Hudson Valley Parent

HVP June 2015

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Page 8 of 51 ■ Hudson Valley Parent 9 I am a Hudson Valley Parent Traci Suppa: Have kids, will travel By BRIAN PJ CRONIN T raci Suppa was 7 years old when her father got a job work- ing for an oil company and moved the entire family from Long Island to Saudi Arabia. She spent the next 7 years living in the Mid-East and traveling with her family across Europe and Asia. Reluctant at first, she soon grew to love her family's globetrotting excursions. "As I got older I began to realize that this was something special, that none of my relatives were getting to experience this," she recalls. Her adventurous spirit hasn't waned. Now living in Hopewell Junction with a family of her own, Suppa has turned her love of travel into a ca- reer: First as the Marketing Director for the Westchester County Board of Tourism, and now as an editor on Amtrak's New York by Rail travel guides. "I'm fortunate to have a home office, so I'm here when the kids get off the bus," she says. "My profession is very flexible, because I have some control over my deadlines and work hours. If I need to stay home with a sick kid, I fit the work in — usually at 9 p.m." What Suppa's probably best known for isn't her day job at all. It's her travel blog, Go Big or Go Home. In it, she chronicles her adventures as she travels with her husband, Matt, and their children Leo, 15, and Emilia, 8, looking to visit the world's largest . . . well, anything. That has included the world's largest watering can in Utica, the world's largest accredited big cat sanctuary (think lions and tigers) in Tampa, and some attractions a lot closer to home. "We love the world's largest kalei- doscope in Mt. Tremper," she says. "Walkway Over the Hudson is the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge. The Chuang Yen monastery in Kent has the largest Buddha in the western hemisphere. And we en- joyed going to Kelder's Farm in Ker- honkson to visit Gnome Chomsky." (At the time of their visit, the 13.5-foot-tall Gnome Chomsky was the world's largest garden gnome. He has since been dethroned.) All of this traveling makes Suppa the Hudson Valley's resident expert on road trips with kids. She recalls how much more she and her brother began to enjoy their childhood trav- els once their father finally started letting them pick some of their activ- ities, and advises parents today to do the same. "When you're starting to plan a trip, no matter if it's 20 miles away or 2,000 miles away, you have to think about what's going to appeal to your kids and the best way to do that is to get them involved in the planning process," she says. "If you have them invested in it from the get-go, everyone's more likely to have a good time." Suppa also learned the hard way to set your expectations realistical- ly as to how much you can see in one day, and to organize your days around your kids' schedules. "When they were younger, I knew at what point in the day they'd start melting down," she says. "Respect the nap." Sometimes, even the best laid plans can be waylaid by Mother Nature. Last year, Suppa and her family traveled to Providence and ran smack into a blizzard. They threw their plans out the window and spent the weekend holed up in the hotel watching movies together. Learning to go with the flow has been one of the toughest things that Suppa has encountered as both a travel writer and a mom. "I'm a control freak, so becoming a parent was a real eye-opener," she says. "I've learned to let a lot of things go, the most recent being my daughter's wardrobe." So, parents who fret that your children will grow up to be uncouth dullards unless they take a pricey trip to Paris or Rome, take heart. You don't have to travel far to have a great time. "Just the fact that you're get- ting out of your regular routine is enough," she says. "Travel doesn't have to be across the world. It could be across town! As long as you're exposing them to new things, new ideas, new foods; to me that's what travel is and that's where the educa- tional value comes in." Traci and her family visit Gnome Chomsky at Kelder's Farm in Kerhonkson.

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