Patricia Monahan is a world traveler, a mother of 3 and an entrepreneur. Here, she talks to us about creating Our Whole Village, a tour company specializing in travel adventures for families, pursuing her dream to raise global citizens, and what it means to be a mompreneur.
Q: Congratulations on launching Our Whole Village. What inspired you to create this business?
A: Thank you!
Travel has always been part of my life and it has had a huge impact on who I am today. When I was pregnant with my first born in 2009, I knew, if nothing else, that I wanted her to see the world and be globally aware. I remember holding my daughter for the first time after she was born – I was overwhelmed with feelings of immense joy and love, but it also felt very much like a wakeup call, or rather, an invitation to ‘show up’. I knew right away I had to be a better person in order to be a better parent. Naturally, this meant that my work had to be aligned with my values and purpose in life. Long story short, I left a legal career behind to explore something that is a true passion of mine.
At Our Whole Village, we curate travel adventures that help families connect with the world, its people and cultures. I look for transformative experiences that nurture important values in our children while helping us parents grow with them. I want families to create long-lasting memories and raise good global citizens who will make a positive difference in the world.
Q: Where do you live and do you recommend your city as a family travel destination?
A: We are an international and mixed family. I was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, lived in Germany and Italy, and then moved to Washington, D.C. where my girls (now 11 and 9) were born. We lived in Madrid, Spain for 4 years before moving to Michigan where I have added a 13-year-old stepson and 1-year-old son to the mix.
Detroit might not be an obvious choice for a family trip, but it has wonderful family friendly activities. Whether it’s kayaking around Belle Isle or visiting Detroit’s Motown Museum, there’s something for every age.
Q: What’s your insider tip for families coming to your hometown? What are your favorite family-friendly hidden gems?
A: In addition to the iconic murals by Diego Rivera, the Detroit Institute of Arts has great family activities and workshops on the weekends. When the weather is warm, we enjoy riding bikes along the Detroit river and finishing with a drink at Campus Martius while the kids play on the artificial beach. Greenfield Village, the outdoor living history museum section of the Henry Ford complex, is another favorite. Kids can ride a real Model T car and they love the costumed interpreters who demonstrate period tasks like glass blowing or hat making. Finally, if anyone is planning to visit Detroit, I would urge them not to miss the amazing murals at Eastern Market!
Q: Is family travel part of your life?
A: Very much so. We visit the grandparents and extended family in Brazil once a year and regularly visit family on the east coast. We also try to visit a new country every year. Our bucket list keeps growing and growing, we have the next 10 years of travel planned.
Q: What is the most memorable trip you took with your kids?
A: Do I need to pick one?
The girls’ first trip to the Amazon tops the list! They were 3 and 5 years old and it was so magical to watch them interact with nature, meet new friends and discover the rainforest.
They still talk about participating in the turtle conservation project where we released baby turtles back into the Rio Negro. That trip also solidified my belief that children are never too young to travel. Those early years are crucial for their development and those early experiences will shape who they are forever.
Q: What’s your best advice for traveling parents?
A: Enjoy the ride and go with the flow, which is also sage advice for when you’re home too.
The younger the child, the slower you should travel. Follow their lead. Don’t pack in too much. Travel is about connecting as a family and with other cultures, not about ticking boxes. Finally, remember that kids certainly pick up on our vibrations, both pleasant and stressful.
Q: What is your favorite family travel product or service?
A: Packing cubes makes traveling with 4 kids so much easier! The brand we like is Eagle Creek, and although they are on the expensive side, we love them.
As for service, I am partial of course, but a family-focused tour operator such as Our Whole Village can turn your vacations into a more meaningful and enriching experience. The peace of mind that comes with having all of the logistics arranged for you allows you to focus on what matters: bonding with your family and making memories.
Q: What item do you always pack in your carry-on?
A: My Kindle, though I have to admit that it has been tough to read much this past year with the baby, both at home and while traveling. “Must packs” these days include bottles, snacks and a soft blanket.
Q: How do you tackle the work/life balance (e.g., day care, babysitting, schools, etc.)?
A: One day at a time…
It is, of course, much easier with the older kids. Throwing a little one in the mix has not been easy, but I also give myself permission to take time off and take him to yoga or music class (when we’re not social distancing, that is…). That said, it can be utterly frustrating when you have a vision or a project you want to complete and can’t seem to get there because life takes over.
Q: What are the advantages of being a Mompreneur while raising children vs. working for an outside entity? Disadvantages?
A: Having a flexible schedule is a huge advantage. I love being close to the kids and being present for the little moments. I can take them to doctor appointments, volunteer at the school or join that field trip.
On the flipside, that same flexibility comes at a cost. You can’t always grow at the pace you want. And, let’s be honest, there are days when I just wish I could go “hide” in an office from 9-5!
Q: What’s your shameless plug?
A: Now, more than ever, the travel industry needs you. If we can’t travel, how about planning and dreaming about future vacations?
Our Guide to Best Family Vacations by Age can help families plan future trips according to their interests and the kids ages. I encourage families to download it (it’s free) and schedule a call with me so we can talk and map out future travels. Planning is the best tool to make dreams happen!
Looking for more family-friendly adventure travel and activities? You may also like these articles from our Bébé Voyage blog: