Karen and her husband, Sylvester, currently live in Los Angeles. They have a 5-year-old son and help care for their 5-year-old nephew, and two 4-year-old nieces.
Karen has mastered the art of planning and funding international family getaways. To date, their family has visited 23 countries. She explains her secrets for finding the best deals when traveling as a family.
Travel Noire: How do you plan the trips for your family?
Karen: My mottos are “Go where it is cheap” and “Follow the sale, not the location.” We are a one income family, meaning we have to be conscious of how we spend money. This means that we only travel when it is cheap. If a deal comes up for anywhere, and I can afford it, I purchase tickets right away. If kids live there, then there must be something for kids to do there.
We recently got four one-way tickets to London for $12.40. We also travel based on how far we can stretch our points and miles. On our recent trip to Barcelona, we stayed at the Hilton by the beach and paid $0 as it was paid with points.
Travel Noire: How did you find one-way tickets for $12.40?
Karen: I was lucky enough to snag an error fare when it popped up. That is very helpful in how we travel, especially traveling as a big family. We had no plans of going to London in December, as we were there last December and again in October. But for $12.40, why not? We will fly to London and then head to Morocco for about $20. It doesn’t matter where the error fare takes us, if it is a good deal, we go! Any travel opportunity for the children is one step closer to exposing them to everything the world has to offer.
Travel Noire: Give us your advice on travel budgeting for families? Any tricks on saving additional money while at a destination?
Karen: I find free things to do. For example, London has tons of free museums and we visit a few every time we travel there.
– Instead of paying for tours, I thoroughly read and learn about where we will be visiting so that I can explain it to the kids myself.
– Staying in hostels, HomeAway, and Airbnb. We recently stayed in a hostel in Copenhagen because hotel rates were outrageous.
– Cooking meals versus eating out. It can be costly to eat out every meal, so we grocery shop for healthy snacks that keep the kids full while we explore.
– Using public transportation is cheap in most cities, so take advantage of it.
– Get a points and miles card to save even more by using those points and miles to pay for flights and hotels.
Travel Noire: Which points cards or rewards programs do you suggest?
Karen: I recommend the Chase Sapphire Card. However, I don’t have one as Chase is pretty strict with the 5/24 rule. No more than five cards in 24 months, so people should pay attention to that when applying for credit cards. Chase Sapphire is also great because points can be used for anything, from hotels to car rental and more. I have a United Airlines and Hilton card as those are two brands I am loyal to, so it works for our family.
Stick to the same airline as it’ll help you build miles. Stick to the same hotel for the same reason – points. Create a mileage account with every airline you fly, and even for your kids. It is free!
Travel Noire: Where was the best family-friendly destination that you all visited?
Karen: The truth is all. Every single country we have been to is family friendly. When we travel, we don’t just look for things that’ll pique the kid’s attention only. We also visit places like historical sights and museums, places that may seem boring to kids. However, we are raising them to appreciate all aspects of travel. Yes, travel is fun, but what are they learning? Just like when you offer kids different foods to try to expand their palate, I offer them a wide range of activities to expand their imagination.
Travel Noire: Why is it important to expose your brown children to other cultures?
Karen: I am raising my kids to be global citizens because I want them to be open and accepting of other cultures. This is extremely important to me! I am raising the next generation, and to raise children who are understanding, compassionate, empathetic and more, I have to expose them how other people live. Taking the kids to Europe, Africa, and Asia has given them a chance to experience and appreciate other cultures, and to appreciate how privileged they are as well.
Travel Noire: Where can we find you all on social media?
Karen: On Instagram / Facebook /YouTube: themomtrotter. My blog is themomtrotter.com. I record a video of our trip so that the kids can look back and watch to see what they did and what they experienced, and they absolutely love it!