Sara Blevins family Our Little Lifestyle

Meet: Sarah Blevins, Weekend-Travel Maven

Growing up in Washington state, Sarah Blevins was always on the move. 

“I remember my parents taking us a couple of hours north to the Seattle-Tacoma area for staycations and have such fond memories of those years,” says the professional photographer, family travel blogger at Our Little Lifestyle, and Airbnb super host. As an adult Sara has lived in Illinois, Kansas, and California. Now she and her family—her husband, Matt, and kids Abby and Jake—call Alabama home. 

It’s a great base for exploring the Southeastern United States, which they *love* to do on weekends. “I don’t like to sit still for too long,” Sarah says. “ While I enjoy a weekend at home, by midway through the following week I am jonesing for an adventure.”

We caught up with her to chat about her well-honed packing strategies, the (surprisingly) best travel app, and the lesser-known treasures close to home. 

In three words, our travel style is…

Spontaneous, value, sunshine.

The first trip we took with our kids was…

When Abby was little and we used to take the Amtrak from central Illinois up to Chicago to visit my sister and my friends fairly often. I think it was here that I realized that I can travel solo with them and that sometimes shorter trips are just as rewarding. 

Some of our favorite hidden gems in the South are…

Well, 30A [a scenic road along the Gulf Coast] is the current hot spot in the Florida panhandle and we love spending time down in the Rosemary Beach area. But, if you are looking for a real “Old Florida” experience visit Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas in Gulf County. Also, the Florida State Parks located in Northwest Florida are some of the best that I have ever visited. Make sure to add those to your itinerary when passing through.

Our best family-travel hack is…

Be flexible and look for last-minute deals. Now that our kids are older and in activities, we can’t always plan travel months in advance. I keep a mental bucket list of things that I want to do and places to go and when we have an open window I look for last-minute opportunities to check those off.

My must-have family travel gear is…

Packing cubes and backpacks for everyone!

If I could change one thing about how people travel…

I think that I would encourage people to look beyond the big tourist attractions when traveling. They are often overcrowded and honestly a little stressful to visit in prime season. So, when places are busy we like to look for smaller museums and hidden gems. For the big, busy attractions and destinations, I would suggest traveling to those places in the off season.

The most important lesson my kids have learned from traveling is… 

That there are fun and unique experiences to be had anywhere! 

While I love a big trip every now and then…

We typically focus on smaller towns and under-the-radar communities. We usually visit on long weekends. We are drawn to places with abundant sunshine and close to the water. We always try to rent a boat or book a boat excursion whenever possible.

My favorite place is…

Anywhere I have never been.

The hardest thing about traveling with kids is…

Acknowledging that they may not always have the same interests as we do. Now, we don’t push them to participate in everything, and when possible even let them stay in the room while we have a nice dinner at a hotel restaurant.

We decide where to travel…

Typically by value and ease of travel, since most of our travel tends to be last minute. For larger trips, we look for places where we can check several bucket list items off or where we can find unique experiences specific to the region.

The destinations on my bucket list are…

I want to spend a few weeks in the Bahamas and really explore all of the different islands and communities, preferably by boat. Italy and Greece are very high on our family bucket list. But, our biggest bucket list item is to sail around the world on a catamaran. It’s been my husband’s dream for decades, and we are actually beginning sailing lessons now and are going to do everything possible to make this happen once we get the kids off to college in eight years.

Our packing secret is…

I have the kids lay everything on their bed that they want to bring and then just quickly glance over it. For short trips, we only use one piece of luggage and use color-coordinated packing cubes for each person. For longer trips they each get their own carry-on size bag and it’s 100% their responsibility.

My favorite travel app is…

Instagram. I use it so much when researching travel. I love to look at the location tag and see other people’s recent posts to get a good feel for the area. Especially as we begin to put the pandemic behind us, it really gives me a window into the current status of my destination. But, if talking about travel-specific apps, my top three are Lyft, Travelzoo and Airbnb.

Other families can learn more about us at…

You can catch all of my blog posts at www.ourlittlelifestyle.com! My posts are all very informative but also personal and a great way to get to know our family. We are also on all social media platforms but our main focus is on Instagram at @ourlittlelifestyleblog.

Sara Clemence is a freelance journalist, formerly travel editor for The Wall Street Journal and news director for Travel + Leisure. She's the author of Away & Aware, a guide to mindful travel.

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