Mckenzie Tillotson is the creator of Five Take Flight, a blog that takes readers inside the travel world of a family with three kids under the age of seven. Over the course of 54 weeks, the Tillotson family traveled to 38 counties, took 53 airplane rides and slept in over 75 different beds. Be sure to check out the stories, product reviews and more at FiveTakeFlight.com or follow the family on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
In your first year of marriage, you and Derek decided that you wanted to collect moments rather than things. So how did you arrive at that decision?
I think we arrived at that decision because it was how we were both raised. We were both raised traveling a lot, doing a lot, and we really had all of our emotional needs met more than the tangible.
At what point did you decide the start the Five Take Flight blog?
That kind of came about by accident, honestly. We were needing to move closer to the children’s school and at the same time we were needing to move, we kind of assessed our situation and we both have always traveled. We’ve always loved traveling. We said, “Hey, right now we’re young, we’re healthy, and we’re financially able, so why don’t we maybe take a year and become professional parents and just travel?” And so that was really the decision.
And what pushed us into Five Take Flight was we made a video asking for a travel nanny because I have three kids and two of them would need some schooling, so I needed somebody to come and do some schooling for the children and that video, we just sent it to our immediate family and friends and it ended up going viral and we ended up getting 24,000 people applying for this job.
It was absolutely crazy. But in the process of all of that, I started getting thousands of personal messages because people had been watching our family or little videos and they sent me a lot of heartfelt messages about their homes that they were growing up in, that they’d never seen a happy marriage or they’d never grown up in a happy home or their home was always full of yelling and fighting. And so it kind of made us feel like we should also show that there are happy loving families out there because we didn’t quite understand how rare that could be in certain people’s lives.
You had 24,000 applicants for the travel nanny job. Where do you begin to narrow it down?
I have a cousin who is a whiz at Excel. He’s incredible at it. So he created a program on Excel for us that ranked … We had on our application different questions, and each question had a number correlated to it, and it’s completely against any HR code any company would ever have. It was things like, “Do you smoke? Do you not smoke” We’re not smokers, and my one son has asthma so we can’t be around that, so if you were a smoker, you got like negative a thousand points. Another one was, “Can you swim?” And there were all these question and answers and by doing this point system in an Excel spreadsheet, we were able to narrow it down to about a thousand applicants from there that were kind of the top looking good on paper.
So as this is all happening, so that video going viral was the basis for starting the blog. Was there a separate point where you figured out that you’re also an influencer or is it the same moment?
I feel like it must have been the same moment because we decided to make content for this audience that had really spoken to us and touched us from their messages. And at the same time we decided to video for our own personal records for our children because they are young. The odds of them remembering a lot of it are pretty slim. So we also decided that we’re making content, we might as well post it.
You’re a family of influencers. You’re also business owners. Have you used influencer marketing to promote stuff within your business?
Our business business is completely separate from social media. It’s not anything even remotely close to social media. We’re in sales in nutraceuticals and that kind of thing. But I personally really enjoy blogging. I really enjoy my community there. I really enjoy the interaction that I get with people. So I use Intellifluence just because I feel like it keeps me connected into that community and I can meet with other influencers that are also doing things similar to what I’m doing or they’re introducing me to products or things that I might not find otherwise.
Are there any collaborations that have really stood out to you that you’ve enjoyed over the past couple of years? It doesn’t necessarily have to be just Intellifluence, but I’d love it. I’m wearing the shirt. If there’s anything good that we’re doing, I want to know about it for sure.
Yes, for sure. We’ve worked with a lot of companies, mainly in the travel industry. We’ve stayed at a lot of amazing places and we’ve had a lot of amazing experiences that were all done through social media campaigns that these companies reached out to us for. And some of our favorites, one was we went to a very small chain of islands in the South Pacific and it’s called the Solomon Islands, and we stayed on a really tiny island called Gizo. We worked with this resort there. We were the only people on this island. They can only host one family at a time, and that was probably one of our favorite weeks. It’s so remote, we have electricity for like three hours a day, but you’re on a reef, your pristine and you’re just kind of in this untouched part of the world. So that was probably one of our favorite ones we did just because it was so unique and so impossible to get to.
And then there was another company that we’ve really enjoyed working with in Denmark, and it was kind of their travel tourism board, and they are just an incredibly family friendly country. So everything we were able to do with them was just wonderful for our children.
What advice do you have for people who might be terrified at the thought with traveling with their children?
That is a question I get all the time because having children is a game changer. It changes the way you travel and you have to understand that. So people, when they go into travel, they want to travel like they used to, but you can’t. You have to completely take it really slow. So what we tell people is when you go someplace, you try and do it all. You try and fit it all in. And so our motto is always make sure that you leave something for next time. This way you don’t have this … I don’t know … is it that fear of missing out? I don’t know. But we tend to push ourselves and then it’s not fun. And then there’s nothing fun about it. The kids are melting down. It’s a lot of work. So we honestly only pick about one or two main things we want to see in a country and the rest of the time we’re pretty chilled. We’re just meandering. We’re just relaxing. It’s a really laid back kind of way of travel that we do.