Contributor Spotlight: Cat Holladay
A recent transplant from Finland to Virginia and author of family travel blog The Compass Is Calling, Cat Holladay is well versed in the art of traveling with kids. In this Contributor Spotlight, Cat shares about her love for Finland, the top spots on her family’s bucket list and the key to a stress-free vacation with kids.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.
We are the Holladays: Adam, Cat and G [who is] 4. We love to travel and have been to more than 25 countries together – if we ever have another child, we will have to start counting over! We like a little education in our travel… We try to do something adult-related and something kid-related on every trip. G is used to this by now and there are no complaints when we drag him through museums, art galleries, flea markets or other typically ‘adult’ activities!
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
We recently moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, from Finland. We are having a hard time adjusting to the heat and humidity!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL STYLE?
We like to see as much of a country [and its] culture as possible, while at the same time reaching deeper levels of understanding of people, traditions, history and more. Despite trying to fit in a lot on our trips, we typically skip major attractions and focus on small but enriching experiences after getting there and feeling things out… We’ve found our best memories are the ones we didn’t plan.
We've found our best memories are the ones we didn't plan.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THAT YOU'VE HAD WITH YOUR FAMILY?
The best experience we had was sleeping in a snow castle and in a glass igloo, both in northern Finland! The snow castle was something we wouldn’t do again because it was cold! But it was such a unique experience, [and] G still talks about it to this day. The glass igloo was incredible.
WHAT'S ON YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
We have so many destinations we want to see! Right now, at the top of our list is Alaska and French Polynesia. We just love northern climates…but we also love the beach!
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL MEMORY FROM YOUR OWN CHILDHOOD?
My favorite childhood travel memory was our first trip to Europe. Seeing all the history in one town, the paintings I had studied in class in person and architecture that dated over 1,000 years blew my mind. I was hooked on travel from that point on.
HOW DO YOU DOCUMENT YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVELS?
We document our family’s travels on our personal blog. This is a great way to go back and remember things we did and saw, and the people we met. I am also a photographer and often make travel books of our adventures.
Don't plan too much. Leave plenty of room for getting lost.
WHY DO YOU TRAVEL WITH YOUR SON?
We travel with our son to instill a love for learning, love for culture and love for our diverse planet. There is so much to learn through travel that can’t be taught from a book, a movie, or anything else… We want to show our son that everything we do has an impact and it’s our job to leave the world a better place.
WHAT'S ONE NUGGET OF ADVICE THAT YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PARENTS TRAVELING WITH KIDS?
You can do it! Many parents are afraid that it’s too complicated to take their children on trips – they’ll whine, they’ll bother other people, they can’t walk more than a few hundred feet without being carried, etc. Don’t let your fears paralyze you. Don’t plan too much. Leave plenty of room for getting lost…the things you’ll learn about your kids in the process and the additional things you’ll see as a result of having a little extra time are so much greater than the item you wanted to check off your list.