartment for a while on campus, and then we all got a place together. And to join forces kind of a thing.

And they wound up staying because I kept having kids. So they were like, “I’m gonna help.” And I had to work. So it was perfect. They became a part of our family travel too. So we became a multi-generational thing. So now in addition to babies, toddlers kids, I also have my dad who’s 88 this year.

Debbie:

Wow.

Amanda:

And he still goes on a lot of our trips. So the logistics keep getting a little bit crazier, a little bit more creative when we have to plan, we have to think of a lot of things, but it’s part of the fun for me, the challenge, given everybody that opportunity to have those memories.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And that’s the thing, if you really want it, you’re gonna work for it. And I think that’s the most important thing to understand. So I love that.

Now, when you and your husband obviously were just starting this out and you, especially with your blog, how did you make sure that this became full-time for you, something that you could actually create income in?

Amanda:

Yeah.

So like I said, I was bartending and I didn’t like leaving the kids. I hated that. And I would sometimes cry on my way to work because I was like, “I hate leaving them.” So I knew I had that drive. I have to do something to make this work and make money so I can be home and I could be available to them because it just sucked having to run around and pass off my kids to my mom or my husband and just leave all the time.

So I got some, I did some courses and I would recommend that anything that you wanna pursue, go to people you trust. So I went to bloggers that I trusted that were doing what I wanted to do successfully and just dove myself into studying. And I would be up all night.

So I’d come home from bartending. The kids would be in bed and I would pull all-nighters doing the courses and working on my blog and trying to figure out how to make a website and learning code. Like, I’m a writer, I’m creative, I don’t know how to do code.

So those kinds of things took a long time. Thankfully for me, my husband’s a scientist, so he was a little bit savvier with the code stuff. So I would have him double-check my work when he could. But yeah, that’s what I did. I just say, just try to educate yourself on your own.

There are so many sources available online, available to you for free and for minimal cost. And if you really want something, you gotta invest in it a little bit. And I was broke and I had to put my little money together to try and pay for like little courses here and there and it paid off because I thought, “If I make money, then it was worth it.”

Debbie:

And it’s so interesting. Now it’s so much easier to start a blog, right? And you mentioned, Amanda, back then you had to code your website. Now there are literally templates that are pre-made for you. And all you have to worry about is writing. And obviously, there are other things too, but it’s not as hard as it was before.

So what would you say is the difference now between blogging in 2014 to now, 2021 in all these years that have been happening? Has it gotten easier? Has it gotten more difficult? What has that been like for you?

Amanda:

Well I think ’cause so many people now are kind of in on the blogging game, there’s a saturation in the market. So it’s really important to find your niche, get really specific with what you wanna talk about to make yourself set apart from other people.

And the algorithms and the technology are changing constantly. So as far as technology, I think it’s easier to set up a blog. But you still have to know the background of what it takes to be found. You can’t just write a fun story, put some pretty pictures up, and be seen. You could be talking to an empty classroom and that’s no fun.

And then you have to learn how to be right on a search engine so that people can find you. Those kinds of things are all worth it. But I don’t think that people should wait to start before they learn all this. ‘Cause we all have that tendency to be like wanna be an expert before we jump in.

And I think that just start it, just go for it. ‘Cause look at me, I started like two blogs that did nothing, but it was fun, it was practice. And I didn’t know everything when I started Hot Mama Travel, I did it in conjunction with it. And I think that’s important.

Just get in there, do what you wanna do. Look, and then you’ll learn. You’ll learn as you go, it makes it better. And that’s how. I think that logging today though is a great industry ’cause everything’s digital. And I think it’s a way to go if you wanna try and find a way to make a side income or just a creative outlet.

Debbie:

Yeah. And you never know where it can lead. There’s a lot of people that do it as a side project like you did and it becomes a full-time thing. If you educate yourself and you become really serious at this, it can become a full-time business like you have been able to do it.

So what was that transition like? How did you actually turn that side hustle into a business? Was there any specific project that you did that really hit the mark or was it just years of actually doing your blog before it turned into a money-making project for you?

Amanda:

Well, I was kind of just creating blogs that I wanted to do and they weren’t really growing that much. My audience was pretty small. And then I started learning about SEO (search engine optimization), finding keywords that are gonna rank that people are looking for. And I started thinking about blogs in that respect.

So I started looking at what keywords were popular and then thinking about how I can incorporate my travels or my trips around those keywords to target, that thing that people are looking for. And when I went on, I decided to take a cross country road trip with the kids and my parents back in 2017 and I wanted to make it big. So I did a lot of research before and we did a lot of content and I also was taking an online course during the road trip.

