Although CEO of Violet Grey, April Uchitel recently moved to LA, she is still very much one of those special breed of New York women with an unshakable can-do attitude that a girl only gets from making it in the Big Apple.
A respected business woman, April is also a mother, and thankfully as open about the vulnerabilities and stresses of being a working mom as anyone.
So when I noticed she was heading off on Spring Break with her daughter Luella, a girl in 7th grade (danger: teen angst imminently approaching!) I knew there was no one better to ask about what it's really like to share a family Spring Break than the two of them.
Firstly, April - tell me a little about you. What do you do? Where did you grow up?
I am the CEO of Violet Grey, a curated luxury beauty retailer. I was born in Boulder, Colorado and spent most of my formative years in a small town just outside of Boulder called Longmont. I moved to Los Angeles in the early '90s, and then to NYC in '99. After 19 years of splitting time between Tribeca and Woodstock, New York we moved back to Los Angeles, where nothing has changed and everything has changed!
And Luella, what grade are you in? Where do you go to school?
I am in 7th grade and just recently transferred to The Wesley School, which will be the 7th school that I have attended so far!
April, it's Spring Break. Where are you going?
We are headed to Morocco and Madrid with a motley crew of travelers to celebrate a dear friend's 50th birthday.
What was the best moment on this trip together? (to both)
We glamped in the desert with a group of 17 and were entertained by acrobats, a snake charmer, belly dancers and a flame thrower, under a full Moroccan moon. Pretty over-the-top amazing.
April, did you guys have any alone time? Do you think that is possible when traveling with kids, or should parents just take a break on their own if they need down time?
Lu and a were roommates the entire trip as the riad rooms and tents were small, so my husband went with my 9 year old son Sebastian and us girls roomed together. This afforded us many nights of conversation. I was never alone and actually had no desire to be, as I wanted to share each and every experience. On a different type of holiday I think alone time is super warranted, to unplug; via a good book, yoga, or a walk on the beach.
How do you choose family vacations? Is it a democracy? (to both)
My husband is from Argentina and is a photographer who travels a lot. Usually there is an invite, a friend or family to visit, or an opportunity to join one of his trips that tends to determine our fate. We are not great travel planners, so when offers come up that are easy to jump on the bandwagon, we jump!
Luella, how do you think your spring breaks are different than your Mom's?
How my generation's trips are different:
When my mom was young, her family could not really afford airline travel, so they took a lot of road trips. I have been lucky enough to be able to go many places and explore other countries, and now that we are in California, we have also started doing more road trips -- Joshua Tree, Mammoth, and exploring the coastline.
How our experiences are different on the same trip:
My mom understands the value of and appreciates trips a little more, as she traveled less when she was younger.
April, how are your spring breaks actually different to Luella's now?
I did not get on a plane until I was 16, and all of my vacations were station wagon road trips from my home in Colorado to Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, etc. Luella flew at 3 months old to St Thomas. TOTALLY DIFFERENT!
What is your favorite trip you have ever taken together? (to both)
APRIL: This most recent one to Marrakesh and Madrid. It was so special and completely life affirming and life changing!
LUELLA: Costa Rica last Spring break. The ocean was so warm and was right in our back yard. I learned to surf. The food was great, we did yoga, ziplined and watched howler monkeys throw apples into our pool.
What was the worst? (to both)
A road trip from New York to Maine where Luella got a massive ear infection on the last day and screamed the entire 6 hour drive home...
Who is better at packing? (to both)
ME! I worked at DVF for 9 years and Diane is a master packer - she taught me all about rolling!
What is your dream destination? (to both)
(April): I want to go to Portugal, Ibiza, Majorca, Patagonia, and Iceland. Luella wants to go to the Maldives or Bora Bora. She is dying to stay in a villa on stilts.
Do you think traveling together has brought you closer?
Coming off our recent magical trip where we really connected through the incredible shared experience - YES!
What would your top tip be for mothers and daughters to enjoy vacation together? (to both)
APRIL: Shopping is bonding when it is about supporting the local craftsmen, seeing how things are made, who made it, and realizing your purchase really impacts their community. Plus you have a souvenir for life!
LUELLA: Another bonding experience is to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone or share a unique activity that one of you has never done before. This could be surfing, jet skiing, zip lining, yoga, getting a henna tattoo, driving ATVs, as well as seeing an incredible sight for the first time together and really talking about what you are seeing.
APRIL: The entire time we were in Morocco I kept saying over and over, "we are in Northern Africa!" to make sure that the magnitude of the adventure was sinking in.