Natalie Preddie is a Mum to two beautiful boys and expecting her third child. She has visited more than 30 countries leaving behind a secure job to pursue her passion for travel. She is a well-known travel writer with her own blog, The Adventures of Natty P & Co where she shares stories of solo travel, travel with her husband Mark and family travel with her little boys. An in-demand journalist, she has written for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and CAA to name just a few publications. Natalie makes regular appearances as a travel and lifestyle expert on shows including Your Morning, The Morning Show, Cityline and CHCH Morning Live.
Times are challenging for travel writers and for the travel industry due to COVID-19. To motivate herself and inspire others, she is launching her own IGTV show, “Mom’s in Reel Life”. Natalie will interview some of the women that she admires and has worked with in the media world. As we were talking, Natalie patiently took questions from another little interviewer – her oldest son Charlie. She is refreshingly candid and authentic, and tells it like it is and she is our latest #WomenInspiringWomen.
You left your role in PR to pursue your passion for travel and bringing those stories to Canadians. What made you decide to take what can only be described as a leap of faith?
I wasn’t happy and had a complete mental breakdown. I knew that I needed to change something in my life. Travel has always been something that fueled me in the past. Telling stories and connecting and getting people excited about travel always excited me. So, I stopped working in PR and did it. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without my husband Mark. We both had to make a decision that this was going to be something that I was going to pursue. When you are with someone, you are in a partnership and this was something that he had to be on board with. It was scary at first not having a full-time income, but we just knew for the happiness and mental health of both myself and consequently our partnership, it had to happen.
Traveling solo can be scary for many people. Once we are able to travel again, what should people know about traveling solo?
Use common sense and trust your gut. Don’t put yourself into situations that you wouldn’t put yourself in at home. Add that extra level of caution if you are in a place that you don’t know. When you are traveling solo, you have more freedom to go with the flow, so really embrace that. I know that when I traveled solo, when it came to a meal, I would sometimes try to find someone to have dinner with that I had never met before. Maybe I met them randomly and just asked, while being clear that I am married. I think it’s fun and part of traveling is learning about people, what they do and what their lives are like.
Allow yourself to be more curious, to wander a little bit more and give yourself that time to enjoy the surroundings. Just make sure that you make smart decisions and use common sense. If that road looks a little dodgy and it’s getting close to sunset, don’t take it.
You have traveled extensively, including some dangerous places like Nigeria. That was a work trip, but how did you cope with being in a place where there are often safety advisories?
I was filming a project with the BBC and Nollywood [Nigeria’s version of Hollywood]. It again came down to common sense. I didn’t put myself into situations that I was not comfortable with and I followed my gut. If it didn’t feel right to me, I wasn’t going to go there. I was living in England at the time, so I stay in touch with family and friends there and in Canada. It was to keep people up to date and it made us all feel better and it gave some accountability to the people that I was with as well knowing that I was constantly in touch.
I wasn’t there completely solo, and had people looking out for me, but when there is a cast and crew, it’s easy to get lost. It’s about making the right decisions. Being able to explore, but knowing your boundaries. If you are in a new area, you are going to feel a little uncomfortable because it is something new, which is fine. If you are with a group, it’s also about being able to say, this is enough, I don’t want to go any further.
You have been refreshingly candid about having PCOS to your pregnancy journey to your youngest son’s health scares on “The Adventures of Natty P” and in your TV appearances. Why did you decide to be so open and share your story?
There are lots of women going through the same experience. We spend so much time hiding in guilt, shame or just the ignorance of not knowing that there are other people that think like us. It was important to me, for other people to know that I went through this too. There were situations in my life where I wished I had known someone that that was going through the same thing. I never want someone to feel completely alone.
