Today we’re bringing you part one of our interview with Millie Minton, who is the mom behind www.gowithdaddy.com. This family is a true inspiration for anyone hoping to raise explorers–not only do they always look for exciting daily adventures, they have also already taken three trips abroad with their young children. In part one, Millie is sharing where they have been, and in part two on Wednesday, she’ll be sharing some lessons and best practices that she has learned. We hope you enjoy their story, and you can follow along with all their adventures on their Instagram account (gowithdaddy)!
Q: Tell us all about “Go With Daddy” and how it got started.
Go With Daddy is all about a family going along with Daddy on business trips to places hither and thither. Daddy is Cory (also known as the “Big Data Beard”) and his work in Big Data has him speaking at conferences and meeting with customers all over the world. He’s been a traveler his whole life and is a road warrior of the highest order, but the idea of doing all the traveling solo is out of the question. Momma is Millie and she is a full time Momma who really enjoys her job. Millie was a traveler as a young woman, choosing overseas exploration in her studies, and her love of adventure is the biggest reason why this family does what it does. Kiddos are Bea and Teddy and they are the best little travelers. Bea got fully immersed in travel life in her first few years of life, racking up more than 40 flights before the age of 2. When Teddy came along, the Go With Daddy adventures really took off…by age 3 Teddy had spent roughly 10% of his life overseas!
The family calls Birmingham, Alabama home and loves it. It’s a charming southern city nestled at the cross roads of their family’s journeys. They chronicle their adventures on Instagram (@GoWithDaddy) and in their blog, www.GoWithDaddy.com. We hope our adventures inspire other families to do the same…be together and be adventurous.
Q: You’ve taken your two young children to Australia once and Europe twice now! Tell us how that came about and what inspired you to travel so far with little ones.
My husband and I have always enjoyed traveling. Soon after we moved to Birmingham, he took a position within his company that had him traveling overseas more often. In 2015, his company enacted a Parental Leave Benefit (four weeks of paid vacation) and made it retroactive if you had a child in 2014. So, we mixed this four weeks of vacation with a couple weeks of Cory working to make a six-week trip to Australia when our children were 15 months and 3 years old. Our children did such an amazing job traveling that we kept our ears open for more opportunities to “Go With Daddy.” My husband was invited to speak at a number of conferences and our trip last fall came up quickly. Having taken a six-week trip overseas the year earlier, we knew we could pull off a three-week trip since we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel on preparation, packing and planning. We took a third overseas trip earlier this summer for six weeks to Europe; the older our children get (our son turned 3 on this last trip and our daughter was almost five) the easier each trip becomes.
We have always traveled a lot as we lived a flight away from all family when our daughter was born. My husband traveled mostly domestic trips at that time and had racked up the points as a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards A-Lister (https://www.southwest.com/rapidrewards/overview?clk=GSUBNAV-RR-DETAILS). They have one of the best domestic travel rewards programs giving him a companion pass on each flight he took and (with all airlines) a child under two travels free as lap child. So, my daughter took almost 50 flights before she turned two with SWA (hence the feature in their external and internal magazines). It was always so fun to travel with her and now adding our son as you see completely different things from their point of view. So, the two main reasons we take trips are first to broaden their scope of the world. We want to teach them that the way we do things in Birmingham, AL is great but it’s not the only way. The second being, it affords us more time as a family, when otherwise my husband would be traveling and us at home.
Q: What was your itinerary for each trip (cities, number of days)? Did you have any overlap between the two trips?
Our first European family trip was only three weeks; after we took younger children on a six-week trip to Australia, this amount of time felt short! All of our trips mostly include cities where my husband worked…ie the reason we get to “Go With Daddy”! However, we try to bookend our travels and take some long weekends in cities where we can all explore.
Here was our itinerary for our first European trip last fall:
3 days in *Paris – This was an all play city! We arrived at 2pm on a Friday afternoon and we soaked in the sites of Paris for 2.5 days before taking the Chunnel to London. When we have less time in a city and it’s our first taste of it with the children, we ride the City Sightseeing (https://city-sightseeing.com/en/home) as kids 3 and under are free and 4-13 year olds are half off. This helped us hit the major highlights (Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Seine River and Champs Elysees) in less time.
4 days in *London – Cory worked here so our days look a lot different when it’s just the three of us. I get my exercise pushing two children in a stroller! While Cory worked, we walked through parks (Kensington, St. James and playing in Princess Diana Memorial Playground), rode the Tube, rode the London Eye, saw a children’s play, hunted for Paddington Bear and walked across the Tower Bridge. Before we left, we were able to snag Cory to join us and tour the Tower of London.
3 days in *Amsterdam – This was also an all play city! We took a long weekend to explore Amsterdam. To hit the major highlights here, we took a canal tour, which we thought was quite appropriate, and walked around the city. The next day we joined the locals and rented a European bike where the kids rode in a box on the front then hit four different playgrounds. We also ate as many Amsterdam pancakes as possible.
4 days in *Frankfurt – Again, Cory worked here as most people would say this isn’t a typical destination city. I fell in love with its mix of charm, modernism and walkability! It probably didn’t hurt that we were in a great hotel in the center of it all! On our first German trip, we ate a lot of sausage and schnitzel, found more playgrounds, Trick or Treated, visited the zoo and Natural History Museum (written in all German), explored the downtown sites with old half-timber buildings, oldest suspension bridge and church chimes. In this city, I also did laundry which is inevitable if you’re going for a few weeks.
