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Rendezvous with Rovers presents Rhonda Albom
This week I’m excited to introduce to you one of my favorite blogging families. Rhonda and her family have been to such exciting locations, and this is after living in the adventure capital of the world, New Zealand. Come along with me as we find out how this family travels the world together!
I am lucky to be married to a spontaneous and adventurous man. Our move just happened. We were looking at a map, talking about the future, and surfing the web. The more we learned about New Zealand, the more we liked it. Immigration is strict, and our “points” at the time offered us an 18 month window, so began the adventure.
What I love about New Zealand is the generally laid-back attitude. No worries, she’ll be right, mate. What I wish was a little different . . . it would be nice if once in awhile things happened a bit quicker, sometimes I just can’t get my head around “no worries, mate”.
As an expat, you get to enjoy travel experiences all the time, but you also do a lot of world travel with your family. What inspires you to travel, and how do you do it?
Traveling the world with our girls was a big part of our homeschool plan from the beginning. We haven’t found a better way to learn about the world than experiencing different cultures and meeting new people. We waited to go around the world until our youngest was nearing 12, but since birth I don’t believe either of my girls have spent an entire year in the same location. We became expats the same way we travel, with an open mind and minimal planning.
Describe your travel philosophy. What is your style? Are you more of a luxury traveler or is backpacking more your style? Do you like to be in control and do all your own planning, or do you like to let go and go on tours or have a travel agent help out? Do you like to pack a lot into a day or take it easy and follow your whims?
We do it all, from the middle. We travel light, carrying backpacks, but we don’t camp. We read reviews and select “clean” over “posh”. I am not sure we have one style, as our travel goals vary with destinations, however, rarely include luxury. Our two basic strategies are either quick visits – less than a week at a destination where we want to see all the main attractions, enjoy a bit of adventure and decide if we want to return. More often we are looking to immerse ourselves a bit in the culture, spend some time, live in a community and participate in local activities as well as hitting the tourist highlights. When available, we choose home exchanges.
The more we travel, the more we seem to do on our own. We have been known to hire private, local tour guides when we have limited time or when we feel a local is the best source of information to learn about an area. While we rarely go to resorts, we do like to take a cruise – last minute, when we can get a super great deal.
As for initial planning, we are usually pretty vague when we set off. However, we have a great relationship with an amazing travel agent in New Zealand. When we ask, she oftens finds us wholesale deals better than we can get for ourselves, especially if we go on a cruise.
What types of things are you interested in while you are traveling? Is it adventure/adrenalin or history/culture? Do you want to relax on the beach or hike around ruins?
Again, we like variety, although I rarely sit anywhere for too long, so we don’t hit the beach nearly as much as one would expect, unless there is water sports involved. I am an on the go girl packing in long days, intermixed with full rest days. A bit of all or nothing.
I know you have two daughters and take them everywhere you go. How is it traveling with teenagers? Do they help you plan what to do? Can you give us any hints to make it easier or more fun when traveling as a family?
We are a homeschooling family. Traveling together is normal and fun. Our teens are adventurous, really brave and great travellers. Personally I think it’s easier to travel now than when they were younger. Now they can participate in a bigger way both in planning and carrying the bags. More importantly, when they don’t want to do something, they are old enough to skip an activity opting for a rest. When we are in a home exchange or, other community setting, they can go out with new friends. Many an evening we have gone out just two or three of us, leaving one or two behind.
It’s not really a big hint, but what works for us is listening and respecting everyone, and compromising when we need to.
What are some of the places that you just found enchanting during your travels? Are they in the country you are living in or elsewhere? Why would someone like to go there? What is so special about it?
I am a huge fan of Mudéjar style of architecture, so I am fascinated by Morocco and Southern Spain. I would go back in a heartbeat, if so many other new adventures weren’t calling.
As for enchanting, I think I would pick Pena in Sintra, Portugal or anywhere along the Harry Potter trail that my teen mapped out for us in England. This time of year is also really special in New Zealand, as the baby lambs are bouncing all around the hills.
What is one funny, embarrassing, cute, or even frustrating anecdote from your travels?
So many it is hard to pick, but I will go with the one that popped into my head first. Every Tuesday was big market day in Palamos, the Spanish beach town where we had our long term home exchange. On one particularly hot Tuesday I planned to buy a sundress at the market. My teens are refreshingly honest shoppers and when I tried on the dress I though I wanted, I was greeted with, “You can’t wear that mum, it makes you look fat.” The vendor turns to me, placing hands on my breasts and loudly announces, that I am not fat, it is my “titas grandes” that make the dress lay like this.
How did you get started travel blogging? Do you think it enhances your travel experiences or makes it a little more stressful? Are there any lessons you can pass on to us about travel blogging?
I started a lifestyle / humour blog about four years ago. Then when we went around the world in 2012 I continued on the same blog and wrote about our travels. I have finally learned my own biggest lesson. I stuck with my original blog URL and name, even when I completely changed the format, style and content from humor to travel. It took another two years to finally move to an appropriate URL and blog name. I am thrilled to be Albom Adventures.
What is your next destination and what are you looking forward to doing there?
Right now we are trying something different for us. Our plan was to stay in New Zealand for a year so my teens can focus on education credits. So far we have only left twice, once to Melbourne, the other to Samoa. We don’t have our next adventure planned, but the current top three options are South East Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand), or returning to Turkey along with Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Romania (this requires a different political climate than what is going on now) or chartering a yacht and sailing the pacific islands (Tonga, Vanuatu, etc.).
Finally, if you could inspire someone to start traveling, which place would you recommend to him or her as a good starting destination and why? Are there any places that you wouldn’t travel to your first time out and why?
I think this depends on the person. Everyone has a bucket list, and that’s where I would start. We make a general rule that we will be away a minimum of one day for every hour of transit, so for us we wouldn’t go to Europe for less than six weeks, or the states for less than three weeks. Another family rule, that I would recommend to new travellers, everyone in our family has veto power. If one of us feel apprehensive about a location, we won’t go, no questions asked.
If I were traveling for the first time, I probably would advise a local guide in countries known for taking advantage of tourist dollars.
And for anyone who doesn’t have a wish list, New Zealand has it all.
Wasn’t this a great interview from Rhonda? I’m sure you will want to see what she and her family get up to next. Below are many ways to connect with Rhonda:
Don’t miss out on all our other interviews of great travelers!