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Interview with Travel Writer Kelby Carr

One pleasant consequence of being a travel writer deep into Web 2.0 and new media, is the interesting people I “meet” along the way: These are the fellow writers and technophiles with whom I have extended online relationships, but only occasionally meet. One of my longer online professional relationships is with Kelby Carr. Her intelligence and depth of knowledge about writing for the internet is really impressive. She is a France guide on About.com, the Family Vacations weekly columnist at Suite101.com (this is how I met her, with my column there being Luxury Travel), and boundless other projects either in full swing or in the hopper. No wonder she started a full-blown, many faceted website called Type-A Mom. That name suits her to a tee. Kelby managed to find some time to sit for a Vacation Mamas interview.

Tell us about Type-A Mom. Why did you start it? How’s it going?

Type-A Mom was an idea I had when I got put on bed rest. As a newspaper reporter, I wasn’t even allowed to do my job even though it didn’t even require getting out of bed…fortunately I wrote for sites like Suite101 and About.com and that kept money coming in. For years, though, it had bugged me that employers are so hung up on moms working in the office. I wanted to provide an opportunity for moms, any mom, to write online and earn money like I could do.

So Type-A Mom’s primary mission is to be a place where moms can write and earn revenue. Its other mission is to be a resource for moms to get real advice from real moms instead of being forced to rely on so-called experts (sometimes men, sometimes childless) about motherhood. Moms are the real experts. That’s who most of us call when we have a tough parenting question.

You’re a real travel-loving mama. Could you describe a family adventure you’ve had?

Probably the biggest adventure we had was our extended family sabbatical. We moved to France with our first child when she was 1. We lived in Nice, but we traveled most of the time we were there. While there were plenty of challenges — particularly lugging baby gear all over Europe and getting a stroller and luggage up and down stairs constantly — this was an amazing experience. Our daughter learned colors in the Louvre, and she learned animal names at Barcelona Zoo. We camped in the Pyrenees, and strollered through Paris. The three of us were together almost non-stop, and it was also an amazing bonding experience.

What are the benefits to traveling abroad with young children?

I think [my daughter] got many benefits from the experience. For one thing, she was speaking French better than English when we left. There is evidence being exposed to foreign languages young has benefits, and she seems to learn languages in preschool and school (like Spanish) pretty easily. I also think there is something to be said for learning from experience vs. books or TV shows. People constantly remark that she seems very mature and intelligent for her age, and I think some of that is due to the stimulus and in-person learning she did while traveling so young. Beyond all of that, I am a firm believer that everyone — babies, children, and adults — benefit from being exposed to other cultures and new situations.

Is there anything you specifically recommend against while traveling with children?

Yes, and it would be expecting to treat travel with children the same as your previous travels. You will not have the same experience, and this isn’t a bad thing. If you loved a regimented itinerary beforehand, you’d better get over it. If you liked spending hours doing one un-stimulating activity like wandering a museum, that probably won’t cut it anymore. On the other hand, I also recommend against only doing so-called “kid-friendly” sightseeing and dining. Kids adjust to what they are used to. If you always take your kids into museums or quiet cathedrals or nice restaurants, they will learn to behave accordingly. If they don’t at first, then walk out… which again goes back to what I said initially. Flexibility is the key.

Kelby Carr can be found on Twitter; @typeamom is one of my favorites!

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