Interview with Casey of Travel Proper
I had the pleasure of photographing + interviewing food and travel writer Casey Hatfield-Chiotti of Travel Proper. Casey has written for the likes of The New York Times, Sunset Magazine, Travel + Leisure... just to name a few. Her website Travel Proper offers you an escape to far off countries, has you craving food + wine from some of the best restaurants around the globe, and shares tangible travel advice and inspiration.
In our interview Casey shares how traveling has changed since becoming a Mother, what her recommended must-dos are when visiting a new country, advice for traveling abroad with young children and more!
Bon Voyage, Readers!
What/who inspired you to become a food + travel writer?
I’ve been interested in travel for as long as I can remember, but I always point to
this moment from my childhood as being the beginning of my insatiable travel
bug. It’s when I found a book at my local library called Châteaux of the Loire
Valley. I was mesmerized by it and I couldn’t believe castles like that existed in
real life. I knew I would go there one day. I also loved French food and France
became an obsession. I didn’t do much international travel when I was young.
During my senior year of high school I begged my parents to send me on this
traveling camp of sorts through France, Italy and Switzerland as a graduation
present. I went and I fell in love with Europe. At about this same time, I decided I
wanted to become a broadcast journalist. I went to journalism school at the
University of Colorado and I worked in small markets as a news reporter post
college. While being a news reporter was exciting, I did not like the crummy
hours and zero time off to travel. When I quit my job in Eugene in 2008, my now
husband and I immediately started traveling. We went to South America for three
weeks and we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. When I was offered a job at the ABC
station in Portland I turned it down, because I couldn’t bare to give up my new
flexibility. I realized I needed to find something else to do and this led me towards
freelance writing. Food and travel are my great passions so it just made sense
that I would focus on those two things.
How has traveling changed since becoming a Mother?
The flights are no doubt harder. It’s just hard work traveling with a child and I’m
not going to sugarcoat this part for anybody, but other than that very little has
changed. We’ve taken Wylie to Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Mexico, the United
Kingdom, and France three times. My husband I also did a trip to Japan just the
two of us and we left Wylie with his grandparents in Portland. We still basically do
all the same things we did before we had Wylie when we travel like going out to
restaurants and visiting museums, but with a little more child-friendly activities
like parks and zoos thrown in, but these things are really fun. In general, being a
mother has made me appreciate everything more including the time I have to
myself and the time I have with my family. In that way, travel is more enriching
now then ever. Traveling with a child is a cool way to relate to people in other
countries. We find it’s a great icebreaker. People really love children. While there
are always exceptions, we’ve generally found people are very friendly when you
are traveling with a child.
When visiting a new country, what are your must-dos?
I guess it depends on the place, but I always try to find a great local bakery and
coffee shop, I try to visit notable museums and cultural sites and I walk a lot.
Walking allows you to get some exercise, see a ton and start to get the lay of the
land. My husband and I generally do quite a bit of research before we go
anywhere and many of our meals are planned in advance, but we try to leave
some room for improvisation. I highly recommend talking to someone local when
you get to a new place, like a bartender or a cool person you happen to sit next
to at a restaurant. Ask them for their favorite local spots.
What advice do you have for parents traveling abroad with young children?
If you’re traveling with a partner, teamwork is key. The obvious place to do this is
on the airplane. Maybe one of you takes charge on the way there and you swap
on the way back. I also apply this to activities. While it’s fun to do things together
as a family, if you’re willing to divide and conquer you may end up having an
even more memorable vacation. Say one of you loves horseback riding. Maybe
allow the person to go on a ride while the other hangs back at the pool with the
kids and then do something similar when it comes to an activity that your partner
Splurge on transportation to and from airports (no one wants to navigate broken
ticketing machines and stairs when you have a stroller, a care seat and luggage
for three or more). Sometimes less is more when packing. While you are going to
want to pack essentials like diapers, wipes, clothes, toys, portable cribs,
etc…remember you can rent car seats abroad and you can buy diapers and
medicine at pharmacies all over the world, so don’t beat yourself up if you forget
something. Also if it’s your first international trip with your family, pick something
that is in your wheelhouse. Maybe you and your partner have been before or you
have family or friends in the area. Going to a far-flung place where you don’t
speak the language is stressful without kids and you want to set yourself up for
What are your top 3 favorite destinations so far and why?
This is a nearly impossible question for someone like me, who loves just about
everywhere they go, but I will narrow it to my top three destinations since having
Paris is my favorite city in the world, and I’ve found it to be very family friendly.
It’s a wonderful place to rent an apartment, often the best choice with kids. It’s
relatively compact so you can walk many places if you stay in a central location
and there are so many beautiful parks. My favorite neighborhood, the Marais,
seems to have parks with play structures and sandboxes around every corner.
There’s a carousel in the Tuileries and children can go on pony rides in the
Luxembourg Gardens. While certain upscale restaurants are not kid friendly,
plenty of places are. We’ve taken Wylie with us to wine bars, hip restaurants and
even to happy hour at the Ritz..
Uruguay is another favorite. My husband and I went before Wylie and we
traveled there as a family in January 2017. It has very cool rustic modern
architecture and people are very friendly. The whole country of Argentina seems
to head to the beaches of Uruguay during the summer months (December-
February in South America). Jose Ignacio is a bohemian beach town with great
shopping, laid back hotels and excellent seafood. Just a 30-minute drive up in
the hills lies the artsy enclave Garzon. The town is a former staging post and
Francis Mallmann’s hotel and restaurant Garzon in something out of a dream.
We took Wylie to both these places and had a blast.
And my husband and I went to Japan for our first big international trip without
Wylie this year. We went skiing in Niseko and we spent time in Kyoto and Tokyo.
I absolutely loved Kyoto. It’s is a very walkable city with beautiful historic
architecture and great food. Japan is clean and safe and the transportation
system is very easy to use. I think it would be a great place to travel with a family.
Fill in the blank: I recommend everyone travel abroad because... it is the
ultimate adventure. It’s the best way to learn what you and your family are
capable of. The frustrating moments make for good stories and the times where
everything clicks will be some of your most enduring memories.
You can find Casey on Instagram @travel_proper and head over to Travel Proper to see where she's off to next!