Melissa Delaware

Melissa Delaware Interview

In today’s Why We Travel, I interview Melissa Delaware, creator behind “Thrifty Family Travels,” a website that aims to provide families practical travel information on a range of destinations across the globe.  The site focuses on affordable family travel (not necessarily cheap family travel) and shows families how to spend their travel dollars without compromising on experience.  

Describe your first transformative travel experience.

The first travel experience that really turned me into the travel-obsessed person I am today was a solo trip to Sydney to visit my older sister when I was just 18 years of age.  My sister worked throughout the day, so I was left to my own devices to wander the streets of Sydney. The experience was just amazing!  I loved exploring on my own, seeing things I’d never seen before, and being in a different city was just amazing.  I got this feeling inside me that I’d never felt before – like I was high on the traveling experience and I wanted more of it! As soon as I returned home, I started planning my next trip. Over the next 15 years, I traveled the world mostly as a solo female traveler.  Fast forward more almost 25 years and now I travel regularly with my family, including my young daughter.

Why is travel important to you personally? 

I just love so many things about traveling.  I feel so alive arriving in a brand-new city and going out exploring. I love learning about new cultures, eating new foods, and just seeing things I’ve never before.  The whole experience makes me feel alive. Now that I am a mother, I also love taking my daughter traveling.  I think it’s a wonderful thing to show her the world and how different we all are as human beings, yet how much we are the same. Around 3 years ago, after 20 years in the corporate world, I decided to turn my passion for travel into my career.  I am now a full-time travel blogger and travel as often as I can, detailing my trips so other families can use the information when traveling with their own families.

How would you describe your travel “style”?

I feel like I have a range of different travel styles.  I guess however overall, I would still describe myself as a bit of a backpacker. We travel very light, with minimal clothes and things.  We also stay in cheap accommodation where we can, as we believe in saving money on where we sleep to spend it on experiences. But having said that, I am also a bargain traveler – so, I love staying in fancy resorts too, but only when I can get them at a bargain price – which is not as hard to do as some may think.

What tips do you have for travelers to make their experiences more meaningful? 

One of my favorite tips for traveling is doing food tours wherever you go. I find with a food tour, not only do you get to learn and try the local foods, but usually the guide will tell you stories about the culture too.  Also, your guide will take you some places that you would generally never find as a traveler yourself.

What are your favorite travel-related books, movies, paintings, poems, songs, etc.?

We have a huge map of the world in our dining room – it takes up the entire wall and most evenings we will talk about various countries we have visited or would like to visit.  It’s also a great talking point for visitors when they come over and tell us about their own travels. When it comes to movies – I’ve always loved The Beach (movie and book) starring Leonardo Dicaprio.  Something about Leonardo’s character exploring the streets of Bangkok and then ending up on a stunning deserted tropical island recaptured that feeling I felt when I went on that first trip to Sydney as a young girl. I guess it’s just the adventure that comes through in the movie that I love so much.

Why travel? 

Travel opens our eyes to how the whole world lives. It shows us that despite our differences we have many things in common.  It teaches us that despite our religious believes, the food we may eat or the language we speak we are all human beings and all wish to live our lives peacefully. I also think travel – at least for me – reminds me how lucky I am in the world.  I live in a wonderful free country and take many things for granted, that others in the world so desperately desire.  I think it makes me a more caring and generous person and aware of the needs of others, despite them living many miles away.

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