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Mother Essentials: Serena Minott

Written by Erin Feher

For many families, summer means travel, whether across the world to climb the pyramids or across the state to hang at grandma’s house. That’s why we are so excited for globetrotter Serena Minott to share her travel-themed Mother Essentials with us today. Shortly after she had her first baby, she and her family moved abroad. Before her second birthday, her daughter Asha had visited more than 20 countries, including Ethiopia, Indonesia, Singapore, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Senegal. Their worldwide adventures inspired mom and daughter to team up and create the children’s travel book series The Amazing Adventures of Aya & Pete. In the books, Aya travels the world with her parents and her buddy, Pete, exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico and sampling croque monsieur sandwiches in Paris. Today, Serena, an IP attorney by day, lives between Miami, Florida and Toulouse, France, and continues to travel, now with two in tow: Asha, 6, and her little brother, Amal, 1. Check out her 21 Mother Essentials for traveling with kids below for a little bout of wanderlust!

Digital Library. “I read A LOT of children’s books. But I also read a lot for myself. The Libby library app is a complete game changer because I can download free library books from anywhere. Currently, I’m reading Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass At Making Money.” Libby Library App, free, iTunes.

Leather Rucksack. “I love love love this bag! I carry it on every trip. The leather breaks in really beautifully over time, yet it retains its shape. It fits my laptop, diaper clutch, change of clothes, snacks, magazines, and on-the-go beauty pouch. I’ve taken it all over the world, stuffed to the hilt, and four years in, the straps have not given out.” The Transport Rucksack, $198, Madewell.

Rosebud Salve. “What can I say, this is hands down THE best lip salve in the world. The texture is amazing, glossy, and smooth—not sticky—and the light rose scent is heavenly.” Smith’s Rosebud Salve, $6, Anthropologie.

Portable Crib. “Sturdy, portable, folds up like a small suitcase, and is usually a free checked item when flying.” BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light $299, Amazon.

Endless Reader App. “These learning games from Originator are some of my daughter Asha’s favorites. She started with Endless Alphabet when she was about 3, and now at age 6 loves Endless Reader and Endless Spanish.” Orginator Kids.

Lightweight Laptop. “I’m very fortunate that my work allows me to work anywhere in world. As long as I have my laptop and a solid Wi-Fi connection, I’m golden!” MacBook Pro, starting at $1,299, Amazon.

Muslin Swaddles. “These are the best baby blankets, period. We use them for everything—airplane blanket, picnic blanket, beach blanket, sun shade, stroller cover, you name it. The designs are fun and whimsical, and the lightweight fabric makes them versatile and easy to pack.” Aden+Anais Swaddle Blankets, $45 (3-pack), Amazon.

Scented Travel Candle. “We usually stay in Airbnb apartments when we are traveling or living overseas, so candles are the quickest way to bring familiar smells into our space. These travel-inspired candles are made of soy wax and are clean burning without any harmful carcinogens. Plus, the fragrances are inspired by some of my favorite places, like Côte d’Azure, Marrakech, and Rio de Janeiro. I purchased mine at Peace + Riot in Brooklyn, but they are also available online.” Melted Element Soy Candle, $40, Macy’s.

Pared-Down Diaper Pouch. “When I had my second child, I realized that I really didn’t need a big diaper bag most of the time. This diaper pouch is perfect for quick trips around town and when we’re traveling because it’s one less bag to carry. It fits several diapers, a onesie, bib, and wipes, and comes with a matching changing mat.” TWELVElittle Easy Diaper Pouch, $75, Amazon.

On-the-Go Oatmeal. “These are absolutely essential for early morning flights with little ones. They will invariably get hungry and you will invariably get stuck in a terminal with bad food options. Just add hot water, let sit, and voilà, healthy breakfast on-the-go!” Purely Elizabeth Superfood Oat Cups, $34.83 (for 12 cups), Amazon.

The Amazing Adventures of Aya & Pete. “We created these books to inspire children’s natural curiosity and encourage them to learn more about the world they live in. When I couldn’t find any travel books for my daughter (who loves to read), we decided to write our own stories, based on our real life experiences traveling and living around the world. We’ve so far published Aya & Pete in Paris and Aya & Pete in London.” The Amazing Adventures of Aya & Pete, $17.99, Ashima.

Drawstring Travel Pants. “Lightweight, wrinkle resistant, quick drying, black to hide spills and stains, plus zippered pockets keep everything secured. I almost always travel in these pants if I have my children with me.” Zella Out & About Crop Pants, $69, Nordstrom.

Glossier Cloud Paint. “I don’t have a lot of time for a daily makeup routine, so after I moisturize, I dab on a little Cloud Paint (in Storm) and it gives me a rosy glow.” Cloud Paint, $18, Glossier.  

Pro Markers. “We use these to sign and autograph our books! They were recommended by our illustrator, Carolina Búzio, who knows all things artsy.” Staedtler Lumocolor Markers, $13.97, Amazon.

Featherweight Stroller. “This stroller is lightweight, folds really easily, and stands up on its own, so takes up very little storage space.” UPPAbaby G-LITE Stroller, $199.99, Amazon.

Citrusy Scent. “I love this travel-sized fragrance, which was a gift from my sister. The small size is perfect for my carry-on bag and the citrusy fragrance makes me think of summer and the beach.” Jo Malone Grapefruit Cologne, $70, Nordstrom.

A New Interactive Toy. “Before every trip, I buy a new toy that my children haven’t seen before and surprise them at the airport. I purchased this light-up learning remote for my son Amal for our flight to Europe last summer, and at 17 months old, it’s still keeping him entertained.” LeapFrog Scout’s Learning Lights Remote, $7.79, Amazon.

Notebook. “I always have a notebook on me for to-do lists, journaling, ideas, and story drafts. I bought several of these in London a couple of years ago. I love how lightweight they are (softcover) and the faux lizard covers make them super luxe looking.” Sloane Stationary Notebook, $21.95, Amazon.

Everywhere Lime Moisturizing Oil. “This oil is from a Miami-based beauty company. I try to buy and support local businesses whenever possible, plus Sayblee is a black woman-owned business. The brand’s lime-scented oil is good for my hair, but the dropper dispenser also makes it a fantastic nail and cuticle moisturizer.” Sayblee Lime Moisturizing Oil. $25, Sayblee.

Easy Conversion App. “A good conversion app is essential. From converting currency to metric measurements, this is my go-to.” Units Plus Conversion App, free, iTunes.

Quick Language Podcasts. “One of the best conversational language learning programs out there. My daughter and I listen to the 20 minute episodes during our morning commute to school.” Coffee Break Languages, free, Radio Lingua.

For more on Serena Minott, check out her Instagram feed. And for more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with designer Taylor Jay, clean living expert Kristian Henderson, Oakland retail queen Sherri McMullen, eco-fashion designer Alyssa KerbelShahidah Zareef of Bossmom NationJoanne EncarnacionLaTonya YvetteMorgan Walker of Make.doJeanne Chan of Harlow & Grey, and more.

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