Travel Expert Catherine Parker offers her insight to help parents find the destinations families will rave about for years. Since she’s driven across North America with three kids, she knows traveling with kids can be messy.
During college, she merged her passions of good words and great buildings by studying English Literature and Architecture. While working part-time as a pre-school teacher she funded her travel purse and learned how kids think.
Since Catherine’s secret obsession is dessert, she worked in a French bakery the year she graduated from college. Though it wasn’t long before that fresh degree burned in her hands so Catherine moved to Austin, Texas, to use her architecture background.
Working with a group of designers in Interior Design Showroom, Catherine learned the difference between a Chesterfield and a Camelback. Until adventure called again. Beating the odds, she landed a highly coveted job at American Airlines as a flight attendant. Catherine loaded up a storage unit and moved to New York City.
For the next 22 months, Catherine alternated between landing in every major North American airport and exploring every neighborhood in New York City. Both experiences proved invaluable since she lived in the most expensive urban area in the U.S. on $19,000 a year.
After a particularly hard winter, the West Coast called and Catherine transferred to San Francisco. For the next nine months, she hopped up and down the west coast, passing out cocktails and skiing down mountains. Until the one morning that changed the world.
On September 11, 2001, Catherine lost her former roommate aboard the jet that flew into the World Trade Center’s South Tower. Unable to continue in the new security climate with a broken heart, Catherine relented and resigned the next month.
In the following year, Catherine got married, had a baby and took her first trip as a family traveler. With a carful of gear, she took one tiny baby to the beach.
As the years passed the babies accumulated, now three in total. Catherine wanted to show her kids their world. So early on she decided to drive through North America. To date, Catherine has logged 70,000 miles behind the wheel driving across the lower 48 and six Canadian provinces.
Her motto, Can I drive there? And so far the answer has been yes. Until one day when Catherine and her kids got caught up in an international car theft ring. Out of a paroled, paid parking lot she lost her car and the majority of their belongings in Montreal, Canada. Stolen, in broad daylight.
In the ensuing hours, Catherine used a foreign language from high school to make a police report while she and the officers enjoyed the Canada Day fireworks pop overhead. The next morning, she gathered their remaining belongings and loaded up into a rental car to bid Montreal an adieu.
Through the whole ordeal, her kids aged 6, 10 and 11, never cried, whined or complained. And they even had fun as they raced through a French-Canadian Target replacing their stolen items to continue on their three-week itinerary exploring the East Coast and the Canadian Maritimes. Officially, they were offline for eight hours because of the alleged car theft.
Her car was never recovered though reportedly made its way to West Africa for its second life as a taxi. Though her insurance company gave her a souvenir, a high-risk designation that she wears as a badge of honor.
Catherine seamlessly blended 25 years of experience starting with teaching preschoolers to working in a professional kitchen. Then transitioned to fine furniture and interior design to follow up in aviation. She just followed her passion hoping one day it would meld into the perfect career.
Catherine is a member of several professional travel writer associations, like SATW–Society of American Travel Writers, Travel Massive, International Travel Writers Alliance, TravMedia and International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. She supports several nonprofits with her time, like the National Park Trust, The Student Conservation Association and the Girl Scouts of the USA.