Seattle mom Debbie Dubrow and her husband Peyman have been traveling with their kids (Everest, 8, Darya, 7, and Eilan, 4,) literally from the cradle – their son Everest's first flight took off when he was 2 months old. Other parents have benefitted from their experience through DeliciousBaby.com, the family travel blog Dubrow launched in 2006.
Today the site is one of the most popular family travel blogs in the nation and has helped hundreds of thousands of traveling families hit the road (or air or sea) with ease and comfort each year. We asked Dubrow about becoming a travel blogger and how she makes traveling work for her family.
How did you get into travel blogging and writing?
I grew up in California and moved to Seattle to work at Microsoft. Becoming a travel writer was never in the plan for me. I built software at Microsoft for 9 years before leaving to have kids. My husband and I had always written about our trips – sending updates to an email list or posting on a blog. Because we were traveling, my friends started asking me questions about how to make their own trips easier. Eventually I decided to write up everything I'd learned and put it on a website about traveling with kids.
How was Delicious Baby born?
At that time, back in 2006, there was very little information available about traveling with kids and most of it was either negative or focused on all-inclusive resorts. I wanted to share information that would help parents go anywhere in the world with their kids. The site grew over time and largely organically, so I guess the number of people that visit doesn't feel surprising to me anymore. Every once in a while I meet someone new and they already know me or my kids – that always comes as a surprise!
Were you worried at first that kids would make traveling difficult?
My husband and I traveled a lot before we had kids, and we had heard and read so much negativity about traveling with kids that we weren't really sure we'd be able to continue traveling after our first was born. I was determined to figure out how to keep traveling, so shortly after he was born, I booked tickets to Paris – when he was 6 months old, we spent a whole month there during my husband's paternity leave. Once we had done that long haul flight successfully, other trips didn't seem so daunting.
What was your first trip with a baby like for you?
I think most babies' first plane flight takes them to visit grandparents or other family. We flew down to Orange County to visit my husband's parents about two months after Everest was born. My carry-on bag had about a dozen diapers, every possible medical necessity, and a change of clothes for each of us. Still, it was way easier than I'd expected, and I eventually learned to pare down my diaper bag.
What do you get out of traveling with your kids?
We go much slower with the kids than we did without. For example, when we went to Turkey, we spent almost 10 days in Istanbul. Instead of rushing through the major attractions, we sometimes took a couple of days. We visited the Blue Mosque twice because the kids loved it so much. And we stopped for snacks a lot. We also spent a lot of time in playgrounds, which meant an opportunity to talk with locals and see a different side to Turkish life than we might otherwise.
What do your kids get out of it?
First and foremost, I think the kids have learned to be flexible. Everything changes when we travel, from the sleeping arrangements to the food and our daily routine. I don't think any one trip has had a huge impact on its own; the changes are more ongoing and gradual. Each trip puts us in new situations and we learn more about each other. In Turkey, we used to walk across the Galata Bridge each morning with the kids. I never knew they could walk that far without whining. The bridge was lined with fisherman and Darya, who was 3 at the time, stopped to check each fisherman's bucket and see their catch. I would have never guessed it, but she's not at all squeamish. Without speaking the language, she'd get the fishermen to take the bigger fish out of their buckets so that she could get a good look.
On our way back from Turkey, we were waylaid in London for 10 days when a volcano in Iceland erupted, filling the air with ash. I had promised the kids they'd sleep in their own beds that night, but instead we scrambled to find our way into the city and find a hotel. It was confidence building for all of us to know that we could adjust, find our way, after such a surprising upheaval.
What goes in your suitcases and carry-ons?
When the kids were smaller, there was a lot of gear I needed to bring with me – mostly related to car seats and diapers. Now that my youngest is 4, that's mostly behind us. The older kids pack their own suitcases and carry-on bags (from a packing list that lists clothes and activities). I secret away a few workbooks and toys in my carry-on bag as an in-flight surprise, and we're ready to go. The one thing that takes some time to plan is snack foods. Two of my kids have life-threatening nut allergies, and the airlines do not provide nut-free meals, so on a long haul flight, I have to bring enough food to cover us for the journey.
Your kids are 4, 7 and 8. What are your most important travel tips for these ages?
At age 4, it can be hard to sit still on an airplane, so let me select a few favorite toys and activities for my carry-on, but also hide something new in your bag to bring out when my toys have lost their luster. Remember I'll probably spill on myself on the plane; bring me a change of clothes. And check out the RideSafer Travel Vest – it's a good way to avoid carrying my car seat on board.
At age 7, airline flights might begin to get more pleasant – I can read to myself or do a workbook while you do your own thing. But, I'm not quite done with a car seat. The BubbleBum is lightweight and rolls up in a carry-on bag. It works great for short car rides at our destination, too. I know I'm too big for a stroller, but my legs get tired, so plan to take lots of snack breaks during our days.
By age 8, I'm interested in learning more about what I see, so some kids' history books about our destination would make great reading on our trip. Keep in mind, too, that I really need to connect with other kids, so find out about activities at our destination that are open for drop-in. I can begin to take short tours at our destination, but if I start to get bored, let me take a break; I'll be more likely to give it a go again the next time.
Do you or your kids ever just want to stay home?
Nope, but I do enjoy some time at home to regroup when things are hectic. Each summer we do a week of "family camp" where I take the kids to places in Seattle that we haven't been before. That's a really fun way to combine exploring with the time at home and a chance to see friends.