Contributor Spotlight: Andie Eggimann
There’s no such thing as a small trip for Andie Eggimann’s family—with her husband and five kids, even weekends away are a big adventure! While Andie stays busy as a stay-at-home mom and personal care assistant for her two children with cognitive disabilities, she and her family prioritize travel as a major part of their lives. In this Contributor Spotlight, Andie shares her travel tips for other parents, as well as the benefits of buying less and traveling more.
HI ANDIE! CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY?
We’re Andrew and Andie (yes—matching names, but no, he doesn’t ever go by Andy!) and we have 5 kids through birth and adoption. Our children are ages 12, 11, 10, 8 and 6.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE? WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK?
We live in Minnesota, USA. A couple of years ago we moved from a 5-bedroom house into a townhouse so that we could travel more. Andrew works in the healthcare industry and I manage the chaos at home while being a personal care assistant for our two kids with cognitive disabilities.
WOW, THAT'S VERY IMPRESSIVE. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL STYLE?
We are budget travelers by necessity since we have to buy 7 plane tickets! Sometimes we take over entire hostel bunk rooms, sometimes we use Airbnb and occasionally we get to stay in fancy hotels, thanks to travel hacking. We also deeply value being in nature, both here and abroad. When we’re in the states, we use our pop-up camper to visit the national parks and when traveling internationally, we try to mix in a lot of time in scenic places away from the city.
I CAN'T IMAGINE WHAT IT'S LIKE PLANNING A TRIP WITH THAT MANY NUGGETS IN TOW! WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE YOU'VE HAD WITH YOUR KIDS?
We loved our first international trip with our kids, which was to China. Go big or go home, right? We especially enjoyed our time in a Yao minority village deep in the mountains above Guilin. This gave us the opportunity to pick our own dinner vegetables from terraced gardens, learn how to make tofu from scratch and to cook and eat in the traditional way – on stools around a steel wok over a fire.
CHINA SOUNDS AMAZING. WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
Our youngest son wants to see animals in the African savanna, our oldest daughter wants to go to Ireland “because there are lots of redheads” like her, and our oldest son wants to eat sushi in Japan. All of the kids have also asked to go back to China.
HOW DO YOU DOCUMENT YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVELS?
I love photography, so Instagram is a fun place to keep a record of our travels. I have a blog for remembering and sharing more of the details. I also make photo books so we can have something we can physically hold.
WHY DO YOU TRAVEL WITH YOUR KIDS?
One of my goals in life is “find the beauty, add to the beauty.” This motto was born out of experiencing loss in my own life and in the lives of dear friends. Life is hard and full of loss, but it is also full of beauty and wonder. Traveling is, for our family, an attempt to seek out beautiful things and fill up our souls so that we have plenty of love to share with others. We hope that the experiences our children receive from travel will give them a compassionate perspective towards others and a well-balanced global perspective in life.
We hope that the experiences our children receive from travel will give them a compassionate perspective towards others and a well-balanced global perspective in life.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAVEL MEMORY FROM YOUR OWN CHILDHOOD?
I had many rich travel experiences with my parents in the US. I spent many a road trip in the back of a van playing “Stayin’ Alive” over and over on my cassette player. I grew up in Georgia and my first trip to the West Coast was in 7th grade. I fell hard for the lovely quirks of San Francisco. From the old-fashioned elevator in our hotel, with a gate you had to close yourself, to the seals lazing all over Fisherman’s Wharf, I was hooked. From that time on, I wanted all our travel to be in the West.
TRAVELING WITH FIVE KIDS IS A HUGE UNDERTAKING. WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU'VE FACED, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE?
The biggest challenge has been trying to stay off of the bigger-better-faster train that defines life in America and to choose to have less, do less and see more. I easily forget the harder parts of travel, but the day to day, “No, we cannot buy that,” so that we can travel is pretty constant. Helping our kids understand why we spend our money differently than many is a constant discussion. We explain that we are choosing to invest our money in travel while also attempting to teach them that each family has the freedom to make different choices.
The biggest challenge has been trying to stay off of the bigger-better-faster train that defines life in America and to choose to have less, do less, and see more.
WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO RESOURCE FOR FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS?
I love the research part of trips. I use Pinterest to seek out family travel blogs on the topics I need, as well as reading copious amounts of TripAdvisor reviews.
WHAT'S ONE NUGGET OF ADVICE THAT YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PARENTS TRAVELING WITH KIDS?
Noise-cancelling headphones! They will save your sanity and make you a nicer parent. Not having to listen to all the noise all the time helps to provide enough mental margin to be present for the conversations that truly matter.
GREAT IDEA! OKAY, LAST QUESTION. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAVEL QUOTE THAT YOUR FAMILY LIVES BY?
I had a quote on my wall as a teenager that I still find inspires me to take risks, from special needs adoption to traveling the world with 5 kids: “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”- Helen Keller