Interview with Where’s Sharon?
Where’s Sharon? is a fun and friendly site that is bursting with heaps of useful information to help you with your family adventures. Sharon has one main aim – to inspire you to travel! She shows how travelling with kids needn’t be, contrary to popular belief, so difficult and how vacationing with children can, indeed, be loads of fun!
Refreshingly honest, she deals with the lows of travelling as well as the high – showing that readers can really trust her recommendations and glowing appraisals. As well as sharing her most amazing travel experiences, such as tubing in Laos and whale watching in Argentina, she also tells of her worst experiences whilst travelling, including border issues, accommodation problems, an attempted robbery, and even a military coup!
As well as healthy doses of humour and a realistic view of travel and life in general, Where’s Sharon? has lots of great tips for family holidays, from the planning stages through to being away. Whether you’re thinking about the practicalities of travelling with a toddler, want to make sure that your kids remember their holiday after it has ended, are unsure about what to pack, or how to go about making sure your travel insurance is right for you, Where’s Sharon? has you covered!
There are handy destination guides, covering a variety of places all around the world, and you’ll even find information about working online if you want to make your own fabulous travels last for even longer.
Originally from Australia, Sharon travels with her family – her husband, daughter, and son.
We love this site so much we wanted to chat more with Sharon and dig a little deeper …
Q: Your love of travelling started many years ago, and both you and your husband had taken a number of big trips independently before the kids came along. What are the biggest ways in which your travelling styles have evolved over the years?
I find the older I get, the more comfort I need. I had no problems travelling on $20 a day and the hardship that came with that in my mid twenties. I could never do that now even without kids!
The main impact kids have had is slowing down. I don’t travel as fast. The next biggest impact is that it changes the types of attractions we go to. We are far more likely to go to a science museum than a history museum for example. We still do go to lots of adult focused attractions but its balanced with more fun ones. I like both changes.
Q: Are there any places that you’re tempted to keep returning to? And, if so, why?
Yes there are. I guess that is another change kids have inspired in me! Cheap places with a well developed tourism industry just make things so much easier with kids and it’s hard to not keep returning to places like Thailand, Malaysia and Bali which are so lovely and just so easy! Before, I never wanted to return anywhere, it was all about the new.
I just find Bali, Malaysia and Thailand so good with kids as the locals are very welcoming – you can eat in peace with babies and toddlers as the wait staff will want to entertain your kids! They have great food, interesting cultures and attractions and everything is such great value! We love that we can stay in great hotels for good prices and get taxis where we want etc. Places like Sri Lanka might be cheaper but they just don’t have the same value so we feel like we compromise a lot when we go to them.
Q: How do you try and balance everybody’s wishes and demands when away from home?
This is definitely a constant work in process. We are always trying to find the right balance of travel days vs staying put, kids attractions vs stuff us adults want to do vs lazy days in our accommodation. I think the most important thing is to give yourselves flexibility in your travel plans so that you can constantly change your style and how you do things to keep everyone happy.
Q: How are your kids with trying different cuisines? Do you have any top tips for people whose children are picky eaters abroad?
I think I may have the best eaters ever born! They have always eaten whatever so this is not an issue for us, although spicy food can cause problems but they are slowly getting better at eating that too.
If my kids were picky eaters and I was going away for any length of time, I’d make sure I stayed at places where I could self cater. You will always find something kids will eat anywhere but it may be hard to keep the nutritional value up if they are fussy, so I’d opt for cooking some of the time.
I’d also recommend regularly eating different cuisines at home too. Our kids have grown up eating lots of different food thanks to the great variety in Melbourne, and I think that has helped.
Q: How important is maintaining a routine for your kids when you travel? A lot? A little? Somewhere in between?
I’d say somewhere in between. It’s so important they get enough sleep so we keep our nighttime routine. Everything else varies though. When they were younger and still napping, I would often change their routine for our trips and do things like adding an extra nap so we could go out of an evening which worked well.
Q: What has been your most embarrassing travelling moment?
Honestly, probably just when my kids say something really loud about people around us. They are usually just curious questions about why people look different and do different things, but it can be quite awkward! My kids have tantrummed basically everywhere so that does not bother me!
Q: You spent a fair amount of time in Central America and took Spanish lessons. How much of the local language do you typically try and learn before visiting a new place?
I am so slack with this. I try to learn hello and thank you and that is it. Places like China, I found I had to learn a little bit more though.
Becoming fluent in Spanish is one of my life goals. I will get there eventually! The kids have been learning Bahasa (Malaysian) and Mandarin at their preschool in Malaysia this year which has been a great experience for them.
Q: Connected to the above question, are there any places where you have found that the language barrier has been way too problematic?
The only time I have truly had problems was in some places in Bulgaria. It was like the people didn’t want to understand me so that made it difficult. Otherwise, no. I definitely needed to use a translation book in China though for things like buying train tickets.
Q: What places would you recommend visitors to Melbourne not miss with their kids?
Our favourites would be the Open Range Zoo at Werribee, Scienceworks and the Childrens Garden at the Botanical Gardens. If you have younger kids I think the Open Range Zoo works far better than Melbourne Zoo. Scienceworks is just awesome for all ages and the Childrens Garden is lots of fun. It doesn’t open over winter though. ACMI has a cool exhibit at Federation Square which is great for all ages too.
Q: And finally, if time, money, and other factors were no issue at all, where would you love to take the kids to next?
Tough question! I would probably pick another cruise, I don’t really care where! It has been my favourite travel experience with kids so far. Otherwise, I would be tempted by my number one bucket list item, Trans Mongolian railway. I’m not sure we would enjoy 7 days cooped up on a train together though!
For loads of useful, practical, and fun stuff related to family travels, don’t miss Where’s Sharon? You can also keep up to date with Sharon’s adventures and new posts via Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, and Instagram.