In this podcast, we talk with Corritta with her wife and son on her moves and travel during the pandemic.
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Chatting with Corritta, or Cee, made me realize that people are still out there doing some travel. Not only did she and her family (wife and son) do some travel for fun, they packed up and moved to Mexico, and then again to Columbia. We find out how wonderful these two places are for expats, and how they’ve all dealt with the pandemic.
0:53 – A little background and getting lost
9:22 – Having a baby and getting ready to move
13:21 – Airline tickets – Travel Hacking Feats
17:31 – World Travel – Boom! Side Tracked!
21:19 – Moving to Mexico
23:56 – Mexico and the Pandemic
24:46 – Then on to Columbia
28:08 – Traveling like an expat
32:42 – Where to next?
35:59 – Traveling with a 2 year old
40:03 – Pandemic – masks, vaccinations
Cee’s website – Itzafamilything
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Full Transcript of Podcast
Welcome back fellow travelers. This is episode 27. And in this episode we’re meeting up with our friends at ItzaFamilyThing, tow moms traveling the world with their three year old boy. Cee is with us and she’ll be sharing their journey of becoming digital nomads. Stay tuned to find out how and why becoming location independent can lead to the best travel opportunities without breaking the bank.
Welcome to Streets and Eats the travel and food podcast dedicated to taking our listeners to the sights sounds and flavors of fascinating places near and far, both on and off the beaten path. We’re Jim and Corinne Vail and we’ve been traveling internationally and domestically together for decades, visiting more than 90 countries and all 50 states in the USA. We’ll share all of the local knowledge and food expertise we’ve gathered through years of living as expats in Asia and Europe, as well as traveling with family spanning multiple generations around the world. Join us each week for a new adventure.
Cee, it’s so wonderful to have you on. Can you tell us a little bit about how you guys got started traveling. And it sounds like on your blog, that there was an epiphany moment, I’d love to hear about that.
So after my wife and I got married in December 2017, we went on like a honeymoon slash Birthday Trip, because it just happened to fall around her birthday. And we went to Thailand and Japan. And I got these amazing flights. It was $500 round trip on ANA airlines. I was just like, we can’t pass this up. Let’s do it. Let’s go.
It was the first time either one of us had traveled internationally and we just fell in love. It was a phenomenal trip. A lot of things went wrong. But the highlights of our trip, and I think the moment we realized, I think we should do this more often we can really do this as we were, we were walking. And we stayed at Airbnb in a regular neighborhood, it was local, with locals. And we were walking around and everyone’s just so happy with what they had. And it wasn’t a lot, it wasn’t extravagant, they were just so happy. And we were looking around like, “Man, this is nice to be kind of free of everything, to not have to constantly worry about a mortgage or trying to attain this and try to attain that.” And we would love that feeling. It felt good.
So we were talking about it. And right before we left for the trip, we were planning on having a baby so we knew that was already going to happen eventually, so we were just like, I think we can do this. And that was the first kind of light bulb in our mind. And I’m obsessive. So we got home from Japan, and I just was googling away like, gap years family gap years traveling with a baby and I just went down this rabbit hole for months.
So at that point you’re already thinking like, full time travel, I guess.
I was thinking it but I had I never heard of it.
Right. Well, yeah, I mean, we travel a lot too. But we’ve never been full timers per se and we’ve always worked overseas a lot so that’s how we’ve done a lot of our travel.
So Japan and Thailand were your first overseas locations. We’ve lived in Japan for over five years and we’ve both been to Thailand although not together. So what was your aha moment when you’re traveling in these foreign countries where both of the places the script is different I mean, it’s not like you could even… they do have romaji in in Japan quite a bit. I’m not sure, I don’t remember Thailand as much, they had some English as well on the signs but getting around and that feeling of not speaking English you know not having people who might speak English. How did you get over that because I think that’s like the major stumbling block for people don’t you?
Absolutely. Especially places where it’s not letter based. It’s symbol based and we’re just like, but I can’t even pretend to kind of sort of know what I’m doing. But we did a lot of walking. My wife just reminded me this the other day because we took a Grab which is like Uber or DD so we took a Grab and I didn’t want to pay for a Grab back to our Airbnb so we walked and it ended up being a four mile walk and we didn’t even realize it. We were just going through neighborhoods, I figured because the kilometers…we’re so terrible at the try to do the convergence to the metric system we were just so bad. But I thought those were our best moments because we got to really see the country that aren’t the tourist spots, we got to see the neighborhoods, and we got to run into kids, and we just got to see so much getting lost. I think sometimes that’s the best thing that can happen to you is when you get lost, and you gotta just see what’s around you.
