What’s it like to explore South America with kids? Meet my lovely interviewee- an American mom, an author of several beautiful books for early readers, and an avid explorer, Amelia! She travels South America with her adorable son and shares her experience, tips and tricks for other families on Instagram and her Youtube channel.
Enjoy this interview, and, who knows, maybe it will inspire you to relocate to South America with kids too!
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Please tell us about yourself and Sam.
Sam is a nonverbal 6-year-old boy. And he has *always* been the easiest child. Even as a newborn, Sam rarely cried. I would constantly bother the pediatrician that Sam was getting up in the middle of the night or from a nap without a peep. He would just hang out until I came to him. And now, as a 6-year-old, he is so flexible, kind, and thoughtful. Which really makes all the difference in our lifestyle. When I think about the fact that Sam is sleeping in a new bed, going to a new church, and seeing new faces all the time… it’s incredible that he absolutely struts through this world 🙂
What inspired you to travel with your son?
His face! I not only didn’t own a passport before Sam, but I was one of those typical Americans that was proud of the fact that I didn’t travel internationally. I used to joke that I would never want to have to know where an Embassy is or to explain that I was an American. But from that very first “hello” in the delivery room, I immediately wanted to show my prince every inch of this planet. I literally searched how old kids had to be for National Geographic Tours in the postpartum recovery room that night! Which also hints at how much I didn’t know about travel… thinking I had to use a tour service, lol.
What have been some of your favorite experiences while traveling?
I love watching Sam get love and attention from strangers and new friends! When we got to South America, I saw a huge shift in how men reacted to Sam. Perfect strangers would pat him on the head or tickle him. I love that physical touch with kids you don’t know is culturally appropriate down here!
How has being a single mom influenced your travels?
We’ve had a few funny experiences because I’m a single mom. We were in a remote village north of Lima, Peru, for a month, and a few nights into our stay, a neighbor came over to offer help. In broken English, he kept saying “husband duties” until finally, he blurted, “You no husband, I kill spiders!” A handful of times, our Airbnb host or neighbor has offered to help me with things that a husband normally does. It’s very sweet.
What are your tips for other single parents considering traveling with their children?
Safety is obviously the top priority. I don’t date or flirt or have any guests of any kind at any time. Even perfectly safe friends from church. I keep our exact Airbnb location just to ourselves. While we are out and about, I don’t mention that I’m a single mom. In a crowd, I might even lie about my husband this or that. You never know who is listening, and you are already a target as a tourist.
Researching customs and laws is important. There are a handful of countries that would be unsafe for us as a family because we don’t have a male chaperone. And you want to be sensitive to the fact that your lifestyle might be offensive. For example, in many countries where fertility treatments are not accessible to single women, I would be extra cautious to share that I used fertility treatments to conceive in those countries.
How have you managed to make the financial aspects of your travels work for you and your family?
I started making money online in 2002, so the finances weren’t as big of a struggle for me as it is for others. However, combining our travel to our family business has been a game changer. In July 2021, we launched our YouTube and Instagram. Now sharing the practical advice we learn along the way directly pays for our travel, and it’s incredible.
What has been the most challenging part of traveling with a child alone?
The toughest days are travel days. There never seem to be enough hands to carry all the luggage and keep a hand free for Sam. I certainly wouldn’t travel faster than what we do now, which is switching countries every 3-6 months, switching Airbnbs every month or two. I see other families getting on planes every couple of weeks, and my head explodes.
What inspired you to write books for early readers featuring your son’s adventures?
I’m passionate about helping American families make the transition to full-time travel. And for families like ours that travel “for kids,” not just “with kids,” I wanted to provide early readers that would help their kids wrap their heads around this digital nomad thing. I also really like that we included end-of-chapter questions to help boost reading comprehension. I want our books to be something that starts conversations, not just tells a story.
How did you manage to balance parenting and writing books while traveling?
Thankfully Sam has always been a good sleeper! I only work when Sam is sleeping or otherwise occupied. The moment he wakes up, I close my laptop, and we have our daily adventures. He gets outside and plays until exhaustion every single day. I can be fully present for him when we are out and about and get all my work (and my me time!) done while he is resting.
Please tell me about the process of writing and publishing those books. Where can we purchase them?
I wrote these books the old-school way with sticky notes and lots of planning. I love how the themes all tie together. Our current series has a total of 12 books, plus the travel journal. I wanted to make sure the travel journal would stand on its own for people that only wanted to buy that and be tied to the story for those who get the entire series.
The travel journal is a traditional journal with spaces for drawing, reflection, and a keepsake. There are numerous writing prompts about friends you met and special facts about the place you are visiting or have visited. In the stories, Sam is using the same journal, so it’s fun for the kids to explore along with Sam as they do their own travel! Right now, books 1-3 and the travel journal are on sale. They can be found at TravelingSam.com. (20% off any books with a coupon code “RAISINGLITTLETRAVELLERS”)
Which city in South America did you and Sam enjoy the most so far?
Hands down, that would be Santiago, Chile. Man, oh man, from the next level of public transportation to the parks… everything was so cool.
We will definitely go back, and we might even get residency to stay there long-term.
Santiago: Vina Del Mar, Valparaiso, Casablanca & Reñaca Tour
Laguna del Inca and Portillo Small Group Tour
Which city in South America did you find the most family-friendly destination?
People love their children in every country, and so every country has so many kid-friendly places. I think I was surprised the most by Peru because the country is so poor. But if I had to pick my top place, it would be Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I was absolutely floored by the neighborhood parks, the city green spaces, and the maintenance schedule keeping everything so clean and new. It’s really remarkable the amount of money that the city clearly spends to keep things clean and modern. And pretty much everywhere you want to go with your kids is free too!
Fun activities in Buenos Aires!
Empanadas and Alfajores Cooking Experience
Euca Tigre Park Ticket with Van Transfers
Temaiken Biopark Official Tickets
Thank you, Amelia and Sam, for sharing your positive energy and inspiring story! It was a pleasure meeting you and I wish you both wonderful and safe travels full of exciting adventures!
If you enjoyed this interview, check out our Global Parenting interview series!