Today, we are talking about the importance of family traditions and how you can use travel as your own family tradition. On today’s episode, we are talking about one of our very favorite topics: traveling. In particular, we are going to be going into great detail about how and why we have chosen to...
Episode #3: Travel as a Family Tradition
On today’s episode, we are talking about one of our very favorite topics: traveling.
In particular, we are going to be going into great detail about how and why we have chosen to make traveling a Perry family tradition.
In this week’s show, you’ll hear practical tips for traveling with children and traveling alone as a couple, as well as how the act of travel has shaped our family into what it is today.
In this episode, you will learn:
• What kind of family travel traditions we have.
• How we’ve created a family tradition of an annual “Staycation”.
• Some practical tips for traveling with children.
• Why it is important to travel without your children as well.
Mentioned in this episode:
• The Sober Entrepreneur by Russ Perry
• Away Luggage
• File Folding: What It Is and Why You Should Try It by Mika Perry
• Zippered Pouches – The Container Store
• Name Bubbles
Mika Perry: All right, welcome to this episode of Good To Be Home. I’m Mika. And here we have …
Russ Perry: Russ Perry. All right, let’s get to it. This episode I’m excited about not only because we are taking a trip soon, but it is about travel and in particular two sides of travel, which is important to us, traveling with kids and traveling without kids.
Mika Perry: Both scenarios important, and we invest time into each. We are huge travel fans. We grew up traveling, and we want to extend that to our family. We also use travel as a way to invest in our marriage and spend that time together. And it’s something that really pumps us up and we get really excited about.
Russ Perry: In the last episode, we talked a lot about a really heavy topic, our marriage, and the affair and all of this. And I remember, Mika, when we were going to marriage counseling and we talked with Jamie, the counselor we first worked with. And one of the first sessions after he heard all of our stories, he heard all of our history, he heard all of our background, he said something very simple, but it stuck with me, and it stuck with us forever. And that was the observation that we lacked family traditions.
Mika Perry: Mm-hmm.
Russ Perry: We lacked the things that we all revere growing up as kids, whether that’s a place you travel in the summertime, what you do around Christmas. And I now look at our family years and years and years later, and I see that travel has become one of our family traditions that we’re now passing on to our kids.
Mika Perry: Yeah, I agree. I think when he mentioned that tradition idea, we started small. Now we do family pizza night on Fridays. That’s something the kids expect. Kids love routine and knowing what’s expected or what’s gonna happen. So that’s something we set up. And just some little things here and there around the holidays. Kids tend to remember holidays a lot. Birthdays are important to them. But then we started to travel and then realized that these were creating those lasting memories. And now regular travel has become our tradition for sure. I’m so excited that they’ll remember these.
Russ Perry: Hopefully.
Mika Perry: They will, they will. And our kids range from 12 to two. So the things that one will remember the other won’t. So it’ll be kind of interesting to see how that plays out as they grow up.
We kind of want to separate these into two because they may both apply to you, or just one or the other. But I think there’s things to be learned from each. So traveling with kids, traveling without kids, meaning one-on-one, adults-only travel.
Russ Perry: So this episode is super important to me because another thing and another reason why I want to talk about travel today with you is I think that the husband and wife always have two very different opinions of what matters in travel. And every time we’ve gone on trips and talked about them later on, it’s not that I don’t notice what you notice or value what you value, but it is definitely different for the guy versus the girl, the husband versus the wife, on the things that we’re looking for, and what makes a trip successful. I actually had a whole idea of us becoming travel TV stars.
Mika Perry: It’s true. Actually, when we first talked about podcasting, we were heavy into lots of travel one summer, and you wanted to do a podcast just on his/her travel, the two sides.
Russ Perry: Right. I mean, this is my only shot right now is this one podcast episode. What do you remember as a kid from traveling?
Mika Perry: I traveled a lot because we moved a lot. So by travel, it wasn’t necessarily for fun. It was more purposeful. It was like, we’re moving. And then it was International. I was born in Japan, and then move to New York when I was three, moved back to Tokyo when I was six, moved back to the States when I was nine. And I’ve stayed here since but traveled regularly to Japan.
So being on an airplane, having a passport early. I don’t have dual citizenship. Although I was born in Japan, I’m just an American citizen. But my grandparents lived in Ohio and Florida. So we’d go there, Disneyland. But yeah, it was more so like international travel for me was never an unattainable thing. It was much more part of my regular life. So then when I got into college I went on a study abroad program to Italy and all around Europe.
And then when I graduated, just going on little trips here and there. And then when you and I met, we started taking little trips. Where did we go? We first went to Vegas, and then Hawaii. We went to Belize. That’s where we got engaged. And I think that’s where you and I connected is that we were interested in travel. And then they always say you can find out a person’s true colors and find out how compatible you are by traveling together. And I just remember earlier on, you told me, you’re like, “Mika, you’re so easy to travel with.”
And I don’t think that was just me. I think that was you and I traveling well together. I think travel requires an open mind and requires flexibility, thinking on your feet, being okay with change and not being in your regular comfortable environment. And that’s something that in general in a bigger, broader sense, that’s kind of you and I.
Russ Perry: I want to tell a story about that first Vegas trip.
Mika Perry: Was that the Halloween trip?
Russ Perry: Yeah.
Mika Perry: Oh, man.
