Family Traveler Spotlight: Heather of Globetrotting Mama

Family Traveler Spotlight is the section of our publication where we profile families who love taking their children along on their travel adventures. In this edition, we meet Heather Greenwood Davis of Globetrotting Mama. She shares with us how her family traveled to 29 countries on six continents in just one year, why parents should let their kids reveal what they’re seeing on their travels, and why we should work to live and not live to work.

Family at the pyramids Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

Tell us about your family.
We are a family of four. My husband is Ish and my sons are Ethan, 14 and Cameron, 11.

Where do you live when you’re not traveling?
When not traveling you’ll find us in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Tell us about Globetrotting Mama.
Globetrotting Mama is an international family travel blog. The stories we post here and on our social channels are aimed at encouraging other families to re-examine the goals and dreams they have for their family and show them options for achieving them through travel. The stories are probably most unique because they bring a variety of perspectives to the piece. I have a background in journalism and law. I worked for many years in a top national law firm and walked away from a six-figure income (with the potential for much more) for a different kind of life. My husband is firmly of the “Work to Live not Live to Work” philosophy. Together we have tried to instil those ideals into our kids through travel. We spent one year traveling around the world (29 countries on six continents) when the boys were ages 6 and 8. That experience and the lens through which we shared it has resulted in some unique (but universal) insights that I think really resonate with our readers.

Heather Greenwood Davis, husband Ish and sons Ethan, then 9 and CAmeron, then 6 at the Great Wall of China. Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

Why do you believe in traveling the world with your children?
With all that is happening in the world right now, it is really clear that adults don’t do a great job of treating each other well. Children have always fascinated me. They are open to new ideas in a way that many adults have been conditioned away from. Traveling the world with my children has shown me that when exposed to differences, new cultures and foreign situations, kids ask honest questions and then work with the situation they are in. Prejudices and preconceived ideas are foreign to them. My kids teach me how to be a better, more tolerant person everytime we travel just by being themselves. My hope is that more children will have these opportunities to find the similarities between races, cultures and religions around the world.

Luxury means different things to different people. How do you define luxury when it comes to traveling with your family?
I used to think that luxury only meant five star hotels and high threadcount linens, but I’ve come to realize that travel – the ability to do it and the incredible rights inherent in certain passports – is the real luxury. If you’re lucky enough to have a passport that grants you access to the planet, I think you have a responsibility to get out there and meet people. I’ve met many people who wish they had the chance.

Exploring Petra in Jordan. Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

What’s the best travel experience your family has ever had?
Every single trip we’ve taken nets us memories. Even the ones where something goes wrong. I guess the experience that will always stick out for us is that yearlong trip around the world. Realizing that dream with our kids at our side was an amazing experience.

What’s your favorite family-friendly luxury hotel?
I’m so glad that there are so many we could choose from! The one we’ve spent the most time exploring would be The Four Seasons. We’ve had the privilege of seeing them in spots around the world and I’m always impressed with the way they go out of their way to make sure everyone – including the kids – leaves with a memorable experience. Four Seasons Mumbai sticks out in particular. We’ve also had a great experience at the Ritz Carlton on Grand Cayman Island.

A visit to a Masai village in Kenya netted new friends. Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

What three items do you never travel without?
iPhone, comfortable shoes, a few dollars in the local currency.

What’s your favorite online travel resource?
I’ve been contributing to National Geographic Traveler for a couple of years now and I have to say they remain one of my favourite online resources. They have a great way of getting me excited about new to me destinations. I also love Hopper and Kayak for searching for flights and hotels. Priceline hasn’t let me down for car rentals.

The boys getting up close and personal with an Elephant in Thailand. Photo: Heather Greenwood Davis

What’s the worst mistake you see other parents making when traveling?
The same mistake I used to make: Trying to teach the kids what they’re seeing. We parents need to be quiet more on these trips and let the kids tell us what they’re seeing. Answer questions instead of coloring their lens.

What’s on your travel bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list per se, but I am up to go and see anywhere I can get to. I love the idea that despite how much I’ve already experienced, there is still so much more to see. If there’s an opportunity to travel anywhere I haven’t been, I’m game for it!

Read more from Heather at Globetrotting Mama, and be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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