If you’ve ever had to bring your children and mother-in-law along with you on a work trip, then you can appreciate what Victoria Osteen’s summers are like.
Every year, Victoria criss-crosses the country with her husband, TV preacher Joel Osteen, their 16- and 11-year-old children, and Joel’s mother for their “Night of Hope” tour.The whole family takes the stage in dozens of cities, providing inspirational religious sermons and music to stadiums full of people.When she’s on the road, Victoria’s schedule is also filled with media interviews and book signings -- she’s a best-selling author and has a new children’s book, “Gifts from the Heart.” ($16.99, Little Simon Inspirations).
And then there’s that job she has co-pastoring the largest church in the United States, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, while mothering two busy children.
I recently caught up with Osteen to talk about her experiences as a traveling mom, and also to bow down in admiration of her ability to juggle it all.
Q: Are your kids good travelers?
A: They are good travelers. They’ve been traveling with us since my daughter was about 4 and my son was 8 or 9. They have their computers with them. We read a lot, so we always have things to do.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge of traveling with kids?
A: Food. After a while, you get tired of the same food. Trying to find food to make everyone happy is a challenge. After the (Night of Hope) event, it's 10 p.m. and the kids are always hungry. My daughter has eaten every chicken fingers in every state, I think.
Q: What’s your favorite family vacation?
A: Beaver Creek, Colorado. That's a lot of fun, because we do so many outdoor activities. We ride bikes together, or ride the gondolas and the ski lifts, go rafting together, and watch fireworks together. We do a lot of outdoor activities. We usually travel with our in-laws and we've got lots of family there. We're all hanging out and having a good time.
Q: What vacation is on your bucket list?
A: Hopefully, we're going to go to Italy next summer. Our vacations we'll usually take with my brother and his family, or Joel's sister and her family. But we're going to Italy and just go as (our immediate) family. The overseas trips are neat, because the kids are older and they can appreciate the museums more. It makes the vacations more interesting.
Q: Do you think it’s important for children to travel?
A: I think it's important for everybody to travel. It just opens your eyes. We've been able to experience a lot of different places and meet a lot of different people. It's very educational. It's great if you can do it. If we didn't travel as a job, I would really want to set destinations to take our children. Don't you remember when your parents took you somewhere and you weren't old enough to appreciate it? Then no one has fun. Make sure everyone's on board and having fun, because that's really the best memory.
Q: How do you make family time a priority when you’re working during your travels?
A: If we go on the road, it's only for a few days at a time. If we go to another country, it could be a week. You're just with each other all the time. We make priority time when we're at home. We eat together. The kids are busy also, and the older they're getting -- our son started driving this year -- we still keep a close-knit family. We spend time talking together. Jonathon (her teenage son) and Joel like to work out together. I bring things together and organize what everyone's doing.
Q: Tell me about your children’s books. Can you bring them on vacation?
A: Of course. There are three children’s books in the set, including two large picture books. They're a lot about family. The little kids love those books. They have such a great message behind them, so parents enjoy them. Putting God in first place. Parents read their books over and over to their children, so it's important that parents get something out of the book, too. It gives parents a way to start and promote conversation. I think books are a great way to open dialogue with their kids and communicate with them. Even if you can’t afford to travel, you can travel a lot through books.
To win a copy of two of Victoria Osteen’s children’s books, “Giving from the Heart,“ and “Unexpected Treasures,“ post a comment below telling what your children’s favorite travel books are, or their favorite books to bring on family vacations. The winner will be picked from a lottery using random.org.