Russ Perry: This is how I knew I wanted to marry you was when maybe after a month of dating or less …
Mika Perry: Yes, I remember. September 30th Russ took me out on a lunch date. We went out on Mill Avenue to like every bar.
Russ Perry: If you don’t know what Mill Avenue is, it is the college strip in Tempe, Arizona. It is where all the bars are. But we went to lunch there. During the daytime, it’s not crazy.
Mika Perry: No, no, no. yeah.
Russ Perry: It’s a nice place to go.
Mika Perry: We just spent the rest of the day together, and it was so much fun. Yep.
Russ Perry: And then maybe three weeks later, I had planned a trip to Las Vegas for Halloween, and I threw it out there to Mika, “Hey, maybe you should come with us.” And I vividly remember I was so proud of my Halloween costume because I was a Myspace profile, which was really creative and cool, at least in my humble opinion. And Mika said, “Yes.”
But what she didn’t know was that it was like a broke-guy trip to Vegas where we were all staying in one room and sharing a room with maybe four other people.
Mika Perry: Minimum, maybe more.
Russ Perry: Right. And that night, we proceeded to go out. It was really fun. And I got kicked out of the nightclub, the TAO Nightclub at Caesars Palace, not for any incident but because my costume was too disruptive. And it was banging people because it was a big foam-core board and poking people. And they’re like, “You gotta go.”
Mika Perry: So Russ’s face was cut out. You stuck your face through this Myspace profile, and on the top, it said “Myspace,” and you had pictures of your actual friends there onto the left side. I think there was a wall, right? You write something, like a comment wall.
Russ Perry: This is dating us. There’s probably some listeners who don’t know what Myspace is.
Mika Perry: That’s how Russ got my number was on Myspace.
Russ Perry: It was the OG online dating was asking for your number. But back to travel, this was an early memory that I had was, “Hey, this girl, she’s ready to roll. She’s flexible, she loves culture and food.” And we’ve since had many other experiences. I look at travel in any relationship as the ability to rediscover who your partner is and have that time together, because typically if you are going anywhere that’s significant, you’re either in a car together for a long time, you’re in the airport together for a long time, and it’s not always the exciting. It’s not like you’re doing skydiving and all these events back to back. There’s these down moments and these down times.
And I think you discover a lot about who someone is during those times. When we now travel … And we’ll get to tips and tricks and everything about traveling with kids and without kids and all of that. But just from a relationship standpoint, when I’m traveling with you, even our most recent trip that we took for our anniversary, I get access to you in a way that doesn’t come with kids’ schedules, doesn’t come with errands and all the stuff that I have to share your time with when we’re here.
For couples, I ultimately look at it as a relationship longevity hack that is an umbrella for healthy, long-term relationships is putting yourself into these situations with another person that you care about where you have to get out of your routines, you have to invest money so you’re doing things and working towards that. And then you come out of that, or at least I’ve come out of that, knowing who you are better over the nine-plus years we’ve been together.
Mika Perry: I agree. It takes you out of your comfort zone because, otherwise, back at home the time that you and I get together we go on date nights at 5:30 p.m. to our standard three restaurants that we just love. And you get into a routine and a comfort space.
Russ Perry: If you’re a couple listening to this or if you’re an individual in a relationship, travel doesn’t always have to be super fancy and crazy and extravagant. But it is just taking that time one-on-one. And I’m sure we’ll talk about date nights and all these things in another episode, but it’s the ultimate way to get to know someone, which goes back to the adage you say you really get to know someone when you travel. We’re talking about for the better, but you could also find that out for the worst, too.
Mika Perry: Mm-hmm, totally.
Russ Perry: We have kids. Most our target audience here is people with kids. It is really easy to allow your kids to consume all of the decisions and all of the choices that you make in life. And I don’t know, when I talk to people and they tell me, “I could never leave my kids for a day or two, that would be so hard,” or, “I’m gone for a period of time,” it’s like, look, they’re gonna spend the most of their life without you. The time that you’re with them isn’t to be with them every minute of the day. It’s to teach them and to model for them what is important when they become adults.
For me and for us, when we travel, it allows us to recharge and to refocus on our relationship, which has the added and next benefit of being a better parent. I like my kids more when I get back from a trip, period. I’m into them. I’m excited to see them. I do travel more than you do for work as well, but I know it makes me a better dad to have that space. And getting that distance, it’s with anything, you learn to appreciate it.
There’s people out there who don’t travel a lot. This isn’t like, hey, escape your kids because they suck. I love our kids tremendously and deeply and infinitely, but it does allow you to find new perspective that ends up becoming value and increasing your ability to be a great parent and a great partner.
Mika Perry: I think that’s a huge fear that I hear from a lot of moms is the mom guilt of leaving your child. I’ve certainly experienced that with my own, but I love that perspective that you just shared and definitely agree with that. I think you put it really well. You want to help them not be with you because that is how … That’s our job is to help them grow into independent people who aren’t dependent on us.
Russ Perry: That’s the only job as a parent.
Mika Perry: Yeah. That’s a really good perspective. That said, of course, we still miss them. And we FaceTime with them every single day that we’re gone. And they’re well-taken-care-of at home. So we’ll touch on that in a little bit.
Russ Perry: Okay, so there are two classifications of travel as a parent: traveling with kids and traveling without kids. Every trip can be classified into those two areas. So today we’re gonna break down our conversations into these two areas. And I think they’re equally as important. We just talked about traveling without kids quite a bit. But traveling with kids is about the traditions. It’s about the experiences.
