Baecation: Holly & Gerard
Jet Loves Black Love! In our newest series, we hear from couples who turned their honeymoon into a permanent voyage. This week, Holly and Gerard take us along on their family adventure. Are you on a baecation? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Baecation.
For many jetsetters, the thought of settling down with a family is a scary idea that signals the end of their globetrotting ways. However when Holly and Gerard Loiseau decided to combine passports, they saw their future as one full of new global adventures.
Now, nearly 20 years and two kids later, Holly, 46, and Gerard, 52, are proving that having a family doesn’t stop the journey, it makes it better because now you can take the ones you love the most along for the ride.
JET caught up with the Maryland residents to learn from these O.G. baes why a family that travels together, stays together!
JET: How did you two meet?
Holly: We met at a wedding. I went to the wedding with my father, and Gerard was there with his brother. I thought he was quite bold approaching me while I was with my dad! He had just returned from a deployment in Okinawa, Japan and was stationed at Quantico close to me in DC.
JET: What was your first vacation together?
Holly: Our first vacation together was Disney World in Orlando, FL where he asked me to marry him during the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
JET: You’re married with children, how did you handle the change from carefree couple to traveling family?
Holly & Gerard: We handled it fairly naturally. We are both from islands (Holly from St. Thomas and Gerard from Haiti) and we both traveled extensively for work and vacation. It never occurred to us that there would be a problem traveling with children or that we would not travel once we had kids. Our parenting style is that our kids come along with us on our adventures. Both kids had traveled by plane by the time they were 3 months old and had passports at 3 or 4 years old.
Holly: I travel extensively for work and once Gerard retired from the Marine Corps, they have traveled with me a lot. It’s part of my work/life balance to have them with me.
JET: What are some of the challenges/joys of traveling with children?
Holly & Gerard: We love traveling with our kids. Children do what you do, not what you say. They have been avid travelers for years and they understand how to be respectful of their fellow travelers. We’ve dealt with more rude and out of control adults while traveling than with unruly children.
We love showing the world to our kids and being able to see things through their eyes. We love to see them connect with other children from other cultures. Mostly, we want them to understand that Black folks do travel and that the travel lifestyle is for them.
JET: How do you make room for adult time on a family trip?
Holly & Gerard: This is tricky, but possible. When the kids were younger, babysitters, nannies and kids club were a godsend. Trusted childcare (carefully researched at hotels and resorts) allowed us to spend time alone as a couple. Now our kids are teenagers and can be alone in the hotel room while we have a night out, or spend couple time at the pool or beach.
JET: Your boys are different ages, how do you pick vacations that satisfy the entire family?
Holly: This takes planning. I try to plan ahead to find attractions and events at our destination that are of interest to both kids. Recently, we were in Paris and went to Normandy. It was a great trip for teenage boys because we spent a lot of time outside exploring bunkers, beaches and cliffs (rather than cooped up in a museum or tour bus). They stood in awe of the American Cemetery. We also travel a lot with other families with children of similar ages. This allows the kids to bond and entertain each other as well.
JET: Do you still take vacations without your children? How often?
Holly & Gerard: Yes, we take at least 2-3 vacations per year without the children. We always take a trip without the kids for our anniversary in October. We’ve done Paris, Napa, Antigua, Anguilla, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Croix, Riviera Maya and others. We also usually take a long weekend road trip, especially to visit wineries or go to restaurants we love. Our most recent road trip was a short one to Frederick, MD for my birthday dinner at Volt.
JET: Sticking to a travel budget is hard enough without a family, what tips and tricks do you use to save and find the best deals on family getaways?
Holly: This is probably the wrong question for us. We are totally luxury travelers. I work really hard so we can go on epic vacations. We did a Carnival cruise once and a budget hotel in Grenada and, well, they just weren’t for us. Of course I use frequent flyer miles and credit card points as much as possible.
JET: You’ll be married 20 years this October, congratulations! Any bucket list destinations that you’re saving for future anniversaries?
Holly & Gerard: Yes! This October is our 20th wedding anniversary and we are going to the Maldives! Definitely a bucket list destination for us. Other planned destinations: Bali, Fiji, Mustique, and Formenterra.
JET: After years of marriage, how do you keep traveling together fun, fresh, and exciting?
Holly: I think the idea of travel and getting away from the day-to-day is always exciting. I am constantly researching destinations and going someplace new that neither of us has been to before is always fun. I think it’s also fun and fresh to experience new places together and make memories. It’s the memories of being at that place, with that person that are lasting. Things happen on these trips that no one else in the world knows about, just me and him.
JET: How has travel strengthened your relationship as a couple, and with your children?
Holly: I travel a lot for work and Gerard is a stay at home dad. We realized early on that I needed to have them travel with me when possible for all our sakes. We also realized that the family vacations were not really a vacation for Gerard because he was with the kids all the time at home and on vacation. That’s when we started making plans and time for our couple only trips. Our trips without the kids give us an opportunity to talk, reconnect and rejuvenate our relationship. Even when I travel without the kids, I stay connected. When they were younger, I would read them bedtime stories over the phone and they would fall asleep.
JET: Many feel like having children is the end of their jetset days, but you’re proving them wrong. What advice/tips do you have for expecting and new parents on keeping the wanderlust alive?
Holly & Gerard: Kids are these wonderful people who come into your lives and change them forever. But kids are resilient, flexible, adaptable and seek routine. Make travel their routine.
JET: Describe your permanent baecation.
Holly & Gerard: Living and loving.
Danielle T. Pointdujour is a Brooklynite living the passport life to the fullest. With over 70 countries under her belt, you can always find Danielle traveling the globe in search of new experiences and the hottest luxury hotels. You can follow her writing, musings and global adventures on her blog Hotel Whisperer and on Twitter and Instagram.