Culture  Life as a travel blogger and curious facts about Japanese castles
26/05/201800:00 Take Mom Along
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Ever wonder what life as a travel blogger is like? We spoke to Take Mom Along, a brand new collective of travel bloggers who, after having spent years zigzagging across different countries, have nestled into their mobile life and equally mobile careers. In their first guest article, we talked about life on the road, a typical day "at work", as well as some of their past experiences of taking their parents along on trips to Japan. 

So, tell us more about what you do.
We are a travel collective of 3 bloggers/marketers (not biologically related!). We met on the road in South America and all of us now freelance as we travel. Two of us are travel writers and the other works with social analytics. We've all spent years writing for journals and blogs and we saw how the material is always targeting the solo traveller, the couple's romantic getaway or the family trip. In comparison, there isn't much out there which offers information and advice to the senior traveller, or adult travellers who want to take their parents along.

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Life at the beach? It happens, but only after work!

 
You can surely imagine that the planning involved for such trips would be far different from what a 20-something backpacker is looking for. As we've been on the road for a while ourselves, we understand that sentiment of wanting to share your experiences with your loved ones. In our case, we are speaking specifically about our parents, who have embraced us for wanting to lead a lifestyle that's a bit more unconventional, who unconditionally help us whenever we are in need and far away from home. We want to give back and share our experiences, ideas and tips with others who'd want to take their parents along.

What is life like as a remote worker or freelancer who's constantly on the move? 
There is of course always this fascination that you are living the good life at the beach, chilling with a drink with your hand while your friends are stuck in a cubicle back home. It's not! More often than not, you can expect us pulling regular office hours at a café or some sort of workspace in the city we are in. We wake up no later than 9am so we can get an early start to our day. After all, the earlier you finish your day's work, the more time you have to explore the city you are in!

 
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Kumamoto Castle, which one of the TMA writers visited with family before the big earthquake in 2016.

As we are not exactly "social influencers" who make a living by writing reviews for brands, more often than not we are working on materials related to the city we have left while being physically in a new city we are visiting. Sometimes this creates an interesting time warp of sorts.

What do you think then are the main challenges to your work?
Time management, definitely! It's all about mapping out your day and following that schedule meticulously. As you settle into a new city, you might also need time to adjust to the weather, local foods etc, so planning sufficient time before and after your work brackets is ever more important. Sometimes it's borderline militant; it's either that, or you spending hours working into the night while your travel companion sleeps. 

 
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Bamboo forests in Arashiyama, Japan. The walking paths in the area aren't always paved, and pushing a stroller or wheelchair along will only get you so far. Some of the paths are also slippery when it rains.

Your project is brand new; you've literally started on social media just a few weeks ago. How is that coming along?
This is another challenge with being a freelancer. You need to juggle different projects and make professional decisions about which ones you wish to dedicate yourself. "Take Mom Along" is on 
Instagram now, but it's only been a few weeks. Each of us are slowly winding down the scale of our other projects, but right now it's a time of experimenting. We are checking our schedules of posting, the colour palettes we use, the type of images or videos. We didn't want to launch our website with just one article on it so right now we are focusing on Instagram. We are now liaising with our past collaborators, checking with our clients to see if articles can be refashioned for use on the website while also exploring our possibilities on Twitter and Pinterest. There are a million tasks to work on and we are just taking things in stride.
 
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Osaka Castle is the iconic landmark of the city of Osaka. In all its grandeur, walking to the castle itself can be an arduous walk for those travelling with infants or seniors. In Cherry blossom season however, the walk around the castle is unparallel!

Tell us more about some of your "take mom along" travel experiences then.
The idea started when we literally start seeing our parents leave messages on our Instagram accounts like "hey, take me next time!" or "I want to go too!" We thought - why not? However while we can put up with shared rooms or capsule beds, our parents, as adeventurous as they may be in spirit, may not deal with it as well. 

One of the first trips to catalogue this experience was SC's trip with her mom to Osaka and nearby Arashiyama, Japan. We are used to spending hours walking every day - not our mothers though. When she got to Arashiyama, it was drizzling and made the paths slightly slippery. In hindsight, more research should have been done on the foot paths and their accessibility on our side. Japan is great for stuff like this. If you research well enough, you'll find a lot of useful travel information, down to this website which tells you whether or not the Arashiyama train station has
coin lockers so you can store your goods. There are also super convenient services like luggage shipping from the airport to the hotel. For a minimal fee you can send your luggage across the country and focus on enjoying the trip without the hassle of carrying all that weight.
 
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The renowned "Black" Castle of Matsumoto city

So tell us some curious facts you've discovered about Japanese castles.
Yes, about that. Castles in Japan are like the defining landmark to many of its cities, but we find that you really need to research well if you plan to take kids or seniors along. Not all castles are accessible; in fact the majority aren't. Nagoya Castle is one of the few we've visited which actually has an elevator inside! In Matsumoto, the stairs to its Tenshu (highest floor in the castle) were so steep that some of the steps were literally at a 60
°! A lot of the bigger stone steps outside the castle can be difficult to tread when it rains as well. To make the most of Japan and similar trips, we definitely recommend ample research before hand!. 
 
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Takeda Castle Ruins

 
There are also interesting sites of castle ruins such as the Takeda Castle Ruins. You can take a taxi to the footpath at the bottom of the castle. From there, it's an easy 20 minutes walk uphill. Information like that however won't come if you just "wing it"; this is something you'll need to plan and make it a habit when travelling with family.

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The Shuri-jo Castle in Okinawa has nice, flat steps making it an accessible day trip outside of the city.

 
This has got to be one of the longest article title you've seen, is it?
(Laughs) yes! There's so much we wish to share with you, but it would be impossible to write about it all in one article. Please join us and share your own experiences of travelling with parents on
Instagram! In the future, we hope to bring to you articles which focus on little-known slow travel spots and ways to make your trip more accessible around the world. 

Take Mom Along will be back in the future with more articles on slow travel. Stay tuned!
We are a collective of travellers who, after years on the road, want to share our ideas and tips on accessible, slow travel. Who says that the young at heart should stay home retired and waiting for your return? Stop getting dropped off at the airport. Take mom along!

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