I read a book recently around the worldview that you could give your children in terms of developing empathy, developing the identity on culture and what that means both for the culture that you grow up in as well as learning about other cultures. And keeping your children in this suburbia bubble where their life consists or Target, soccer, Whole Foods, church, Costco, it’s ill-equipping them to be citizens of the world, which is where we’re at, and the economies and everything that’s ahead for them.
Back to our duty as a parent, it is without a doubt one of our roles as a parent is to teach them and to show them what it means to see other levels of economics, other levels of food, other … I mean they’re not gonna like it all. But that is just as important. And then in their life knowing what are the traditions for the family and those special moments. It’s why Disney crushes because it is a travel destination that also develops strong traditions in the minds and hearts of individuals and adults.
Mika Perry: So when we decide on where we’re gonna go with our kids, we make sure that they’re developmentally appropriate places. We mentioned we have a 12-year-old, a five-year-old, and a two-year-old currently. So we make sure that when we decide on where we go, it’s something that can accommodate safely and is somewhere that they will have fun and they can enjoy. So we definitely research into these locations. So places that we’ve gone so far with them, Belize. Two summers ago we spent the summer in Dana Point, Laguna Beach. We’ve gone to Chicago. You took Maddox just one-on-one to Chicago. We also spent about a week there in May once.
We do an annual family staycation. So you don’t have to go far to say travel, to give them an experience of going to maybe a different city. Just changing their surroundings for a two-year-old, for a five-year-old seems like they’re traveling to a completely different country in some cases. So we have an annual family staycation, a big one, but then a regular one, regular ones here and there. We go down to Tucson, which is about an hour and a half away. My parents live there, but we’ve kind of made that into a destination, too.
Upcoming this year, I was counting in the car this morning, I’m like, “Okay, how many countries are we going to this year?” And I counted for me and the girls, it’s gonna be at least five different countries this year in 2018.
Russ Perry: So I want to talk about the family staycation because I think we’ve been talking about so exotic and cool places that we’ve been able to travel. But this is after many years of doing something that is actually really super simple and started because of the conversations around traditions and doing something together as a family that we can uniquely hold our own.
We were working with a business coach, the same business coach at the time, a woman named Dena Patton. And she actually challenged us to create a family motto as well as do it in a way that was a unique experience for our kids. So we identified the January timeline as being a good time to do this. It’s the beginning of the year. It’s New Year’s resolutions. And I remember our first one also for me personally was kind of a break to get away from our extended family. Not to say that we don’t love them dearly, but I have a big family. We’re doing stuff with not only my family but work-
Mika Perry: For the holidays.
Russ Perry: Correct, for the holidays. And so we chose January because it’s just this time where we could just be together on our own and not have to split that any other way. Not to mention the hotel deals are pretty good in January as well right after the holidays and the New Year.
So we’ve done this, and I believe we’ve done it for four or five years. And so this year we decided to stay at the same place that we’d stayed at before to build that momentum of tradition where we stayed at a Hyatt Regency locally in Scottsdale. And it was awesome. And out of this, we’ve developed a travel experience that is super simple. Driving there takes 20 minutes. Super easy for packing. Packing is a night or two worth of clothing.
But the memories that we’re now developing, even from the activities that they have at this hotel … One specifically is an eagle, hawk, bird of prey demonstration of the desert, birds of prey of the desert that they actually remembered from last year. And we got to see it again. So for a five-year-old, and even for our 12-year-old, the familiarity of, “Hey, here’s where I can go to get a free cookie,” “Oh, they have the hawk thing,” “We remember this restaurant we ate at last time,” the staycation is the best way to accomplish what we’re chatting about today without a ton of time, money, and resources that you can do anywhere.
And like you were saying, it isn’t about the destination being this great, epic thing. It is about the experience of getting out of your element and getting out of the routines. And the kids don’t know any different for them. They’re excited that they don’t have to make their bed and clean their room, that there’s a made that comes.
Mika Perry: Jumping on the beds.
Russ Perry: Jumping on the bed.
Mika Perry: We let them do that. I did it with them. I did it with Reese. I took Reese on a one-on-one staycation a few months ago. That was great. So that’s another tip, too. Just take one. You took Maddie to Chicago. I took Reese on a staycation locally. It was super fun. Someday it’ll be Paige’s turn, too. So yeah, the pros of traveling with kids is traditions. They have so much fun. Their faces light up. They’re excited. We talk about these things for months, years after. Time together to bond with individually and as a family.
But let’s chat, and here where the questions come, the challenges of traveling with kids and how we handle that, how we have learned from the experience year after year and make it seamless, make it efficient, make it doable. So some people travel because they have to go see family from far away. And I think it can be stressful when you have a baby, when you have little ones, especially, or like us, we’re more all our family’s local. So our travel is elective travel I guess. We do it for pleasure as a family.
But either way, there’s definitely some challenges to traveling with kids’ sleep schedules, feeding, patience, budgets, expenses, planning for it, lots of time with your kids. You can’t get away from them. You’re committed to time together. Like we go on date nights to break up that time with the kids.
