Travel Moms Who Work
Meet Jillian Lane Campbell who works as an environmental statistician for the United Nations in Nairobi, Kenya. Her middle name could very well be “Adventurous”. I haven’t checked the dictionary, but I’m thinking her picture is right there next to the word. Never one to shy away from new experiences, Jillian is not only smart and beautiful,
but always on the lookout on how to make the world a better place. Maybe that is how she landed the job at the United Nations. I’m just going to turn it over to her so you can decide for yourself. Thanks for stopping by, Jillian.
I live in Kenya and I feel like a true global nomad, I travel all the time. In the last month I went to China, Egypt, Afghanistan, Italy and the USA. Those were all for work, but when I am not working then we travel on family holidays. This year we have been on 4-5 safaris in Kenya, to the Kenya coast, to Uganda, across Tanzania and to Zanzibar. Every other year we travel on ‘home-leave’ back to the USA.
I would group travel into a few buckets and my travel recommendations for each are very different. For work travel, I pack light, book AirBNB if possible and usually I don’t have more than a few hours of free time. However, to get the best experience I still try to find a way to get out every day (I visited the National Museum and pyramids in Egypt for a few hours after work, I have taken a night bike tour and taken morning yoga classes while in Bangkok. I have dived in the Marshall Islands before flying out. I also have done 5am hiking in Bhutan, biked around the entire country of Nauru, and had many other adventures while still working 9-5.)
I make an effort to eat local or street food. If my kids were grown and I could take my husband on these trips then I would add extra days to most destinations. We love family holidays. My children got to swim with whales in Tonga, enjoyed the best beaches in Fiji, hiked in New Zealand, rafted on the Nile, camped across Kenya, seen the migration of the wildebeest, visited orangutans in Malaysia, climbed Ankor Wat, ate street food in Bangkok, been on road trips in the USA and have had many other adventures.
My highest recommendation is do not underestimate your kids. It is not that difficult to travel with kids and with every trip you learn something new and form new memories. I have four kids ranging from 1-10 and thus air travel and hotels are expensive for us. Hotels typically do not want to rent a single room to six people and so I do tend to ‘forget’ to mention the baby when I book rooms. But we don’t fly much or stay in many hotel rooms anyway. We mostly drive and then camp or book a house.
Road trips not only provide the freedom to visit destinations off the tourist trail but you also see so much more. A few simple tips from my family:
- Buy a Kindle Fire for your kids and pre-load it with all the shows your kids might watch on the ride – Amazon lets you download shows to watch offline on the Fire but not on a PC or other device, plus the Fire is cheap and has a long battery. You can judge me for letting the kids watch TV in the car, but they still do watch some of the drive but without the complaining.
- Buy a guidebook and download the Google Maps routes for your trip to a phone – Google Maps can still work without Wi-Fi or a local SIM if the maps are downloaded. The guidebook can help you find camp grounds, hotels or restaurants offline.
- Plan the route ahead of time as kids like the stability of knowing where you will be each day.
- Teach your kids about the history of each place, but only enough to get them interested and not so much that they accuse you of trying to teach them something.
- Alternate nice meals and touristy activities with local food and activities not in your comfort zone – this way you have an adventure while still feeling pampered.