A Cebu-based IT professional, Pam spends her days alternating her day job, homeschooling, crafting, and going on one family backpacking adventure at a time. As a passionate mountaineer, she's scaled numerous mountains in her native Cebu: from the craggy peaks of Osmena to a night trek in Mt. Naupa (and yes, with her two-year old daughter, Asha, in tow!).
Read up as she shares with us why exploring the outdoors with your kids may not be as intimidating as it may seem - and why it could be one of the best gifts you could give the them.
How did the whole concept of the blog came into fruition?
I started out with the blog back in college to document my travels but when you’re a student, not only do you lack the funds to pay for a site’s upkeep but also the money to travel. I came back in 2011 with the blog, when I already had a job. However, I wanted the site to document my journey to parenthood and wanted it to become a go-to resource for expecting moms since I had no clue about it while I was still pregnant. I had no idea it would go back to being a travel journal but I love the direction at which it is going.
Who constructs the itinerary for the day? Is there an itinerary to begin with, or do you simply go with gut feel?
I make the itinerary while the partner just nods at my plans in agreement. Haha. I jot down which great places to go in a destination and its estimated cost (very important) but I no longer list down details because the thought of getting lost somewhere between point A to point B gives me a mini heart attack. On the road, we walk, take the public transportation and ask around – no mobile internet! – but the partner wants to know certain details (e.g. exact transpo costs) beforehand in order to avoid being swindled by abusive drivers.
We have gotten to the point of not making any advanced booking for accommodations and just see where the wind takes us. That’s pretty scary with a baby, no? We did that and when we found out we could be short on cash once, we decided to stay out longer in an island and cancel all other plans (ahh the beauty of being that flexible) – it felt great not to be rushed.
Do you allow your kid to explore outdoor activities (e.g. hiking, spelunking)?
Definitely. In the last two mountains that we’ve hiked to, our two-year-old has been able to walk (doesn’t even want to be held) uphill for 30 minutes at a time. Of course, there are lots of stops on the way to check out the flowers and the ants and the bugs – perfect pace for me!
We once showed her of a 7-year-old girl doing some rock climbing and I think it inspired her. She climbs on her dad since but we would love to introduce the real activity when she’s a little older. For now we let her explore safer things but just observe her from afar. I think it’s a great experience for her.
What's that one thing you can't leave home without when packing with kids?
Bottles and a trips’ worth of formula. Hmmm we also haven’t potty trained her so a few diapers and a pack of wipes are also must-haves. It’s hard to pinpoint one particular item when you have an infant/toddler with you.
Name a favorite place you and your family will never tire of visiting.
We couldn’t pinpoint one for now since we try to go to new places every time mostly for the parents’ satisfaction. We do love the mountains – the view and the climate is something you’d want to escape to if you’re a city dweller!
How do you fund your travels? What tip can you give moms who plan on long-term traveling, finance-wise?
Not sure – I’m still really bad at budgeting ahead for our travels. Since we have a mortgage to pay for, we do limit ourselves to just two major travels within the Philippines in a year and focus more on exploring Cebu first. If you noticed, we often do not pay for accommodations and we hike or commute. We avoid hotels and tour packages if we could reduce costs by finding things out by ourselves.
Even with homesteading plans, we do wish to travel long term and live a nomadic lifestyle which is why we are trying to grow the blog and find online work right now. We’re also into investing and we hope all the time and money spent on those would pay off in a few years so we could travel for an indefinite time in the future.
As a traveling parent, what challenges does having a kid on board travels bear on you as a parent?
There are heaps. For one, your muscles are hard at work bring all those baby paraphernalia plus the baby with you. We’ve learned to be really flexible though so don’t be surprised to see us making a bottle of milk or changing diapers on the road – we may have already mastered that art.
I also have that love/hate relationship when it comes to the stares we get from other people. Why are you bringing your kid with you under the heat of the day? Is she not getting uncomfortable? Ackk! I hate it because they seem to question our parenting abilities – then again, I try to give out that smile knowing that we’ve proven their doubts wrong.
How do you keep up with chores/ tasks while on the road? Do you delegate? Who babysits when you’re busy doing mom duties?
I am very thankful for a very supportive partner who loves our daughter dearly. Admittedly, I try to avoid the diaper-changing chore as much as I can. Hahaha. We mostly do things together – eat, sleep, etc – but when there are things that need some personal time, like taking a bath, the partner and I take turns with the toddler. Although, we can pretty much leave her on her own (but we just have to make sure she doesn’t do anything dangerous like climb down the stairs without any adult eyeing her).
Let's talk tantrums and all those not-so-fun stuff associated with traveling with kids. How do you deal with those? Do you do games? How ‘bout food?
We may have trained the daughter pretty early to get used to backpacking because she rarely throws a tantrum on the road. At home, she gets cranky when she’s sleepy but take her on the road and she sleeps very easily (she did so in a 5-hour-ish trip from Manila to Pangasinan). We just have to make sure that the bottle + water + formula or recently, biscuits, are ready in case she asks for it.
Is there a point when all the traveling with the kids gets tiring and you question yourself, “Why the heck am I even doing this?”
Traveling with kids can be intimidating and for good reason. I mean, wouldn’t it be better to just laze around by the beach or sleep in during your vacation? Our toddler never fails to wake up at every single day.
Many times I just wish we could go home and sleep in our own beds and escape the sun and the humidity in our air-conditioned room. But seeing our daughter look at things (buildings, mountains, trees, rivers) with such awe fills our hearts with so much pride. The heat and the sweat and the sore legs no longer matter – it’s the experience that counts.
Has motherhood bettered you as a traveler, or the opposite?
Being a parent traveler has taught us many times to test the limits of our own capabilities – how to pack light, how to carry close to one-third of your weight every time, how to prepare milk and change diapers on the road. Not only are you taught to be strong physically and mentally and to be flexible and adaptive to environment changes, but also to learn to appreciate the things in front of you and to enjoy every moment as they happen.
What crucial life lesson do you take from all this as a traveling mother?
When I became a mom, my priorities changed from being one persistent in achieving career goals to one who would rather put family first. Money comes and goes but time is something you can never get back once it’s gone.
Last shout-out to moms on traveling with kids of all stages, and nay-sayers who don’t believe women be left to travel solo or with the kids.
The world is a big classroom and there is so much more a child gets to learn in the backyard than within the four walls of a room. Don’t be afraid to get out and bring your kids with you – you’ll be surprised at how adaptive they can be. No funds? You don’t have to go anywhere expensive. A walk to the local park or a camping session by the beach or a nearby mountain is enough to ignite the passion then everything else will follow.
Travel Blogger Mom on Spotlight is a section on this blog that's dedicated to mothers who live life with relentless passion for travel and motherhood. Suggestions on featured bloggers are always welcome. To forward requests for features, please contact me at email@example.com.