Russ Perry: It’s shocking how much time there is in the day that we have delegated to school, to teachers, to babysitters. Our trip last summer was our first big trip out of the country. We were gone for six weeks. I don’t know about you, but you don’t think it was this bad. I vividly remember a conversation where we were at our wits’ end where it was, “We have to be with our kids the whole day long all from when they wake up until the night?” because they weren’t in school. There wasn’t an after-school program.
But it forced us to really level up as parents and I think also be okay with not having to stimulate them every minute of the day. And that, to me, is kind of an unintended benefit of all of this travel that we’ve done with our family is we can literally just be in a bedroom, a hotel room, jumping on a bed or walking around, and we don’t have to pound them with this activity and this program and this and this and this and this. But it was hard. It wasn’t easy. The patience thing was truly tested. You’re not able to rely on all of the things that we tend to take for granted to give us that space with our kids.
But out of that, and especially you coached me on this quite a bit when we were on our last big trip last summer, you were just like, “Russ, let them be kids. Let them just do what they do. A TV show is gonna be okay, going outside exploring around. We don’t have to have this regimented structure and plan like we do when we’re back at home in our home state.”
Mika Perry: Right. I think especially when you’re traveling with your family and you’re there for a little bit longer, like it’s an extended trip, it’s not a short one, because when it’s a short one, you want to pack it in and do activities because you’ve invested in the time and the money to get there and do these things. For example, in Belize, we had six weeks there. We were trying to somewhat home-school them in a way. We were trying to pack activities.
And you are a go, go, go type of, “Let’s do this,” and jump from this activity to the other. You’re an over-scheduler and over-booker in that way. Even when we’re home here, activities for everyone. If you have the kids for one day, like on a Saturday, they will do 20 different things and be meltdown central when they get home. So I had to say it’s okay for them to just have some downtime because back home, they may not get that downtime regularly. They may need a vacation from life like we do. For their little bodies and their brains, going to school and all the things that they do, it’s probably exhausting, too. So they may need a vacation from life like we do.
Russ Perry: I remember you specifically. As Mika mentioned, I was home … I had this grandiose plan to home-school Maddox, who was in sixth grade at the time. I went to the district school office. I got the curriculum. I met every teacher individually. I was reading books on homeschooling. I had all these websites and plans. I mean, the first day we get there, the internet’s not working at our house because the clouds … It was satellite internet.
And I start to roll in like, “Okay, we’re gonna wake up, we’re gonna have breakfast, we’re gonna go into this room, you’re gonna work.” And this turned into tears after I think day three or four. And it was probably about the fifth day, the end of the first week you came to me and you’re like, “Russ, its sixth grade. You need to relax.”
Mika Perry: Here we are on a beach, and you’re like, “Let’s discuss social studies.”
Russ Perry: So the relevance I think if you are traveling with kids is life will continue when they get back home. You don’t need to be super concerned about it. If you’re on one of those longer trips, like we were, we did overlap with school-
Mika Perry: But you made it work. Remember?
Russ Perry: Right. Well-
Mika Perry: She did a presentation to us, and we sent it via Google Classroom. We made it happen, and it worked.
Russ Perry: At that point, my mindset turned into, “How can I use this trip to be the ultimate classroom?” And we did projects with coconuts. She did a sinkhole project where we collaborated on making a diorama model of how a sinkhole works, which was from Mexican coke bottles and sand and coconut leaves. But it ended up being less about, “How can I conform to the expectations that I feel like school back home wants?” versus, “What kind of experience can I craft for her right now that she’ll learn from?”
So the relevance I think for this, I mean back to the topic of traveling with kids, is that whatever environment, whether it’s a weekend trip or a week trip or a month trip or you’re moving somewhere altogether for an extended period of time, the opportunities is in the destination once you get there and where you’re at. It’s not about pulling all the comforts and structure and everything from home to keep them in again perpetuate this bubble mentality of what’s going on.
Mika Perry: Yeah, huge for me as a mom was feeding my family.
Russ Perry: You have to tell the grocery story.
Mika Perry: Oh, gosh. Okay. So I had this idea. I cook for our family pretty much every night of the week. And so when we got there, I expected to just continue my regular grocery shop and make meals at home where we were staying. And I’m used to shopping at Whole Foods and Costco, you guys. So getting to an island where there’s no cars, you drive around in a golf cart, it was really shady.
But I kind of rolled with the punches. I ended up buying fruit from this one stand, pineapple salsa from the others. I ended up knowing which random side-of-the-road place to get tortillas. I learned that plantains are not bananas. So Paige loves bananas. Plantains are not bananas. Think she’s traumatized. One place where I knew that their milk was fresh.
So I pieced it together. I let go of the fact that it wasn’t going to be home. Things are not grass-fed, organic. However, I will say that traveling outside of the US, you will find a lot of things are actually, just by way of their living, organic because it’s literally the guy on the other side of the island growing his coconuts or whatever and bringing them to the stand every morning. So you end up living a pretty natural lifestyle I guess, that we’re trying to create here in suburbia.
Russ Perry: You became the expert. Our first grocery trip was so comical because it was to a market. It was not to a grocery store. It was to a market that was probably the size … I would say if you’re familiar with the average 7-Eleven size, it was maybe a little bit bigger than that. And we bought what the name brands we recognized, which was three paper bags of groceries. And our bill was $300. I about picked my jaw off of the floor because it was just all of these things we bought, “Oh, we’re going to get Ziploc Ziplocs. We’re gonna get-”
Mika Perry: Huggies Diapers.
