Contributor Spotlight: Liz Mowinski
A recent transplant from Chicago to a small village in England, Liz Mowinski knows a thing or two about “going with the flow” while traveling. When her husband got a new job abroad, she and her family packed up their lives and moved to the United Kingdom. In this Contributor Spotlight, Liz shares what it was like to move abroad and how traveling with her two children has expanded her worldview.
HEY LIZ! COULD YOU INTRODUCE US TO YOUR FAMILY?
Our core family is myself (Liz), my hubby Ryan and our sons Luke (8) and Mack (4). We also have a nine-year-old boxer named Bennie. It’s basically me and a bunch of dudes!
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
We moved to the UK in October 2016 for my husband’s job and live in the small village of Leicestershire. It was a huge change from the Chicago suburbs, but living abroad had been on our bucket list, so we packed up the family and headed across the pond!
FROM A BIG CITY TO A SMALL TOWN! WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO SINCE YOU'VE ARRIVED?
I’m currently taking a sabbatical from ad-land and am enjoying time with my family, soaking in the culture and learning more about myself.
SO AWESOME. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL STYLE?
We go with the flow and are typically up for anything! We love exploring new cities, discovering local cuisine and taking a step back in time on old cobblestone streets. But as idyllic as that sounds, there’s never a dull moment when traveling with curiously goofy boys. We’ve quickly learned how to navigate and laugh our way through new situations.
THAT'S THE NAME OF THE GAME WHEN TRAVELING WITH KIDS! WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THAT YOU'VE HAD SO FAR WITH YOUR BOYS?
I’m incredibly grateful and have had too many to count! But at the end of the day, it’s the unplanned curveball moments that stick in our soul. And that’s exactly what southern Spain gave us. I typically do most of the driving (the joys of getting carsick!) but handed over the keys to my husband while leaving Marbella so I could jump out and grab a morning coffee. As he pulled up with the kids, I heard a giant “pop” – he had somehow managed to blow a tire within five minutes of circling the block! The tire caused a major domino effect and we eventually had the car towed, got stranded on the side of the road with two small, hungry kids and waited out an afternoon siesta from the local Avis office. Then we headed back to Malaga to get a new car with a driver who didn’t speak any English (but managed to embrace my broken 7th grade Spanish to navigate us around a traffic accident). This is when we realized our kids were travel rock stars and could handle any stressful situation with a smile!
We’ve quickly learned how to navigate and laugh our way through new situations.
SOUNDS LIKE YOUR KIDS LEARNED AN IMPORTANT TRAVEL LESSON EARLY ON: ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES! WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
The list continues to grow daily but feels more achievable as we’ve learned to live with less so we can experience more. For the next few years we’re focusing on Europe since it’s at our doorstep, but we can’t wait to explore South America and Africa someday.
WHY DO YOU TRAVEL WITH YOUR KIDS?
Because I cannot imagine doing it without them! You learn so much through your children’s eyes and I hope someday they can also learn through mine. Traveling with kids has its challenges but also so many rewards. Experiencing the world and embracing the unknown at a young age will hopefully help them to discover their passions and grow into curious, brave and compassionate people who do good in the world.
Experiencing the world and embracing the unknown at a young age will hopefully help them to discover their passions and grow into curious, brave and compassionate people who do good in the world.
ABSOLUTELY. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAVEL MEMORY FROM YOUR OWN CHILDHOOD?
To be honest, my family didn’t travel much when I was a kid, but when we did, it was always in the Midwest spirit – cross-country road trip in a minivan! Outside of the endless headaches we gave my father while driving, me and my siblings had more fun on the road than we did on any other type of vacation. Put five people in a car for 12+ hours and you learn the good, the bad and the ugly very quickly! It laid the foundation for amazing relationships with my siblings.
ROAD TRIPS ARE THE BEST. WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU'VE FACED WHEN TRAVELING WITH YOUR KIDS?
Sick kids – it’s inevitable. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does and you’re in transit to an unfamiliar place, you certainly question why you’ve got them globe-trotting all over Europe. Through some chaos and stress, I’ve learned to always prepare for the worst and embrace what can’t be controlled. I always pack extra medication that I’m familiar with because it’s better to take up space and not need it than be caught without it.
COULDN'T AGREE MORE! SPEAKING OF ADVICE, WHAT'S ONE NUGGET OF ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PARENTS?
Adventures don’t have to be grand to be meaningful. Kids just need to know they’re loved and feel that they’re your priority. Reminiscing over a scoop of a gelato goes a long way!
WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO RESOURCE FOR FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS?
Nugget, of course! Asking for advice on social media is also helpful. Odds are there is someone out there with a wealth of knowledge on the place you’re visiting, and all you have to do is ask.
LAST QUESTION! DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAVEL QUOTE THAT YOUR FAMILY LIVES BY?
There are so many great ones but this always resonates: ‘Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.’ – Jennifer Lee