It never ceases to amaze me how incredible it is to connect with amazing people via blogging. As soon as I met with Erynn from Tropic Of Candycorn during her last visit to NYC, I wanted to know more about her incredible platform and family’s commitment and passion for family travel. Tropic Of Candycorn’s inspiring website will leave you with a swift dose of wanderlust along with tips and confidence boosting stories to see the world with kids in tow. It’s an honor to appear in her dispatch series, and we’re thrilled to have her share a guest post today.
Tropic of Candycorn started before I had kids. Back in the years when John and I traveled alone, we repeatedly heard, “Enjoy it while you can. You won’t be able to travel like that once you have kids.” We didn’t like that idea, and conspired to continue to travel once we had a family. Back then, I was the CEO of an international humanitarian organization. I traveled a lot—for work, and to get away from work. We would save up all our vacation time and beg to take it all at once—up to a month at a time, sometimes without pay. We liked to take our time, allowing the culture and flow of a destination to sink in.
I thought that was the origin of Tropic of Candycorn, but it wasn’t.
The idea didn’t occur even after our first trip with six-month-old Cora when we traveled to Portugal, Spain, and Italy for four weeks.
The real moment TOC was born was in February 2006, 22-months after I became a mom, when my commercial banker husband quit his job to run a luxury travel company. My second child was only a few weeks old, and he was traveling up to three weeks each month. I must have been complaining as we talked one night by telephone—me stateside and he in Brazil. He said, “If you can meet me in Argentina, we can have two weeks together.”
“You want me to bring a 22-month-old toddler and a 2-month-old newborn to Argentina by myself?” I asked. “Sure. You can totally do it!”
His confidence never wavered.
I recall with perfect clarity that I thought, “How the hell am I going do that?” At that same moment, my mouth replied, “I’ll see you there.”
I didn’t have time to listen to naysayers or back out. The tickets were purchased, and I was committed. I dug into parenting and travel books seeking ideas and inspiration. How do you travel with small kids, especially alone? Most of what I found was didactic and less than encouraging. I quit reading.
Those travel stories were like birth stories, which relayed tales of suffering and anguish. I remembered the joy of birth, which far outweighed the pain. I’ll never forget a neighbor who said, “Oh, no one wants to hear my birth story, it was so beautiful.” “Perhaps the same could be true for travel,” I thought.
I think it is. Traveling with children is birth of a different kind. It’s the birth of new ideas, new places, time together, and undiscovered memories. Traveling with children is beautiful. I knew that if we created a place like Tropic of Candycorn for people to share their stories, others would be inspired and encouraged too.
Sure, there are some moments where you may wish for a travel epidural (for me it’s gelato), but most of your child’s happiest moments occur away from home, don’t you want those moments to be with you?
I admit it. I was an absolute spectacle when I arrived in Buenos Aires. I don’t speak Spanish and am unaccustomed to accepting help, even when it’s offered. I brought way too much stuff. A wrap to wear the newborn, a backpack for the toddler, a stroller (mostly to hold the infant car seat I thought I needed for the long drives), another car seat for the toddler that I had draped over the stroller, and one giant bag full of impractical clothing that I rolled behind me.
John was standing right outside customs zone, ready to receive us. His instinct was to snap photos. My instinct, was to shoot him a glance that said, “Put that damn camera down right now and help me with your children!”
But I did it. I made it through 30 hours of airports and airplanes with my daughters. And as I was walking off the plane, the captain stopped me and said something that I will never forget. Something that made me think I was gonna be okay. He smiled and told me, “We’ve been talking about you during the flight. When we saw you coming we geared up for a long flight and started assigning tasks based on what we thought you would need or demand. Thanks for proving us wrong. It was a pleasure.”
Traveling with kids shouldn’t be horrible. I knew John believed I could do it. I want parents everywhere to know that we believe in them too. There is a whole community of families who believe that time and money together exploring the world is time well spent.
Don’t wait for the right time; just go. Make the memories that you will cherish and then come back to tell us about them to inspire others.
Erynn Montgomery is the ringleader behind Tropic of Candycorn. Before kids, she was the president and CEO of an international humanitarian organization with special focus on South America. She and her husband pinky swore that they would continue to travel with children, but never imaged that kids would make the experience better. In addition to Tropic of Candycorn, they own a boutique travel company and take their four daughters (ages 2, 5, 9, and 11) around their beautiful state of Utah and the world. Erynn continues to travel alone – if you can call being with four children alone – for four weeks of every year. She still doesn’t speak Spanish, but says she’s learning poco a poco. COMMUNITY OUTREACH Tropic of Candycorn is especially interested in the journeys that discover meaning and purpose. After families form personal meaning from family travel, we hope to inspire outreach beyond the family—to communities near and far. TOC recently coordinated a special Mother’s Day Giveaway for a single mother. Single moms are the least likely to travel with their children, but we think they need and deserve it most. For inquires and to share your family travel experiences get in touch with TOC at firstname.lastname@example.org.