Russ Perry: Huggies Diapers, this cereal, all the name brands. But that is like buying imported cheese from France. It takes a lot to get there. So that was the first thing is just [inaudible] the local. But by the time we were done, you were a pro. You even tell me, “Hey, can you go get tortillas? Go to this grocery store across from the market. There’s this other convenience store. There’s a cooler outside. It’s a red cooler. There’s no signs. Just open those up. It’s about $1. You’ll get the tortillas. They’re there about this time in the morning.”
And I literally just have these like I’m on a treasure hunt going to find the tortillas. But that was a cool experience for me. We’re now ingraining local experiences in the food and the culture to the kids. And we’re not just perpetuating that bubble, which is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if you’re traveling with your kids and your family is to insulate them from wherever you’re going because you’re afraid of not finding the organic whatever, which we were guilty of.
Mika Perry: Totally. And it took a while to break down those fears and stubbornness in us.
Russ Perry: So let’s get back to practical tips because I think if you’re traveling with kids, honestly one of the biggest questions that you get, and I know that people, why they don’t travel, is they just think it’s complicated. They think there’s too much effort, too much hassle. We’ve brushed over a lot of challenges, but, Mika, you’re the mom, you’re packing for us. Give me some really detailed, specific things that you’ve learned now being able to travel so much locally and internationally that moms and families should know on how to make this successful.
Mika Perry: Well, we invested in some sets of luggage. I would start with packing awesome luggage prevents … When you have all sorts of random bags and backpacks and different suitcases and stuff, try to limit that. We have six suitcases that we share with a family of five. We’ll use six for a big trip. And we could really just bring it down to five or four for sure.
Russ Perry: I was against this luggage thing. Here’s the guy’s perspective. When you first proposed this buying set of luggage, I was like, “We have luggage. Look at this bag that your parents lent us, and look at this one I’ve been using for five years. And it’s beat to hell.” And you showed me this company Away Luggage. And I was like, “How much are we gonna spend on this? This is expensive.” And I didn’t have a frame of reference. Actually Away Luggage is not that expensive. It’s actually way more affordable than regular luggage.
But we got it, and I’m sold on the whole luggage idea. I mean this is a weird tip, but getting that luggage set has made our packing so much easier, understanding how much space we have. Do we want one or two or three? Understanding how much you need. Even the fact that they all have wheels and they roll around.
Mika Perry: And they pull up, and all of the handles end up, no matter how high the suitcase is, all the handles pull up to the exact same level so you can grab two at a time. So really invest in good luggage. Take a look at your luggage arsenal, and see if you can upgrade that.
Inside of the suitcase, I have been known to be an over-packer. I’ve really tried to pare that down over the years. I personally have gotten a lot better with it because I have identified my top picks for what I need on each trip, my favorite like go-tos for what I wear, but then also with the kids, too. The kids’ clothes, I mean they’re girls. They just have the cutest stuff. So I tend to … I mean we’re going out to the beach. They need 10 swimsuits and all these cover-ups and these hats and these … I did not need to take all that.
That being said, rolling shirts, pants, I roll them, and then I stack them because then when I open up the suitcase, I can see everything from the top instead of rifling through them. So say you have an overnight stay on the way to your destination. Instead of like tearing through the whole suitcase, you have this one side or this one … you can visually see and just grab what you need. So I roll clothes like file folding or filing your stuff.
You can go to my blog, because I have visuals on this so you can see, or you can see this on my Instagram. But you take a shirt, pants, anything, and you fold them and you fold them again and you fold it until where it is small enough that it can stand up on its own or it’s very compact. And then rather [them] stacking them on top of each other, you file them from you and then away from you. And I put it in color order from like the rainbow. I do this for our drawers in our home with onesies and our shirts, my workout pants and shorts, socks. You can do it with everything.
Russ Perry: I highly recommend … It’s actually one of your most popular blog posts is the file folding. So go to MikaPerry.com and search “file folding.”
Mika Perry: And then I also picked up these super, super inexpensive pouches. I got mine from The Container Store, but you can get them on Amazon as well. They’re super reinforced pouches with a zipper, waterproof. And I use them from anywhere from having individually labeled with the kids’ names pouches of their snacks, everything they need for the airplane trip, for the car ride. I evenly distribute snacks so there’s no fights. I use pre-printed labels with their names on them from Name Bubbles. Get them online. And I put them on there.
And then I have a pouch for myself of I call it a mom kit. That’s literally what it says. And it’s everything I can think of that the kids will need, like Band-Aids, ChapStick, wipes, Neosporin. Maddox will take Advil if she gets a headache, so I’ll pack Advil. Anything that I might need I put in there.
Russ Perry: I want to share actually tips you’ve taught me because I used to be a terrible packer. And I really wouldn’t think a lot about it. But these are universal tips for any family is you taught me to lay everything out before you pack it in your suitcase, which might seem really obvious for you. But for guys out there, or for women or whoever who don’t do this, laying everything out before you put it into your suitcase allows you to really take a visual inventory of what you have or what you still need.
And then to your point, it then allows you to pack everything really efficiently. I used to be the guy who would just, “Okay, I need pants.” Get the pants. Put the pants in the suitcase. “Okay, I need shirts.” Get the shirts. Put the shirts in the suitcase. “I need … Oh, man, now my shoes are on top of my pants.” So I’ll squish everything over and then put the shoes in. And then it just would degrade from there. And I just have a big jumbled-up bag of all of that.
