I’m excited to bring back Ruth from Have Kiddos Will Travel for another interview, this time on her childhood travel experiences. Traveling to the Dominican Republic to visit family as a child, along with road trip vacations, sparked her passion for travel as an adult.
A bit about Ruth:
Ruth is a wife and mami of 4 active and globe-trotting kids (ages 13, 10, 7 and 5). She’s always loved a good adventure and truly believes that it’s possible to not only travel with, but actually enjoy exploring with children. Join her on Have Kiddos Will Travel as she shares her family’s adventures and inspires you to get out of the house with your kiddos.
What kind of travel experiences did your family do growing up?
I grew up in a immigrant family where funds for travel were limited, but a love of family time was central to our experience. As a result, the majority of our trips were day trips, road trips and visits to spend time with extended family. We took one annual international trip back “home” to the Dominican Republic and I looked forward to those trips more than any others. Dominican childhood in the 80’s was filled with endless hours of outdoor play, exploration, creative play and eating fruit right from the trees. I recall eating mangoes, cherries and guava until my belly hurt.
How has your family travel experiences growing up affected where or how you travel now?
The time that I spent exploring the cities, beaches and country side of the Dominican Republic unleashed in me a thirst for travel, adventure and experiencing new places like a local. I prefer staying in non-touristy areas and eating local when traveling internationally. Growing up, road trips included packing coolers of fresh home cooked food and a big pot of rice and beans. A family staple for road trips was spaguetti, rice and Italian bread. Yes, it’s a Dominican thing to eat pasta with rice and bread. Talk about carb loading. My first international trip not to the Dominican Republic didn’t occur until I was in college and had my own resources. My parent’s first international non Dominican Republic trip occurred with my family. It brings me joy to witness my parents taking in countries that seemed outside of their reach as working class immigrants to the United Status. Multigenerational local and international travel has been one of the greatest gifts that we’ve given our children. The memories, pictures and experiences that they’ve shared with their grandparents will be lasting part of their legacy.
How has your family travel experiences growing up influenced your or your family’s travel goals today?
While I visited my fair share of all-inclusive resorts in my teen and early adult years, once I had a family I reverted back to traveling the way my parents did. My 2009 Acura MDX has over 190,000 miles and I’m not afraid to pack a cooler and hit the road alone with our four children when my husband’s job can’t accommodate an adventure. If our travel destination does not have a body of water to cross, I don’t think twice about hopping in the car and road tripping with the kids. We’ve driven to Canada, Florida, Indiana, Georgia and pretty much every state in between those points. This summer, we embarked on a seven-night California road trip from LA to Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to San Diego and back to LA. Had I not grown up traveling via car, the idea of spending a week on the road with four youngs kids would not have been appealing and our family would’ve missed out on an amazing experience.
What are childhood travel memories stand out the most for you?
When we lived in Dominican Republic in my early childhood, my maternal grandmother would often travel back and forth from the United States to the island. Our family would pick her up at the airport in the times before closed gangways and I distinctly remember the excitement that I felt when my abuela would emerge from the airplane. She always wore fancy hats for travel and I loved taking in the smell of the United States on her clothing and skin. Flight travel days are still special to me and I tend to dress up a bit in memory of my fashionable globetrotting abuela.
Have you revisited as an adult any places that you first visited as a child? How was the experience different for you as an adult?
While we’ve traveled to many new destinations with my parents and children, some of my favorite travel memories are from our multigenerational trip to the Dominican Republic when my paternal grandmother was still alive. I loved that at age 95, she got to meet, hold and kiss my first two children. It also brought me great joy to witness my parents sharing stories of their childhood, youth and early life with my children.
If you have children, what do you tell them about your family travels growing up were different than now? What do they think is most interesting about the differences?
I love sharing stories of my childhood summers in Dominican Republic with my kids. I, remind them constantly that we seldomly ate out when we traveled. Our kids are foodies and have a sophisticated palate, yet it’s important to me that they remain humble and grounded. Our kids have taken their first flight very early in their infancy and have spent more nights on the road in their short lives than most people do in a lifetime. They’re well aware that traveling is a privilege and never take an experience, interaction or moment for granted. As a lover of all things history, I use stories of their grandparents and great grandparents to help them appreciate and value our family values and travel goals. We truly believe that adventure is the best way to learn and that philosophy is directly impacted by my experiences traveling back and forth to the island as a child.
What would you tell people who are parents right now about how your experience of childhood travel (or lack of experience) has impacted your life?
Early childhood travel and cultural exposure has made me and my children be more flexible and adaptable travelers. My parent’s example of putting aside funds for adventure, has taught to me cost saving tricks that we still use with our family today. As I write this blog post, my mother is traveling to our hometown, in order to go on a trip to Martha’s Vineyard with the kids and me. While resources may have been tight growing up, my parents have been able to enjoy and share new travel experiences in their retirement years. My 76 year old father went zip lining with us for the first time last year and the joy on his face as he zoomed through the air will stay with me forever. I’m grateful that my parents have modeled for us that you’re never too old to try something new and it’s never too late to travel.
Tell us more about your blog. Where can people find it, and how can they follow it on social media?