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  • "Our Big Trip Is Kind of Our Last Hurrah"

    This couple is spending two months exploring the Philippines to build lasting memories with their twins and a terminally-ill son.
    by Jillianne E. Castillo .

  • Really want to travel with the family but having second thoughts? The trick is to just go. That’s a tip from dad, Travis Shreeve, who’s currently on a traveling spree in the Philippines with his whole family. 

    They family of five have been all over our tropical country, visiting Tagaytay; Manila; Morong, Bagac and Balanga in Bataan; and Olongapo where there's a little mountain town called Iram, a resettlement area for Aetas displaced by the Mount Pinatubo eruption.

    The rest of the Shreeve bunch is made up of mom Amy, 8-year-old Vincent, and Willa and Luther, who are 1-year-old twins. They’re chronicling and sharing their adventures on the Facebook page The Unlikely Travelers and, aside from visiting tourist sites, they clearly haven’t skimped on finding the genuine Filipino experience. 

    Here they are on a Taal Lake boat trip, posted on Facebook with the cheeky caption, “our #laketaal boat trip was apparently sponsored by Dickies and Playboy.” 

    Here’s a photo of them buying bread at a panaderya. “Street bakeries should NOT be overlooked while traveling in the Philippines,” reads the caption. “We enjoyed some pandecoco and spanish bread.” 

    And they even went shopping for bargain goods at Baclaran! 

    So why the Philippines? During an email interview with SmartParenting.com.ph, we discovered that Travis actually speaks fluent Filipino because he lived in the Philippines for two years. He told us, “I wanted to bring my family here and show them many of the things that I love about the land and the people here.”

    Aside from finding fun and adventure, the Shreeves’ trip is a purposeful one as well. The family’s 8-year-old boy Vincent is born with a disabling genetic condition, the same one Travis and Amy’s eldest child, Whitney, had and who passed away at 16 months old in 2007. 

    “Vincent's health started to decline, and we knew his condition is terminal, so we decided to set two months aside to spend with the family so we can build some memories before Vincent passes on,” says Travis. “Our big trip is kind of our last hurrah.” 

    And reading the stories the family has shared, Vincent is definitely making a lot of happy memories with his mom, dad and siblings.  

    Travis and Amy wisely choose their travel destinations around the country. Their “base” is located in Mandaluyong that allows them to take short road and island hopping trips. It also acts as a place to store Vincent’s medical supplies. The family, who brought with them three car seats, a baby carrier, a stroller and a wheelchair, also makes sure to keep in air-conditioned areas so that Vincent doesn’t get too hot in the Philippine heat. “Mainit dito sa Pilipinas!” says Travis, impressing us with his Filipino. “We've slowed down our itinerary to make sure that he's comfortable.”

    The Unlikely Travelers family, who hail from Salt Lake City, Utah in the U.S., arrived in the country early June, and they've carved out two months for the grand vacation. They were able to set aside funding for their trip, thanks to Travis' accounting firm that he says is doing very well. 

    And their favorite thing so far in the Philippines? The food and the people! 

    “I can't get enough of kaldareta. My wife loves it as well.  I also love tocino,” shares Travis. Not only that, they love the simple sari-sari store snacks as well. “I always have the basics on hand. Sarsi, Sky Flakes, Zest-O, and Amy always needs to be close to buko juice.”

    And, twin babies Willa and Luther are enjoying the attention they get and are learning a lot to boot. “People are excited to see the babies, and the babies are very excited for the attention,” says Travis. “The kids are learning many of the basics here--learning to eat better, learning to walk, learning to talk.”

    For parents who hesitate to travel with their kids because they foresee the challenges, Travis doesn't deny it can be difficult, but still insists: "Our tip would be just to go. We get a lot of encouraging emails from followers who are inspired to travel after seeing us. Be wise about naps and other children's needs, but just go.  It's been very healthy for our family and our marriage to get out. We really recommend it for others as well.”

    Travis says sharing their vacation on Facebook was to help show people that it can be done, and it can be worth it. "I'd love to reach people throughout North America and show them what an amazing place the Philippines is.”

    See where The Unlikely Travelers’ family trip takes them next via their Facebook page, Instagram and website at theunlikelytravelers.com

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