This week’s Meet the Travel Bloggers interview is with travel blogger Chelsea Ingram of Our Sonny Life.
When, why and how did you start your travel blog?
I started Our Sonny Life when we moved to Maui from the mainland in 2009. I updated it periodically for our friends and family, but I started updating it regularly when we decided to move to Thailand in December 2011. In December right before our move to Thailand we found out our youngest son Trek, who was 8 months old, had a rare genetic disease called Niemann Pick Type A. He would not live past his 2nd birthday. We were devastated and our world was shattered. The doctors could not do anything to save him so we packed up our family and embarked on a 6 month trip around the world so we could enjoy every day of his amazing life. Trek died in Thailand on June 21, 2012. I have spent this last year using the blog to update friends and family and sharing the beauty of Trek’s life with the world. He has had over 300,000 people read his story from over 190 countries.
How did you get that name and what does the name mean to you?
We have 3 sons and we were living in Maui-it was just too good of a pun to not be used!
What keeps you blogging?
My blog quickly changed from a fun, lighthearted recap of our “sonny” days to a form of therapy for me when Trek was diagnosed. I have spent the last 6 months journaling all about our adventures with Trek around the world and used it as a place for me to vent and cry about my devastation of losing my baby and to catalog every adventure we go on so I don’t’ forget one thing.
What about traveling excites you the most?
We love change and get bored if we are somewhere for too long, so travel is the perfect lifestyle for us. We also all love to eat and try new foods, so we have so much fun visiting new places and diving into the foods of the region. As a mom, my favorite thing is living in a hotel where you don’t’ have to clean or make the beds!
How has traveling with kids changed the way you travel?
Actually we never travelled before we had children; they are the reason we decided to! We decided that we wanted to show our children the world and that we wanted to see it too. We travel slowly, make sure we have a hotel booked for the night, bellies full of good food and open minds for any adventures to be had for each day.
What are the challenges of traveling as a family with young children?
We learned really quickly that we had to put eating as a priority. No matter where we are we stop and eat before we all get cranky! We also try to stay away from cities. There are lots of rules and dangers that children have to avoid like traffic and busy sidewalks. We have more fun if we are in the country so the boys can run and relax and play and learn a slower way of life.
You started out traveling with Trek. What advice can you give parents who want to take a trip with a terminally ill child?
Do it right away while your child is at their healthiest. When we first found out Trek was going to die I knew exactly where I wanted to go: Disneyland. I wanted to make magical and life-long memories as a family. I thought that would be our only family vacation. We ended up being able to travel with Trek for the rest of his life- 6 whole months around the world. It was magical, but our favorite travel memory is unanimously, Disneyland! I say go on one amazing family vacation and go all out. It is worth the investment and all the memories you will make. You will never regret it.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve encountered on the road?
Home comforts. It was a big adjustment for us to go from the comforts of America, like soft sheets, blankets, carpet, bath tubs, hot water, etc. to a lack thereof. We have gotten used to it, but we all miss a warm bath!
What advice can you give people who are thinking about traveling around the world with their kids?
Go for it!!! Whether it is for one week or one year or longer, it is a life-changing choice and the most fun we have ever had! For more practical advice-always have a hotel booked, but no activities, just go with the flow and have fun. There are no right or wrong ways to travel with children just what works best for your family. For some that might be hanging by the pool all day, for others hiking the mountains. It’s all about enjoying life together as a family.
On the road, do you seek out some experiences more than others?
Yes, we seem to be drawn to bodies of water. We always find ourselves hiking up waterfalls, floating down rivers, and splashing in the ocean- the water is our family’s happy place.
What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip ever?
Our favorite place has been Disneyland. It literally was the happiest place on earth and we all smile when we think of Trek in his Mickey Mouse ears. But our most unique place that I am most proud of us going to is Vang Vieng, Laos. It is a 3 hour death-defying bus ride from the capital city, Vientiane into the jungles of Laos. It is a rural town full of locals and fun-loving backpackers. We tubed down the river, scootered around the countryside on our mopeds and ate lots of yummy backpacker food. I am pretty sure we were the only tourist family in town. It was mainly young partiers, but they made the town alive and fun for us.
What’s your favorite place on earth?
Snuggled in our family bed! Every night we seem to all find our way into one cozy bed. Since we have been travelling we have had to share one room and many times one big bed or 2 small ones since our boys are too small to get their own room. It has been the only constant on this amazing and heart-wrenching journey, and a place of peace and love as we all cuddle to sleep each night.
Where are you off to next?
We are currently in Pai, Thailand until December when our visa is up. Then we will be off to wherever the wind blows us! The frontrunners are Indonesia, the Philippines or Europe if Jarrett’s book sales are big!
What’s the biggest fantasy on your bucket list and why?
Europe- all of it in one year- in the nicest hotels, with the yummiest cheeses, and the best wines
You have a dream for a non-profit. Can you share it with us?
We wanted to go to Disneyland, but we did not have the money saved for such a trip and had no hope of saving that much before Trek would die. We tried to get a Make-a-Wish for Trek, but sadly they do not grant wishes for children under 3 years old. There is currently no wish foundation for babies. We are working on starting a foundation in Trek’s honor granting wishes for babies and toddlers, so every family can have a special trip with their little one.
The Ingram family is Jarrett (28), Chelsea (28), Peyton (7), Conner (5), and Trek (April 11, 2011-June 21, 2012). They’re been travelling the world for the past 9 months, 6 of those were with their terminally ill son, Trek. They treasure every moment and amazing memory they made with him and miss him so much. They are still travelling the world in order to live every day to the fullest with their sons. You can follow their adventures and read all about Trek’s journey (including his birth in the driveway!) on their blog, Our Sonny Life. Jarrett funds their crazy adventures by writing books. You can find them on his website.