January Cover: Kristi Hemric on solo travels, her journey as a mom of four, and expert tips for traveling with young kids

January Cover: Kristi Hemric on solo travels, her journey as a mom of four, and expert tips for traveling with young kids
By Photographer Michelle Rose Sulcov, michellerosephoto.com 

January Cover: Kristi Hemric on solo travels, her journey as a mom of four, and expert tips for traveling with young kids

Travel can be a beautiful experience, opening up our eyes to new worlds and shaping new memories. But traveling with young kids? That’s another story. And I got to hear all about it from Kristi Hemric, travel photographer and mother of four little ones in New York City.

You may have seen Kristi’s many adventures both in and outside of the city on her popular Instagram account where she shares about work, family, and travels with over 400K followers. But what you don’t see is the behind-the-scenes that we all can relate to as NYC parents: Kristi and her husband calming their sons down in the airport with their favorite blanket. Prepping for a trip with kids by treating the NYC subway like the airport chaos. Coordinating schedules ahead of big solo trips. Learning, changing and revising constantly to find the right balance that works for the whole family.

Yet what I learned about Kristi through our conversation is that she’s creative. Her creative energy powers her photography, but it also inspires other parts of her life. She’s able to see things others can’t, turning random ads around the city in art, bringing her kids’ wishes to life and finding the special moments in each trip. So when it comes to parenting four kids all under the age of 3 on the Upper East Side, Kristi’s got it because she finds creative ways to make it work and enjoy every second along the way.

Read on for Kristi’s pro travel tips for families, work-life balance advice, and her favorite family-friendly travel destinations!    

Kristi Hemric at the TWA Hotel
By Photographer Michelle Rose Sulcov , michellerosephoto.com 

Tell us more about your passion for traveling. What interests you about it?

I love new things and I really love learning. You can learn so much about a country or a place just by getting lost in it. Obviously now, with the news and social media, it makes the world feel a little bit smaller. But we’re only given a small glimpse of what that place is like, or what social media wants us to think that place is like. You can only understand a place and the people by spending time there.

I’m going to India at the end of January, I’ll probably be there for three weeks. That’s one of my longer trips because I do have a lot of kids and I want to be home with them. I know people think it’s a little bit crazy that I travel often, but I try to be positive. I used to be in an office from nine to five and had work trips on top of that. So I just look at it as I take these seven-day kicks where I do a ton of work. And then when I’m home, I have the rest of the month to be very present with my children.

Speaking of, you’re a photographer and a mom of 4 young kids. How do you balance work and life?

I have to give a lot of credit to my husband. I have a very supportive husband who encourages me and knows that traveling makes me me. He loves me, so he wants me to continue doing it.

We also live by a schedule, and it doesn’t work for everybody, but we really don’t flex that schedule with our children unless it’s a special occasion. Our kids wake up at 7:30am or 8am, and they go to bed at 6:30pm.

They are obviously tired because they run around all day ragged and go to sleep right away. But that gives us so much time from 6:30pm to when we go to bed at 11pm. That’s almost 4 and a half hours that my husband and I can be together.

 

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What types of things do you photograph?

I work with some large brands. I just did a trip on a cruise ship and it was for Princess. I create like a hundred images of the cruise ship– of people having fun, all different things for them to use in their marketing. I also do videography. That’s the side of the business that people don’t see on my feed. When they go to my page, they’re like, oh, she takes pictures of herself or her kids. That’s definitely not what I get paid for.

You obviously have like a ton of followers on Instagram. Is that work too?

Yes. I don’t know if I can give much advice because I’m very unorganized. I’m a “live in chaos” kind of person, besides my kids being on a very strict schedule. I’m a creative person, so I feel like super creative people are a bit chaotic, but it kind of works for them. I had the twins in May, and my husband and I are still trying to figure out a way to get me more structure, because it is a ton of work.

And I’m very guilty that if my son comes down and wants to cuddle or hang out, I don’t usually say no. So then I’m up late at night after the kids go to bed, and it’s not sustainable. My twins just turned seven months, so now things are getting easier because they’re turning into little humans. We’re still in the thick of it, but I think we’re gonna get there.

 

You mentioned you’re a creative person. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I’d say everything. My ideas come at the most random of times. I’m out and about all the time in the city, just taking in things. I’ll be on the train and see something, and be like, whoa, that would be a great Apple ad.

Also sometimes my kids will say the funniest things. For example, on Halloween, I asked my son what he wanted to be, and he said he wanted to be a candy farmer. We made that whole thing into something– a candy farmer, how genius; why couldn’t you farm candy? We literally bought a tractor and put it outside of our townhouse with candy. It was hilarious.

Ultimately, I think it’s just having our eyes and ears open, just being present with people. I know that sounds silly, but I don’t get most of my ideas from other social media. I’ve grown a large Instagram following, but I don’t know if you’ve noticed I never really post stories. I know that stories are something that you’re supposed to do in the moment, but I don’t have my phone out recording it all the time. If that means I’m being more present with people, and I don’t get to story it for my audience, I think that’s almost better.