So at night, in the hotel room, I would do stuff to like make sure my website was not running too slow or my pictures weren’t too big and all those things. And that’s kind of what pushed me. I would say after that road trip is when I decided to also make a vlog, a YouTube channel.

I was like, “I’m gonna take videos the whole time too,” ’cause you can see the pictures of the kids and you can hear about family travel but sometimes seeing it happen is also entertainment. Some people like that, they’re not readers, they’re visual, they wanna watch something.

So I said, “Let’s make a vlog as well and take video,” even if it was just for our own memories to look back on and see the trips. But that started to grow and that’s what I started. Just kind of thinking outside the box of just the blog. “What can I do? Affiliate links. How do you do advertising on your site?” All those ideas.

And then I would say what really pushed me into doing this full time was the COVID shutdown and lockdown. I didn’t wanna give up any income. I was kind of like that hustler where I was like, “I’m not letting any streams of income go.”

So even though my blog was doing good, I wasn’t going to let go of the bartending money. I just did it a couple of days a week just to have my foot in the door and keep that mixology skill intact. But then when the restaurant shut down, that was my out ’cause I used to always think, “When I make this much money, I’m leaving. When I make this much money, I’m leaving.”

And you always just kind of, I guess the fear, the safety net of like, “Oh, okay, I can’t just leave. Why would I just leave?” And then when I had to, and there was no choice, I loved being at home. I had time just to delve into the blog and I think that’s was like, “I’m not going back and this is it. And this is my full-time thing.”

Debbie:

Yeah.

And it’s like going back full circle. It’s like when you didn’t have kids yet, you had to start writing on your own because you had no choice. And now because of COVID, you had to leave that job that you thought was like a part of your security to do this full time now.

So it’s so interesting. I find it so interesting when all of these things happen and it actually works in your favor if you take that opportunity ’cause there’s always opportunities in these little pockets of, I guess, misfortunes that we have in life and it’s just how and what you do with it that really counts. Love that.

Amanda:

My gosh, that’s so true. It’s so true.

I guess I needed to push every time, I think everybody does.

Debbie:

I think so too.

Amanda:

It’s that mindset too. When something doesn’t seem to be going your way, try to look at it a different way. “Maybe let me look at what I do have, what I can work with,” because I might be the universe’s way of showing you the direction you’re supposed to be going.

I do think that sometimes now, I really try to. Like, if a trip falls through that I’ve planned and I was looking forward to I’m like, “Yeah, there’s a reason. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to do that trip. I’m supposed to do this,” and another opportunity comes.

I just try to keep that in mind and not get down when things seem to be a struggle, right? Like, “Oh no, pandemic, everyone’s locked down.” That year, I took to build my business with travel too on top of it, bartending and traveling – two worst industries to be in during that time.

But I was like, “I’m just gonna work on other things and do local things and be with the kids and just try and save money and work on what we’re gonna do in the future. And just kind of reset.” Use it as a reset.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And that’s the thing. I mean obviously, all of the stuff that’s been happening all over the world is crazy, right? We’re literally living in a crazy time right now and this is gonna be in the history books. And when we’re old and you have your grandchildren, they’re gonna be asking you about this time. And hopefully, it doesn’t continue that long.

But we’re living at a time where people will be reading about this, of what we’re going through right now. And I think it’s just a matter of how you deal with it. Whether you turn it into something else that will make you better or you’re just gonna go under a rock and not leave until hopefully, you’re hoping that things are gonna get better again.

Amanda:

Right.

Debbie:

But I love that mentality that you take this and you see what else is out there. “What else can you do? What else you’re capable of?” ‘Cause that’s another thing that I think we also tend to undervalue ourselves. We don’t know what we’re really capable of until we are forced or pushed into something that we are not comfortable with.

Amanda:

So true.

Debbie:

And I love that throughout all of this, you’ve done something with it. It’s like you just move forward. Maybe you cry a little bit and then you keep going.

Amanda:

Have a shot of tequila, cry a second, and then pick it up, put some lipstick on and move on.

Debbie:

I love that.

Have some tequila, of course, from a bartender, from a mixologist.

Amanda:

Tequila solves many problems.

Debbie:

Amanda’s like, “Alright, this is a bad situation right now let’s have some tequila. Let’s make something new. Maybe I’ll find something.”

Amanda:

Exactly.

Debbie:

Love that. Turn it into something good for yourself. That’s always a good thing.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Just have some fun, laugh, cry, all that good stuff.

And we did plenty of that. We were like, “Okay, shoot, what are we gonna do now? Let’s freak out for a second.” Then you relax, do something that really self soothes, I think, enjoy.

