From Scotland to Stanley via Singapore and Spain, life’s a beach (most of the time) for travel blogger Marianne Rogerson.
I was born in Vanuatu and my children, Jaime (6) and Xander (4), were both born in Singapore. My husband Dougie is from Scotland.
We moved to Hong Kong three years ago after seven years in Singapore. Before that, we lived in my husband’s home town of Edinburgh, Scotland, which is where I also went to university.
I was an expat kid, growing up in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Studying languages at university meant time living in Spain, Portugal and Costa Rica. But while both myself and my husband love Scotland, it was always too cold for me and I was delighted when his job brought us to Asia.
We live in Stanley – we chose Southside for its beaches and family-friendly feel. It’s the first time we haven’t lived in a city centre though so it has taken a bit of getting used to.
I started Mum on the Move to get back into freelance writing after taking time off to have Xander. It’s a travel blog full of destination information, family travel tips and hotel and product reviews, focusing mainly on the Asian and Australian regions. It’s aimed at families who don’t want to let having kids stop them from taking adventurous trips.
My readership grew quickly and unexpectedly. So I have ended up focusing full time on the blog. I think it appeals to expats as I cover a lot of the destinations that we travel to in the region and I do all the research so my readers don’t have to. I try to make my articles as useful as possible – I love it when I see people having a great time when they’ve been inspired by one of my posts.’
Blogging is hard work – it’s not just about the writing. If you want it to be successful, it requires a lot of commitment. It’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint. There’s a steep learning curve and I had to learn a lot of new skills. I’m a jack-of-all-trades. To make it work, you need to be fluent in SEO (search engine optimization) techniques, social media marketing, photo editing, monetization techniques, basic HTML, pitching to brands – I could go on!
Connecting with other bloggers is important. It’s a great way to learn. We have a great community of family travel bloggers across the world and we all learn from each other and support one another. Beginner bloggers often think of other bloggers as their competition when in fact you need to view them as your colleagues.
My most important travel item is my i-phone. One of the downsides of being a travel blogger is that when you are “on holiday”, you are actually working. I need to be constantly documenting everything across social media, taking photos and taking notes, especially if I am being hosted by a hotel or a tour company. I’m usually editing photos over breakfast and posting them to Instagram during a happy hour mojito. My kids now know when we walk into a hotel room that they aren’t allowed to touch anything until I have taken my photos.
Nothing ruins a sight-seeing day more than a whinging child. The most important thing I’ve learned about travelling with kids is to compromise. You don’t have to spend the next ten years tied to beach resorts with kids clubs, but balance is good. We try to do something cultural or adventurous coupled with something fun for the children – maybe going back to the hotel pool, mucking around on the beach or finding a playground somewhere. If there’s a lot of travel involved with a particular day trip, we go armed with lots of snacks and activities (colouring books and so forth) to keep them entertained.
My worst ever travel scenario was flying home from Phuket with a very unwell son.His nappy leaked all over two changes of jeans, he was sick all over my shirt – and to top it all off my daughter fell asleep and wet herself all over my husband’s lap. We had to pass through Hong Kong immigration with my son wearing his sister’s flowery leggings, me covered in vomit and my husband with a large wet patch over his crotch.
This summer we’re heading back to the UK to catch up with family and friends, splitting our time between London and Edinburgh. We’re also hoping to spend some time in Italy before coming back to Hong Kong, and then on to Sydney for a couple of weeks so my husband can work out of his office there. Although having said that I haven’t actually booked anything yet – we tend to be a bit last minute with our planning.
My favourite family holiday destination is Hoi An, Vietnam. It’s got everything you need – beautiful beaches and luxury resorts, but enough fun and adventurous activities too. Plus Vietnamese is my favourite cuisine. We have also had the most amazing family trips to Borneo, Indonesia and Myanmar, but Hoi An is somewhere I would return toover and over again.
When I’m not travelling, I love going to our local beaches, especially Shek O and Cococabana restaurant there. We also have great hikes nearby, the Dragon’s Back is a perfect level for kids. Or we take bikes and scooters to Tai Tam reservoir or to the boardwalk between Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay.
The best thing about Hong Kong is all the travel opportunities. I feel so fortunate to be able to take my kids to experience all these amazing countries and cultures right on our doorstep. The worst thing? The pollution. Ugh.
Check out Rogerson’s latest tips and trips at www.mumonthemove.com.