For this week’s Stamped, Tola Balogun, a travel creator, tells us about her four-day trip to El Salvador with her partner and their two-year-old son. She talks about how she loves travelling with her son and how she loved visiting Central America.
This is her story as told to Chukwunonso Emelumadu, writer at Backdrop.
I became a travel creator because I wanted to share my travel experiences with other people and inspire them to travel themselves. I want people to see themselves in me and understand that they can also explore the world if they want to. I love going to different places and seeing how people live in different parts of the world. I’ve been to like 40 different countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Netherlands, to name a few. That should tell you how invested I am in travel.
We were going to the wedding of my partner’s cousin in America. When I’m travelling, I try my best to check for other countries I can visit in the region before returning to the UK. My partner and I decided to visit El Salvador because it’s easy to access Central America from The United States. So, after the wedding, we flew to El Salvador with our two-year-old son.
When we got to El Salvador, we picked up a rental car and drove to Lake Coatepeque, one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in Central America. We stayed at the Cardedeu hotel at Lake Coatepeque during this trip; it has an amazing view of the lake.
Our first day in El Salvador was really chill and relaxing. We just stayed in the hotel, hung out in and around the pool, and got acclimatised to our new surroundings. When we’re travelling with our toddler, we need some down days like this where we don’t do much. This is because he needs to get used to and reorientate himself to the environment. One thing we did on this day was go to the famous Picnic Steakhouse and go on the massive rainbow slide there. It was loads of fun.
The next day, we drove the famous Ruta de las Flores route and made stops in some of the famous towns on that route. We stopped at Juayua, Concepción de Ataco and Apaneca. In each of these towns, we got something to eat, visited popular landmarks, and just generally tried to explore as much as we possibly could. Next, we went to Cafe Albania, which isn’t your regular restaurant. In addition to having amazing food, Cafe Albania offers exciting activities like ziplining and bike climbing. We spent the rest of the day there before going back to our hotel.
For the third day, we planned on going hiking on a volcano, but it was really hot that day, and it would have been impossible to go hiking with a toddler. Instead, we just went to the lakeside to have fun by the lake. We could only do activities one after the other because one of us had to stay with our child at all times. We spent the afternoon jet skiing and going on boat trips. It was a nice time by the lake, and our son seemed to really like it, which made it so much better for us.
The following day, we drove to El Zonte, a famous beach town in El Salvador. We spent our whole day on the beach side and just took everything in. The beaches in El Zonte attract surfers from all over the world and watching them attempt to surf massive waves was entertaining. It was another chill and relaxing day in El Zonte. The hotel we stayed at in El Zonte was Mandala Eco Villas, and it was a really nice place: eco-friendly and had amazing views of the beach. We loved it there. This was our last day in El Salvador as we flew out the next morning.
I loved El Salvador because I didn’t feel like a foreigner. There were so many other people of colour there as well. Everything in El Salvador was so beautiful, and the food was amazing. I didn’t expect to fall in love with El Salvador as much as I did. It was so serene and welcoming; we felt very safe because nobody stared at us as they do in some other countries. It just felt like home away from home. The trip was a nice bonding experience for our family.
Unlike what you might have heard from other people, travelling with our toddler was easy. I pick early morning or late night flights so that his body is naturally tired and in shutdown mode so that he’s basically sleeping throughout the flight. We love exploring the world with our son. He was born during the pandemic in 2020, but he has already been to 10 countries. We can’t cover as much as we would on our trips if we were alone because he needs to rest and reset between activities. However, we love watching him play and seeing him have new experiences in real-time. Every time we come back from a trip, he grows as a person and we absolutely love it. We can’t wait to go on more amazing trips with him and make long-lasting memories.