I got really into decorating for the holidays, my home, and turned that also into like a little thing. I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna do an Instagram on my holiday decor.” So all these different little directions opened up.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And there are so many opportunities out there. And sometimes when we’re just kind of in that zone, we don’t see them coming at us.

Amanda:

Right. You’re so tunnel-focused.

Debbie:

Exactly.

And then when that’s taken away, we’re like, “Oh my gosh, there are so many other things that I could be doing as well. And there are other opportunities out there for us.” So that’s always a good thing.

So you definitely travel a lot with your family even through the pandemic. We’re actually gonna be talking about that for your extended interview, how to navigate through family travel during the pandemic and during this crazy time.

But when you are actually traveling pre-COVID, now during COVID, what type of travel insurance do you use?

Amanda:

We definitely always use travel insurance. I definitely recommend that for anybody that’s traveling, especially if you’re traveling with family, just ’cause anything can happen. Just be prepared. I sometimes go with AAA or I’ll just kind of cruise around and see what the rates are for different places.

If you’re going international, you’ll wanna look around. But it’s definitely an important thing to have, especially if you’re taking investing a lot in the trip.

Debbie:

Yeah, definitely. For sure.

Especially during this crazy time, as I mentioned, it’s so important. And you think a lot of people are more concerned about this now, right? Because there’s a lot more possibility for you to cancel, somebody getting sick. And then on top of that, when you are in a different country, different place, it can be a real headache to see the different requirements when it comes to like your health insurance.

That’s why I’m really glad that I work with Integra Global because they have a ton of comprehensive plans.

Now during the beginning of the pandemic, there were a lot of people overseas that actually didn’t have good health insurance and they didn’t cover this whole thing during COVID. And so that’s one thing that I love about them is that they cover everything. Even things that you didn’t know you need.

Amanda:

That’s so important.

Yeah. It’s super, super important.

And they also don’t ask their members to like build a plan because how do we know what we’re gonna need, right? Of course, COVID, how on earth did we know this was gonna happen?

Their insurance pretty much covers it all and everything is built-in. So if you guys wanna check out Integra Global, you can go to IntegraGlobal.com and see how they can give you the coverage you’ll need. And maybe some you never knew you would.

Because this time that we’re living in right now, we never know what is going to come. I feel like every day it’s always different.

Amanda:

It’s always new.

Debbie:

I’m like, “Is there gonna be a meteor coming at us?”

Amanda:

Don’t even say it.

Debbie:

I’m like, “What is gonna happen next?”

And honestly, Amanda, I’m like, “I’m not even surprised if that happens. If they find a dinosaur still living somewhere.” All of a sudden they’re taking over.

Amanda:

All of a sudden my son’s like, “Totally!”

Debbie:

I’m like, “There are vast lands in the Amazons or somewhere that we’ve never even explored before. Even like things underwater. Who knows? I wouldn’t be even surprised.”

Amanda:

My kids are all into the underwater. They’re all about the ocean exploration right now. They’re like, “You know we’ve only explored like 5% of the ocean? There’s alien under there.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. Well, where are they? Can they help us? What are they doing?”

Debbie:

I agree with your kids. I’m like, “I don’t know. They’re right. It’s like a whole different universe down there. We have no idea what’s going on. So I would not be surprised.” They’re like, “Aliens just came out from underneath us and they’re now roaming around.”

Amanda:

They could help. I’m all for it.

Debbie:

Only if they’re helping, Amanda.

Amanda:

If they’re helping. Yeah.

Debbie:

We don’t need any more of this.

Amanda:

They’re gonna leave, they’re like, “Their curiosity is too much, we’re outta here.”

Debbie:

I know. I’m like, “I’m just hoping they can’t survive over water if they are going to destroy us.”

Amanda:

Exactly. Oh my gosh.

Debbie:

It’s so crazy right now, but Amanda, so let’s look forward to around 30 to 40 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you wanna be remembered for?

Amanda:

I wanna be remembered for helping families experience things they never thought they could together despite their income, despite their challenges, maybe obstacles.

So there are so many benefits to family travel. It’s beyond like, “Ooh, seeing a fun place.” I mean, just the bonding and the experience and what your kids learn, the information retention that they have when they’ve experienced something, it’s so incredible.

And I think you don’t have to do exotic, huge trips to have these memories. You can explore. There’s so much locally we don’t explore in your own area and you could do it safely and affordably. And I just wanna make sure I’m that person that someone thinks of when they thought, “Wow, I’m so glad I found Amanda’s blog because I was able to do this and make this happen for my family, the memory we have forever,” that kind of thing.

And I want my kids to always remember that, “Mommy took me everywhere so that when I’m old, they take me.”

