This week’s childhood family travel memories interview is with Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine. Camping adventures in her home state in Australia as a child fostered a love of camping and outdoor adventures across the world with her own family.
You can find more childhood family travel stories, as well as our family travel goal stories, here.
A bit about Rachel:
My name is Rachel. I live in Melbourne, Australia and am a mum to two gorgeous kids. Together with my partner, Matt, we have travelled to 56 countries on 6 continents. Our kids have visited 32 of those countries with us. We recently returned from a 12 month family gap year and spent time in Africa, India, Asia, Europe and the USA!
What kind of travel experiences did your family do growing up?
I grew up in a small country town in Australia and was one of 5 children. Our travel experiences were focused around camping as there were so many of us and money was tight.
My fondest memories are setting off after Christmas for our summer vacation. We would squish into the van with luggage packed all around us and a trailer loaded up with camping gear and bikes. For my family, summer vacations meant camping at the beach. Always.
Our vacations were only ever a couple of weeks long, but as a kid they seemed so much longer. We would spend our days swimming, lazing on the beach, building sandcastles, collecting shells and fishing. If it rained there were endless card games and fights playing Monopoly. We walked to the local store for ice cream and scoured the market for bargains.
For most of my childhood we ventured no further than our home state.
How has your family travel experiences growing up affected where or how you travel now?
I started my first full time job when I was 21 years old. I was sent to Chicago, USA for 6 weeks training. Up until that moment I had never left Australia. I had never even been on a plane!
I will never forget the moment I landed in Los Angeles after a long 14 hour flight. The food was different. The language sounded different. The people were different. It was such an exciting trip and I have no doubt it was my time in the USA that sparked my lifelong love of travel. I was hooked.
Since that first trip overseas I have lived and backpacked in the UK and Europe, worked on the ski fields in Canada and backpacked from the southern tip of South America all the way to Mexico. Last year when our children were 8 and 10 years old we decided to quit our jobs and take a family gap year. We traveled to 30 countries as we did a full lap around the world.
So while you might say my childhood travel experience bears no relation to where we travel now, there is no doubt my childhood travel experiences have influenced how we travel.
For instance, I am still drawn to the beach. When we holiday at the beach I feel at home. My kids also love the beach and it is one of our favourite places to go as a family.
We also love camping and much of our family gap year was spent traveling in campervans and 4wd campers. Camping allows you to truly step out of the rat race. No television, often no internet, close to nature and the outdoors. I am so grateful that my parents took us camping as a family and I hope my kids will feel the same when they have their own families.
How has your family travel experiences growing up influenced your or your family’s travel goals today?
I think camping as a child fostered a love of the outdoors that influences the types of trips we take as a family. On our family gap year we hiked together, we paddled together, we skied and cycled together. There is so much beauty to be found in the outdoors and we hope to instill that same love in our kids!
As a child it was never possible for us to travel internationally as a family. I feel fortunate to be in a position to travel overseas with my own children. While we love to travel in our own country, international travel offers us a great opportunity to educate our kids. They get to experience unique cultures, different religions and alternate ways of life. We hope international travel will broaden their minds and help them grow up to be kind and culturally sensitive adults.
What travel habits did your family have that you still do? What do you do differently?
As a kid, a long drive meant plenty of treats along the way and this is something we still do with our own kids. There is always a stock of treats in the car! While my memories of road trips were staring out the window and counting cars or windmills, our kids now have music players and movies running in the back. On long road trips it is the only way we can all retain our sanity!
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?
Photography has changed dramatically since I was a kid. My dad would take one or two rolls of film on vacation. He was the only one allowed to take photos (as you didn’t want to waste the precious film!). It was always so exciting to take the film to the store to get developed when we returned home. We would all sit and look through the photos when we picked them up days later.
Nowadays with digital photography, not only do we take hundreds of photos, the kids often take photos too. They can instantly review them on screen. Plus they can see other people’s photos so easily on Facebook or Instagram. They can’t even imagine how it used to be when we were kids!
The internet has also changed travel so much from when I was younger. When I backpacked in South America over 15 years ago, we traveled with a stack of guidebooks. There were no mobile phones and we would find an internet cafe every few weeks to tell our parents we were still okay! Now when we travel with our kids they skype their friends, they use an app to learn the local language and google maps to navigate us around! They love hearing stories of how people used to travel in the “olden days”!
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?
My childhood travel experience has taught me two lessons that I carry with me as an adult with my own family:
Firstly, it doesn’t matter where we travel, the most important thing is that we make the time to be together as a family. Whether it is a weekend away, a day trip to explore a nearby area or a longer vacation, we need to make the time to get away from the busyness of our everyday life. When we get away and spend time together we build strong happy family memories that I hope will stay with them into their adult years.
Secondly, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have an enjoyable family travel experience. Travel doesn’t need to be 5 star and packed full of expensive activities. Camping, hiking, taking a road trip and staying in simple accommodation can be just as enjoyable and often far more rewarding.
Tell us more about your blog. Where can people find it, and how can they follow it on social media?
We run the family adventure travel blog Adventure and Sunshine. We are passionate about independent family travel and slightly obsessed about getting outdoors.
On our blog we hope to inspire and encourage families to seek out new adventures. We write about destinations and activities that offer unique and memorable experiences. We also share detailed information such as trip costs and packing lists to make travel planning easier.
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