Cafe Chat: Travel Writer, Aimee Chan

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Aimee Chan, writer and creator of family travel website suitcases & strollers. Photo: TruPics

Aimee Chan is a travel writer and magazine editor who has globe-trotted around more than 45 countries, working with major publications such as Harper’s BAZAAR.

Now living in the Border North East, Aimee has created a website that provides inspiration for families travelling with young children which is viewed by intrepid travellers around the world.

Kylie King caught up with her to discuss her journey, her transition to ‘country life’ and to seek some blogging tips for local writers.

How did your travel website, suitcases & strollers, come about?

When I had my first kid, as an experienced travel writer and magazine editor, I knew there was nothing out there about how to travel with small children.

There are first person accounts of how some individuals have done it, but no objective, directive travel tips. For example, how do I go to Bhutan with my kids? Can I climb this mountain with a baby? It is safe to take my children on a cruise ship? If I go to China, what kind of inoculations do my children have to have?

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Photo credit: suitcases & strollers

I quickly realised that the person to create this content was me, because I’ve done all the travelling, it’s just that now I’m travelling with children.

Suitcases & strollers covers content about everything to do with travel with kids under 12. Theme parks to cruise ships and basic beach holidays through to stories on Tibet, hiking in South America, climbing mountains in Asia and safaris in Africa – there is something for everyone.

The suitcases & strollers philosophy is just because we have kids, doesn’t mean the travel experiences we want as adults need to stop.

Did you ever think you could live in a regional area and continue your travel writing and editing career?

We’ve been very fortunate with the timing. I think if we’d moved here five or seven years ago it would be a different story and I’d probably be looking at a completely different career.

The fact we’ve come right now at a time where online is everything, print is going out of fashion and people are increasingly looking to online to get their information means I can base myself anywhere.

A sample of the magazines Aimee has written for during her career.
A sample of the magazines Aimee has written for during her career.

People are looking for niche experts, so rather than going to the big brands or mass travel agents like they used to in the old days, people are now after people who are experts in one specific area, so that plays to my strengths.

People don’t want generic information, they want content that is specifically tailored to them, but still comes from an expert.

Where do you readers come from?

The bulk of the readers come from Asia – Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China. The next biggest market is the US and then Australia.

I get emails from people reading the website all over the world – Tibet, Madagascar, Denmark, Italy. People want information and to know that there are other parents out there travelling with small children. It makes them feel that they can do it too.

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Photo credit: suitcases & strollers

Why do you think your website has become so popular?

If you already have the travel bug already, reading about other families travelling with kids really ignites the fire again of wanting to go and do it too.

When you read about people who have climbed a mountain with small children or have taken their kids to a Thai village volunteering to look after elephants, it makes you realise that you can also expose your kids to the sort of adventures you might have done when you were younger.

Suitcases & strollers is a unique website because not only can you read about other families that have had some truly amazing experiences with their kids – we also give you all the information you need so that you can go and make your own family travel memories. 

Given you’ve travelled around the world, how are you enjoying ‘country life?’

I am a real city girl. Before this, I’d never lived more than five kilometres from any major city of less than four million people, so this was a bit of a strange journey for me.

Initially I was not that convinced we’d be here that long. I thought we’d be here for a pit-stop and keep going, but I actually love it here. It’s really turned out to be such a positive move for my kids (who are under 12), the community is so friendly and everyone is so welcoming and inclusive.

Aimee and one of her children in South Africa.
Aimee and one of her children in South Africa.

I think the region is really booming at the moment. It’s becoming much more multicultural and diverse. There’s a lot of things happening in terms of concerts, events on weekends, restaurants, bars. I think it’s a really good time for us to be here right now.

Do you have any tips for local bloggers?

Quality content is more important than just any old content. Having said that, the more regularly you upload stories, the better your website will be.

If you want to ensure this regular, quality content, treat blogging like a job. Instead of writing when you’re inspired, you should aim to have a post out once a week, twice a week, three times a week – work on it and put it out there regularly. This way you’ll build up a following faster than if you just blog ad hoc and if and when you feel inspired.

For more information on Aimee and her website, visit: http://www.suitcasesandstrollers.com/