I’m Tara Cannon and I have been running Pint Size Pilot ® since 2012 (and another little site before that).
My husband Rann and I have been traveling with our two kids, Lucas and Ella, since they were wee babies from our home base of Vancouver, Canada.
Prior to having children, we were very enthusiastic world travelers and figured that having a couple little people along for the ride wouldn’t have to change anything.
Now, of course it did, but we still managed to have amazing adventures all over the world – just doing things a little differently than we had before. (Hint: We had to slow our travel pace down a bit.)
How it Began
I started Pint Size Pilot family travel website because I wanted to share what we had learned along the way and to encourage and support other parents wanting to have grand adventures of their own.
I believed (and still believe) that just because you have kids in tow, does not mean that your travels have to be limited to theme parks and all-inclusive resorts. It can be done a different way.
In the beginning, I tried to focus on some of the most challenging aspects of travel with a baby or toddler. I created guides on topics such as planning a first family vacation and tips for flying with kids.
Back then, our travels were primarily taking us to island destinations in the Caribbean (Anguilla, Saba, Barbados, St. Barts and more). Coming from the west coast, however, our travel time was often 24 hours our more, involving several stopovers.
With only a travel booster seat or two, things became so much easier. I still remember strapping our daughter into her seat for the craziest ride over a mountain pass to access Panama’s rather remote San Blas Islands. She only threw up twice (poor girl has always struggled with motion sickness). It was a bit of a crazy adventure, but totally worth it.
When our kids reached an age where they could start fully enjoying some city breaks, I put my energy into creating in-depth family travel guides to some of my favourite cities (Paris, New York, Reykjavik, Austin, Victoria and Oslo).
I tried very hard to not only cover the main tourist attractions but to also find some more immersive experiences – whether it was a kids’ pastry class in Paris, a museum sleepover in NYC, or a visit to a geothermally-heated beach in Reykjavik.
I have always had a passion for unique and special accommodation experiences. Some of our unusual stays have included a treehouse in Oregon, a caboose in Nova Scotia, a lighthouse on Prince Edward Island, and a vintage trailer park in the Willamette Valley (OR). The odder, the better for this family!
We have also been lucky enough to stay at some really extraordinary hotels and lodges around the world.
I don’t know if there is an official term for our travel style (I call it high-low travel). Even before kids, we would frequently choose a modestly-priced place (usually a vacation rental) for most of our trip and then splurge on a very special stay for a couple nights at the end.
Note: The most interesting thing to me about the places we have stayed over the years has been that for my kids, there has been little correlation between how much they have enjoyed a place and the price.
When we reminisce about our best trips, a treehouse that was $150/night will be right up there with a luxury lodge in Ecuador. Any place where they get to build a fire gets bonus points (hello camping).
I’m not going to lie though…I absolutely love the special properties (I’m a terrible camper)! Click the link to see some of our favourite unique lodges around the world.
The Bucket List Stuff
Eventually, we were able to start ticking off some big bucket list items like Machu Picchu, The Galapagos, the Atacama Desert and even the blue ice caves of Iceland. On one crazy trip we even did a ski trip to Chile during our North American summer.
Note: Although I hate waiting, we deliberately put off visiting some of these destinations until we felt that our kids were old enough to fully enjoy, appreciate and actually remember the adventures.
Some of the experiences we wanted to have as a family also required that the kids be of a certain age. I pretty much had a minimum age to visit travel schedule tattooed to my arm.
We Are Ski Tourists
We are and have always been ski tourists. What I mean by that, is that we love trying out a new mountain each season, when possible.
We have also always been absolutely bananas for special wildlife viewing experiences. Nothing will have us leaping out of bed at 4:30am like the opportunity to see parrots feeding on a clay cliff in the Peruvian Amazon or a pod of dolphins frolicking in the sea in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
Staying closer to home in British Columbia this past summer allowed us to see our first black bear in the wild. Naturally, this made us want to see more bears – later planning a grizzly bear watching trip to B.C.’s Bella Coola Valley.
I have such grand plans for our future wildlife adventures. I am desperate to swim with whale sharks off of the Ningaloo Reef in Australia, I’m dying to watch the Great Migration in the Serengeti and I’m dreaming about kayaking with beluga whales in northern Manitoba, Canada.
For the moment, however, we will stay close to home until it is our time to travel again.
A Hiking Family
With international travel curbed, we have been trying to become a hiking family (the perfect distanced activity). We started off slowly with some easy hikes near Vancouver and have been slowly progressing towards bigger ones.
Now with young teens in our lives, I find that hiking is great for conversation. In somewhat unsettling and confusing times, it’s nice to be able to tap into where their heads are at (and explain to them that Instagram is not a great news source).
While a lot has changed over the years, one thing that has stayed the same is how much I love helping with and hearing about your travel plans.
I also wanted to share with you this little video of some of our adventures. I hope it provides you with some travel inspiration. Yes, you can have grand adventures with kids in tow! We are living proof!