Susannah Cery, founder of Our Tribe Travels – an online community for families who love independent travel – shares her travel highs and lows with JAT readers
What do you like to do on holiday?
We (myself, my husband, Kelvin, and son, Alfred) love to explore a location and try and experience as much of the local culture as possible. We rarely stay in the same location for more than four days, preferring to move from place to place to get a real feel for what a country has to offer. In most instances we have a rough plan of where we want to go, but we prefer to book accommodation as we travel as this usually uncovers the more unique, under the radar local guest houses or home-stays.
Meeting the local people and getting an insight into local life is one of the biggest attractions of travelling. We love frequenting the eateries, shopping areas and local hubs that are away from the main tourist hot spots.
Where did you last go?
Our last family adventure was a 13 day trip to the Yucatan Peninsular. We flew into Cancun and spent one night in a £30 a night Airbnb before hiring a car and exploring. We spent four nights on Holbox, one night in Chichen Itza, three nights just outside Tulum and four nights on the beach front on the outskirts of Mahahual. We covered over 1,500 miles and had an amazing holiday with a combination of historic sights, beautiful beaches and adventure in the form of swimming in open cenotes, cave swimming and zip lining. One thing I’m passionate about is helping families to travel on a budget. Our car hire and accommodation costs for the 13 days totalled £880 and this was during their peak Christmas period. I want to encourage families to explore more and spend less.
Do you know where you’re going this year?
We are heading to Palma, Majorca for a few days in the summer. We’ll be eating a lot of tapas and we’re taking the Lemon Tree Train up to Soller. We’ve been throwing a few ideas around for the latter part of the year. The two front runners are a two week trip to Tanzania; flying into Dar Es Salam, booking a 3 day safari, taking the local ferry over to Zanzibar to spend a few days in Stone Town and then on to the beaches. The other option is two week break to Thailand to re-live some of the fun that we had when we backpacked around the country back in 2011.
Of all the places you’ve been to, which was your favourite and why?
Trekking in Nepal is definitely one of our family travel highlights. Trekking wasn’t something we felt we could do with a toddler in tow, but with a bit of research we realised that it is indeed feasible and when kids are between the age of three and seven, it’s a really easy age to facilitate. We chose to Trek the Poon Hill route, which is a five day route in the Annapurna range with spectacular Himalayan views. Our son, who was three at the time, sat in a traditional basket carrier called a Doko. He absolutely loved relaxing in his comfortable seat as we climbed up through the mountains. We visited in early January during the coldest period, when temperatures drop to minus seven degrees celsius at night. Our basic accommodation was unheated with very few amenities, so we felt a sense of achievement when we retuned to Pokhara. This trip proved to us that even an adventurous style of travel is feasible with kids. You just need to approach it with a positive attitude and accept that you need to slow down and will find some logistical aspects more challenging.
Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
This is such a difficult question as there are so many on my list. We are hoping to spend a few months backpacking around South America and Colombia is on the top of my list for places to explore as a family. The country has changed so much in the last decade, but it’s becoming more popular so we would like to explore it before it becomes too mainstream as a holiday destination. Many of the Our Tribe Travels community members have backpacked around Colombia, and their feedback is really positive.
In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
If you love hiking and being outdoors then you can’t beat a trip to Shropshire. It’s the area that I grew up in and it’s stunning. Head to Church Stretton, a small market town which is surrounded by beautiful scenery and great walking trails. There are walks to suit all levels of walkers and you can plan your day to stop off at one of the many country pubs en route. Carding mill Valley, at the base of the Long Myndd, is a great day out with kids. Take a picnic and enjoy the low-level walking, paddle in the stream, or follow one of the many sheep paths up the hillside.
How do you plan your holiday?
We are independent travellers and prefer to book everything ourselves. It gives us the freedom to select the best value elements and as we always try and travel using the local transport options, we usually book this when we arrive in our destination.
Historically my husband and I had always referred to guide books to plan our trips and used Trip Advisor to find accommodation options, but as Trip Advisor has become more mass market we’ve found it harder to locate recommendations from like minded travellers. We now use the experiences and knowledge in the Our Tribe Travelsgroup to plan our trips and this was one of the reasons I initially launched the OTT Facebook community. Members ask questions and receive advice and recommendations directly from other family travellers. Not only is the advice current, but it’s comforting to know that our adventurous travel style and expectations are similar.
How often do you go away?
We ALWAYS travel on a budget, so it does mean that we can travel more frequently than the average family. We usually go away at least three times a year, but slot in a lot of UK camping adventures in-between.
As we are very value driven, we tend to have a short list of places that we would like to go to so that we have flexibility in trying to secure the best flight prices. If you become fixated on a particular destination it’s disappointing when you can’t find a good airfare. I recommend that you have 5-10 places on your ‘travel list’ so that you can take advantage of deals or error fares.
Who do you travel with?
My husband and seven year old son, Alf. My son has been travelling in an adventurous way since he was seven months old so he’s a seasoned backpacker. He’s backpacked around 28 countries to date, so he’s seen a lot in his short life. I believe that travel is the best education. It helps develop culturally sensitive, open minded and adaptable kids.
Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
With Brexit on the horizon it’s hard to predict what impact this will have on tourism. I guess we’ll have to see.
For the full low-down on Our Tribe Travels, visit www.ourtribetravels.com
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Facebook community: www.facebook.com/groups/OurTribeTravels
View the post here: http://www.justabouttravel.net/2018/06/29/where-the-experts-holiday-susannah-cery-founder-of-our-tribe-travels/