Buffalo Travel Bloggers, Sarah and Matt Carson have been traveling ever since they first met. Throughout their relationship and during the early years of their marriage, Sarah and Matt traveled all over the world, exploring many countries and enjoying new experiences. Then, they happily welcomed their first baby and soon found themselves needing to adapt. We caught up with them to talk trips and tips when traveling with children!
The places you have been are incredible! How did you first become interested in travel?
SC: When we were first married, we had a passion in us to travel. Thinking back to which trip gave us the “travel bug,” I believe it was a trip to Florida we planned one winter. The airline we had booked with went under, but we still both had the time off. We scrambled to find last minute flights, and Matt realized it was the same price to go to London. This was the perfect opportunity to go, so we just went!
MC: The best way to get over the fear of traveling out of the country is to simply do it! Sarah and I both came from different upbringings. My family never traveled internationally, whereas her family, her grandmother in particular, had been everywhere! I had always wanted to travel more, and she had the go-ahead and family buy-in, which is important. Things just came together!
Wow, London! How did that trip influence future journeys?
SC: We realized that London had the same essentials as here. All places do, and it didn’t have the language barrier, although it is true many other countries also speak English.
MC: After London, I don’t think we even considered traveling in the States anymore. We kept going to more and “harder” places until we realized we could do this. We took advantage of every opportunity to get away and travel outside of the country.
How did travel change for you when your first baby came along?
SC: Actually, not much changed for about the first year. You can put your baby in a stroller and still visit restaurants and cafés, and walk around the city. In fact, a stroller holds your water bottle, your purse, and is a good way to keep your younger kids safely contained. When our third child, our daughter, was born, we brought her along to Paris, and it was better! Having her along, we were moved to the front of the line at airports, museums, and other attractions. It was so easy. She just slept all day. Although there was that one time at a Michelin star restaurant…
MC: Dylan, our 6-year-old, is a little more vocal. We still want to wander around a city, but we also need to find playgrounds for him. We rent cars a lot more often too because a car can function as a home base where your kids can eat, sleep, and get changed. Food can also be a challenge. We went to Japan, and I think that was Dylan’s favorite trip because he had McDonald's almost every day!
So, why make the extra effort?
SC: Trips are great opportunities to focus completely on our children. We have noticed their vocabulary increased during trips, too. I feel it is good for kids to get out of their little bubble. In 2019, we were in Columbia. We ventured out a little more than most people, and we drove through some very oppressed, poverty-stricken areas. It was eye-opening to us, and our kids asked a lot of questions.
MC: Our kids saw how blessed they are. They are learning empathy and understanding. On this trip, we also brought along a tiny wheelchair made by Bella’s Bumbas of Webster. At the airport in Columbia, we met up with a little girl named Isabella and her family. They were so happy. It was the sweetest thing for us to experience with our kids.
What is one piece of advice that you can give to parents traveling with kids?
SC: It has been good for me as a person; I’ve become much more patient and flexible. Similarly, it is also good for the kids to learn to go with the flow. It is fun to be flexible. Travel is an exciting adventure!
MC: You have to adjust your expectations. Before kids, we would make plans and feel as though we had to accomplish those things for our trip to be worth it. Now, we stop at a hotel if they are overly tired. We walk away from long lines and do something different. We know if something doesn’t work out this time, we can try again next time.
Can’t get around the world now? Check out Sarah C’s local travel suggestions.
What are some of your favorite travel destinations around New York State?
SC: Yes, one might think with all the places we have been, New York would be boring, but there is so much to do! We visited Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, the Adirondacks, the Catskills, the Finger Lakes, Chautauqua Lake, the Hudson Valley, and more. We really enjoyed our time in the Thousand Islands last year. We stayed at the 1000 Island Harbor Hotel in Clayton and took a foliage boat tour in Alexandria Bay. We loved it, and the kids loved the boat ride!
MC: We started dating in NYC, and it is our most favorite city in the world. Our kids love it too with all the cars, bicycles, and lights everywhere. There is just so much to see, constant entertainment, and lots of playgrounds. We also love Letchworth with its hiking trails and waterfalls. We went last fall when we were getting the travel bug out of our system. We also stayed there, which was a lot of fun. Our kids love outdoor activities. We enjoyed everywhere we have been in New York State more than we thought we would.
Where we stayed: Chautauqua Harbor Hotel- Only 1.5 hours from Buffalo with a gorgeous waterfront view. Amenities include mini golf, outdoor pool, indoor pool & hot tub, outdoor seating with firepits and a playground right across the street.
Things to do: The National Comedy Center, Lucy/Desi Museum, Jamestown Children’s Museum, Southern Tier Brewery
Where we ate: Lakeview Lounge & Grille- This restaurant is located right at the hotel and is kid friendly, and delicious! Enjoy a gorgeous view of the lake. Tip: Take the kids for a walk while waiting for food or play a quick game of mini golf.
Where we stayed: Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton, NY- The hotel sits on a beautiful piece of waterfront property that used to be an old snowplow factory. We love the location because the waterfront is so breathtaking and it is right in the center of the cutest walkable town.
Things to do: Thousand Island Boat Tour, River Walk, Wooden Playground
Where we ate: Seagrille Restaurant, Koffee Kove Restaurant, Lyric Coffee Shop, Woodboat Brewery- There are so many wonderful restaurants, cafés & shops in walkable distance.
Couples Staycations in Buffalo, NY
It’s also important to get a night away with your spouse! Here are some of our favorite local places to do an overnight stay.
• The Roycroft Inn, East Aurora
• The Westin Buffalo
• Hotel Henry, Buffalo
• The Reikart House, Williamsville
• The Mansion on Delaware
6 Easy Travel Tips for Your Next Family Trip!
Make the most of travel time. Taking trips with your kids is doable and beneficial. Time spent traveling is one of my favorite parts–especially flying because I am literally sitting right next to my child with no distractions. We can sing songs, read books, and just spend time together. Our kids behave better, too!
Book hotels that have breakfast. These hotels are usually more relaxed. Our kids could show up in their pajamas! Our family usually fills up on the included breakfast. Also, for greater flexibility, find hotels as you go; that way you can stop along the way if you are too tired to continue. There usually isn’t a need to book ahead within the U.S.
Don’t fall prey to screen guilt. I was totally a granola mom who was never going to let my children have screen time, and we still do not allow our kids to use their tablets in our home…ever, but my philosophy evolved over time. We now have a rule—and I swear by this—when we go on vacation, our kids have unlimited tablet time. They love travel time. It works out very well!
Skip the sit-down restaurants. Is trying to keep your children sitting politely for an hour or more worth it? Instead, we fill up on breakfast in the morning, usually at our hotel. For lunch and dinner, we stop and pick up portable foods: a sandwich, a salad, etc. If we do eat in and one of our kids has a meltdown, we take them outside to calm down. It is good for them to understand social norms, what is expected of them, and when their behavior is unacceptable.
Plan for playground stops. In places like NYC, playgrounds are everywhere. That helps a lot. Other areas take a little searching to find your playground stops. Take the time to identify area playgrounds and plan free time for your kids to run, climb, and burn off some energy.
Give at least one day off for jet lag. We traveled to South Africa with our kids and arrived in the middle of the night. At 3am, I remember, our son crawled out of his sleep tent with his little brother, and we were still exhausted. We had to just go with the flow. That first day after traveling, we recommend not planning anything–don’t even take photos! By the time you get home, you won’t remember those difficulties, just all the amazing times you had.