a blog for everyone and their mothers

Family Holiday Travel Tips


Susan and Justine take breathtaking family holiday travel trips since they are a professional mom/daughter traveling team. They share their family holiday travel tips with us... especially those about traveling with teens and travel for teens, since Justine, the daughter 1/2 of the team is a teen and has learned from her mom, Susan, a long-time member of the travel media. Susan was a travel editor at the Condé Nast Publications and then went on to write freelance travel pieces for many magazines and newspapers including Vogue, Travel and Leisure and The New York Times. A little over two years ago, she started FarewellTravels.com, which was originally? designed? as a travel site that provided ideas and recommendations for travelers. Since starting the site, the company has grown and is now a travel concierge, continuing to provide ideas and recommendations but also providing referrals as well as opportunities to book and save on travel all over the world.

PopCosmo: What made you decide to start your own travel company?

Susan: I had been in traditional media for many years and found my freelance outlets drying up so I decided to start my own digital outlet, as a place to write about my travels. Right out of the gate, I wanted to have several columnists and wanted a teen’s voice. Teens are huge influencers in a family’s travel choices. I didn’t have to look very far because Justine was 12 and had become an excellent traveler. We also didn’t have much trouble coming up with a name for her column, as her name is Justine and we instantly thought -? Just-Teens Travel. It seemed like a natural.

PopCosmo: When Justine was a baby, were you able to take her with you on your travels?

Susan: We did take Justine with us everywhere but when she was very young, we traveled mostly domestically and specifically in the northeast, where we live. It was easier to throw all the baby paraphernalia in the car rather than pack for plane travel.

PopCosmo: If you could guess, how many trips have you taken?

Susan and Justine: ? Too many to count! ? It varies from year to year, but in general, for family holiday travel, we usually take 3 major trips and several (maybe 4-6) weekends. It's not TOO much travel, but often the trips will be long, typically a few weeks.

PopCosmo: Susan, can you provide advice to teens how to break into the travel industry or begin travel blogging?

Susan: The travel industry is huge so it’s important to identify what it is you like about travel. I personally love to travel and my first role model for travel writing was a woman named Despina Mesenessi. She was the travel editor of Vogue magazine for many years. I remember seeing her columns when I was a teenager and thinking I wanted to do what she did. She wrote glamorously about places like Zihuatanejo and the South of France.? For teens, I suggest finding a couple of travel sites or blogs you like and read them regularly. After you feel you know their voice well, consider sending them a short note asking if you could be a guest columnist. Maybe send a couple of ideas of what you could write about.

PopCosmo:? How long have you been traveling as mother/ daughter work team?

Susan: Well, we’ve traveled together for Justine’s entire life (she’s now 15) and even early on, though she didn’t write or take pictures, she helped with my work. She would test all the kid programs for me. She also recalled many details I might have forgotten. So when I’d be writing about a restaurant in Maine, for example, I’d ask her what she remembered and she’d say something like “the little hummingbird that kept buzzing outside the breakfast window.”? She started writing for the site when I started it.

PopCosmo: Justine, when did you start taking an interest in writing about your travels?

Justine: In middle school. Before that, my mom had to beg me to write about my experiences, but then I actually found that I liked it.

PopCosmo: Do you want to follow in your mom's footsteps?

Justine: ? I don’t know if I’d want to pursue travel, but maybe something involving writing or photography.

PopCosmo: Is it just the 2 of you on trips, or does the whole family go on vacation?

Susan: ? FarewellTravels is a family business and it includes my husband, Tom Seligson. He is also a writer and editor for the site. Beyond that though, he’s also a TV producer and produces an adventure travel series called Born to Explore for ABC. ? We venture out together for family holiday travel sometimes, but often, it’s Justine and myself or I travel alone or Tom and I go someplace.

PopCosmo: Has Justine considered writing for other publications?

Susan: Justine has written for National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog. ? She is also a cub reporter and photographer at our town’s newspaper.

PopCosmo: Justine, what are your favorite classes in school?

Justine: Digital darkroom, Latin, and who doesn’t love a free period.

PopCosmo: Least favorite classes?

Justine: Math.

PopCosmo: Do you travel on breaks, or sometimes miss school?

Justine: Very rarely have I missed school because of travel. We try to do our travel together on vacations or long weekends for family holiday travel.

PopCosmo: Are you light packers... and any packing tips?

Justine: No we are not light packers! While you would expect very experienced travelers to pack smartly, we don’t. I wrote a column about my family’s packing issues.

Susan: The one packing tip I have is that you should pack at least two days in advance of a trip. Allow yourself one day to remember something you might have forgotten. Inevitably, if I pack the night before a trip, I forget something.

PopCosmo:? Where are your favorite places you have visited?

Susan and Justine: ? We agree about many? places but not all.? For a city, we both love New York City for so many reasons. But we also feel that it’s our city because we live close and go there often.? For hiking: Austrian Alps; for the beach/islands: Greek Islands; for? food: Justine says Austria, Susan says Denmark; for adventure: Botswana and Zambia; for skiing: Justine loves Big Sky, Montana, and so does Susan, but Susan also likes Utah and Banff for downhill and for cross-country, plus many places in the Eastern US (Jackson, NH; Adirondacks, NY).

PopCosmo: ? Places you would like to go that you haven't been?

Susan and Justine: We both haven’t been but want to get to New Zealand.

PopCosmo: Experiences or adventures you would like to have?

Justine: I’d love to see the summer Olympics at some point.

Susan: There are many festivals in India I’d like to go to.

PopCosmo: What trip of a lifetime would you recommend for a family but wants a trip of a lifetime on a budget?

Susan: Justine and I discussed this and agree that it really depends on the family’s interests. Some families love boating; others like hiking. Some like cities; others prefer natural attractions. I think the national parks are always a great choice—I especially love Yellowstone.? Outside the US, on a budget—again, depends on interests. But there are many wonderful places to explore right nearby in Canada.

PopCosmo: ? And same thing without any budget constraints?

Susan: We recently spent a couple of weeks in Austria, visiting Salzburg and the Tryolean region to the west and Innsbrook. It’s a perfect fit for families with teens—there’s music, culture, and history but also a lively contemporary life, great food and seriously fun outdoor adventures. Here’s a piece I wrote about visiting Austria with a Teen.

NOTE: Justine welcomes guest teen columnists to contribute to Just-Teens Travel. Click here? for the most recent and links to previous columns.