Yeah, I was gonna say, but when you get lost like that, it’s more like five senses. I mean, I think everything is heightened, right, you, you see everything and you’re, you’re feeling it, you hear the sounds and smells…
You’re in the moment.
…you are. So in the moment, I think it’s such a different feeling than when you just go through life on your normal, routine job, you know, whatever it is.
You get tunnel vision. But Japan wasn’t so bad. We were able to navigate, we didn’t get lost in Japan, which I’m surprised because we get lost everywhere all the time. But we didn’t get lost in Japan because their public transportation is just so easy. It’s so easy to figure out and they have everything listed for you. And they tell you and everyone’s had to help for a little bit. So surprisingly, we didn’t get lost in Japan. But Thailand, we were just
In Japan they’ve spent quite a bit of effort socially and through government programs and everything, preparing for the Olympics and making sure that exactly that, that when visitors came, they could get around easily and people would help. So yeah, Japan we really find is, is a really easy place where it’s unexpectedly easy,
Yeah. It’s so easy to just hop on the train and our subway or the public transportation was so easy. I don’t even think we got in a car ever.
You don’t need to in Japan.
You definitely don’t need to.
So in both of these places did you just do capital cities? Or did you get out into the country more?
A little bit when we went to Bangkok we went to a real elephant sanctuary where you learn a lot more about the animals they rescue and you don’t do any riding. You do a little bit of interaction, like feed them, things like that. None of those pictures on top of them or nothing like that. So we spent some time out there with my wife who loved it. She’s obsessed with elephants. She feels like it’s her s=-fgvb pirit animal. So she was just blown away by that. She talks about it constantly and wants to go back to volunteer. So we’re hoping we could do more in the coming years.
We were in Thailand, I think a week and a half. It was a weird route. So we first went to Bangkok. And we love Bangkok. Then we went to Phuket, which was we ok. Then we went to the Fifi islands before they closed it to tourism, which was beautiful. It was so beautiful. It was just gorgeous. We stopped in Malaysia, we had a stop over in Malaysia and got completely lost. They don’t say there’s two airports. So you get off and you leave one airport and you go to another airport. We had no clue. We’re looking for a gate and it doesn’t exist. So we got the wrong airport. Oh, I
Oh I hate that when that happens. And when you’re traveling to a country for the first time, I mean, you just don’t think about it. You don’t think that they will be changing the airports on you. That’s happened to me a couple of times too . It’s a little disconcerting to say the least.
But like you said, everything always works out. So that’s okay. So okay, so you get back to the States. And then you decide, like you said, you obsessed did you go on this idea that you’re gonna travel for the long, long time. So then do you take off again, or you have your baby and then you plan on taking off? Well, I mean, I know that 2020 is coming. So I know that threw a wrench in the plan.
It was a busy time we got back we were actually in the process of–before we got married, I had bought a house. So we were fixing up the house. We were going to sell the house. And we got back I think March 11. I went to the doctor. We had the whole process to get pregnant. I was pregnant…we knew I was pregnant by March 30.
Wow, that was quick.
Things moved quickly, very quickly. So we spent that entire time we didn’t travel anymore. We spent the entire time working on the house. So taking down popcorn ceilings, replacing floors, and I had just gotten out of the army. So there’s that piece of it. So it was a lot of moving pieces going on, we always like to make our life difficult and do a lot of things at once. So while pregnant, we’re working on the house. We’re getting ready to, you know, try to sell that and I’m leaving the Army
I was in the Reserves at the time, I was leaving the army and the whole, that whole rigmarole going through that process. And we’re saving, we cut our cost. We decided we weren’t going to buy a second car. So we had one car. And we were just really focused on if we’re going to do this, at first, it was a year, we’re gonna take a year, we’re gonna travel, and I figured it would be 2024. Let’s do it in 2024 is that original idea. And the more I started looking into it, the more I started learning, maybe we do it a little sooner. So fast forward to November, and our son is born a month early. Our son is born, I go into labor a month early. We close on our house while I’m in labor, like someone buys a house while we’re in labor. We don’t have anywhere to move to. Because we had time. And we sold the house. I’m just like, damn it. We’re about to be homeless with two dogs and a baby that showed up a month early. And we’re just like, what are we going to do.
So we sold a lot of our stuff and we moved to a small condo. And from that point, we decided, “You know what, 2020, we’re doing it. We’re gonna save money. We had the money from selling the house, which was a nice profit. Once we have $65,000 we are going to just do this. And to play it back is just so mind boggling. Because now we think about it like, wow, what were we thinking? Move into this condo. You know, we have our dogs which we eventually had to give up. Because once we had the baby they were nipping at the baby. And it just didn’t go well. Which was heartbreaking. But that’s when we really started to pick up travel. So our son had his passport by the time he was two months. We were in Beijing, by the time he was four months. We left Beijing went to Hawaii, Mexico. We flew him all over the country. By the time he was one he had been on 50 flights.
