Sole Sister Spotlight: Traveling Momma Jenna

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I find it admirable that there are women travel bloggers who continue to satisfy their wanderlust even when they've entered the life stage of motherhood. Traveling can be tough, much less when you’re a mom and you have to look after your family. But I believe when you love something and it makes you happy, you won’t find an excuse to abandon it, and this is what Jenna shows us.

On her blog called "This is my Happiness", Jenna shares not only her insights on culture, art and travel but also aggregates some guide on traveling with kids. Mom or not, I bet you'd find inspiration from travel tidbits about her.

What's your favorite travel moment?

My favorite travel moment is walking in a city and watching life around me unfold. I spend a lot of time outdoors when I travel, and it’s these moments are the most special to me--when I am not visiting a specific sight but instead am just observing the place and its rhythms.

pacific grove Ja 2013

Favorite place you've visited and why?

I love every place I have visited! Some favorites are Indonesia, California, the coast of Brazil, England, Japan, the Czech Republic, Krakow…but my favorite place is definitely Italy. I gush about it on my blog pretty often, but in a nutshell, it’s the first place I fell in love with. The combination of art history, excellent food, friendly people, and stunning beauty make it my long-standing favorite.

What’s your favorite travel souvenir?

I have a collection of ceramic mugs that I picked up in various countries over the years. They hang on the wall of my kitchen, and they are a visual reminder of memories for me.
I also love buying handmade items, especially ones that I can use frequently. My husband is from Brazil, and I absolutely love the handmade hats, scarves, and bags that I’ve bought at the outdoor markets there. They are colorful like Brazil and remind me of the person who made them. I recently bought handmade leather and paper items from an artisan in Florence, Italy, and I think of Florence every time I use them. Sometimes handmade items are a little expensive but worth every penny, in my opinion.

You have been traveling since you were young and you've never stopped even now that you have a family of your own. How would you describe this life long experience and lifestyle?

Travel definitely changes as life changes. I knew that it would be an important part of my life after I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, in my last year of college. Soon after, I made choices that allowed me to travel long-term. For example, when I was 22, I moved to the Czech Republic and got a job teaching English and traveled a lot through Europe. Later, I met my husband, and we spend a month in Brazil every year visiting his family. Now that we have kids, we travel as much as we can with our limited budget and schedule and have been exploring California a lot the last few years. I believe we always have to stay flexible and accepting of what travel is possible at different times in life.

Florence, Italy, my favorite city in the world
My favorite city in the world: Florence, Italy

What are your top considerations when traveling with kids?

This is a great question, but honestly traveling with kids is not easy. It was actually pretty easy with just one, but since we have had our second child, it has gotten harder. I look for a place that is not too hard to get to (if we fly, the connections must be good), has comfortable accommodations, has family-friendly activities, and is not terribly expensive to get to. With two adults and two kids, the airfare really adds up, so taking big trips is not as easy as it used to be. Fortunately, we live in California, so there are plenty of amazing places we can get to by car.

I haven’t started vacations that are all about the kids, like Disneyland; instead, we go to places where there is something for everyone. The Monterey Bay area in California is a great example. There is plenty to keep all of us happy, and the kids love the outdoors and the aquarium.

taking it slow in Brazil with 1-yr-old Gabriel
Taking it slow in Brazil with 1-yr-old Gabriel

What is your advice to parents who want to travel with their kids? And how do you make it fun and stress-free as much as possible?

My first piece of advice is not to be afraid. Most travels with your kids will be amazing experiences for everyone, and most fears will be unfounded. At the same time, be flexible and realistic—traveling with kids is often not cheap or easy. Expand your view of travel to what will make the whole family happy. Look for places that are close to home and that have kid-friendly activities.

My favorite way to travel with my kids is to choose a place we all will enjoy and rent a house there for several days. The house allows us to have enough space and a kitchen, which is necessary with small kids. Staying for a few days gives us enough time to relax and to be flexible with our plans without cramming a lot of activities into each day. I bring their favorite old toys plus fun new toys to help the kids not get homesick. I also remind myself not to worry—a missed nap or a public meltdown is no biggie.

Sole Sister Spotlight: Jenna

What are the best lessons you've learned from your travels?

When I was around 20 and started traveling overseas a lot, I learned big, important lessons about how people live in other countries and how my perspective had been shaped by my culture and country. I realized that a lot of the things I thought were “normal” or “right” were simply cultural norms that could be changed.
When living in the Czech Republic at the age of 22-23, I also learned the importance of a country’s history in shaping its culture and the people’s thinking. I realized that my fairly sheltered upbringing in the U.S. made me naïve and that I could learn a lot from others, even if I ultimately didn’t agree with them.
In my 30s, the lessons I’ve learned from my travels come from the realization that life is short and that I should be positive every day. I am learning to relax, have fun, not have unrealistic expectations or try to do everything. And that travel is not just about me!


Jenna is a freelance writer who runs This Is My Happiness, a blog about culture, art, and travel. She enjoys writing about what makes places unique in an eTraveffort to provide a deeper look at travel destinations, especially California, Brazil, and Italy. She also promotes quality travels, travel that focuses on authentic, meaningful experiences and is respectful of the destination’s culture and people. She believes that as tourism continues to increase around the world, we need to be mindful of the choices we make to get more quality out of our travels while decreasing our footprint. Follow Jenna on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out other features on Sole Sister Spotlight

Do you know of any female traveler who conquers the world one country at a time? Sole Sisters are fearless women travelers who find ways to travel within their means and have a lot of fun along the way! I would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send me an email at solesisters (dot) weare(at)gmail(dot)com. I look forward to your suggestions!

On the lookout for itchy-soled sisters,

Sole Sister Madz
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1 sole trails

  1. Thank you so much for featuring me! I enjoyed your questions and like the mission of your website, so I will be following along in the future. :)


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