Spotlight on Travel and Parenting Blogger Cristen Casados
Cristen Casados is a travel and parenting blogger and a work-at-home mom to two girls. Her blog, The Naptime Reviewer, focuses on parenting advice, product reviews and giveaways. Casados’ latest project is The Bucket List Mom, which launched in January 2016 and offers travel, style and beauty-related recommendations. It’s been ranked #1 monthly in Travel and Leisure blogs on TopMommyBlogs.com.
Additionally, Casados regularly contributes to the Huffington Post, the Little Trendsetter blog and US Family Guide.
Recently Summer Family Fun got to chat with Cristen Casados.
Summer Family Fun: We love The Naptime Reviewer and The Bucket List Mom! Tell us more about yourself and your blogs.
Cristen Casados: Thanks so much! Well, where do I begin? When I first became a mom in July of 2011, I struggled with no longer having the constant “adult time” that I was used to with my full-time job. I worked as a medical billing rep and did a little office management work, as well. I had always imagined becoming a stay-at-home-mom and I would work on D.I.Y. projects with my kids all day long, make the best dinners and look presentable at all times. Boy, was I wrong. Throw two blogs into the mix and it’s a madhouse over here!
SFF: What inspired you to create The Naptime Reviewer and The Bucket List Mom?
CC: My number one passion is my my family; my kids and my husband. But I also have a passion for being in-the-know about products, vacation destinations, home decorating tips and a million other topics. My brain works a little bit like Pinterest. Word-of-mouth is huge in the mommy world, which is why I wanted to start my first blog. I wanted to be able to test out products and give my honest opinion about them.
At the beginning of 2016, I decided to split my travels and style advice from my review site, which is how The Bucket List Mom came about. It’s fun being able to run both sites which have a very different feel and flow about them. It’s definitely a struggle running two blogs, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself. I set smaller goals and try to focus on those.
SFF: Do you have any go-to parenting tips for traveling with kids you can share with us?
CC: I am a huge advocate of the travel light method. There have been countless trips where I overpacked. Overpacking for an adult is okay in most cases, but overpacking for two kids is a nightmare. I lay out each family member’s outfit in a row, with each column being one day. If it’s a beach vacation, I pack a swimsuit, undergarments and one outfit for each day. Pajamas can be reused multiple nights and most of the time my kids just sleep in their clothes (which mainly consist of leggings and a cute graphic tee).
As far as baby gear goes, I tend to not bring our own car seats on trips and prefer to rent them or use the shuttle services’ car seats. I’m a huge fan of the GB Pockit stroller right now for my toddler. It literally folds up so small and fits right under the airplane seat, so there’s no need to check it at the gate.
Also, take advantage of kids’ programs at resorts. Ask the concierge desk for a daily or weekly itinerary of activities and keep those in mind when planning your days. This also goes for cruises.
SFF: Do you have an anecdote about an unusual experience that inspired a blog post? Please share!
CC: I tend to include a lot of real-life humor in most of my blog posts. They are all inspired by my personal experiences or day-to-day life, which can get pretty interesting sometimes. I recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post that talked about how ironic it is that most work-at-home-moms want to be able to raise their own kids, but want to earn money. We want to feel more adult-like in the business world, but also want to be able to play with our kids. There is an endless cycle of wanting to make more money, wanting to work harder and set higher goals for ourselves, all while wanting more time to spend with our kids. I called out the Etsy shop owners who make their own hair bows, the bloggers (including myself), the direct sales reps, the self-made photographers and every other work-at-home job that we hear about these days. That article was a big hit.
SFF: What do you hope to achieve with your blogs in the near future? In the long term?
CC: I just sat down the other day and wrote down some short-term goals for my blogs. Increasing stats and monetization were my main goals, but traveling the world with my family is always the ultimate goal. My blogs have opened up a world of possibilities in the travel sphere for my family and I will be forever grateful for that. My long-term goals are to primarily focus on The Bucket List Mom, since my kids are outgrowing “naptime.” I would like to bring on a team of writers to contribute to The Naptime Reviewer to continue to keep moms and dads in the loop with new products, helpful services, discounts, etc. Thankfully, my kids still nap, as they are only 1.5 and 5, so I continue to contribute to both sites.
I have always been the type of person that looks for new, innovative ways to create brand awareness in the consumer world. I feel like consumers are getting sick of “bloggers and influencers” and it’s getting hard to know who to trust these days.
SFF: What’s been your favorite family trip so far and why?
CC: My first family cruise in 2012 on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas ship was probably my favorite. I had never seen a cruise ship that large and I was in complete awe of everything the entire trip. We visited Jamaica, Haiti and Cozumel, Mexico with a huge group of family and friends. I also really enjoyed the Social Media on the Sand blogger conference in Turks and Caicos last year (2015). I was able to bring my mom and two daughters along for the fun. I met so many great bloggers and have made some forever friends. I came back from that trip very inspired – both on the business side of things and with family life.
SFF: What would you tell someone who is thinking about starting a parenting or travel blog?
CC: Ha! I get this question a lot. Many friends and readers have asked how they can start a blog and what advice I could give them. I have always discouraged them from starting their own blogs unless they feel like they have at least eight hours a day for the first one to two years. Many people think that running a blog is easy. How hard could it be to take some pictures and write a few paragraphs? It has proven to be difficult for many people that I have offered guest post positions on my blog. I have been blogging for over four years and still don’t have it all down.
Don’t work for free. Don’t sell yourself short right off the bat. Take high quality images from the beginning and produce magazine-worthy articles. Treat it as professional as you can treat it. Also, “fake it ‘til you make it.” Pretend like you’ve been doing this for years. This goes hand-in-hand with being professional. Don’t be afraid to reach out and pitch to brands. Know what you have to offer and don’t overcommit. Ask yourself at least a few times per week, “am I being honest with my audience or am I being influenced by compensation?” “Am I truly benefiting the brand with my services? More than other bloggers?”
I tend to set really high standards for myself in life, and when I feel like I’m no longer benefiting brands or my audience, I come down really hard on myself to fix the problem. By setting small goals that are very reachable, I automatically encourage myself to continue doing what I do.
SFF: What’s your family’s favorite summer activity?
CC: Growing up, my family’s favorite summer activity was camping at Pinecrest Lake here in California. Now that I have my own family, we enjoy an annual trip to Mexico (Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta). We also have a few really cute places to take the kids that aren’t as overwhelming as an entire theme park, but have a little bit of everything to offer (zoo, rides, park slides, etc).
SFF: What do you wish other people knew about The Naptime Reviewer and The Bucket List Mom? Is there something that surprises most when they first learn about your blogs?
CC: Most are surprised to find that I actually earn money blogging. Most people think I just do it for the free products and free trips, but like I always say, “free stuff doesn’t pay the bills.” Something else that completely surprises people is that I do it all on my own – social media management, emails, newsletter content, run my app (TBLM Daily in the App Store), photography, write the articles, SEO, website design, etc.
SFF: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
CC: When I interview people I always like to include a wild card question. Something that is completely random, like what is something that touches your heart? What is your favorite food? Do you have a favorite movie? So, to give myself a taste of my own medicine…
A good musical solo will give me goosebumps and make me tear up, anytime, any day. It’s something that truly touches my heart and is something I have a passion for.
My favorite food is currently fish tacos – or anything Mexican.
My favorite movie is The Notebook, but I have a soft spot for anything Disney, new and old.
Visit Cristen Casados’ blogs at The Naptime Reviewer and The Bucket List Mom.
Download Rescue Dogs Movie on iTunes today!