Wow. Wow. That’s adventurous.
And I read on your website that he just took to flying naturally he’s never cried.
Yes. It was so surprising. We were shocked. The first time we ever flew was he was eight weeks old. And we had a family emergency. We had to fly from California to Colorado. And nothing. It went great. Well, we were just like, maybe we can do this. And then his second flight after that whole thing we went to Beijing. So that’s a big jump. I found tickets for $350. And I was just like, wow, you can’t beat that. From San Diego. So you go to Beijing.
Okay, you got to share. What is your secret? $500 to Thailand and $300 to Beijing? I don’t think I’ve ever found those good tickets.
Yeah, so Scott’s Cheap flights. I use that constantly. I have the premium membership I think. So I think the premium is like $50 or $40 or something. It pays for itself 10 times over maybe even 100 times over because we use that constantly. And then Google Flights, Skyscanner. Those are where we get a lot of our travel deals. Like just recently–you will not believe this, and I will forward you the itinerary for you to believe it–we got a flight from Dallas to Tokyo for $89 on United Airlines in March. Hopefully it doesn’t get canceled.
Yeah, $89 per adult. $35 it’s for the little one.
I believe you because I’ve heard of this before, but I’m just I guess I’m not a good travel hacker that way. That’s not one of my forte’s. Um, but is it because you have to be really flexible and you can be able to just go anywhere, anytime, drop of a hat. Is that one of the tricks?
I think the flexibility is part of it, but also the airports that you’re looking at is is part of it too. So depending where you are if you’re in a place where you have a little bit of flexibility between airports it gives you a lot of freedom. So at the time we lived in Oceanside, we are two hours from LA., about two hours from LA, an hour from San Diego. We have long beach airport right there. Yep. Orange County Airport right there. You have Ontario airport. So looking at the airports, even if they aren’t international, regional around you, you can find some really good deals.
Nice. So you’re going to fly to Dallas and then catch that cheap flight from Dallas?
Yeah, yeah, sometimes it makes sense. So sometimes we take a flight just to the other side of the country. Rrecently we just said, well, let’s just go to Florida, because it’s cheaper to get to Columbia from Florida than it was from Mexico. We were already in Mexico. Oh, well, let’s just go do Florida stuff. And Disney. Let’s have a good time. And then we’ll fly off to Colombia.
That’s really smart. Yeah, for most of our travel experience, like Corinne was saying, we lived overseas. And a lot of it, we could just jump in our car. And like we lived in Germany, we could jump in our car and on a weekend, we could be in the Czech Republic, we could be in Poland, we could be in France. So we didn’t really have to go through that finding the cheap flights. And if we want to fly summer, in Europe, at least you have Ryanair and all these cheap airlines. So yeah, we’ve never really had to go through to learn all those really good travel hacks. This is really good, because now we’re based in the US and we’ll be looking for those flights.
Well and also, once your in other places for other countries it’s so easy to get other places. Once you’re in Asia, that is so easy, and so cost effective. And once you’re in Europe to get around Europe, or even Latin America, it’s so easy to get other places . But from the US to anywhere. It’s just like, Oh, such a hassle.
Yeah, I agree. That’s where the major cost comes from, for sure. Oh, that’s good to know. Maybe we’ll we’ll look into that service.
He has a free version. So you can check out the free version.
We haven’t really been able to go anywhere since the pandemic so I don’t know.
So yeah, you packed your bag. You took off on a flight. I think you said the first stop was in Mexico. Is that right?
It is such a complicated story. So yeah, our son, our son was born. We traveled, went to Beijing, went to Hawaii, we took some domestic travel. We went to Mexico, we just had a blast. And then we finally decided, “You know what, this is it. We’re going to, we’re going to travel the world.” We moved into a hotel for three months. So we left our condo, we sold everything. And we we lived in a hotel from October-ish to January.
And we said okay, I’m going to resign from my job. We got the money from the house. We’ve been saving. I sold my car. We’re going to do this. We had an itinerary. And then my sister was having some personal issues. And she’s in the military, and she’s in Colorado. So she asks us to come to Colorado. And we’re like, okay, cool. We’re supposed to be in Mexico right now. But I guess we’ll come to Colorado during the winter. Sure. So love San Diego, California. Yeah, we love San Diego where I’ve been living in California for nearly 10 years. So I don’t do cold anymore. We’re from Ohio. I don’t do the cold.
