Meet the ROAM Team

ROAM Editorial Team

Maryann Jones Thompson – Founder and Editor in Chief

After a thousand years in publishing as a business journalist, ghostwriter, content strategist and market researcher, Maryann brings her experience traveling as a backpacker, businessperson, expat and mom to writing and editing for ROAM. maryann@roamfamilytravel.com

Didrik Johnck – Photographer at Large

What’s tougher: Climbing Everest? Getting your photo on the cover of Time? Producing a world travel series?  Or traveling with two energetic boys? Ask Didrik Johnk, professional husband, dad, travel photographer, producer. director, and judge of ROAM’s Family Travel Photo Contest.

Liliia DeCos – Executive Editor

A global citizen, Ukraine native, intrepid traveler, and extraordinary photographer and blogger (in both English AND Russian), Liliia and her husband Jose have trekked Everest, walked the Camino, and explored much of Asia and Europe with their two daughters. Now they’re living the “Life Aquatic” aboard a sailboat.

maria de la o square

Maria De La O – Founding Editor

Magazine editor. Documentary filmmaker. Copy expert. Mother. Traveler. Maria brings it all to the pages of ROAM.  maria@roamfamilytravel.com

Mya Miller – Editorial Assistant

After growing up in Asia, trekking in the Himalayas, researching whale sharks in Mexico, becoming a certified elephant trainer, and founding a popular IG food feed, it’s safe to say this University of Oregon student has adventure travel in her blood.

Crystal Engstrom – Photo Editor

This social worker, professional photographer, Packers fan, and mom wanted something to fill her spare 13 minutes each day so ROAM snagged Crystal to be our photo expert and judge of ROAM’s Family Travel Photo Contest. Click here to see her incredible portrait portfolio.

Patrick Yore – Web Design

This captain of Marin County industry moves and shakes the worlds of advertising, digital design, guitars and music gear, while adoring his lovely family – even more than his MSU Spartans.

Wendy McKinley – Web Production

Once upon a time, Wendy could be found deep in the waters of the Caribbean with her doting husband. These days, with 3 fast-growing children and their demanding work, they find themselves focusing more on relaxing on quiet beaches or in the verdant forest of their Oregon getaway.

Karla Clayton – Print Design

Karla absorbs every new design request with a smile as she juggles multiple clients from around the world. However, this brand-new mom is now as focused on car seats and diapers as she is on InDesign.

Christine Watridge – Assistant Editor

Christine is a college student from the Bay Area who dreams of backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail and visiting all 63 National Parks (15 down!). If she’s not outside, you can find her illustrating, writing, reading a good book or baking focaccia bread.

ROAM Team of Contributors

Amy Allen

Winner of ROAM’s 2019 Spring Break Photo Contest,  the Atlanta mom has crisscrossed the world with her kids, leaving a trail of fabulous images on her theallensvstheworld Instagram feed.

Valentine J. Brkich

Hailing from the charming town of Beaver, Pa., Val and his wife enjoy discovering other small towns and dragging their two young children along for the ride (sometimes literally). Read his blog SmallTownDad.com and follow him on Twitter @valentinebrkich.

tina davis

Tina Davis

Tina’s Australian upbringing taught her to appreciate a good beach, a good run, a good party and a good glass of wine – making her the perfect Northern California transplant.

Yelitza Day

Wife, Mom of 3, and 2nd Grade Teacher. Leading a busy life with the kids all playing different sports. Loves running and Bootcamp, and is always dreaming of the next vacation spot!

Jose DeCos – Director of Partnerships

Since leaving his job running a tech firm, Jose has traveled the world for six years, multiplied his family to four – and ain’t missing life inside an office. After writing the guide to Midlife Retirement, Jose is prepping for family life at sea as he manages partnerships for ROAM.

kelly dietz

Kelly Dietz

As a SoCal mom with active teens, Kelly and her husband spend most of their time running around town like their hair is on fire. “Over-planned” vacations provide balance.  “Life’s about the experiences – no matter how small – so we are always on the lookout for the next bit of fun.” Read: Fast Times in SLO Country, Beach Daze in the OC

Valentina Dirindin

Valentina is living our dream life as an Italian journalist who covers food and travel. She’s mama to two kids, including 3-year-old Matilda, who met Santa for the first time in Govone, Italy.

