During high school, Andrea Khan traveled to France with her French Club. It was a life-changing experience – one that inspired her to later visit 31 different countries and hundreds of cities.
“It was so fascinating to see something so completely different than anything I had ever seen before,” says Khan. “I was hooked on traveling forever.”
Two decades later, neither marriage nor parenthood squelched Khan’s desire to see the world. She now travels regularly with her family, which includes her husband and three children, ages 9, 7 and 3. Family travel is very different from solo or couples traveling and brings a garden variety of perks and challenges, especially in the planning process, before the trip has even begun.
Khan has spent many hours planning vacations over the years and a lot of time reading family travel blogs and websites to glean insight for her family’s travel.
“Research and pre-planning when traveling with kids are absolutely necessary,” says Khan. “Even though I enjoy it, I also found it overwhelming because the abundance of family travel information was scattered and required a lot of digging to find useful articles.”
Eventually, she had an “aha moment.”
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if all of this information was in one searchable website to make it easier for parents?’” she says.
And voilà! Khan morphed her ‘”aha moment” into a “let’s do this moment” and started The Family Backpack, a travel and lifestyle website with a mission “designed to make family vacation planning easier.”
The Family Backpack is an online guide that links to hundreds of useful family travel blogs and websites. It’s designed specifically to help families plan vacations from international travel to road trips in the United States.
Khan has also written and shared stories based on trips she’s taken with her family to Puerto Rico, Cuba, California, Spain and St. Martin, to name a few.
Khan ends her blog posts with the signature expression “wheels up,” one she uses both while on vacation and at home to encourage her family to keep moving. Khan’s wit and honesty shine through in her writing. She celebrates the joys – but also admits the frustrations – of traveling with children.
Chatting with Andrea of The Family Backpack
What did you do for work prior to kids?
Prior to kids, I worked in sales and marketing. My accomplishments included launching the first Spanish television programming package with more than three channels in the U.S. with DISH Network, being selected and participating in a leadership program for the parent company of Monster.com, and working in corporate marketing for Kohl’s.
Did you stop working altogether once you had kids?
I worked until my oldest was one year old. Then 2008 happened, the economy tanked and my project ended. This was a good time to evaluate our lives as a family and we decided it would be great if I stayed home with our son. We were hoping to expand our family and my husband’s job was very demanding. Two additional reasons that helped fuel the decision.
What did you enjoy about being a stay-at-home mom? What was challenging?
My career as a Domestic Diva, as I refer to it, comprised of having two more kids and spanned eight years. I loved staying home with my kids, but as anyone who has done it can attest: it is not easy. There are days you wouldn’t trade it for anything and there are days you watch the clock and count the minutes until your husband is coming home. You hate your yoga pants and then you love that you can wear them every day if you want.
How did you begin the process of starting your business?
I had an “aha moment” last summer. I LOVE to travel and always have. I married a guy who loves to travel. We traveled. Then we had kids and continued to travel. Our trips are getting more adventurous each year and we are going outside the United States.
After logging endless hours on the internet researching things to do in different destinations, trying to find packing lists for families and articles on whether we should take the stroller or not, I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if there was a website that took the best of the family travel advice and compiled it into one website?” The Family Backpack idea was born.
What was your first step in making your dream a reality?
Once I had this idea I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There were endless hours logged researching to see if anyone else had done this and what could help parents. I started vetting it to close friends and business people I respected. Everyone loved the idea and said go for it. So I did.
How do you balance your work/family lives?
This has definitely been an adjustment for everyone in my family – including me. There is not enough time in the day. So I am learning to simplify where I can. We started using a meal service, The Real Good Life*, two days a week even though I love to cook. I have delegated things like folding laundry to my kids. My husband has had to step up as well. Shared calendars on the iPhone have been life changing!
*Disclosure :: The Real Good Life meal delivery service is owned and operated by Maggie, a MKE Moms Blog Contributor. We love it and we love her. Not sponsored, but just thought you should know ‘cuz we’re friends. Moving along…..
How has starting this project business been good for your parenting? How has it been challenging?
Since I just started back to work essentially last fall we are still figuring things out. In the summer I am working longer days, but I have taken Fridays off so I can still maintain that work/life balance. Ha! Is there really such a thing?
I spend a lot of nights working after my kids go to bed, so don’t be surprised if you get an email from me at 11 p.m. But I am loving it. It has stirred my creative juices and my passion. And I am learning again.
How have your kids responded to your new endeavor?
My enthusiasm and passion have been contagious with my kids. My 7-year-old came home recently and had won some kind of bet at a baseball game that netted him $2. He said, “Mom I want you to have this to put towards your website.” It was the sweetest gesture.
What advice would you give to a mom who wants to start a business or is at the very beginning of building one?
As a first step, research the industry and vet the idea to people you respect in that area. This will help reinforce your idea. And don’t view yourself as “just a stay-at-home mom.” You had a career and skills before you had kids and that brain power didn’t go away. Dust off your resume and remind yourself of what you accomplished pre-kids. Be proud of yourself and go for it!
The Family Backpack — A One-Stop-Shop for Families who Love to Travel
We love what The Family Backpack is doing so much that we couldn’t miss out on sharing this fabulous resource with you! Plus, as a special bonus for our readers, the team at The Family Backpack has created a FREE DOWNLOAD just for MKE Moms Blog readers – A Road Trip Warrior Kit!
This resource is stuffed full of printables, games, packing lists, and all sorts of other awesome stuff to make your next family road trip a whole lot easier, less stressful and way more fun.
Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter below and not only will you get your FREE Road Trip Warrior Kit, but you’ll also get an email from us here at MkeMB just once per week with a recap of the week’s posts, upcoming events, and other happenings around here so you can make sure you aren’t missing anything! Spam sucks, so we don’t do that.