We drove, we rented a car, an SUV, we drove from San Diego to Colorado Springs with a 14 month old baby. So I go to resign from my job. My boss says, “Oh, you can work remotely.” Score, I can work remotely!! So I started working remotely right before the pandemic and we go to Colorado and kind of things go downhill from there. Go to Colorado, and we’re having a good time. And you know, we go to Vegas celebrate my wife’s birthday. We’re exploring Colorado then a pandemic hits and all of our travel plans get cancelled.
We were supposed to go to Costa Rica, Cancun, Shanghai, and we’re just looking at each other like what are we? What are we gonna do? What’s the plan? And month after month after month? How are we gonna do this, we don’t have anywhere to go. We don’t have a house. What’s the game plan? So we left Colorado and we went back home. We went to Ohio, which was nice. We got to be with family. I have been gone for so long. They got to meet our son. He got to meet his cousins and play. It was great celebrating my grandma’s 82nd birthday with family. And it was just, it was great to be around people that, you know, we love.
We took a road trip through the southeast. Two weeks, we took seven states in two weeks, which was really awesome. We did outdoor activities. We focused on like parks and things like that, which was a blast. And I get we get back from a road trip. And I’m being laid off. Oh, no. And it’s like, oh, wow, that sucks. So that takes us to August 2020. And it’s just like, “Wow. Okay, so what do we move down?” And we sat down and we said, you know, “I was going to resign anyway, we have some money saved, we can live off of that. Let’s go to Mexico. We’re not going to have any health insurance. Let’s get travel insurance. That includes a health component just in case anything happens. We’ll be covered.”
Let’s move to Mexico and we move to Playa de Carmen sight unseen. We have never been there. It was warm. It was a beach city. And we were just like, let’s go. We could afford it.
How long did you stay?
Almost a year and a half. We just fell in love. I really fell in love. The people there were so great to us. We were so shocked. My Spanish is a lot to be desired. We enrolled our son in school. They adored him. We walked around our neighborhood and people would just give him candy and all types of stuff. We fell in love with the people in the neighborhood. We we did little block parties with the kids. We bought all the kids in the neighborhood Christmas gifts.
My wife has such a she’s just such a sweet person. And she really takes in people. So there were certain families that she would feed them three times a week. She would you know, we built it into our budget where we take families food and have kids food and healthier alternatives. Because we would get up in the morning, go for a walk and kids would be having chips and drinking a coke. So we’d buy fruit and provide fruits in there with kids. And it was just amazing. It was absolutely amazing. Even now she still talks to his preschool teacher who absolutely adores him.
And they they really went above and beyond. They made sure to include both of us for Mother’s Day. They would ask about our son’s ethnicity because he’s black and Korean. So they want to know about Black History Month. What can they do to celebrate? What can they do to celebrate his Asian culture? And it was just, it was beautiful. It was so hard for us to leave. It was so hard and it was affordable. We were spending less than $1,000 a month.
Yeah, I’ve heard that’s a good way to go, spend the winters in Mexico and save tons of money for travel the rest of the year. I’ve heard that a lot actually.
Yeah, it was awesome. We did some trips back to the US when we needed. We went to Guatemala. But it was just it was so hard to leave. It was so hard to to leave.
You were there during the pandemic then.
Yeah, August 2020 until November 2021. We just left last month.
Yeah. Wow. Oh, wow. So I mean, how did they handle the pandemic down there? Were people wearing masks?
The locals were wearing masks, tourists not really.
But tourists were still coming?
Oh, yeah, and when we first got there, there weren’t a lot of tourists. But by mid 2021, it picked up a lot. It had picked up. Because we would go down Fifth Avenue. And we would take our son to go walk because he’s a two year old full of energy. He can run up and down. And there will be no one there. And it was great. Like go run. Get yourself tired. We could walk back home on the beach. We were a 10 minute walk from the beach. And it was great. And then a lot more tourists started to come and it got packed. And it I think the case has started going up from the local community because so many tourists weren’t wearing masks. So you’re coming. You’re kind of spreading it and you’re going home. Yeah, that’s horrible.
Right. Wow. So then you moved back to the States? And so what does your future look like?
We’re actually in Colombia now. We haven’t been back to the States yet. Well. Yeah, we’re in Medellin right now.
I did not realize that I’m sorry. Wow.
We’re in Medellin and we’ve been here since what? November December six, November six. One of those two, everything just starts running together.
