Do you get overwhelmed when planning a family vacation? There are so many details to be considered! Flights, accommodations, activities, possibly childcare, etc. Have you thought about asking for help from a professional? Meet Malee of Third Culture Travel! She might be able to help. I envy how much she and her family travel and the locations they visit. We should all try to be a little more adventurous this year! Visit somewhere on your bucket list! We all deserve to treat our-self and get away. 

Instagram Handle / Facebook Page (Personal & Professional – if comfortable
@thirdculturetravel, facebook.com/thirdculturetravel, facebook.com/maleestatwick

Briefly introduce yourself!
I am a sort-of Denver native; I grew up in both Denver and Thailand. I love to snowboard, hike, climb, read, dance, travel, hang out with my family, and generally just be outside.

How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
I have two boys, ages 4 and 1.

Where do you live in South Denver exactly? If not South Denver, where?
I live in the Harvey Park neighborhood.

What’s your favorite family friendly activity in South Denver?
The Lakewood Link rec center is a life saver in cold winter months. I love their drop in gymnastics and WARM pool. Plus they have climbing, swimming, and martial arts classes, all for affordable prices.

What’s your favorite kid friendly restaurant in South Denver?
Taste of Thailand. So chill, not super crowded (no wait time), they have great “kids meals,” plus amazing Thai food, of course.

What’s your favorite date night restaurant in Denver (not just South Denver)?
Hapa Sushi. Sure it’s maybe not the most authentic traditional sushi, but the orgasm roll is amazing.

What’s the best mom and/or parenting advice you’ve received?
Having a baby is no more or less fulfilling than any other life activity, and every moment does not need to be precious. And feeling that way doesn’t mean you don’t love your children!

What inspires you?
My parents – they inspire me to be calm, kind, and supportive parents like they are and always have been. They inspire me with their diligence, hard work, and passion as a former teacher and current entrepreneur.

You started Third Culture Travel. Tell us more!
Third Culture Travel is a company I started that provides travel planning services for families. I create custom itineraries for every client based on their needs and budget. I’m not a travel agent and don’t work on commission (I charge a planning fee instead), so everything I research is based on your preferences and travel style. This gives me a lot of flexibility – I can do everything for you including a full itinerary and bookings, or I can just find some great cultural activities for your family. I can research hotels OR Airbnbs, which can often be cheaper and fit more people. I can find you a babysitter or a photographer or rent you baby gear on site. My goal is to save you time, save you money (by planning in advance and doing lots of research), and help you and your family have a fun, mostly stress-free trip. (Unfortunately I can’t guarantee a completely stress-free trip, because kids, but I’ll do my best!)

What inspired you to start Third Culture Travel?
The idea for Third Culture Travel came to me as my family (including my parents, sister, husband, and two kids) were on a month long trip through Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. We love travel and have continued to do it even with two kids; in fact, we may travel even more now than we did before kids. Despite the MANY challenges, we find that it is fun, eye-opening, and brings us together as a family as we experience new things and aren’t on our phones as much. I wondered if there was a way to help other families have these experiences too; to help them get over the intimidating hurdles of planning, researching, and going to a place they’ve never been before, with a baby or kids no less! I want to inspire families to get out more, and I want to save them time planning because parents are always short on time.

What is the best career/business advice you’ve ever received?
A few things have stuck with me that I’ve learned along the way: outsource whatever you can, at work or at home. There is no shame in doing so and it will save you so much time/money/energy and make you better at what you’re doing. I was also encouraged to start with a minimum viable product; to put out there what I had and not worry about it being perfect at first because it will change over time anyway, especially in the first year. Lastly, I learned it’s important to put yourself out there and network, as hard as that is for me. There is no point in doing all the work if no one is ever going to see it.

What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
I love not having billable hours, not working on someone else’s schedule, or trying to find work to fill my 40 hour work week just because someone says I need to work 40 hours even though there isn’t enough work. I used to work in corporate America, can you tell? 🙂 I also love that I now love what I do, and it’s been pretty interesting to learn all kinds of different skills involved in running a business!

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
It has sometimes been challenging to prioritize my business. As I am still in the start up phase and not bringing in a steady income, it’s easy to prioritize my kids, my home, my husband’s job – everything else over my business. But if I don’t prioritize my business it’ll likely never grow, so I know I need to give it my best shot even if in the moment it doesn’t seem like the most important thing.

What do you do for self-care?
I love a good massage. Whenever I can I go to get a Chinese massage at Miracle Touch on Federal – an hour for $35!

What is your best mom hack?
I have a travel mom hack for you: If you’re checking a car seat on a flight and running out of room in your luggage, use the extra space in the car seat bag for diapers, jackets, etc. They don’t seem to care if you have more than just a carseat in the bag. Also, download the TripIt app! It keeps your whole trip organized and easy to access offline.

Is there anything else about you and/or your business you want to highlight?
My website: www.thirdculturetravel.com. This is the best place for info and getting in touch with me. I also want to note that I now have gift cards for sale if anyone is looking to give the gift of experience for the holidays! www.thirdculturetravel.com/giftcards. Lastly, I wanted to note that my family and I are leaving shortly to live in Thailand for 3 months! We are very excited to try living abroad and to give our boys this experience. I will still be able to run my business from Thailand; in fact it will benefit my clients as I familiarize myself first-hand with even more activities in South-East Asia.

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