But really categorizing, “Okay, I’m gonna put all my socks and underwear in this pile. I’m gonna put my shorts and shirts.” And then I can see it. Then it allows me to pack, using your techniques, which I do use, everything a lot more efficiently.
Mika Perry: Yeah, we don’t … Actually, the part where the stuff goes into the suitcase doesn’t happen until the very, very, very end.
Russ Perry: Another tip that I learned from watching you pack all our kids all the time is having a way to separate my dirty laundry. So I always now either pack a laundry bag or some trash bags, depends on what’s going on. And as I’m going through my trip and travel, I’m isolating all of that. So whenever I get home, I just grab that bag and it’s done. I don’t have to sort through, I’m not sure … Because I wouldn’t do that, and I would get home, and everything would be, “Maybe this one is not-”
Mika Perry: Give it the sniff test?
Russ Perry: “This one’s okay.” The sniff test, correct.
Mika Perry: Yeah, no, you definitely do that now. And it’s great because when you come back, I just see that bag on our laundry room counter, and I know that that’s the one that needs to be washed, and that’s it.
So once you get to the destination, some tips and tricks. We always get now, we get at least two rooms. One is the kids’ sleeping room. That’s where Paige will take her nap, and that’s where the kids go at the end of the day to just sleep. We put their suitcases there, and then we all hang out in our room.
Russ Perry: Because of our age difference, we have people going to bed at a bunch of different times. Our two youngest go to bed at the same time, but then our oldest, who’s 12, goes to bed a little bit later. So what Mika’s describing we always try to get two rooms. Sometimes they’re adjoining. Sometimes they’re not. Airbnb is awesome internationally because you can find apartments or condos that automatically have other rooms.
And I’ve always found, too, calling a hotel really is helpful because online it’s not, if you want to do the two-room thing, it’s kind of weird online for a lot of hotel brands. But if you just call them and explain you’re a family, they’ll set you up. If they can be adjoining they’ll make a note. It’s way easier than trying to do that online because once you show up, the rooms are already assigned. It’s a lot harder to get that change.
But we’ll then have the sleeping room be either a daytime nap room or the early shift bedtime room, which is super fun for our older kid, Maddox, who then she can be hanging out with us. And she’s not just having to be really quiet in a room, or worse, which we did do earlier on before we had more kids, we’d just all share one room. And then it’s 7:30 at night, and we’re just creeping around in the shadows, trying not to make any noises because there’s a Pack ‘n Play in this room-
Mika Perry: With a baby, yeah.
Russ Perry: … with a baby trying to go to bed. And if you move, you would disrupt the whole sleep cycle, and then the baby’s staring at you, and you’re just frustrated.
Mika Perry: Sound machines, I know a lot of parents use sound machines. I don’t. There’s blackout curtains, and so that helps. Turning the air conditioning down so it’s cold. I think kids sleep better when it’s a little bit chilly. So I do that. I bring lavender essential oils, anything to help them lull them to sleep a little bit.
Russ Perry: Now, the next tip, you were nervous to include this tip.
Mika Perry: So this is having help on your travels. We had a nanny when Russ and I were both working. And she came with us to half of the Belize trip. We keep referencing Belize because that’s the longest trip we’ve taken as a family of five so far. And so the first part of the trip was just us. And then our nanny flew out and met us there, which was better.
Russ Perry: It’s tough, right, because you’re spending all this money, you’re spending all this time, but this is kind of becoming a theme of this whole podcast episode. If you’re not relaxed, if you’re not able to enjoy your trip as a parent, it’s gonna trickle down to your kids. It’s gonna trickle down to your memories. It’s gonna trickle down to everything.
And you actually said, traveling to see family, we’re gonna go visit parents, we’re gonna do that, that’s not a vacation. That’s just a family obligation. The ultimate trip, we’re talking about travel for this whole episode, we’re thinking about travel as an experience that builds you closer together as a family. That’s the kind of travel that we’re talking about. And so family trips to see mom, to see grandma, to see Nana, to see brother or sister, those are great, and those are gonna build you up.
But at the same time, those can be equally stressful depending on your family, depending on the seasonality. There’s been plenty of tearful Christmases that I remember for one reason or another. But when you go on these trips on your own, you sometimes are like, “Well, we’re just gonna keep it to ourselves. We’re just gonna do this thing by ourselves.” But bringing someone like a nanny or a babysitter or what we’re gonna test this summer in Europe, finding someone locally, that just is an investment that gives you space. Some people might view it as this extravagant luxury. But it’s not. It doesn’t actually cost that much more.
Mika Perry: Here’s a tip. Look into help, an au pair, a nanny, a part-time babysitter.
Russ Perry: Local university student.
Mika Perry: So that’s what we’re doing for this Europe trip this summer is we don’t have a nanny anymore. So we looked into local people, college students. And right now we’re currently considering an art student from England named Emma. And we’re in the interview process with her. And yes, it’s an added expense, but look into it because wherever you’re going, it might not be as much as you think financially, and it’s kind of those instances where you have to think about the cost/benefit of your enjoyment, of your family’s enjoyment.
And also what I’m really excited about for this year is having someone there in Italy is that they know the town. They’re going to be the inside scoop on where the park is. Where should I go grocery shop? So I feel like it’s also like hiring a travel guide. So I’m excited to find out what the difference is gonna be. Last time, we took someone from Arizona, someone that was familiar with our family. This time, it’s someone who doesn’t know us, and we’re gonna meet her when we get there. So guess we’ll report back.