Yeah, you know, take it from me and start writing down where you are. Because this is what’s happened to Jim and I. We’ve traveled for so long, 38 years together, all over the world. And we cannot remember where we’ve been when. And we tried to be good. We tried to rebuild it, we cannot do it. We I can’t tell you how hard it is. It’s ridiculous. Because we’ve been that many places. We’ll drive into someplace like in Europe. And we’ll be like, I think we’ve been here. Have we been here? And we’ll try and remember, we’ve been there before. It’s just amazing. So start writing down, at the very least where you are when, so then 20 years from now, whatever, you say, Oh, that’s right. I was in Medellin. From what to what, even if you don’t do anything else, it’s just so important. Of course, with social media nowadays, it’s a little bit easier because everything’s tagged and everything on photos. But for us, it’s I’m telling you, it’s we can’t even tell you every place we’ve been.
The memories are all still there, and you know, we really love thinking back on our travel and talking about places we’ve been. But when we try, like she said, when we try to piece it together? Like, where all did we go in 2019 2018 2017? It’s just so hard to remember.
Yeah. And at the time you think like oh, I’ll always remember this.
So tell us what you think about Medellin, about Colombia so far.
I really like Medellin, it’s pretty easy to get around in terms of like, DD, which is like Uber so DD and the metro. It’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful. The views here are just amazing. The people are really nice. Very few English speakers, though. Not many people from English speaking countries come here. So not many English speakers, but we love it. There’s so much to do that’s kid friendly. And that’s what we struggle with when we travel is finding somewhere to go that’s kid friendly. And not everything is at a tourist price as in Mexico. That’s the problem that we had is everything with $100 per person. I don’t know $150 per person. $85 per person. And that’s that adds up quick.
Yes, it does.
So if you’re a tourist in Mexico you’re paying a heckof a lot more than a local.
Oh, yeah, a whole lot more. And people don’t understand you’re not a tourist when you’re living there.
You mean with kids?
With kids, but also when you travel when you’re an expat, you don’t travel like a tourist because then you run out of money.
You can’t do as many tours, you have to explore places on your own. You don’t get as many guides. You don’t get the condensed version, you get to get lost, or like the other day, we went to a Parque Arvi here in Medellin and it was an event. We had no idea we had to walk a mile and a half just to get to the park. So that was an interesting, interesting thing to learn. But I mean that, you know, comes with a journey. But just kid friendly things to do like museums. They have children’s parks here, children’s museums. He loves the water Museum. He absolutely loves the planetarium. He’s about everything space.
So we go to the planetarium here and they have a lot more toddler friendly things to do. In the US, there’s not too many things for toddlers. But here there’s, in every single mall–and there’s a lot of them–there’s toddler play areas. Everywhere. Every single mall has a toddler play area. So he goes and some days–we live across the street from a mall, just convenient–so some days we go across the street to the mall, and he just goes to play in a little toddler area, ball pits and swing slides. It just is $1.50 for 20 minutes. You can’t beat that. And we go to the Children’s Museum for $4.
That’s really good.
That’s really affordable. And so he must be, you all must be picking up Spanish even better now. Right?
Yes, he understands it a whole lot more than we do. Because in Mexico, his school was all in Spanish. So they didn’t… they learned some English for him, which was really nice. It was really sweet to be able to communicate with us. He understands it a whole lot more than we do. It’s so funny because he’ll be talking something and we’re like, “What?” He’s like, “bla bla bla.” Like, oh, that’s Spanish, dude, we don’t know what you’re saying. He gets a little annoying. Ah, like don’t get an attitude. Learning. Don’t start. We’re learning. Yeah. So that’s something that we love is picking up language. So he’s, you know, Spanish and my wife speaks Korean fluently. So he understands Korean because once you start speaking, he gets it together real fast, so he understands it.
How did you learn Korean? That’s, that’s a language most people don’t know how to speak. And believe me, I’ve tried. It’s one of the hardest languages. I don’t know why I didn’t take to it for some reason. And I speak a few languages.
My wife. People can’t tell but she’s half Korean. She grew up with a Korean grandma.
People just can’t tell because she doesn’t look it. But yeah, she grew up with a Korean grandma with traditions and the food and her grandma doesn’t speak English. So she just happened to be the only one in the family that picked up Korean and she talks to her grandma all the time. So she just speaks it fluently.
Her grandma was from outside of Seoul. She came to the US when she was young, trying to make a better life. And she’s been in the US ever since.
And have you guys traveled to Korea yet?
Not yet. So Korea is on our list. We were planning on being there, it was supposed to be summer this year. Actually, we’re supposed to be there. But if our flight to Tokyo doesn’t get cancelled, fingers crossed, we’re going to be there April of next year. And the goal is to be in Korea at least three months out of the year, every year for the next few years. So we would love for her and our son to get their Korean citizenship because she’s eligible. Because her paternal grandmother’s Korean, is a Korean citizen and everything. But because we’re married, she can’t. She can’t get it. Not yet.
Oh, is that right?
Yeah. So we will have to get divorced for her to get Korean citizenship.
