mags Salvan-Silverio family Disney

Meet: Mags Salvan-Silverio, Disney Maven and Nurse

In 2002 when Mags Salvan-Silverio and her husband, Anthony, migrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, travel was hardly the first thing on their minds. 

Their first child, Jarod, was born shortly after the family arrived. They spent the first years of his life adjusting to their new lives in a small Mississippi town. 

Their first family trip in the U.S. was to Disney World in Florida, when Jarod was just a few years old, Mags says. They enjoyed it so much they bought a membership in Disney Vacation Club, the company’s timeshare program, and have returned many times since. 

Today, the family—which includes their anime-loving 11-year-old daughter, Iris—lives in McKinney, Texas. Mags works in the neonatal ICU and as a pediatric nurse, and says it can be hard to get time off around the holiday period to travel. So at the beginning of 2020, she put in a request for leave for next New Year, to make a family travel dream come true for Jarod’s 20th birthday. 

“We’ve never been to Disney around the holidays,,” Mags said. “We’re going over New Year’s to see all the holiday decorations and lights.” They’re planning to make the 12-day adventure a road trip, stopping in new and familiar spots, including Nashville and Gaitlinburg, Tenn., as well as the Mississippi town where Jarod was born. 

Mags shared her secret for keeping her family from getting sick on the road, her favorite Disney hotel for the end of a hectic theme-park week, and some of her early travel memories in the Philippines. 

When I was a kid, our family traveled…

not very much, and I didn’t really get to experience a lot of great vacations because my family was not well-off. But we did visit family members around the country, and those trips were always memorable. Back then the ferries were slower, and we would be traveling for two nights and three days in the ship to get there. I remember that feeling of being in the middle of the sea, being amazed that there were little restaurants on the ship, those kinds of things. My dad’s family lived near a fishing village, so that’s where I fell in love with beaches. I still like beaches more than mountains today. 

In my travel first-aid kit I always carry…

are an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, hydrocortisone cream and Benadryl tablets. If we’re traveling internationally or camping, I get the family to start taking probiotics about two weeks before our departure to help prevent travelers’ diarrhea. 

One of the best parts of travel is…

returning to a place you really love. For us, that’s Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. We’ve only visited twice, So far, we’ve only visited Martha’s Vineyard twice on day trips. I’d love to rent a cottage and spend a few nights with the family. It’s just beautiful. I still remember the hydrangeas in bloom. It’s a place with quintessential Americana, with the preserved old houses and no tall buildings blocking the views. 

One of our favorite Disney spots is…

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, on an Atlantic beach less then two hours southeast of the theme parks. We enjoyed spending a few days relaxing in late-August, when sea turtles hatch on the beaches there. It’s a nice, restful spot with a great spa. We did the parks and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which we loved, then finished our trip on the beach. It was a nice ending to a hectic park trip. 

The next time we go to the Philippines…

my son is really interested in going to Palawan and Coron, where you can rent a private boat and explore the caves and the water is really, really clear. I’m hoping to travel there in 2022 for the 30th anniversary of my nursing college graduation. Many of the people I studied with in the Philippines are in the U.S. now, and we’ve had reunions here, but for our 30th one we really hope to do it in the Philippines. 

From other members, I’d love to get…

Tips for traveling in Europe. nNone of us have been and it’s at the top of our family’s wish list. We want to visit the major cities like London and Paris, but I also hope to see Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We’re big tennis fans, and being in London and Paris for the major tournaments would be a dream. We’d love tips on how to make the most of travels in Europe so we can make that dream come true.

What I hope to share with other members…

is that for me, family travel is an enriching experience and a great way to develop a broader view of places, people and culture. I feel fortunate to have traveled with my family. My husband and I have taken only one trip—when we went to Las Vegas for our anniversary—without the kids along. There is so much to learn along the way. 

Terry Ward is a Florida-based freelance journalist and travel writer.