Travel With Bender on I Love Family Travel

Tell us a little background about you and your blog.

G’day, Erin from Travel With Bender here. My family and I have been living nomadically, travelling the world since May 2012. My daughter (6 years) and son (4 years) have visited over 50 countries and experienced the most amazing things. We’re originally from Perth, Australia but now call whatever city we are in “home”, albeit temporarily. We now share our journey and experiences via our blog, with myself focusing on the writing and social networking, and my husband, Josh, on the photography, design and marketing. Our 2 kids, Mia and Caius, add the cute factor 🙂

What is your number one family travel tip?

We suffered from the common misconception that once kids arrive on the scene you have to settle down and can’t live a life of adventure. Now that I’ve busted the myth firsthand, I’m excited to share and inspire other parents to travel more with their kids. So the best tip I can provide is just step out the front door, that’s the hardest part. If you find it hard to commit to making time to travel, then lock in that flight or hotel accommodation quickly. You’ll be surprised how creative you can be to make it happen. Kids can handle a lot more than you think!

Where was your favorite destination to travel to and why?

That’s a hard question because we’ve found things to love about each destination, and they are all so unique. Rather, I tend to think about my favourite experiences in each country. And if I had to choose one, it would be Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Witnessing 20,000 paper lanterns lifting into the sky simultaneously was the most awe-inspiring moment of our travels. Such a simple act of unity was so profound. The visually striking scene of a sea of twinkling lanterns gently floating in the still night sky will be etched in my mind forever.

Do you have any favorite sites, blogs or magazines you read to help plan your travel?

Skyscanner or Momondo is a good starting point in terms of researching flights. We find inspiration from other travel blogs but also everyday folks we meet. For example, we met a family on holiday in Belize and they invited us to meet them at their home in Boston, so our plans adjusted to fit that in. We also have a very long list of places in our minds we’d like to see. As we gradually tick off items from our bucket list, new items get added.
AirBnB is our go-to accommodation source for longer-term holiday apartment rentals but we utilise numerous websites to search for the best accommodation. TrustedHousesitters is a great tool for finding free accommodation all over the world. I’ve actually got a long list of useful websites I like at: http://travelwithbender.com/resources/useful-websites/

Do you have any favorite travel apps or gear?

Our Pacsafe (http://travelwithbender.com/product-reviews/pacsafe-toursafe-not-all-luggage-is-made-equal/) carry-on bags are amazing. They can handle everything we throw at them. eBags Packing Cubes help make my suitcases much more organised (http://travelwithbender.com/product-reviews/packing-cubes/). I couldn’t live without my Macbook Air and iPhone, while Josh has switched to the dark side with his Samsung Galaxy S4. My favourite travel apps are: XE Currency, Google Translate, Google Maps, and SpeedTest. I have compiled a list of my favourite mobile apps I use for a travel lifestyle at: http://travelwithbender.com/resources/mobileapps/

What got you into travel blogging? How did you start?

I first started the blog so I could share our travel stories with friends and family, so I wouldn’t have to repeat them over and over again. After a couple months I realised that more strangers than friends were reading, and after a chance meeting of a reader on the streets of Penang, Malaysia, decided to shift my focus into a more resource-based travel blog so other family holiday-makers could benefit from my experience. Fortunately Josh has many years experience in web development so he took care of all the technical details and I could just focus on what I loved most – writing.

Do you have any advice for family travel bloggers who are just starting out?

If you’re thinking about starting a new family travel blog, I’m very excited for you. Take time to consider the blog’s purpose – is it a hobby or do you want to turn it into a business? If you want to make money out of it, it will involve a lot of hard work and dedication. So it’s important to realise that you want to do it even if money wasn’t an issue. That being said, it’s handy to have several other income streams so you’re not just relying on the travel blog. The other key to making your blog successful is play to your strengths and get help with your weaknesses. Your niche will involve what you’re most passionate about, and what your strengths are. In our case, I have a background in marketing and Josh in web development and online marketing. But throughout our travels Josh’s passion for photography has grown and now it’s a pivotal part of our blog. Perhaps your strength is videography or social marketing or food knowledge. Whatever you love, pour your time into it and be the best you can be, and when you present that in a genuine helpful way, others will be attracted to it.

Where do you plan to travel to this year?

We tend to lay out rough plans for 6-12 months in advance, but are very fluid so we can take advantage of opportunities that come up. At this point we are heading to Australia next week and after a couple months onto Canada and the USA. We’ve been to the US before, but there’s still so much for us to explore. We are currently in Bali, Indonesia.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

I have also founded a private Facebook group for advanced travel bloggers to share contacts, network and learn strategies for press trips. If this interests you, please send me a message via Facebook or our website and I’ll send more details about the application process. We recommend all beginner bloggers to attend at least 1 or 2 travel blogging conferences as it can help grow your network and learn important skills. And in this business, networking is crucial to success.