Oh, that’s a bummer.
Yeah, it’s a bummer.
So are you going to be there in Colombia until you take off for that trip to Tokyo?
No, actually we need to be out of our Airbnb on Monday. We’re going. And that was literally just working on it. I have my notebook right here trying to figure out where we’re going, and how we’re getting there. So we kind of play things close to the chest these days. We don’t plan it out as far anymore because so many countries are constantly changing. So I just, ah, it is difficult to plan anything these days. But hopefully it comes together. Well, we don’t have a choice. It has to come together.
That’s right. It will come together. Well, that’s really interesting. Have you been other places other than Medellin in Colombia?
We been to Colombia for the most part, we took a trip to Guatape which is about two hours away from here where you have El Pinon Lake Guatape or La Pietra which is a huge, huge, huge rock. It’s it’s huge. So we went there, it was a lot of fun. And you know, this was when it really made me realize, “Wow, this is so worth it. We climb that rock, and me and Caleb and he’s three. 750 stairs to the top on the side of a rock, going straight up a whole lot. And I’d been in the army a long time so I’m not in bad shape.
But every time I tried to stop, take a breath. Say I need to sit down. I’m tired. He kept pulling my arm and he said no mama, no stop. Keep going. Keep going. He walked every single stair. I did not pick him up. I did not; nothing, every single stare he walked by himself up and down. It was beautiful. It was so beautiful. And to, for him to have to keep motivated, like, “No, we don’t stop. We keep going. We keep going.” I was like “Caleb, I need to rest, I’m sweating, I need to catch my breath. I mean, some water.” No, no stuff, no water, keep going. And that really made me that really made me reflect like, Wow, just to see him grow through traveling. It’s so many things he’s experienced, you know, he’s been to the great wall of China. He’s been to Chitzen Itza, he’s been to some of these amazing experiences that he’s had climbing this huge rock by himself. And it’s just wow, just brings me so much joy. Just wow. Yeah, it’s the best.
And so a lot of people will say that they won’t remember when they’re older, and probably at three, he may not remember all of those experiences. But I think that he’s getting so much more, you’re getting those memories and photos and what have you. And so he can live through that. But on the other hand, I mean, he’s learning how to deal with people navigate new places, being open to many different cultures. It’s shaping his world view.
Yes. You will not believe this dude. We were in the mall yesterday. And he walked by a security guard and said, “Hi, hola! He gave her fist bump. And then like, he’s just so full of happiness that, you know, he’s just happy to learn different languages. What I tell people too is the bond we’ve been able to have. Because we’re I mean, we’re always together. You know, even when I’m working, he’s right near me. And you know, so the bond we’re able to create, he won’t, he may not remember the things that we did the whole time, like that quality bond that we built, he’ll know that I was there. Because what I struggled with and what part of the motivating factor was, I went back to work seven weeks after having him.
He was born four weeks early. I didn’t really get to spend a lot of time with him. I would go to work in the morning, you know, get up, get dressed, drop him off. And then I’d see him two hours afterward. And it just it broke my heart. It broke my heart not to be able to spend time with with my baby like it was it was debilitating for me. And to be able now from the time he was 14 months until him just turning three into the present as he grows as he started to talk and just to be here. I think it’s something that’s invaluable.
Yeah, totally. Well, and don’t you think that when you’re traveling and your family unit is closer, just during the travel time anyway, you guys are full timers. So I mean, it makes it even that much more. So. But I think one thing we always found because we raised our daughters traveling around the world as well. And and yeah, I mean, you have that time to always talk. Because there’s nothing else to do. You’re in the middle of traveling. There’s tons of communication, maybe more than enough communication. And just, you know, and you just have I do believe that that bond is so much stronger the more you travel.
100% agree with you on that one. Yeah, and you get to truly know them.Get to know who they are, watching development, watch them grow into. To be present is so amazing. It’s phenomenal to be able to actually be here. And I mean, you have to work you have to make money somehow. But to be able to do it, while also being present. I think it’s something that’s been huge for us. It’s been huge.
I think it’s amazing that you’ve been able to do it even all the way through the pandemic, where we feel like we’ve been stuck at home. And we never stayed here. We moved to the States in June of 2020. We never really lived in the states most of our marriage. Yeah, that’s how much we’ve been overseas and, and we work through the US government for the military forces. So we’re all over the place. And yeah, it’s just been kind of strange for us to be so stuck, but I applaud the fact that you have still been able to go places and do things amongst this horrible pandemic.