Russ Perry: And something we haven’t talked a lot about this episode yet, but I’ll mention, is I own my own business. I have a lot that still needs to go on every day. These trips, at least for a married entrepreneurial couple, if one or both of those parents own a business, you’re not a nine-to-five employee. You just can’t check out for weeks at a time or four weeks or three weeks or sometimes for some of you even a few days. And having an extra hand there allows you that buffer to when if you do need to plug in for some time to work or to get caught up with what’s going on back home, there is space for that. That doesn’t then all the sudden become stressful or disruptive for the vacation itself.
We can talk a lot about what life was like traveling before I figured this balance piece out. And I used to be really stressed out on trips and traveling because I didn’t build any buffer at all for my time for what was going on back home. And getting that extra hand, even if it’s for an afternoon or a day or a couple evenings for date night, it’s investing in your experience as well.
Mika Perry: I think that is a huge tip as an entrepreneur because otherwise I’m outnumbered by our kids.
Russ Perry: Drastically outnumbered.
Mika Perry: Yeah. All day long. They don’t go to school. I can handle it, of course. I’ve done it before. You travel now for weeks at a time, and I handle it, and it’s fine. And, all moms, you can do it. We can all do it. But does that make it the most enjoyable experience in the short amount of time that you’re somewhere? How can you make it better? That’s one way. And it’s really helped us.
Russ Perry: A few tips that I have that are I think more just quick and practical. When you do travel for an extended period of time, I discovered the best way to find a place for that time, if you can’t immediately find something that is affordable on like an Airbnb website or a hotel, I reached out to local Realtors. And I actually found a rental property that was more designed for a long-term rental that they were willing to rent us for a short-term amount of time. This saved us a ton of money. It was a fraction of the cost of a local hotel. All it really took me was just Googling local Realtors and sending the same email to about a half dozen of them that looked legitimate, and one popped up.
Now I only have a one-for-one record. I’ve only needed that because otherwise, Airbnb has been really helpful with that. You pay a little bit more than finding the local Realtor, but it’s still much, much cheaper than a hotel. For us, we’re looking at usually doing a hotel if it’s anything less than a week long and then trying to find something like a house or condo or something more larger if our trip is longer than a week, which then Airbnb or that local Realtor is a great way to go about that.
With transportation and accommodations in general, look, guys, if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, these guys they spend so much money, they do these things, they hire a nanny, they travel all this time,” this is not … I mean it’s expensive. But the one thing I can say is if you are looking at two options for your trips and for your travels always, always, always do whatever it takes to invest in the better experience and the higher quality.
I have done the trips where I try to save $200 on a flight or $100 on a hotel, or even $12 on an Uber ride for Uber X versus Uber whatever the next tier up, and it’s just not worth it during the short amount of time that you’re spending with your family. Don’t be a cheap-ass, guys. Get out there and invest it and do it. And if it requires a little extra work or a little extra saving in another area, it’s gonna make or break the difference between a trip that you walk away from with great memories and relaxations …
One of my friends they tried to save a few bucks at a hotel room and staying in this place in Costa Rica. And they said they checked in and it looked like there was a murder scene that had happened with cockroaches. And they were talking, he was saying it was the difference between like $100 a night. You’re not trying to save a buck on these things. If that’s the thing, don’t do a big, extravagant out-of-town trip. Go back and do a staycation, but make it the nicest staycation you can afford with the nicest experience possible.
Have a limo pick you and your family up and drive you 20 minutes down the street because it’s about the experience. It’s about the memories. It’s about the tradition. It’s about all of these things. And it’s taken me a while to be able to embrace this.
Mika Perry: I’m seeing the differences in when we would cut corners and also when you didn’t thoughtfully and intentionally set aside that buffer as a business owner what those vacations were like for us versus what they’re like for us now.
Russ Perry: We’ve talked about kids most of this episode, but we definitely want to talk briefly on traveling without kids, my favorite kind of travel. Just kidding, kids. There are some people listening that have never traveled without their kids. Why is it important for them to do that?
Mika Perry: For us, it’s been just like the most epic date night. We do date nights. And that gives you about an hour or two once a week to connect. But a lot of times, we’d end up … And this is strategic. Sometimes we do a review of our family, and on those date nights, we’ll talk about this more later, but of each of our kids, where we’re at, what’s going on, what do we need to do for each kid. Becomes like a meeting. But travel without kids lets us get back to why we fell in love and have fun. Our trip we just took to Tahoe, I posted that, it was like being like kids again.
We ate s’mores. We played in the snow. We went skiing down the really easy runs. We stayed out by the fire and just enjoyed each other’s company. And we don’t sleep in. We don’t really take advantage of that. When you and I travel, I think part of it is that we just physically cannot sleep in. We don’t know how. We’re early risers. But to even just have that option. And we end up still going to bed early, waking up early, but knowing that we’re not gonna be woken up in the middle of the night by the kids.
I mean that alone, to have at least one night where you’re not woken up by the kids, one or the other of the kids in the middle of the night is just golden. So if you want to just experience that for yourself, take a one-night trip with your significant other.