Jessica Edelen – Editor

Jessica is a part-time writer, substitute teacher, full-time mom of three, and community volunteer. And tired. She’s tired 🙂

Heather Edwards

Heather is mama to a rambunctious five-year old with a wild, free-spirited wanderlust-filled heart. She’s a U.S. Navy spouse living in Italy who’s a coffee junkie, red wine lover, and mom who loves to sleep in.

shelleyShelley Fargo – Editor

Shelley is a genuine, honest-to-goodness soccer mom who takes every chance she gets to travel farther afield than Manteca for a tournament.

Stephanie Frias

Stephanie is a professional travel writer, blogger and photographer. She’s mom and wife in a nomadic family, The Frias Family Nomads, who’ve been slow traveling through South America since May 2017.

jodi glasserJodi Glasser

Together with her husband and sons, Jodi jumps in a plane whenever possible for weekend getaways to snowboard, backcountry ski, sail, surf, camp, and adventure.  She has traveled around the world but her “happy place” is a special off-the-grid cabin in Central Oregon where she can perfect her mixology talent with great cocktails and fabulous friends.

Dennis & Jennifer Harrison

These lifelong intrepid travelers have covered some remote and fascinating ground, from their days living on before-it-was-crazy Santorini to biking, hiking and skiing with their kids near home in Northern California, to time in Bhutan, Sicily, Botswana, and beyond.

Dina Harrison – Contributing Editor
Like ambassadors of adorable, Dina’s two-of-the-cutest-kids-you’ll-ever-meet have accompanied her and husband Steve on many adventurous jaunts both near to and far from their Marin County home.

Sarah Hart – Contributing Editor

Sarah’s first job out of college was as a travel writer who wasn’t paid nearly enough to travel. She and her family love outdoor adventures, dance parties, and big meals with friends and family. She prefers packing to unpacking and enjoys butchering Spanish and French equally.

megan harveyMegan Harvey – Contributing Editor
Megan and her family lived every traveling parent’s dream by exchanging a year of their everyday Northern California outdoor adventures for a year of around-the-world outdoor adventures. Now they’re back – but still traveling every chance they get.

Jill Headley

Even though she makes it look easy, Jill’s life with two teenage daughters, a perfect husband, countless golf trophies and a gig marketing the PGA Tour have her dreaming of weekends and weeks away from her D.C. home.

Rachel Ifans

Rachel Ifans is a British journalist and editor, covering a wide range of lifestyle and travel subjects. Having sold their RV this summer, Rachel and family are enjoying spreading their wings and travelling outside Europe, but she’ll always return to her first love, France. Born unfortunately to non-French parents (!), Rachel has spent her life trying to make up for it by spending as much time as she can in France or writing about it, studying the language, tirelessly dragging her children round all six sides of l’Hexagone, and endlessly chuntering to her husband about moving there.

Emily Janowsky – Contributing Editor

This San Francisco native is mom to two teenage boys and a dog that makes puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Favorite travel moments include summitting Kilimanjaro, hiking the Inca Trail, exploring Patagonia, safari-ing in Sabi Sand, backpacking through Indonesia and NorCal getaways with her hubby.

carolyn jensenCarolyn Jensen        

A trained chef, ice skater, sports mom and karaoke artiste, Carolyn is religious about the Thursday Marin Farmer’s Market, her family and escapes to their Lake Tahoe cabin. Follow her at #gatherweekly.

Margaret Jones  

Nobody plans it better. Margaret’s job and two little ones keep her busy but if she spies downtime, it is filled with the best-organized afternoon, getaway, week on the road, or – their favorite – day at the beach in Santa Monica.

Amy Jordan Jones

This L.A. wife, mom, and elementary school teacher keeps the full crazy at bay by keeping her work and home life perfectly organized, saving the extra fun for their family trips.

Bob Kelsoe        

After visiting Greece in 2015, Bob and his wife, Lisa, caught a serious case of wanderlust. Now they drag their three teenagers on trips whenever they can.  Aside from running a business and coaching high school wrestling in Southern California, Bob posts his amazing travel photos on Instagram @Traveling_Strong.

Claire Kerr-Zlobin

Like ROAM, Claire believes family travel is a mix of beautiful, scary, glorious, luxurious, and nerve-wracking. Based in Toronto, she blogs about exploring the world with her husband and two kids at dropofgoldensunca.ca


Erin Kirkland

Erin is the busy journalist and Anchorage-based mother of two guidebooks on Alaska with kids, as well as AKontheGo, the only website dedicated to Alaska family travel.



rachel lehmann hauptRachel Lehmann-Haupt

Rachel’s extensive experience as a journalist and traveler has only partially prepared her for vacations with a toddler.