Yeah, and we also keep that in mind. So we got vaccinated, but of course, he’s too young, he’s three. Something that’s really important to us, because Americans aren’t viewed in the best light, internationally, when we interact with people, especially when we were in Mexico, people were just like, Wow, you guys are so nice and black people, they don’t see them a lot, either. So we really stick out, especially our son, he’s Black and Asian. So he really sticks out, we were just like, what? So I think for us, it’s important to also make sure that we’re doing our part to make sure we’re not harming the people in the places that we’re going to.
So making sure we’re still following their protocol, making sure we’re washing our hands, making sure we’re following the proper steps and make sure that we’re also protecting the people around us. Because here, you can see the lines wrapped around buildings to get vaccinated. And a lot of people they’re still on their first dose. Its taking three months from the time you get the first of those to your second dose. So keeping things like that in mind. And I think what something I say all the time, is: we see people not places. And I think a lot of people. Yeah, a lot of people lose sight of that. So yeah, we try to make sure that we always see people when we go places. And that’s important to us,
That’s really important that you try to make that connection with people as you travel. I think too often tourists get in that insulated travel mode, where they’re on a tour, and they’re shuttled from place to place. And they never really get to meet people, but like you said, they’re seeing the places a lot of times or even checking them off the list. But really, traveling should be more about finding out how people live and meeting the people where you go, you know, not being afraid to go into that mud hut and share a tea or something like that. Which is yeah, that’s our philosophy for travel, too, is get out and meet the people.
This past December, Christmas, our nanny, she’s Colombian, and had her come over for Christmas dinner. And she’s just like, well, I’ve never had Soul Food, what we typically eat. She’s like, Wow, I’ve never done this. Like to be able to do that. And she brought Colombian food. And we all just shared it on different cultures and those, like, “Oh, what do you typically make? Or do you typically eat? Or what’s this? And then we also find a common ground. Right? Which is interesting,
We even went on a couple tours, and she was even surprised. “I’ve never been here, I’ve never realized,” she would say like, I never realized, you know, when you guys travel places, we were shocked that there were black Colombians. Wow, we didn’t know this. And she said, Well, I never thought of it that way. When we go places we don’t see people who look like us.
I’m sure that’s very true. Yeah, I think that food often brings people together. So that’s a nice way to do it. We try to at least do cooking lessons or something in each country, because we find that when you’re sharing food, you share stories, and you share your history. And you share more than just, you know, the recipe. That’s just sort of the right you know, sort of vessel,
And when you’re in a kitchen people just open up.
You share culture and experiencing this and it’s it’s great. It’s great.
Well, we totally applaud you for being able to get all this done during such a horrible time in the world’s timeline. And be able to really show your son, you know, and I think you’re looking at even dealing with the pandemic and all these different countries is another cultural difference because we lived in Japan when the pandemic first hit. We had COVID. We were one of the first people to have COVID. We had COVID before they knew what COVID was. So we had it because we were traveling in Indonesia, and we contracted it somewhere in Asia.
The way that Japan handled the pandemic, especially at first, was much different than I guess it was here in the States.
Oh yes. It’s vastly different. It’s vastly different here. Everyone wears their mask everywhere. And I think that’s part of the reason we haven’t gone back to the US is a lot of places we’ve traveled, the expectations of him aren’t as high in the US
. Because when this all started he was, he wasn’t even two yet. So we were trying to get him to learn how to wear the mask over time. But it was just hard, you know that you can’t explain to a two year old. He just don’t want to do it, you know, you can’t…pandemic, I don’t care what you’re talking about. I just, I don’t want to do it and I’m not going to do it. So. That’s part of reason why we haven’t made it back to the US because it’s just been so hard to kind of reinforce that and he’s getting better. But other places, they give younger kids a lot more leeway. So kids under five don’t have to wear a mask. So long as he washes his hands. And here, you have to be vaccinated to go inside of certain public spaces.
Do they check the vaccine cars or something?
They check our vaccination cards. Yep. And we’ve gone so many times now that they don’t even bother if they know us. But they check your vaccination card and you have to be vaccinated. Kids 12 and older and adults.
Yeah, I wish they did that everywhere. Here it’s by county. So if you go to the next county over, you have to show your Vax card to go.
In the US it’s just a free for all.
It is a free for all.
Each state, county city, each mayor, governor, they all do their own thing. And I work in HR. So I, they talk about it all the time. And I’m just like, wow, there’s so much going on. And we’re kind of removed from it. You know, we understand it’s happening and it’s going on, but the environment here is so drastically different. drastically different. That’s great.
That’s really great. But now you’ll be moving on to someplace else. So you’ll have to sort of figure that one out, I guess.