Debbie:

Yeah.

I mean, I think one of the most important things that you can give to your children is that experience of adventure and wonder, and I definitely didn’t have that. And when I talked to my husband, I’m like, “When we have a kid, we’re definitely taking them places.”

And like you mentioned, Amanda, even if it’s just a few hours away, it’s like a small little road trip. It doesn’t have to be expensive. And I know a lot of people that’s their concern, right?

Amanda:

It is. Yeah.

Debbie:

But you don’t need to go across the world to have an adventure with your children. And honestly, when they’re young, they don’t even know if you’re in South America or in somebody’s backyard with some palm trees,

Amanda:

Right. They don’t.

It’s the experience. It’s the being together. It’s the excitement of packing up the bags and getting in the car and having fun, road trip food, or whatever that is, that memory that they’ll hold onto. And you can have cultural experiences without leaving your hometown or your country.

There are so many resources and cultural fairs. We, for a while, when we were trying to stay real local, when the kids were younger, we would just find a new cuisine, like a restaurant. We’re like, “Okay, we wanna do Thai food.”

My daughter got into the idea of Ethiopian food. So I looked on Google to try and find an Ethiopian restaurant near us. And we found one and she had so much fun and she still remembers that whole experience. We weren’t in Ethiopia, we didn’t fly over there. We just went to just a town away and had an amazing immersive experience that she still remembers.

And it’s the growing their little global palette and all that stuff. And it didn’t cost more than a meal.

Debbie:

I actually really love that idea.

Maybe it could be like a monthly thing. It’s a different culture, different food. Like, what music you’re listening to for that month could be different.

And if you’re on a budget, it could be like something that you can give them. And then when they’re older, they can do themselves where they could actually visit that country. ‘Cause I understand that for everybody, it’s not possible for you to take your kids to the actual place. But like you said, you just give them a glimpse of that.

And it definitely opens up something so much more, opens up a whole new world for them. And it gives them so much more acceptance of other cultures, other people, in that sense, which is pretty incredible.

Amanda:

That’s huge. Makes ’em feel so connected. So then when they do hear things on the news, they feel connected to that. It’s not a world away. It’s not something that’s outside themselves. They feel connected to it. They love that. They loved this culture. They love this thing.

So when anything is happening, they’re invested in what’s happening. And they’re young, but it’s sparking that interest. It’s sparking that care. And that’s what’s important, that whole knowledge of, “Hey, there are other things outside my bubble to explore.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And that’s extremely important because especially when we’re young, we’re definitely very selfish.

Amanda:

Yeah.

Debbie:

It’s all about us, us, us. Me, me, me.

Amanda:

I know.

My son, for his birthday, his birthday was the weekend, everything shut down in 2020. And he had been saying before his birthday, “All I wanna do for my birthday is game, sit in my chonies, and eat McDonald’s. And I said, “Okay,” ’cause I used to use birthdays as an excuse to travel. I don’t do big birthday parties. I let them pick a trip. And we do a little weekend getaway, not a huge trip, but a little weekend getaway.

And he wanted to be at home, in his chonies eating McDonald’s and I was like, “That’s not fun for any of us.” We have to sit there and then that birthday weekend, everything shut down. I was like, “You little stinker. You got your wish.”

Debbie:

He’s like, “Finally.”

Amanda:

Yeah.

So I’m like, “You had a whole year off now. We’re gonna go.”

Debbie:

“Now we’re gonna do two places next year for your birthday.

Amanda:

Exactly.

We’re going big.

Debbie:

That’s awesome. I love that.

He’s just like, “Leave me alone. I just wanna be in my PJ’s, doing my game, and eating McDonald’s.”

Amanda:

Exactly.

Debbie:

Listen, see Amanda. Sometimes we need that too.

Amanda:

Yeah, we do need your downtime. Exactly.

Debbie:

Love that.

Amanda:

Kids will tell you too. They will let you know.

Debbie:

Yeah.

They’re very vocal and very honest, which is why we love ’em.

Well, thank you so much, Amanda, for being here with us today. If our listeners wanna learn more about you, where can they find you?

Amanda:

You can find Me at HotMamaTravel.com.

Debbie:

Awesome. Love it. Very simple.

And also we will have Amanda’s link on our show notes as well. So you can check that out too.

Thank you again, Amanda. We really appreciate you being here and sharing your journey with us.

Amanda:

Thank you for having me. It was fun.

Listen to Amanda’s extended interview where she shares how to navigate family travel during the pandemic.

What you’ll find:

In this episode, Amanda will be with you every step of the way on navigating family travel during the pandemic.


Follow Amanda:


Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith

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