Interview with Brianne Manz of Stroller in the City

We’re so happy to have Brianne Manz on Tropic of Candycorn. She is the busy mama behind Stroller In the City.

Brianne, please tell us more about your family.

I live in Battery Park City, in downtown New York City, with my husband, three children, and two dogs. With 3 kids ages 7, 4 and 2, I am certainly one busy mama!

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Travel has always been important to you. How has travel changed since you became a mom?

Travel has been extremely important to me all my life. I think the moment when I discovered that there are so many places out there to see, was when I traveled to Hawaii. It was my freshman year of high school, during spring break, and for the ten-day trip, I was completely enamored by my surroundings, fascinated that such a beautiful place could exist.

Of course once we had children, our travel needs changed. The load you schlep is much heavier, and those hours spent napping on a plane before your destination are now consumed entertaining little ones. It’s definitely a bit more work, but the payoff usually comes once we reach our destination.

It can be pretty stressful getting everyone ready for a trip. How long do you usually prepare for a trip and what is the most difficult part before departure?

Lists, lists and more lists. I typically pack the children’s clothes days before leaving, making certain that all their things fit in one large suitcase. Packing in advance takes away some of the stress. After that, the most difficult part before departure is getting to the airport, with the luggage, a stroller, and three children in car seats. Hopefully, we make it to the airport without the kids forgetting their backpacks.

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Your husband’s work keeps him away often. This means you travel with the kids solo until you can be together, tell us your secret.

The key to traveling alone with 3 kids is organization, so I am not putting too much stress on myself. Just last week, while visiting Vermont, my husband had to fly to California for work. That left me solo on a five-hour drive home with the kids. I made sure they all had their water bottles and snacks close by, and their iPads were loaded with new games and movies. To my surprise, we only stopped twice.

Do strangers ever offer to help?

Sometimes when I’m in the subway, a stranger will offer to carry my stroller up the stairs.

What’s the dumbest thing a stranger has said to you while traveling with your kids? 

I actually don’t think anything. I always keep my head down and focus on my children when traveling. On one of Gemma’s first flights, she couldn’t handle the air pressure during landing, and she screamed like none of my children had ever screamed in all my years as a mom. Once we landed, I definitely got a few looks from some of the passengers, but I just ignored them.

And the nicest thing a stranger ever said to you while traveling with your kids?

In April, I traveled to California alone with the kids. Many passengers on the flight, including some other moms remarked how brave I was for doing that trip alone. I guess it felt nice that they recognized I was alone, and had everything completely under control for 6 hours in the air.

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How do you pick where you will go with three young children in tow?

I think the past few trips we’ve taken have been on our list of destinations for quite some time. Plus, since I am writing about family travel, I often get approached by organizations, asking me to review their hotel. Next year, we are planning a trip to Europe for the summer.

You recently returned from St. Barths. From the photos, the trip was picture perfect. What was your favorite part?

St. Barths will forever hold a special place in my heart. The island was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and our stay at Le Guanahani really made our entire trip! We had an ocean front, two-bedroom villa with a private swimming pool. It felt like our family had the entire island to ourselves. I was so grateful to experience the island with my family, especially with such young children.

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What was the hardest part?

I’d say the hardest part of our St Barths trip was the ferry boat ride from St. Maarten. We opted for the ferry, rather than the quick flight from island to island, because we thought the kids would get a kick out of the ride. Unfortunately, the trip was rather choppy and the kids felt nauseous.

Traveling with five people can be really expensive. What advice do you have for others who want to travel with their kids, but are worried about the expense?

Traveling with five can definitely get pricey. If you plan your trips way in advance, and search for deals on flights, sometimes you can save quite a bit of money — especially if your travel is flexible by a day or two. And of course, rack up those airline miles whenever you can with credit card programs and airline frequent flyer incentives. If you are not traveling too far, driving can be cost effective; there’s no need to purchase airfare or spend on rental cars to get to your destination.

What do you hope your kids will remember from the trips you take?

I hope my kids remember it all. I’m so grateful that they’ve already experienced so many wonderful places. I love that they take in the culture, and I hope their love for traveling continues to grow.

And perhaps most important, how do you decide whether to take your stroller out of the city and on vacation?

Oh a stroller always comes with us! Our youngest daughter, Gemma, still naps. Usually, my middle daughter will squeeze in a nap or three on vacation. Having a stroller on hand keeps us from being confined to our hotel room so the kids can nap while we at the beach or on the go. We can all enjoy our vacation.

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