Meet Melissa and her family who are the next Heartfelt Travellers to join this series. It is incredible just how much Melissa has achieved having taken on a solo adventure that was supposed to be for a year that has turned out to be a catalyst in her meeting her husband having two children and since then living for 12 years away from her hometown in Canada and starting her own business to support other family travellers.
Thanks, Melissa for sharing with us your inspiring travel journey!
Heartfelt Traveller Melissa from Travel Tots
1. Can you tell me about you and your family?
I’m originally from Brantford, Ontario, Canada. When I graduated teacher’s college in 2005, I decided to take a one year job posting to Bangkok, Thailand. I had NEVER been anywhere, had to look Thailand up in a book and this kind of adventure was completely out of character for me. I was terrified and my parents were even more terrified. No one, including me, thought that I would last six months. This June will be my 13th year away from home! I lived and taught in Bangkok, Thailand for 6 years. That’s where I met my husband, Ben, who is originally from Windsor, United Kingdom. We married in 2011 and then moved to Kuwait to teach at an international school there. Our two kiddies were both born in Kuwait.
2. Where are you currently calling home?
In 2016, we landed some pretty amazing jobs at one of the world’s best international schools, UWCSEA. We now live and teach in Singapore.
3. What travel adventures have you recently been on?
Our kids have been on many, many flights. More plane rides than most adults I know back home in Brantford! Our son Jackson is five and our daughter is three, and already they have been to Kuwait, Canada, England, Ireland, Thailand, Dubai, Qatar, Italy, Holland, Costa Rica and Singapore.
The most recent trip was to Hanoi, Vietnam for Christmas.
4. What does family travel mean to you and why is it important?
Travelling is a very important part of our lives. It gives us the opportunity to spend time together as a family experiencing new things and having adventures as we grow and change together. We want our children to experience all the cultures, foods, beautiful places and environments that our world has to offer. We want them to become global citizens, who are aware of what life is like in many different places of the world. We want their lives to be enriched by diversity.
5. You have started your own business Travel Tots. Can you tell me how that came about?
I started flying long-haul with my son when he was three months old, often without my husband there to help me. I scoured the internet for all the magical advice that would make this easier. I was up for trying anything or buying anything to help with what felt like an impossible mission. One evening, after a 35-hour trip home to Canada from Singapore, over a few glasses of wine, I told my best friend all about the ‘1st Class Kid Travel Pillow’ that I had bought in Singapore. How it changed my life. How both of my kids for the first time on a flight slept for a solid 8 hour chunk of time because they were super comfortable. We then Googled why we didn’t know about this product and came to find out that it wasn’t available in Canada yet. Then and there, Jasmine and I decided that we would start a business selling products that would make travelling with kids easier. We launched our store in January 2017, with only the pillow and over the year have tried and collected more products that make travelling with kids easier.
6. What advice would you give parents considering travelling with their children?
Do it! So many people say to wait until the kids are old enough to remember…it doesn’t have to be about what they will remember. My kids have gained so much and learned so much from the places that we’ve visited. Will they remember forever? I don’t know. I do know that right now they can talk to you about the Sloths that were rescued in Costa Rica or Tuk-Tuks and mango with sticky rice that they loved in Bangkok.
It’s important for parents to remember that the memories are for us too. My 2 year old might not remember her trip to Costa Rica, but I certainly will and I will treasure those memories forever.