Family Adventure Travel with Shelly Rivoli

Family Adventure Travel with Shelly Rivoli

Sheila Moon Sheila Moon
4 minute read

As photographer and family adventure travel writer Shelly Rivoli watched her kids tumbling around a Parisian playground, she felt she'd found her slice of heaven. “I love seeing my three kids in Paris playing with local children, then hitting the café for croissants, cafe crème, and chocolat chaud,” said Shelly. For Shelly and her young family, being a part of their arrondissement, shopping at the local market, and eating at the corner bistros was a dream come true.

Rivoli Family in Paris

Photos courtesy of Shelly Rivoli.

Shelly and her husband Tim are both passionate about travel. When they finally decided to have children, they vowed that it would not change their globe-trotting lifestyle. Their first daughter, Angelina, was born in 2004. Within weeks they were back to doing short hikes near home. In the first 14 months of Angelina’s life the family traveled to Yosemite, Thailand, New York City, Amish Country, Europe, and regularly trekked to Oregon to visit family.

Shelly Rivoli with baby in Bangkok

During the Yosemite trip, Shelly’s brilliant idea was born. Within a few months she had written a book proposal and began developing a supporting website. In 2007 she self-published Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. Travels with Baby is filled with travel advice and resources for parents of children aged birth to five years old. Most of the book was typed one-handed while Angelina nursed, slept, and cooed in Shelly’s other arm.

Travels With Baby

Two of the Rivoli family’s most memorable trips included their mothers-in-law. When their three children were just two, five, and seven the family traveled to Costa Rica with Shelly’s mother. In the past they had stayed at an all-inclusive resort with a personal “vacation nanny” and poolside cocktail service — a welcome respite from full-time parenting. For this family adventure travel they rented a four-wheel drive SUV and headed into the remote jungle of the Nicoya Peninsula where there were no land lines and only a satellite phone for emergencies. “It was magical,” said Shelly. “We were delighted by the howler and capuchin monkeys that lined the trail to the beach, dropping mangos on our heads.”

Rivoli family in Costa Rica

The second memorable mom-in-law experience was a trip to La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico with Tim’s 80-year-old mother. They embarked on the La Paz adventure tourist experience, snorkeling with sea lions and swimming with whale sharks. What they were not expecting was to be escorted by a pod of humpback whales who sprayed them with whale snot. “The kids thought that was the coolest thing ever,” exclaimed Shelly.

Shelly recommends two key products when travelling with children. The first is a durable, adjustable sunhat that can grow with your child, like this Outdoor Research Kids' Helios Sun Hat.

Outdoor Research Kids' Helios Sun Hat

Product photos courtesy of the manufacturer.

The second is the Pea Pod Portable Travel Tent. This nifty child-size tent folds down to a self-contained three-pound package, is made of UV fabric plus breathable mesh, has a detachable mattress pad, and fully zips to keep babies safe from sand, insects, and everything else they want to put in their mouth. This tent is appropriate for ages six months to three years and helped save Shelly’s sanity.

Pea Pod Portable Travel Tent

Product photos courtesy of the manufacturer.

As the pandemic was closing down life as we knew it, Shelly was chosen by Falcon Guides to write Hiking with Kids Southern California: 45 Great Hikes for Families. The family traveled more the 4,000 miles in just 15 months, traversing SoCal from San Simeon and the Southern Sierras to the Mexican border, visiting five national parks, and exploring more than 45 great hikes.

Hiking with Kids Southern California: 45 Great Hikes for Families

The book was published in 2023, shortly after an incredible super bloom. Hopefully 2023’s El Niño will bring another super bloom and more families will experience Shelly’s wildflower hikes in the Spring of 2024.

Shelly Rivoli family hiking inspiration

And for additional family adventure travel inspiration, visit Family Travel 411. The site is a curated collection of travel guides by parent-writers for destinations around the world, plus Shelly’s newest stories and recommendations.

Shelly Rivoli photograpy

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