Russ Perry: I think we have so much more to say about traveling with kids because it’s more complicated. There’s more things to consider. It’s easy to not do it because of all the ties at home. But traveling without kids conceptually makes perfect sense. And you mentioned something it was like we were kids again. It was like we were dating again because when you’re dating you’re not married, you don’t have kids. You have this freedom and flexibility, and you can plug into what’s going on. You can do adult things, like go to a show, stay up late, sleep in, whatever it is it might be.
Mika Perry: I think from the guys’ and girls’ side of this of traveling without kids, you as a husband are really loving that I don’t have a bunch of kids running around my ankles and you get one-on-one time with me because back home I’m usually 75% aware of whatever you’re saying to me.
Russ Perry: More like 50%.
Mika Perry: 50%? Yeah. That’s our season of life right now is little kids around us. So you enjoy that one-on-one time. And of course, I enjoy that with you. For me, on my end, it’s getting over the guilt of leaving my kids at home and being away from them and remembering that I’m a person as well and that I need to focus on self-care. Part of traveling is that I get time to myself. And so, for example, you went skiing, and I stayed at the hotel, and I just wanted to read and just hang out. So I think it’s super important for my self-care to have that time where we go away and I kind of recharge.
Let’s discuss real quick about staying healthy on the road. Wellness and health is super important to us, so we try to work out. I seek out SoulCycle classes when we travel. That’s kind of my thing right now is if we go somewhere with a spin studio or something like SoulCycle, we’ll go do that together. If there’s a beach yoga, we’ll definitely do that. We go to the hotel gym, [inaudible] airports, terrible food, but we try to pack ahead some bars that we like from home. We take our supplements with us. I bring tea, and then find whatever healthy options we can when we’re there. Of course, we indulge in some fun food but …
Russ Perry: Traveling healthy is about you just gotta plan it. I’ve taken tons of trips where I don’t do this, and it is a nightmare, I’m eating terribly, I’m tired. And it doesn’t take a lot of work. It literally is the day before, mapping out what it is you want to bring with you, not overdoing it in terms of food, because most likely wherever you’re gonna be going, there’s healthy options. Mika, like we said a great point, just a couple bars, just enough to get you there. And then once you’re there, you can restock and refuel for whatever it is that you’re doing.
But the plan is so key. And for fitness for travel, I always say you’re not trying to make huge gains when you’re traveling. You’re not trying to have the epic workout, the epic training session to continue on whatever goal or path you’re on as an individual. For me, it’s just not losing ground. So if I can just do something active on a daily basis, which is hard to do even at home often, then that is a win.
And it’s more about the mental clarity and the mental boost that you’re getting after a run or a workout or a ski session or whatever it is. It’s not about the actual calories you burn or the training or the weights you lift or the mileages that you run. It’s the endorphin release after. That just fuels into your overall experience of and how you feel for the day.
Mika Perry: I have traveled trying to make gains while we’re on the trip. For example, in Belize, I was training pretty hard, but I found the coolest gym that just opened two weeks before and had awesome workouts. I actually maintained … I think that was the healthiest, longest trip I’ve ever been on. You found a CrossFit gym. So seek out local gyms. And yeah, don’t try to push yourself so hard, but don’t go with an expectation. So let it just be a bonus when you get home and you’re like, “I didn’t gain seven pounds.”
Russ Perry: Right. Finding the local resources is the best way to take it to the next level. Without a doubt, if you’re staying at a hotel … If you’re staying at a house or an Airbnb, there’s gonna be nothing. And if you’re staying at a hotel, it’s gonna be 18 random dumbbells, a Smith barbell machine, and two broken treadmills. And that’s what you’re forced to deal with. So the local gyms and the local classes and the local resources are gonna be so much more effective for whatever fitness outcome that you’re working towards.
Mika Perry: I take … And this is a great tip. I think women can definitely use this, but I guess guys, too. I use the exercise bands that come in a pack. I use those mostly for lower body, especially glutes, super easy. So I take them actually to my gym now. But definitely for travel, I take that. And you can really get a great workout with those bands.
Russ Perry: Well, guys, we’ve talked a lot about this. I feel like we can continue on and tips and tricks and ideas and all of that. But in closing, I hope you understand and I hope you get a better perspective on why we value travel, as we can look at our life being so busy, as we could look at our obligations at home consuming who we are, taking up so much of our time and our day. Whether we’re traveling with kids or we’re traveling without kids, travel is a way for us to plug in together as a family.
It’s something that gives us a huge boost of connection, of love, of clarity. And if you’re not with kids, you kind of miss the buggers, and you come back happier to see them amongst the chaos or the challenges that comes along with parenting.
So there’s just so many creative ways to incorporate travel into your lives, and we recommend it. It’s part of our overall strategy as a family is to be able to incorporate this and create those traditions, whether they’re local staycations, whether they’re international trips. It’s a core value of ours to be able to teach our kids about the world and allow them to see what’s going on beyond the Scottsdale bubble that we reside in.
We’re not at the place where we can just pack up and move somewhere exotic for years at a time. I know some people are able to do that. But we do what we can to share those experiences with themselves and then experience things together as a couple.
Well, that’s it for this episode of Good To Be Home. Thanks for tuning in with us, and we’ll see you on the next episode.
Mika Perry: Happy travels.
Russ Perry: Thanks for listening to this episode of Good To Be Home.
Mika Perry: And don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and give us a rating.
Russ Perry: See you next time.