We are a family of four. My name is Claire and I am a teacher and my husband, Jay, is an entrepreneur. Our kids, Matthew (12) and Andrew (9) obviously, are our pride and joy. When Jay and I got married in 2004, we planned on travelling the world! However, Matthew came sooner than expected and our travelling plans were postponed. Not too long though, our work schedules has given us an opportunity to travel with our kids, locally in the U.S and some parts of Canada.
You can follow the Tsao family and their adventures on Instagram: @mattyandytravels
RJ: What is your current travel journey and what inspired you to start it?
Our current travel journey, or goals, is to take the boys to all fifty states, before they get to high school. Currently, we have been to 30 states! It all started with my husband’s business trips and when he was taking his Executive MBA courses at Cornell University. He often took us along for the ride and adventure! That also inspired our #Tsaofamilyadventures.
Travelling within the United States have given us the opportunity, as parents, to teach our children about geography and history. Social Studies and history have been easier for the boys to comprehend and make connections since we have been to the places where Junipero Serra started the California Missions and/or where the Revolutionary War took place – for example.
RJ: What are some of the pros and cons you have experienced whilst traveling?
Travelling as a family started out very challenging, especially when the boys were much younger. However, it got easier throughout the years. We started our trips as early as when the boys were toddlers and each trip became more and more bearable than the previous ones.
I would think that there are more pros and cons when traveling. Some pros are: worldly experience – even as adults, my husband and I are still learning about the different places we visit. Cons: expenses – especially when you like to eat!
RJ: What advice would you give to those wanting to travel as a family?
Lots of advice!
Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. Parents are not obligated to buy souvenirs – the only souvenirs the boys get are those from penny machines. We trained them at an early age! Now, they wouldn’t even ask to buy anything when we are in a souvenir store.
Part of our quest for the fifty states is to visit at least one university in each state,
#mattyandycollegetours. I believe we have been to more than 40 colleges and universities! This makes watching NCAA sports fun and exciting. Our family gets heavily involved in creating brackets for March Madness!! After we tour the campus, the boys get a pennant from that school. So, they have a collection of college pennants as well – and those can get pricey.
When the kids were smaller, I used to have them keep travel journals where they would write about their adventures. I say “used to” because they haven’t written about our trips lately. I think it is mainly because we do so much in one day that they get overwhelmed. So, instead of writing, they record our trips using their iPads.
To have the boys remember the states and their capitals, we also try to visit the state capitol! Most of the time, they are open to the public for tours. This is the perfect opportunity for us to teach them about history, important figures in office, as well as politics.
Plan out trips using sites such as TripAdvisor and Google Maps. You can get detailed driving times from one spot to the next! I do most of the planning and legwork for our trips and I found that planning in detail keeps your trip more adventurous and you will definitely not waste time.
RJ: What inspired you to start this trip?
The boys are mostly our inspiration to travel. Learning about the world first-hand is definitely better than learning them in books.
RJ: How old you were you when you first went overseas?
My husband and I are both immigrants. Jay and his family moved to the U.S., from Taiwan, when he was two. I immigrated with my family, from the Philippines, when I was 11 years-old. So, I suppose that was the first time I went overseas – does that count? 🙂
RJ: What do you remember about your first travel experience, or what is your first travel memory? Growing up in the Philippines, my parents took us the province every summer. My dad would drive his wife and two young children in his small Volkswagen Beetle for 6 hours, from Manila, to La Union. My brother and I had the best summers in the province, playing with our cousins at the beaches, rivers, and farms. I had the fondest travel and vacation memories with my family, growing up.
My first overseas travel experience, at age 11, was both of excitement and fear. My parents left everything we had in the Philippines in hopes of a better future for me and my brother, in the land of opportunity called America! Our flight, I remember, took forever! My brother and I got so sick in the plane. Although, looking back, Cathay Pacific, was a great airline!
So, my memory in flying a long flight was not a very good experience. That is mainly the reason why we have not taken our boys to Asia yet. However, we see that happening in the near future – maybe this summer!!
RJ: What is something you would never travel without?
We always travel with our passports, especially when we are travelling close to Canada or Mexico. They come in handy in case we want to cross the border. When we went to Detroit last summer, we were able to visit Windsor, Canada because we had our passports with us!! We also travel without Dramamine – in case we get air/car sick; my son, Andrew’s EpiPen (peanut allergies); Advil and Benadryl.
We also always bring our cell phone car chargers for use of Google Maps. Of course, we also always travel with our credit cards!
RJ: Where is the nicest establishment you have stayed? Why was it special?
We usually stay in IHG or Hilton hotels, to accumulate points. Since we are a family with two growing boys, we like to stay in hotels offering free breakfasts. We often stay at Holiday Inn Express just for that reason. Fancy hotels, we are not into, unless my husband splurges. We have been to many in Las Vegas! There are just too many nice establishments to mention! I guess the ones that stick to mind are those where my boys remember the most – indoor swimming, where we can swim as a family; and gym where they can work out with my husband.
RJ: If you could recommend a place to a fellow traveler, where would it be?
I have been trying to recommend to my fellow traveler, my husband, to visit the Philippines!! Although he has visited some countries in Asia for business, he has yet to visit the Philippines. I want to go there as a family so that I can show them the places I have been to, growing up. I also want to teach them life and the culture of the Filipino people. The beaches are divine and 7,000+ islands to explore!
RJ: Describe a culinary experience that stands out from a vacation abroad.
So, watching the Food Network stemmed from our hotel stays. Oftentimes, we would binge watch the Food Network as we relax from our adventures in our hotel rooms. With that said, we love visiting local dives, from Diners, Dive-Ins, and Dives!!! We love to eat, as a family, so we like to eat where the locals eat. I find these places through Yelp or Google. I post them as #tsaofamilyfoodietrip
RJ: What is your idea of an enjoyable vacation?
An enjoyable vacation, for me, is the adventures that we experience as a family. We like to state-hop and drive long distances in search for new adventures. However, when we go to Hawaii. we can chill at the beach the whole day!
RJ: Who would be your ideal travel companion?
My travel companion are my husband and two kids. I like to take my parents along for the added help and to also take them to places they have never been to.
RJ: What do you miss the most when you are away from home?
Our own beds!
RJ: What country do you believe to be under-rated? What about overrated?
Under-rated - Ummm, the Philippines. As the saying goes, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” I have yet to take my family there and share our travel experiences to the world to prove that!
RJ: Where is next on your list of places to travel to? Why?
On our list, the remaining twenty states! Why, because Matthew is in 6th grade and our goal is for him to visit all 50 states before high school! Also, my husband has been talking about travelling to China… perhaps this year, and I will definitely include the Philippines in that trip!!
Remember to follow their adventures and enjoy their photography on Instagram: @MattyAndyTravels
#MattyAndyCollegeTours #TsaoFamilyAdventures #TsaoFamilyFoodieTrip