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              1. Le Scoop
              2. Lifestyle
              3. Family Travel

              Behind the Brand

              Meet Sara

              If you’ve ever fantasized about packing your family for a month and escaping to an exotic island, well, Sara Banks has been there, done that. As the Founder of SteamLine Luggage, travel has long been a passion, and she now shares it with her husband and sons, Milo, Ruben and Benji. In celebration of our exclusive mommy-and-me luggage collection with SteamLine, which launches today, we caught up with Sara on everything from packing tips and favorite destinations to how to make sure your children engage meaningfully with a new culture.

              Photography
              Sara Banks
              You recently packed up your Dublin-based family and spent a full month on an island in Kenya. Can you tell us about that experience and what you learned from it?

              We have actually been to Lamu Island before off the coast of Kenya and loved it, but this time we stayed in Shela. It was especially dreamy as there are stretches of white sand that go on forever and a bohemian feel with local artists and designers.

              Since we were planning to be there for over a month, we wanted to really settle in as part of the community. We enrolled our kids in a local school (where they were picked up by a donkey every day), and while they were at school, my husband played soccer with the fishermen when the tide was out. I hung out on the patio of a nearby cafe with a mug of Swahili tea. A Masai warrior taught my oldest, Milo, how to bead. Ruben, my middle child, played with beach sticks and pet every donkey in sight. Our youngest, Benji, ran around high-fiving and fist-bumping everyone and tossed endless stones into the ocean.

              We swam in turquoise waters at gorgeous white-sand beaches, searched for shells, and built sandcastles. In the evenings, we took sunset cruises on beautiful wooden dhow boats, drank coconuts and ate fresh seafood. Through it all, we chatted with the locals and embraced their way of life.

              We found the most relaxing, wonderful place in the world. Shela is special beyond words. There are no roads, no cars, no deadlines. It taught me to slow down and really appreciate small moments and people around me.

              The pace was so different from our life in Dublin and it was wonderful for our boys to be able to see the world through different eyes.

              Whether you plan to stay a weekend or a month, how do you ensure that your children meaningfully engage with a new culture? Any tips for parents who might be taking their child to a new country and how to make the most of it?

              We try to embrace the culture of where we are and see the city from a local’s point of view. For our kids, we find it incredibly impactful to enroll them in a local school. They might not speak the language, but still are able to engage and really enjoy themselves. Throughout the month in Shela, we chatted with the locals and embraced their way of life. I find that traveling with kids really opens up dialogue with strangers—whether it be locals or fellow travelers, they are much more likely to engage with you.

              You have been to more than 40 countries in fifteen years…what are a few of your favorite places? And what about the top places to travel with children?

              Sri Lanka is amazing for a family vacation; it’s absolutely one of our favorite places! We traveled there a few years ago, rented a tuk-tuk (a local taxi) and spent six weeks self-driving it around with our three boys. The youngest, Benji, was an infant. It was a beautiful way to see an amazingly diverse and accessible island with everything from calm white sand beaches to surf waves to rainforest climate to the climbing hills of tea plantations. The people were wonderful and generous, so it felt very kid-friendly. We also stayed in a lot of family-run guest houses, so that helped us to feel at home and explore like a local.

              What are your best tips for long-haul flights with kiddos in tow?

              For long haul flights, I have started wrapping a few entertainment goodies for the kids. Individual wrapping is key, in case they dig through a bag, they don't get excited about everything all at once. I look for items that are easy to pack and might provide some longevity such as stickers, coloring books, legos, etc. Also, children tend to mimic their parents with moods, so if my husband and I stay upbeat, despite a long flight or lost baggage, they generally follow suit.
              And surely you have a few packing tips to spare! How best to pack for little ones?

              My secret is packing everyone’s clothes in air-tight bags which keeps us all organized. Each child has a bag with their belongings and it's easy to pull out and pack up quickly. To keep three little boys' clothes who are nearly the same size separate (yet able to find them in a hurry) this trick is a MUST! Especially if you’re traveling to multiple cities. We did a photoshoot with the boys for the SteamLine Luggage x Masonite collection and they all wanted to take home a kids carry-on. They have already been asking when they can pack their personal luggage for our next trip! It’s actually perfect timing, as my two oldest are ready to graduate from sharing my luggage to their own.

              Aside from a beautiful piece of luggage, what is your best advice for seeking out the extraordinary in your travels and in your every day?

              We’re always looking for unique destinations. Of course, Paris is beautiful but what about the island that took you 2 days and 3 boats to get to or that tiny little town in the countryside of Slovenia. I think what makes your travels extraordinary is the journey to get there and the people you meet along the way. So my advice is to slow down. Look up. Talk to the people around you. There’s so much to learn from other cultures, travel is truly the only thing you buy that can make you richer.
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