After a three month break, the Bliss Seekers series is back. Today’s featured bliss seeker is Kirsty Larmour, a portrait photographer friend of mine I met through a photography forum several years ago. Since the closure of the forum we met on, I’ve kept up with Kirsty and her family’s adventures via Instagram, Facebook, and her business blog.
Recently Kirsty shared their 2014 adventures on their family travel blog (part 1 – Finland, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, & Bali | part 2 – the USA, Mexico, and Cuba| part 3 – Abu Dhabi to the UK & Ireland via car through Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and more) that I had already seen snippets of on IG … so I knew she would be a perfect choice for the first Bliss Seekers interview of 2015 for multiple reasons … so without further ado, here’s Kirsty!
For the Route Bliss readers that aren’t familiar with you, tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your interests/passions.
I’m Kirsty, and I’m part of an international little family – I’m British, my husband is Irish – we met in Hong Kong and my 2 daughters were born in China and Abu Dhabi. We’ve lived several places around the world, most recently Abu Dhabi, but we are currently taking a break to travel – we are 6 months in and loving it!
Tell us about your blog, Letters from the Larmours … what inspired its creation?
We travel so much and have done since we met and had children, and I wanted a place to document for my girls the amazing experiences we’ve been lucky enough to have together.
How long have you been blogging (as a photographer and on the LFTL blog)?
As a photographer I’ve been blogging since early 2009 but my Letters form the Larmours blog started in 2011 – we did have a family website before that where I posted pictures of our earlier (and pre-Children) travels. I wish I updated LFTL more often, but if truth be told, I’m too busy just enjoying our time together to be constantly editing pictures and blogging about the experiences – I tell myself I’ll get round to it one day!! 😉
Why do you love to travel?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled since being a small child, and then I needed to for my previous job as an environmental consultant (my first placement after university was an environmental research station in the Borneo rainforest!) and I just loved experiencing different places and how people live around the world… luckily for me I met someone else who felt the same!!
You’ve traveled quite a bit, share some of the destinations you’ve been to so far …
Well I met my husband in Hong Kong – we then both worked in various countries around Asia and visited each other when we were apart. We lived in China when our first daughter arrived and travelled a lot around with her, taking overnight trains and busses to get to far to reach places as well as flying to some neighbouring countries. We then moved to the Middle East which opened up a whole new area of travel. Within the first year after having our second daughter we travelled to Jordan, Syria, The UK and Ireland and India, as well as a road trip to Oman. Since then we’ve covered a lot more of the world, but still have South America and Africa to explore, as well as the the whole of Australiasia to see as a family. We also went to the Holi festival in India 2 years ago which was amazing (follow this link to see a video of it) and one of our favourite destinations as a family was Angkor Wat in Cambodia – the children were in their element having all those jungle temples to explore – I highly recommend getting to some off the beaten track
What was the first trip you took as an adult?
When I was 18 a friend and I went Interrailing across Europe for a month. We were lucky enough that Eastern Europe was just opening up and ventured to Czechosolvakia (as it still was), Hungary and Poland amongst other places
Your family is big into traveling … did that begin when your children were born or did you and your husband do a lot of traveling pre-children?
My husband and I travelled a lot pre-kids and pre meeting each other – I’m lucky enough that I’ve worked in many places in Asia, including Borneo, Vietnam and the Philippines – we also spent a month in India as our honeymoon!
Of all the places you’ve visited, which one is most memorable (in a good way)?
Oh gosh, that’s so hard. I LOVE India – we’ve been several times and will never tire of going there – our honeymoon was a heady mix of all the sides of India and we took the girls back to some of the same places a couple of years ago to see. We have also spent time volunteering with the children which has fostered a spirit of giving and sharing within the girls, and an understanding that not everyone has the same privileges as they do. But Syria and Iran also rank very highly for their amazing hospitality and magical sights that seem as if they come from myths and tales of the Silk Route, which I suppose they actually do!! As far as the kids are concerned, the trip to Lapland to meet the real Father Christmas was just magical – we organised the trip ourselves so it was very uncommercialised and the girls faces when they saw him waving at his house door will be etched in my memory bank forever.
What’s the worst travel experience you’ve dealt with to date and how did you overcome it?
My favourite way to travel is by train, but just 5 weeks before I was due to set off interrailing I was in a train crash – I was mostly fine, but knowing I was due to be spending a month travelling by train I made myself get back on a train after being discharged from hospital. During the interrailing trip I was also robbed while I was sleeping, but again, I just had to get on with things as I was in Budapest and had to make it back to my home in England some how!!