Christine Lavin

Christine has always been drawn to global travel, initially though foreign studies programs, then throughout her career in international business.  In 2018, she traded career and Connecticut for a South American family odyssey. She continues to follow the road-less-traveled with her husband and three boys. 

Darya Mead

Growing up in NYC and attending the UN International School gave Darya a head start as a global citizen. But her extensive travel and media experience now takes a back seat to raising two boys in San Francisco. Darya loves the outdoors, cooking, teaching yoga and the fact that her boys have taught her to be a sports fan. Follow her travels on Triporati.

Heather Mundt

The Colorado native and her husband feared having kids would mean sacrificing their love of travel. Instead, they realized they could enjoy traveling just as much with our two boys in tow. Relaxing? Not really. But she wouldn’t want it any other way.

debra nelson squareDebra Nelson

Debra is always planning her next getaway  – which is kinda odd for someone who lives in an especially glorious part of San Francisco.

Belinda O’Neil

Belinda packed up her car in Charlottesville, Virginia and headed west. Twenty years later she calls California home with her husband and three kids.    The O’Neil’s love family vacations and find many are to the East Coast to visit family. Belinda enjoys hiking, tennis, pilates, and mostly skiing with the family.


Originally from Pennsylvania, Bethany is a doctor who applies professional rigor to her family-travel planning (and writes under a pseudonym).

Nicola “Poz” Poswillo

After many years traveling the world as a backpacker, Poz now adventures with her husband and three children away from home in New Zealand to anywhere they can embrace their love of cultural, educational outdoor, wildlife and culinary experiences.

Paul Puntous – Gear Editor

When not surfing, biking, SUPing, kayaking or chopping ridiculously large piles of wood, Paul teaches in Sonoma County, travels in the summer, and knows a worthy travel gear expenditure when he sees one.

julie rappaport

Julie Rappaport

This Berkeley, Calif. yoga teacher and psychotherapist is skilled in the art of booking multiple hotels for the same dates and the finer art of cancelling-extra-rooms-before-being-charged. Author of 365 Yoga: Daily Meditations, Julie has just completed her first novel, a literary adventure of loss and redemption set in Southern India.

Don Thompson – Contributing Editor

When he’s not running Carbon Five, Don is researching ROAM travel options and teaching valuable life lessons to his kids (like how to survive for a month in Ireland on $20 by hitchhiking, camping in backyards and eating peanut butter off a Swiss Army knife without slicing your mouth).

Maggie Torsney-Weir

After volunteering in African hospitals and voyaging around the tip of South America, Maggie stays closer to home now as a doctor and mother of one. She and her husband focus on weekend escapes and a yearly big trip.

Renee Siegel

Junior high teacher extraordinaire. Self-proclaimed “super commuter.” Loving mother of two biracial daughters who clings to her European and Asian roots and tries to make every day, every vacation, and every car ride a field trip and an adventure.

Leah Solter

This California mom of two does everything right. If Leah recommends you should celebrate your anniversary in Ravello, Italy, please trust her.

lawrence-swiader-farLawrence Swiader

Though home is Washington, DC with his wife and daughter, Lawrence is an admitted “travel divo” and loves an awesome hotel, a secluded beach, and unique culinary experiences. He has a home in Greece and is a well-experienced traveler of that beautiful country following in the footsteps of Henry Miller and Lord Byron as foreigners who fell in love with Greece – and in Lawrence’s case, also with a Greek woman.

karen sulkis eiffel squareKaren Sulkis

Karen is a writer, editor, comedy nerd, yoga enthusiast, doting aunt and expert in the art of making staycations feel like vacations, and vice versa. She lives in San Francisco.

Elizabeth Weingart

The Weingarts have trekked their four kids on some of the world’s most challenging bucket-list expeditions – but spend most days trekking across town to their countless sports and activities at home near San Francisco.

Sarah Wilson

A northern Minnesota teacher with a passion for the outdoors, Sarah enjoys finding micro-adventures in hiking, biking, climbing trees and making maple syrup with her partner and two kids. After six months of family van life in South America, she is happy to spread out and cozy up to the fire whilst planning her next adventure. 

Cullen Wiginton

Cully’s incredible photos and hilarious commentary documented his family’s transformation from Marin County residents to “trailer people” when they spent a month towing an Airstream around Oregon.

In Loving Memory

dennis jones stationwagon

Dennis & Carolann Jones – Inspiration

Family travel experts from the pre-Trip Advisor days, Dennis and Carolann were an inspiration to traveling dads and moms everywhere. Read: A Tribute to My Traveling Parents


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