5 days in Bavaria – The rest of our trip concluded Cory’s work and it was vacation time! We rented a car and drove down the Romantic Road. Not before we bought booster seats! In Europe, there is no cap on car seat/booster rentals so it was less expensive to buy new ones (since we didn’t want to haul them from America this time). Our first stop was Wurzburg to see the Residentz; the gardens were definitely more exciting for the kids than the inside of the sprawling castle. Rothenburg ob der Tauber for the most picturesque town I’ve ever seen! Here we took a night watchman tour, walked around the town and on the wall (in the rain) and ate in a building dating back to 900. We drove on through quaint towns (Dinkelsbuhl and Nordlingen) and onto Augsburg which is a bigger city with a university. Augsburg was close to our destination the next day of the Linderhof Castle. However, we woke up to a snow globe and their first snow of the season! Teddy had never seen snow so this was even more fun for him! We drove to tour Linderhof Castle where we had a private tour! When you travel in the off season, there are pros and cons. This was definitely a pro! Cons are that some things have shorter hours or are closed. We stayed in Fussen that night which is right beside Neuschwanstein Castle. We weren’t able to view it that night due to the early closing but we visited it the next morning. We went early that morning and took a horse and carriage up to the castle; Bea wore her princess costume and felt like the bell of the ball!
4 days in Switzerland – Then we got to see family! I lived in Australia in 2004 with a family and one of the daughters now lives in Switzerland. It took about five hours to drive to Lauterbrunnen where Jess lived. Over the next few days, we played in the snow, took cable car rides, visited a nearby town and soaked in time with Jess and her future in-laws. They treated us like family and cooked all suppers and our last breakfast for us! We have been so fortunate on all three of our trips to see familiar faces with such hospitality.
Here was our itinerary for our second European trip this summer:
6 days in *London – We arrived early Sunday morning so we took a couple hours to rest before we spent a very relaxing day roaming around Kensington Gardens. The kids got to play in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground again and show Cory all about it. It was really fun to have some overlap cities from our trip in the fall so it could reiterate our travels. This trip we rode on the big red double decker bus, visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, London Transport Museum, London Zoo, a playground and saw a couple repeat things including Paddington Bear and London Eye. We also rode the Chunnel again this time to Paris.
5 days in *Paris – Cory also worked in Paris but we did plan a weekend to enjoy the city together first. We had a bit of a hiccup when we arrived when the hotel wouldn’t allow all four of us to stay in the ‘family’ room we had booked. With Cory, we visited both Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg with great playgrounds, ate at amazing cafés, saw the lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower, trained to Disneyland Paris, hit Roland Garros (French Open tennis tournament) and Chateau de Versailles. The last two items we got to enjoy with our cousins (from Nashville, TN) who were also in Europe traveling!
4 days in Berlin – It was mostly work for Cory here. I say mostly because a colleague of his showed us so much hospitality at dinner two different nights with his entire family. We went to a children’s museum and Berlin Zoo without Cory. Then he joined us to see the main, kid-friendly highlights of Bradenburg Gate, Reichstag, East Side Gallery and Check Point Charlie.
5 days in *Amsterdam – On to another work city for Cory while we enjoyed this kid-friendly place. However, the first couple of days Cory had to fly Spain to work so we were on our own. Luckily, we were at the same hotel as we had been in the fall so it helped me navigate the area a little easier. We hit some familiar places in Vondel Park, visited NEMO Science Museum and Royal Palace of Amsterdam, had a down day in the hotel room and did more laundry.
2 days in Athens – Next was the vacation part of our trip! We had never been to Greece so we again rode the sight-seeing bus to explore the Acropolis, Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Mt. Lycabettus.
7 days in Corfu – Next was more vacation on an island of Greece with friends! This part of the trip was spent enjoying friends while at the many amazing beaches, swimming at the pool or riding boats to see caves. We also viewed the island from overlooks, ate delicious lamb, sampled local wine and olives and attended a traditional Greek Orthodox baptism ceremony of our friends’ precious baby girl.
5 days in *Frankfurt – Back to Frankfurt we go for Cory to work again. We stayed in the same hotel from the fall so again I navigated the city to a nearby playground and the picturesque downtown area before my mom and aunt joined us for the rest of our travels. Teddy also had his birthday here so we celebrated by taking him to the Frankfurt Zoo. With the extra help, we also visited Frankfurt Botanical Gardens.
3 days in Venice – On our long weekend in Venice, Cory was able to play the whole time with us. We rode a boat taxi to St. Mark’s Square where we saw St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Clock Tower, Bell Tower, Peggy Guggenheim Museum and Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge on a gondola ride. It was a wonderful time but not stroller friendly with all the stairs over each side canal.
1 day in Milan – We only had one day in Milan while Cory spoke at the university. Of course, we hopped on the sight-seeing bus to see the cathedral, La Scalia Opera House, Giardini Pubblici, Castello Sforzesco and Arc Della Pace. We had a hard time with American supper hours since they eat much later in Italy than we normally do.
2 days in Pisa/Lucca – Another work town for Cory but we enjoyed ourselves when we saw the Leaning Tower, the cathedral and Battistero. We drove to the neighboring town of Lucca for a relaxing breakfast, stroll, bookstore shopping and gelato.
2 days in Rome – To end our trip, we went to this huge tourist city where we couldn’t possibly see all the sights in our short time frame. But we sure tried when we toured the Vatican Museum seeing the amazing Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum and the Pantheon. We walked down the Spanish Steps, tossed a coin in Trevi Fountain and enjoyed the Campo de Fiori (market). With every Italian city, we enjoyed so much gelato!
*designates cities that overlapped on our two European trips