Well, we’ll also be in Columbia for at least two to three weeks. Right now on my list right here is Hacienda Naples, which is Pablo Escobar’s old compound. They’ve turned it into a theme park and waterparkand Safari. So we’re gonna do that for four or five days, they got rid of everything that represents Pablo Escobar and they really work hard to turn it into a family friendly place to go. It’s like the Colombian Disney. So we’re going to do that for a couple of days. We’re going to go to Cartagena, we’re gonna go to San Andreas we just need to figure out the logistics of everything. Because we got a flight so we got bags and hotels, Airbnbs, the logistics of it.
And all of this with a three year old.
And all of this with a three year old. Yes. Whose favorite word right now is “no” to everything. Literally everything.
Have you found that when you’ve been in a place for a length of time that when it comes time to leave does he become more resistant? Or is he still pretty open to going to new place?
Oh no. Everywhere is home to him. Caleb will make himself at home, anywhere; your house, a stranger’s house, Airbnb, he does not care. He makes himself comfortable everywhere. He adapts so quickly, which is an amazing quality to have as a traveler. He just, he he doesn’t care. He’s happy. He’s just such a happy guy, which is perfect.
So do you have any advice for other families that are thinking of traveling with toddlers, especially to help them get started or to know what to expect?
I say at least, for us, it was easier to start young. People think travel with babies is difficult. And that is by far the easiest time to do it from like, maybe three months until about nine months is so easy. Throw them on your back. Give them the the breast milk, you know, mash up some peas and you are good to go. But when you get into those toddler years and they get to talking and they’re starting to learn their voice and it gets a little more difficult.
But I think the biggest piece of advice that I always give to anyone saying they want to travel with toddlers is: “Don’t stress!” And it’s easier said than done because you’re worried what if they have a tantrum? What if this happens, what if that happens? And you always think of the worst case scenario and it almost never happens. We’ve been on nearly 100 flights throughout his lifetime and he’s had two bad flights. So I think give yourself a break. Give yourself a break. Kids are going to be kids. You can’t negotiate with a two or three year old or sometimes four year old. You do what you can, you know, do what you can and don’t stress yourself because that anxiety and that stress your kids can feel that. So go into it, hoping for the best. Take lots of snacks. You know, take things to do. But that’s the thing. Just do it. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Yeah, just do it.
And like you said, get started when they’re younger, because then it becomes a way of life. And it’s a natural thing to, to jump on a plane and go to a new country or, like sleeping in new hotel. Our first big road trip as a family was when our daughter was three months old. And we we tossed a bunch of camping gear into the back of our little car. We were living in Germany at the time. And we just headed south, to the Italian coast and along the French coast, down into Spain and just like a nice, like eight week, road trip through Europe with a three month old infant and we had a great time.
We went to Beijing, we had a blast. We threw him on our back, you know, put them in the carrier. The flight there, in fact, he did not cry one time. Not one time there or back. People didn’t even know we had a baby. There’s been a baby on here the whole time? Yeah, he’s been asleep. He’s been just hanging out, chillin. So people are so scared to go because what might happen? And I think so many times parents get a bad rap. Like, why would you bring a kid, but kids are allowed to exist in spaces. That’s right. They’re allowed to exist. So don’t feel bad. Don’t feel bad.
And more often than not, having the child with you opens doors that wouldn’t open for you. People are are so much more in tune with families and accepting children.
Caleb has made me and I am a severe introvert. Caleb has made me so much more social because he just goes on to start talking to people. And kids are great icebreakers.
They’re great. They’re the perfect icebreaker. So you start talking to someone and it’s it’s so great. And I think don’t let fear drive that. Don’t let fear drive you. Nuts. Honestly, you wouldn’t regret not doing it more than you will regret doing it.
100% agree with you. Well, I think we’re gonna, we’re gonna close on all these wise words. Is there anything that you want the world to know? We know that your blog is Itzafamilything. Is there other places that we could find you as well?
We’re on Instagram. We just downloaded tick tock. Oh, I’m so behind on the time. We’re gonna learn how to do tick tock so we’re on Tik Tok. We have YouTube which is really funny. If you guys want to check out, learn more about us and our relationship, how it is that two black women traveling with, well she’s biracial, but traveling with our son where he clearly looks biracial. Some of the stories that we have. People thinking we kidnapped our son in China, they didn’t think he was ours. Like just crazy things that have happened to us. So you can check us out there.
Oh, that sounds great. Cee, we really had a great time talking to you and we appreciate you taking time out of your busy work and living in Colombia day to talk to us.
Oh, thank you so much. I had a blast.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Podcaster Bios for Jim and Corinne: Jim and Corinne are a married couple who love everything travel. Having met and married in Germany, they’ve never stopped. Along the way, they have raised two kids, visited over 90 countries (including every country in Europe), and have plenty of stories and travel tips to share. Read more about them on our About page.