Ashley Beougher and her family love sharing new adventures and different experiences together. Traveling has strengthened their family in unbelievable ways, which you can read about on their website and blog called Traveling Graces. They are passionate about inspiring other families to step out and try something new with their children, even if it just means setting aside a Saturday to explore a nearby cave system or national forest. Check out travelinggraces.com or follow the Beougher family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to name a few.
Can you tell us a little bit about how Traveling Graces got started?
Backing up, my husband and I got married when we were 19, and 20, right out of high school. At that age any type of big trips are going to take probably years to plan for and save for. When we got married we said we wanted to do a Mediterranean cruise and then a trip to Tahiti. Those were our big two, by far, what we wanted to do. Number one and number two. We did one for our five year anniversary and one for our 10 year anniversary.
After that it was like, “Well what next? I mean we’ve worked for and saved for these two trips for so long, what’s next?” The answer was just the rest of the world. At that point our kids were probably about two and three, maybe three and four. We started thinking, “Well not only do we want to just see the rest of the world, we also want to do it with our kids.” That’s how the idea of traveling more as a family started.
Then fast forward about a year later my son and I went to Ireland to visit my parents. Or visit Ireland with my parents. When I started looking this was different than our previous trips. It wasn’t a water park, it wasn’t Disney World. It was going to be fun and we were going to tailor it for a little child but it definitely wasn’t going to be one that was just totally geared towards children. I wanted to find some videos and some blog posts about how to experience those international countries with kids. Especially the video aspect, I just couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. I wanted something that was informative for the parents but also showed kids in these destinations having fun. For them to kind of get a glimpse of what that would look like. So especially the video aspect I just didn’t find what I was looking for, which on the Internet is saying something if you can’t find what you’re looking for. It’s pretty much usually oversaturated. That’s how the idea came about.
How much of your year would you say is devoted to travel?
We’re not full-time travelers yet. I know you all previously had one that I saw that was great. That would be something that we would love to do in the future but we take about 10 trips a year. Probably three to four international ones. Then we have beautiful parks right around us, so we’ll do long weekends as well. So kind of try to do a little bit of both, while still having jobs, and schools, and stuff right now.
After starting the blog what were some of the strategies that you put in place to grow your audience, to grow your traffic? Were there specific intentional strategies you used or was it more organic? Kind of like, “Let’s see how it goes”?
Yeah. I started off knowing nothing. Nothing about photography, nothing about videography, nothing about website design. I think I felt like starting out I actually had a good idea but had zero idea how to go about doing that. That was a minor hiccup in your plans.
I think early on with reaching out to companies and growing the audience I tried to … This was advice that I got early on that I think was really helpful, especially when you’re brand new, don’t really have a following, is to find something that you can show value to. Then any influence that you have will just be a bonus.
At the beginning I didn’t have an influence. It can be photography, it can be web design, but even more than that even simple things like the … I think the very first rental property that we worked with I think we got like a 50% discount. It wasn’t a free rate but they really wanted drone footage because they were by the beach but not right on the beach. The only way you could see really how close their property was to the beach was through drone footage. I think that was a … We were able to provide that and felt really good about giving them something valuable. Then anything that we would promote on our side, or on Instagram, or whatever, would just be a bonus.
When did you branch out into influencer marketing?
I think that was, I mean, always the goal. I think with my site I wanted to show our family enjoying these places to inspire families to go out and try something new with their family, but a really important aspect of it, that I’ve done through blog posts and our Facebook page, is try to make it attainable for families. Because if you just look at all of these beautiful pictures on exotic destinations it becomes frustrating if you don’t make it attainable for them as well. I didn’t ever want to just say, “Oh look how much fun our family is having. You should totally go do it too.” Then if I don’t show them how to do that that’s just frustrating for families. I think that was one of my big goals.
I think that having the photos and the videos for our family was valuable. I saw if I can do this just for our … Like as a scrapbook. If I can just do this for our family and help other families make it attainable that’s a fun hobby to have. That’s something I really enjoy. Then if I can grow it and get some kind of influence in it that’s just, again, a bonus.
What are some of the ways that you show travel with a family to be more attainable?
For example our last trip in January was to Switzerland. It was 10 days. If it were just my husband and I we would have absolutely tried to do two, three countries. I know that most expert travelers would say, “Oh you can’t do that. You have to take your time. You have to go a slow approach. You don’t understand the culture if you don’t do that. You’re not a real traveler if you just go from stop to stop,” but we like it that way. We would always rather see more and do more in the limited time that we have. Then knowing where we want to go back and spend more time.
But we just knew that with two kids that that was kind of setting them up for failure. As a parent it’s a constant balance between you want to push them. There’s sometimes that they’re probably capable of more than we give them credit for. So wanting to push their boundaries a little bit, whether it’s fears, or flexibility, or whatever. But at the same time you have to be careful not to set them up for failure because then that’s your fault not theirs. I think that …
For our Switzerland trip we did four nights at a time. We tried to stay in one place. We were able to unpack a few. We still saw a lot of cities and we still moved around a little bit, but we didn’t do a different hotel every night like we may have if it were just my husband and I.
You create vlogs as well as produce content on Facebook, and Instagram, and of course your blog. What is your favorite platform to post on and why?
I don’t know that this might be my favorite platform but YouTube is definitely the one that I am most proud of because it is a combination of more work than any other platform I’ve put into. Maybe it’s just because I’m not great at it yet, but our videos take me hours, upon hours, upon hours. I spend way more time on those than anything else we do, any vlog post, any Instagram post. They just take me a long time. Maybe this isn’t everyone’s experience but for me YouTube has also been the hardest to grow on. So the combination of working the most on it and … Not to discourage others from getting started on YouTube but … And seeing the slow steady growth I think that’s probably what I’m most proud of.
But I really enjoy Instagram too. I kind of was reluctant to dive into there at the beginning, just because I had a misconception that I was an adult, and a mom, and shouldn’t be on Instagram. I don’t know, but someone said, “If you’re going to do travel you need to be on Instagram.” But I’ve really grown to love it. I’ve loved just the authenticity of the stories. I try to make our posts semi professional, but then our stories can just be ridiculous things about our travel.
Our last trip to Switzerland I came within seconds of missing our international flight because I had made this massive rookie mistake of showing up to the airport, not in the snow boots that were waterproof and I had bought, but literally slippers. My sister-in-law had to run home, and get them, and come back. Once we got on the plane me and my daughter were talking about those hysterical moments, that I’m breathing so hard from running across the airport. It’s just those are the fun things that don’t need to look perfect but are just this is what family travel really looks like, if you’re not a professional, like me and forget your shoes.