Contributor Spotlight: Samantha Runkel

In this Contributor Spotlight, we’re chatting with Samantha Runkel, a musician, songwriter and mom from California. Her family doesn’t shy away from off-the-beaten path destinations, and she’s sharing her best travel advice for fellow parent-explorers, as well as her favorite place she’s been with her two-year-old. Meet Samantha!

SAY HELLO TO...

SHE IS A MOM TO...

A 2-year-old girl

AND LIVES IN...

Nuremberg, Germany

TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

My name is Samantha, my husband is Michael and our daughter is Sia, who just turned two. We live in Nuremberg, Germany, where my husband is from. I’m originally from California, so you could say I traded in the beaches for “bier”!

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL STYLE?

I would say we are a learning and adventure family. Since Michael is a photographer, we travel where he has assignments or is setting out to photograph. He has one of the most extensive photo libraries of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, so we travel anywhere from Okinawa’s Shuri Castle to Cartagena’s Walled City.

OUT OF ALL THE PLACES YOU'VE BEEN WITH YOUR FAMILY, WHICH HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE?

My favorite travel destination we’ve been with Sia was Namibia. We drove a pop-top camper truck from Cape Town, South Africa up to Windhoek and camped, safaried, found desert elephants and climbed sand dunes. Hiking into Sossusvlei at sunrise with Sia as an 11-month-old is something I will never forget.

THAT SOUNDS AMAZING! WHAT ELSE IS ON YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?

Mongolia, and meeting the Tuvan throat singers is on my personal bucket list, so of course we would bring our nugget along! I’m a musician and am interested in ethnomusicology—how music is developed in different parts of the world. Tuvan throat singing is extremely unique, and Mongolia as a whole would be an incredible place to adventure as a family.

HOW DO YOU DOCUMENT YOUR TRAVELS?

We take lots of photos! I also write about our adventures on my blog, Mom Without Borders.

Travel is the best form of cultivating an open mind and a compassionate heart.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAVEL MEMORY FROM YOUR OWN CHILDHOOD?

When my sister and I were kids, we used to fly from San Diego to San Francisco every other weekend to visit my dad. It was back in the day when PSA was the West Coast airline, and we flew as unaccompanied minors. We knew the cabin crew and used to walk up and down the aisles handing out candies to the passengers, wearing our frequent-flier pins with pride. I loved it. It was the constant in my life that I think prepared me in some way for my life today.

WHY DO YOU FEEL IT'S IMPORTANT TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR DAUGHTER?

Travel is the best form of cultivating an open mind and a compassionate heart. We hope our daughter will also look at life through this lens and encourage a positive impact on her world, whether it be sharing her experiences, changing minds or helping others.

WHAT'S ONE NUGGET OF ADVICE THAT YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PARENTS TRAVELING WITH KIDS?

My nugget of advice is to always keep a sense of gratitude, even when things get complicated or overwhelming (which they always will!). Despite the jet lag, long-haul plane flights, teething and inevitable logistical problems, we always remind ourselves how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to get on a plane and go somewhere, and give our daughter the gift of experiencing the world. It’s something that very few people on the planet are able to do, so we always carry that nugget of wisdom with us!

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