There are expectations, especially with social media, and that’s why I like posting real life. Kids have tantrums on planes, and no one has written about that nightmare tantrum and how awful it is. There are times when I want to show real life and I want to see more of people being authentic. I think that’s why women like Chrissy Teigen are so popular. She showed what two days postpartum looks like. She was wearing a diaper and she’s candid. Chrissy Teigen said that women who come back three days later looking amazing have a trainer, a stylist and a nutritionist. Normal people are not like that. That authenticity is often lacking in our “role models”. I like that she’s different, not afraid to be different and speak her mind. She’s lucky that she has the platform to do it.
Why did you decide to create “Moms in Reel Life”?
I’ve been working more and more in TV the past few years and I meet so many fantastic women who are bringing us the news. They are becoming moms or are moms and throughout this whole pandemic, they have been going into work and physically distancing. But they are doing their jobs and telling these stories, as emotional as they have been, and are still being parents. Both of those jobs are really tough.
I was sitting at home, with this lack of motivation and doing a bit of “Oh woe is me.” Then, I was like, wait a second, if this is how I’m feeling and dealing with two kids and a now limited presence on TV, how are these women focusing? How are these women who are very much responsible for how we get our news and information doing it? The burden on them is that much greater. Not only are they looking after their families, they are looking after the general public and what does that feel like? I wanted to talk to them to find out. If you don’t ask, how will you ever know? So, I asked, and these women are excited to talk about it and I’m excited to tell their stories on a bigger stage.
What life lessons will you take away from the pandemic?
Slow down. Prioritize my family. I was brought up as a Seventh Day Adventist and from Friday night to Saturday night was the Sabbath, and we only did things as a family. We’d go for church, and our family would go out for a walk There was no one else, it was just us doing things together. It was our dedicated time. I didn’t realize how important that was and how much it shaped our family and how we connect with one another now, and I want that for my kids.
Now, we have nowhere else to go and have this dedicated time. There is no one else around and no one else involved – it’s just focused on our family. We were just packing our schedule and I don’t want to do that. I want to make sure that we have that time that is just focused on us and nothing else. That will give us the bond that families should have.
Who is your inspiration?
I feel like there are different women that I look to in different aspects of my life and what part of my life that I am looking at. Whether it’s being a mother, being a writer. On a more local scale Heather Greenwood Davis is amazing. She trained as a lawyer but always had this need to travel. One day, she decided to quit law and become a travel writer. She has been an editor for National Geographic and took her kids around the world. That sort of bravery is inspiring.
Obviously, my mother with her drive, her strength and ability to pick up and keep going, even if she got hit, time and time again. She was a principal and tended to work in tough schools. She ended up taking on a lot of people’s problems, taking on the roles of teacher, social worker, manager and grief counselor. We would have kids come to stay with us between foster care and adoption. She made a decision one day in her life that she was going to change the way she existed and take back power that she had given away for years. She took on this big role in the community helping people. We always had people at Christmas that weren’t part of our family that had nowhere else to go.
Both of my parents were big on inclusion and made us focus on being the best person that we could possibly be. That rubbed off on me and made me correctly take inspiration from people that have those same qualities. Women that I look up to have a lot of the same qualities that my parents do. You look at someone like Michele Obama, and she has her eye on the prize.
Nathania Harrison used to run the Nike’s Women’s Department in Canada. She decided one day, that she wanted to find a way to be happier and she created Well and Tight, which is a community that I am part of. She has been so inspiring and I have come so far knowing her. Nathania is relatable and she is working through things too, so it’s not like she’s on a pedestal. She just resonates strength and vulnerability. She is a good reflection of what we all are as women.
I have found inspiration within my community with people that I work and interact with. It makes me think about those qualities in myself. When my Mom turned 50, she had a realization, is it worth the battle? It’s about how it’s going to serve my greater purpose and applying life lessons to that. There are women who inspire us in different parts of our lives, and as we change, so will our inspiration.
As a mother who has a busy and fulfilling career, what advice do you have for other mothers out there?
Know when to ask for help and be OK with asking. Decide what is worth the fight. Know that you are stronger than you think and that you can do difficult things. Think of what we as women do from getting our period, to giving birth and going through menopause – biologically, we go through a lot. There is something new that tests me every day and I’m stronger than I think. We all are.