You do a lot of solo traveling. Have you ever traveled with your kids? 

Yes. I don’t take them on huge work trips because I don’t know how my kids would do with jet lag, or how I could actually work. But we do shorter trips. This summer, after I had the twins, we went to the Dominican Republic, and I just took the boys, who are ages 3 and 1. It was a big adjustment for them with the twins, and I’m very conscious of making sure they all have individual time and special memories. That’s really important to me.

I’ve also traveled with the boys all over the States, like Boston, Florida, Texas. This year we’ve put a pause on it because I have 4 kids under age 3. I think it’ll be more enjoyable for the whole family if we wait.

Based on the travel that you did do with your two boys, do you have any tips for traveling with kids? 

Yeah, have a plan. Before we did a big trip with the boys, we did small trips through the city. We’d go on the train and make the subway a big deal so it’s almost like a crash course for the chaos of the airport. We’re not big on screen time, but the older one will get an iPad for maybe 20-minute shows. We also have their favorite snacks, and we’ll buy 3 or 4 new, tiny toys that’ll distract them in a meltdown situation. The other things are just basics. Have whatever soothes your child. For us, it’s a Lovey. We bring the Lovey everywhere because it soothes our boys in any situation.

That’s great. Finally, can you tell us why you love living in NYC?

I love NYC for so many reasons. I come from a small town outside of Dallas, and there’s not much diversity. My kids are going to get to see all different kinds of cultures, people, and walks of life. That’s honestly one of the best gifts I can give my kids. There’s a lot going on in the world that’s not necessarily great, but I think we all have a common goal, and sometimes that gets lost with people’s differences.

Living in NYC is also so convenient. I know people are like, oh my gosh, the spaces are too small. But think about it. Our doctor’s office is a block away. Our dry cleaner is on this block. Our coffee shop is on the same block. If we get a blizzard tomorrow, everything we need is most likely at a 4-block radius. And how convenient is that as a mom? Also, on the Upper East Side, there are so many parks for kids and free activities for kids. When it’s raining, you just take the bus to the Natural History Museum, and it’s free– one of the best museums in the world! Kids have this wider understanding of the world because they have access to many different experiences, people, and stories.

It also pushes you to go outside all the time and be more active. As New Yorkers, we might not go to the gym every day, but we don’t need to, because we’re walking around constantly. At my child’s Jewish preschool, they have this cute saying– “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Our kids go outside every day, no matter the weather.

 

Kristi Hemric traveling with kids tips
 By Photographer Michelle Rose Sulcov, michellerosephoto.com 

Kristi’s Favorites

What’s your #1 family vacay spot?

I would say something all-inclusive, maybe in the Bahamas. There’s a direct flight, and direct flights are essential if you want to survive as a family. There also needs to be something for everyone. I like adventure, and in the Bahamas, you can go on a private plane, swim with the sharks, or visit Pig Island. There’s a million things for the kids. Baha Mar has an aquarium inside the pool, so the kids feel like they’re swimming with the sharks. If you want a babysitter, there’s babysitters on the property. I love when properties have babysitters that can come to your room after you put your children to bed, because then you and your partner can have a date night.

Must-have item when flying with kids?

It depends on the age range. If you’re traveling with babies, I love the Doona. We’ll buy an extra seat and use the Doona as a car seat for the plane. Then whenever you get to your destination, you can wheel them off the plane, get into an Uber and you already have a car seat!

I think snacks are a must for them being a little bit older. Another product that’s a game changer is the Nanit. If you’re a working mom or dad and you have to be away from home, you can see your kids at all times on the Nanit. You can check-in and speak to them through the app. When I’m traveling, I can get a ping, and my son will say, “ hi mom, I miss you.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family in NYC? 

Honestly, we find the most silly things super fun. We’ll ask our kids what they wanted to do today, and they’ll be like, We want to go to Target, and we’ll literally take two strollers and they’ll just have so much fun getting the essentials. Another thing that I think is amazing is the Camp Store. They always have different activities, and they’ll paint something and bring it home for their room. It’s a really cool and interactive safe space for kids in the city.

Psst…check out Rethinking the Family Vacation: Intentional Travel (a new kind of trip)

What’s on your travel bucket list next?

I used to live in Dubai, and I would do project management for a photography company. I had a lot of clients that were in Saudi, and I was never allowed in unless I was escorted, but I wasn’t married back then. Now Saudi has opened up tourism, which I find mind-blowing because not even 10 years ago, I wasn’t allowed to see my clients in a meeting. I find that very interesting, and I’d love to see it.

Antarctica is also top of my list, and I’ve really saved a lot of South America for my husband and me. The Galapagos are fascinating. My favorite place I’ve ever personally been was on our honeymoon– we trekked with the gorillas, and they only let so many people up. I like going to things that are off the beaten path, and you almost have to work to see it. We had to trek for hours to see these gorillas, but then when we got there, it was the most insane thing. I personally want to do more trips like that.

This cover shoot was shot on location at TWA Hotel. Learn more.

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