Why We Started a Travel Blog

February 1, 2021
The view from atop Chimney Rock is one of the better in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Chimney Rock is one of the best things to do in North Carolina.

The travel blog market exploded while we weren’t paying attention.  At that time, our lives were focused on kids, careers, etc.  

So why start now?  The industry is teeming with photographers who’ve scoured the planet for content. Can we possibly hope to do it better than these young, established folks?  Probably not. The truth is, our desire to start a travel website sprung organically from our passions when the time was right.  

Five years ago our life was in significant flux.  Five years before that, life was so chaotic we could hardly keep the paint on the walls.  Not until 15 years into our marriage have our lives become somewhat settled.

Chaotic life notwithstanding, traveling was always in the cards.  When the kids were in diapers we took them camping.  Eventually we set out on longer road trips, which culminated in the purchase of a Winnebago in 2017.   

Over the last three years we have purchased stickers from all our destinations and displayed them like trophies on the window of our rig.  It would appear blogging about it was the next logical step.  

The family poses in front of a Niagara Falls bridge for a picture in their travel blog.

The Inciting Incident

In 2012 we took our first major road trip, a three-week jaunt to the fun parks of California.  Our children were ages 2, 4, 6, and 12.  We had one with ADHD, two with autism, and one in a stroller.  I don’t know how we convinced ourselves it was a good idea, but we learned two remarkable things about our children on that trip:  

1.  They run off in crowded places.  Who would have thought?  This is very scary if you’ve never experienced it.  We’ve experienced it a lot.  

2.  When they aren’t eloping, our children travel well.  Despite their disabilities, taking our kids on the road was a possibility.

Fast forward some years later, our careers and children have somewhat stabilized.  Hitting the road feels less imprudent these days.  No one needs our phone number written on their forearm in permanent black pen.  

The past two years we have visited over thirty-three states in our RV.  In the summer of 2019, we spent 53 days road-tripping around the US.  Travel has become our favorite thing to talk about.  

Regardless of our newfound success traveling with our children, as recent as spring 2020 there was no talk of a travel blog.

Hiking in Pinnacle National Park is one of the best things to do in California and Carmel / Big Sur, said the travel blog.

A Fortunate Series of Events

Nine months ago, on a cold, winter night, Ryan searched for “best islands in the world” and found this link.  It wasn’t quite the same as the other websites we had used for information.  This site was run by a man who claimed to be the youngest to visit every country on earth.  “He must be rich,” was Ryan’s immediate thought.  Sounds like a nice life.

A few months later, Ryan came across this link while shopping for a new camera.  The advice was offered by a young couple who run a website showcasing their worldwide travels.  “Their parents must be rich,” he thought again.  As we read about the couple, we discovered that they were not necessarily overprivileged.  They appeared to be motivated twenty-somethings savvy enough to create a website, as well as intelligent writers and incredible photographers.  

We utilized travel blogs for research as often as they presented in searches, which was increasingly frequent.  Admittedly there was some jealousy because a top-shelf travel blog is a thing of beauty.   We talked about these travelers and their enterprises, but as impressive as they were, the travel blog idea did not materialize at that time.

River rafting in Estes Park, Colorado.  Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect place to get on the water.

The Aha Moment

It wasn’t until several months later, after reading some articles about the Pacific NW (our home region), that Ryan spoke up.  “Why does everyone rank the Pike Place Market as a top-five thing to do in Seattle?  There must be twenty better things to do.

Flippantly, Monica put words to our unconscious thoughts.  “Why don’t we start our own blog?  We can tell people to avoid it.”  

The words hung in the air like music.  “Why don’t we start our own blog?”  It was as if Monica had given Ryan permission for something he hadn’t thought to ask.  It was a bona-fide “Aha” moment, the keystone idea that fell into a chain of ideas we had been constructing for decades.

Hoffmann family poses on the National mall.  We walked 13 miles around Washington D.C. in one day.

What is Our Motivation?

We love to travel, but why write about it publicly?  This wasn’t easy to sort out.  What are we hoping to get out of it?  We have perfectly good careers.  We aren’t swimming in free time.  The notion swelled our hearts and lit our minds, so we knew it was a good thing.  But to what purpose?

We settled on the following:  Monica adores the idea of creating a scrapbook for our children, something more organized than Facebook and more accessible than computer files.  Ryan enjoys systematically exploring and documenting the world, and if anyone can benefit that’s good, too.

After having the big idea, eventually the doubt crept in.  

“Are we idiots?”  We’re in our forties.  We aren’t young or fabulous. Our children are crazy.  Why would anyone care?  

We came to two conclusions:  

1.  We don’t mind if no one cares.  Creating a beautiful place for memories is enough.  

2.  We know how rough it is parenting atypical children.  Autism, sensory disorders, ADHD, mental illness, etc., all provide reason to retreat from the world.  However, traveling with our children has made a huge difference in their development. Perhaps someone can seize strength through our example.

Halea spreads her wings with a purple sunset behind her.  Morro Bay, California is one of the prettiest towns on the California coast, says the travel blog.

Are We Idiots?

So that’s how the travel blog happened, at least the medium length version.  We won’t bore you with the rest of the story because it’s even more tedious.  Just one last detail and we’ll wrap it up.

We spent a series of evenings trying to come up with a name for our site.  This was harder than one might think because someone had beat us to the punch on every idea we had.  

In the rare instance the URL was available, the social media was not.  Some had done little more than secure the URL, while others were selling their empty sites like pimps.  

After three fruitless nights chasing domains, we were completely over it.  Hilariously, we almost landed on happyandmappy.com.  She happy, he’s mappy, as in, he likes maps.  

In our exhaustion we figured it was perfect, and howled with laughter at the dining room table.  

It was so ridiculous that we repeated the question over and over, “Are we idiots?”

The answer was clearly yes, total idiots, and we knew it.  Mercifully we arrived at hofftoseetheworld the next day.

The family poses in front of Morro Rock, one of the highlights of Morro Bay, California.

Who Knows Where This Will Take Us?

This much we do know:  We believe families are the central unit of the universe, and no amount of success in the world will make up for a failure in the home.  We have decided that in our unusual situation, the best way to raise our children is to take our home on the road.  It is in these places that our kiddos learn best. 

Out in the mountains near the rivers and lakes, to the beaches at sunset and deep in the caves, in museums and prisons and battlefields we, will share big ideas as family. 

We hope that what we create helps our family grow closer together. We hope it will do the same for yours.

A halloween winner for the Hoffmann family.

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