Bianca Bujan is an award-winning travel writer with bylines in various print and online publications, including Lonely Planet, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, WestJet Magazine, Montecristo, TripSavvy, BC Living and others. She is also the Editor of WestCoast Families magazine and was a contributing writer for the North Shore Foodie book. We asked for her thoughts on writing about family travel and being a writer and editor as a mom of 3. Here’s what she had to say:
Your articles have been published in the likes of The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine magazine and other prominent media outlets. How did you get started in travel writing?
After 15 years in marketing, I made a career change to full-time freelance writing, editing and consulting. At first, my writing was focused on parenting (I have a weekly syndicated parenting column in some local newspapers) and corporate content created for my small business clients.
Then one day I was invited on a press trip to visit Big White Ski Resort and cover my visit for BC Living. I loved the experience of exploring a new destination and then sharing my adventures with my readers. I was instantly hooked!
Since then, I’ve strengthened my pitching skills and expanded my audience, contributing travel stories for publications across Canada, the US and into the UK.
You’ve written a lot about family travel with your 3 children. In your travels so far, what destinations have been the most memorable, and why?
While I’ve loved our travels together as a family of 5, I’ve also tried to make an effort to take separate one-on-one trips with each of my children each year. It’s a great way to connect with each other and really focus in on their individual interests.
A memorable trip last year was a road trip across Southern Arizona with my son. We travelled from Phoenix down to Tombstone, exploring castles and caves, and staying on dude ranches where he tried horseback riding for the first time. We bonded over new experiences and really connected as mother and son.
As a professional writer, wife, mom and traveller, how do you balance it all? Do you stick to a routine every day?
It takes a strong support system and lots of cooperation within the family to make it all work! Plus, I’m organized (almost to a fault) and live for routines.
I do a lot of my travels on my own, an option that wouldn’t be possible without the support of my husband, who has taken time off work to make my trips possible. When I’m not travelling or writing about my travels, I’m juggling my other work as a magazine editor and a marketing and communications consultant, all while shuttling my kids to and from all of their extracurricular activities.
I keep myself on track with lots of lists, allocated time for each project, and lots of late-night work sessions where I can write without interruption. My plate is always full, but I love it.
If you could go back to just one destination again for the food alone, where would it be and why?
I’d love to go back to Barbados for their drool-worthy Bajan fish cakes! I loved them so much that I brought a bag home with me – all the way to Vancouver. Somehow, they managed to stay fresh. Everywhere I go, I fall in love with the cuisine there. I find that it’s a great way to connect with the culture, especially if you visit the local food spots. I’ve written a post on my website on 5 of the foods that will make you want to travel to try them, but I’m sure more destinations could be added to this list.
What do you typically consider when planning a family vacation? Do you have a checklist you go through or specific things you look for to help decide your destination?
With 3 kids of varying ages and interests, it can be challenging to find destinations and activities that will please everyone. When I consider a place for a family vacation, I try to make sure that it has something for everyone.
I’m currently planning a big family trip to the South of France, and I’m making sure that we see and do things that will appeal to each of us. We chose France because I speak a little French, and we thought that, for our first visit to Europe, it would be nice to go somewhere that has a few familiar landmarks for our kids (the Eiffel Tower will definitely be a highlight). We’re visiting a city (Paris), the countryside (Avignon), and the coast (Nice) so we can get a little taste of everything the country has to offer.
What’s one thing parents with young children can do to make travel more enjoyable for the whole family?
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you really shouldn’t try to pack too much into a single trip with little ones in tow. When we first discussed a visit to Europe, I wanted to squeeze in visits to 3 different countries, but a friend and fellow travel writer advised me otherwise. They suggested that we take more time to see one country, visiting one big attraction per day, with lots of free time and downtime planned as well.
You have a golden ticket to anywhere in the world and a sitter booked for a week – where do you go?
Greece has been at the top of my travel bucket list for quite some time now, so I’d definitely go there. But I would avoid the big touristy cities and opt instead for some quieter, off-the-beaten-path towns. I once read a book by Leonard Cohen on his time living in Greece and would love to trace his footsteps.
You can find more of Bianca’s travel stories at her website, Bitsofbee.com. Let us know in the comments below where you’d go with your own golden ticket to anywhere in the world!