I know your family been on the road for several months now. Tell us about it! Any other travels on the horizon?
We have always travelled for around 3 months of the year, but this year we took a sabatical and started a year long trip. We started in the USA and Cuba before returning to Abu Dhabi, picking up our car and heading across the Arabian Gulf to Iran to start a road trip – we’re now about 25,000km in and following Iran passed through Armenia, Georgia and Turkey before heading across Europe to spend a month with family in Ireland and the UK – we then drove down through France and Spain and are currently spending 6 weeks in Morocco. Following this we’ll be heading back a slightly different route to get our car back to the UAE with a side trip to Tanzania with my family. Once we’re back in the UAE we’ll probably spend some time just hanging out in that region again to recoup some travel funds – we love going camping in Oman and the desert so our weekends will feature more local travel for a while after this trip.
Your family’s trips seem to be about more than just traveling. What inspired you and your husband to this approach in the first place?
I think we really approach our trips as about more than just ticking off places we’ve seen (lets face it every capital city has a Natural History museum and you just don’t need to go to them all, no matter how wonderful!). For us, travel is about experiencing a place as a family, soaking up a place fully and embracing the fact that travel allows us to spend so much time together. We are vegetarians but are very into trying out local foods, and learning the languages – the girls are fearless about trying out new language skills which I love. They also enjoy taking cookery classes or seeing if we can find recipes from a place. And most of all, I love that we view so many places with a collective “could we live here” mentality!!
What has been the most challenging issue that you have had to deal with while traveling as a family?
Schooling!! I think both my girls benefit hugely from our “World School” approach to learning, but I find it hard to make them buckle down and write about it and document their learning. I think they’re both a little like me and they love learning and experiencing new things so much that they tend to flit from one thing to another!!!
Have you noticed any changes in your children that your might attribute to traveling?
Growing up in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures their whole lives have been lived surrounded by people that are different to them – in nationality, looks, languages, religion and customs and they’ve just learnt to embrace all that and they realise that actually, under all that, people are all the same – and that acceptance of people is only enhanced by our travels. They are also amazing imaginative children – travelling by car as we do leaves very little space for toys and they don’t have TV, DVDs or iPads to entertain themselves. And so their creative and imaginative skills are left to develop naturally and it wows me the things they come out with.
What is the most creative thing you’ve ever done to save money during your travels?
Over the years I’ve slept in some odd places and hitch hiked but I’m not sure that’s very creative!! We always travel with a flask for hot water which saves money spent on coffees and teas. We try to stay healthy by eating lots of fruit and don’t eat out so much!! My Dad has one of the best creative stories – he hired a car on a Greek Island that had to be paid for by the miles you drove but noticed (this must have been a long time ago!) that the milometer ticked backwards when you reversed so he drove the car around backwards and returned it having hardly clocked up any distance!!
If you had to give up your passport and get another country’s passport, what would you pick?
Probably Irish as every now and then it would make life so much easier if all four of us had the same passport!!!!
Any common travel/travel blogger wisdom that you disagree with?
To do lists!!!! Must visit lists!! And my personal pet hate, those “you should do ____ with your kids” lists… I stop reading blogs that tell me what I should do. I think we’re all individuals and whilst sharing experiences is helpful, leave it to each person themselves to decide what they should and shouldn’t see or do or shouldn’t do!!!! I always hope my blogs never come over as telling people what they should do, but rather as sharing my experiences and leaving it to readers to decide if they might enjoy the same things.
In closing, do you have any words of advice for newbie travelers and/or travel bloggers?
I’d say go with the flow and keep an open mind. For all the scaremongering in the news, people the world over are good – they want to raise happy children and love their husbands, wives and parents. Smile lots and it’ll open doors. And visit places and do things based on what you love, not based on someone elses “To Do” List!!
Haven’t gotten enough of Kirsty’s awesome photography or want to continue following along with the Larmours on their travels? Follow Kirsty on Facebook (business page | LFTL page) | Instagram | Pinterest | Photography Blog | LFTL Blog
Since Kirsty had such a hard time narrowing down the image selection post and left it up to me, and I couldn’t narrow them down either, all of the images are below in a slideshow!
(locations images within the post (from top to bottom): UK, Angkor Wat, Iran, Morocco, Cuba, Armenia, UAE, Istanbul, Czech Republic Bone Church, Northern England, India, Milan, Italy, Shanghai, Alhambra Palace, Hong Kong, Berlin, & Armenia; Slideshow also features NYC, Bali, Pont du Gard, France, Andorra, Sagrada Familia, Morocco to Timbuktu as well)