Cityline Featured Blogger: Jody from Travels with Baggage

Jody has gone on some amazing adventures both as a solo traveller and with her family, and so we chatted with her about some of her most memorable experiences.

There are so many fabulous bloggers out there, and we want to highlight them on Cityline.ca. We’ll be profiling different lifestyle bloggers from month to month — they might write about food, fashion, beauty, décor, parenting, entertaining, gardening, you get the idea! For March 2015, we’re putting the spotlight on Travels with Baggage. Run by Jody, we love how she blogs on a variety of lifestyle topics, with a strong focus on travel. Jody has gone on some amazing adventures both as a solo traveller and with her family, and so we chatted with her about some of her most memorable experiences. Here’s our Q&A with Jody:

Reflection-of-mountain-in-a-lakeWhen did you start Travels with Baggage and what was your inspiration behind starting the blog?

I started Travels with Baggage almost three years ago. I work as a freelance travel writer and at the time, I felt like I needed more practice. Blogging is a fantastic way to increase your writing speed and skill. The best advice I received was to write about anything that interests you for six months. I quickly realized I didn’t want to write about travel all the time, so it’s become a lifestyle blog with a significant focus on travel.

How did you come up with your blog’s name?

I’m notorious for packing way more than I should into my suitcase. My motto is “never let the size of your suitcase determine your potential”. I think this all the time and especially when finding great bargains on my travels. I think the airlines started charging for baggage solely because of me.

And like most people, I have emotional baggage. I’m not afraid to admit it or share it. I do travel with baggage, it’s part of who I am, and my blog is one avenue I use to sift through it.

Tell us about your most amazing, most memorable, once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

Our family spent a magical few days at Puakea Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii last winter. It was one of those places where you keep pinching yourself. It felt like I was a guest on Oprah’s Hawaiian ranch. There are only four plantation cottages to rent, but each comes with its own pool, hammocks and tree swings. There’s a petting zoo, horses, chicken coop and garden on the property. Our daughter morphed from being a tween back into a sweet little girl here. (You can read more about Jody’s trip to Puakea Ranch here.)

girl-petting-horse

And, on the flip side, could you share with us your most disastrous travel experience? And did you learn any lessons from your trip-gone-wrong?

In my 20s I travelled overland from Beijing to London on the old silk route. I was on a 40-hour bus ride through China’s Gobi Desert and I had a tummy bug. Real bad. There were no rest rooms, shrubs or trees for privacy. The bus would stop when I made the signal, I’d rush out and loads of curious passengers would glue themselves to the window to watch the foreigner relieve herself. To make matters worse, the pervy bus driver was also suffering from the same predicament and he would squat right beside me. It was the worst! Fortunately, when you’re really sick, you lose all sense of modesty. I now never go anywhere without Imodium and when trouble arises, I know I’ll eventually get through it.

Travelling with kids can be tricky! Do you have any advice or tricks of the trade for our readers?

Travelling with kids is indeed challenging. The secret lies in your preparation. Make sure you’ve chosen a destination that offers something for everyone. Load your car or carry-on bag with activities for the kids. Save devices for the last few hours when nobody’s fresh anymore. I bring silly putty, pipe cleaners, licorice, gum, wipe off activity cards (like these), sticker books, new magazines/books, a pack of cards and dollar store trinkets. Dole them out one by one, not all at once!

On your trip, be sure to schedule in downtime every day or time on your own if you’re vacationing with others. Let them know in advance you hope to have a few hours each day for just your family. If you plan only one major activity a day and take those few hours to chill, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Tell us about a post (or two!) that you’re particularly proud of and want to share with Cityline.ca readers.

What to Do When You Lose Your I.D. Travelling: I recently lost my wallet a few hours before flying. While the situation was quite harried, I think I’ve been able to help others from what I learned.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: I hate to admit it, but I’m a competitive person. I learned this easy trick to get out of the habit.

Fashion Mistakes Moms Make: One of my friends is a stylist and she’s always give me the push I need to look like I give a damn. We came up with this post over a bottle of red one night. (And yes, I’m guilty of making all these mistakes!)

Jody-Robbins-on-a-cow

What do you hope readers get from visiting your blog?

Encouragement. I’m not the best traveller, wife or mother, but I do try to give it my all. Sometimes I try too hard. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned, and that’s life. I share all experiences (the good, the bad, the ugly) on my blog, so others can have better ones.

What are some other blogs you love reading?

I’m a big fan of A Cup of Jo. She’s a Brooklyn-based lifestyle blogger and I always get great ideas from her.

For food my go-to is Dinner with Julie.

For travel inspiration and outdoor adventure: Hike Bike Travel.

What’s your top advice for other bloggers?

Just do it. I spent a full year taking course after course until I first published. I wish I just dove in. Once you feel you’ve got some basics down, join some Facebook blogging groups or attend blogger meet-ups so you can share and learn from each other.

We want to hear from you! Do you know a blogger we should feature on Cityline.ca? Maybe it’s you! Email us at submissions@cityline.ca and include “Cityline Featured Blogger” in the subject line. And don’t forget to include a link to the blog! Look forward to hearing from you!

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