Fashionable family-friendly travel expert Amanda Blakley is intent on passing her love of travel on to her kids. “I think for children to grow up with the empathy and compassion that is part of the travel experience is like the gift that keeps on giving,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to have a broader global perspective on their own lives and others.”
While documenting her family’s adventures for her 16,000-plus Instagram followers and publications in Canada and the U.S., Amanda has learned a few things about how to have a great experience on the road with her kids. While this expertise is useful at any time of year, it particularly comes in handy when hitting the road with family during the busy holiday season. Here are her best tips, tricks and hacks for travelling fashionably and keeping family trips stress-free with Amex behind her every step of the way.
Research, research, research
“I definitely do my research in advance,” she says. When her sons, Atticus and Archer, were younger, that meant finding out where she could rent cribs, strollers and car seats—or, better yet, whether their hotel or rental home had that equipment available. “I've been a Cardmember for a long time and using the Platinum Concierge service has been incredibly helpful, not only to help elevate the trip with upgrades and access, but also to figure out which hotels are family-friendly, or in the neighbourhood we want to explore. So that becomes something that you don't even have to give a second thought to,” she says. On a recent visit to Mexico City, Amanda and her family used the concierge service to book tickets to a lucha libre Mexican wrestling show. Talk about cultural immersion!
Now that the boys are older, Amanda has shifted toward memorable travel experiences that go beyond the usual best-of lists. “I love trying to plan things within the trip where we can interact with locals, whether it's a friend of a friend that lives in the city or just going to a local park and playing with the children in the neighbourhood there,” she says. This year they also plan to participate in some local grassroots efforts, be it community ocean clean-up events, getting involved with an NGO or simply setting a collective intention to leave a location better than they find it. “Responsible travel is our obligation as parents, travellers and citizens of the world,” Amanda says.
Getting there doesn’t have to be stressful—really!
When Amanda flies out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, she takes advantage of her Platinum Card benefits. “One thing that we still use, even though we recently graduated out of our stroller, is Amex’s complimentary Valet Car Service for parking [at the Express Park and Daily Park],” she says.
If she’s travelling during peak hours, she uses the Priority Security Lane, which can offer huge time-savings, especially during the busy holiday travel season. “In my opinion 100 per cent of the value of the Card is paid for right there!” she says of breezing through the security line.
Amanda and her family then head to the Plaza Premium Lounge to relax ahead of their flight. “It definitely sets the tone for the trip, and the boys love ordering a fancy juice from the bartender,” she says. “We like to say that the trip actually starts from the moment we set out for the airport.”
Don’t try to do too much
Amanda says she and her husband always try to plan a low-key first day so that they’re not expecting too much of the kids. “Sometimes we have no plan at all, or the plan is to find a playground or children’s museum so that the kids can get all their energy out,” she says. “When we were in Barcelona recently, we happened upon this small local park in the middle of a pretty boulevard. Our boys had the best time on the swing set just taking in all the Spanish language around them.”
She also depends on the Platinum Concierge service and access to its Global Dining Collection to make sure they don’t miss out on any must-visit restaurants. “They've been able to score us a table which we wouldn't have been able to get on our own because we're a little more last-minute,” she says.
Know who to call when things go wrong
When unexpected circumstances crop up, Amanda knows she just has to make one easy phone call. When the family lost their luggage on a previous trip to Nicaragua, her Platinum Card was there to help. When one of her boys had a fall last year in Mexico, the Platinum Concierge was able to connect her with a doctor that spoke English.
“It's amazing to have a card that gives our family access to all these travel experiences—there have been so many meaningful moments. But unseen things come up, too, and Amex has for sure had our backs on multiple occasions,” she says.
To learn more about the benefits of the American Express Platinum Card and the perks of being a Cardmember, visit: https://www.americanexpress.com/ca/en/charge-cards/the-platinum-card/
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.