About Max Smith
Max Smith’s mother, Lesley Carter, is passionate about travel and creates travel content on her blog, Bucket List Publications.
Before this, Lesley was a high school English teacher in Eastern Canada and New Brunswick. All of this changed when her husband was offered a job in California, and she moved with him.
However, due to the conditions of her move under his work visa, Lesley was unable to work. She quickly realized that she needed something to direct her passion and time into, and she decided to start a blog sharing her family’s adventures in California.
After a few months of blogging, WordPress shared one of her posts on their main page, giving her exposure to millions and millions of readers. After this boost, Lesley took the opportunity to reach out to some local companies offering extreme adventures and asked about free services in exchange for coverage on her blog. She also asked them to share her content on their websites, which helped her grow more.
She went from a few thousand views per month to over a million in the first six months of posting, launching Lesley’s brand-new career.
When Lesley started her travel blog, social media wasn’t fully fleshed out. However, she started using Instagram as soon as it came out and successfully transitioned many of her website followers to her Instagram. Lesley continued reaching out to travel companies and PR firms and hosted many giveaways, contests, and promotions for them.
Nearly three years ago, Lesley became pregnant with Max and planned on helping him become the youngest child to visit every state. Unfortunately, the pandemic struck, and travel was shut down.
Lesley shares, “That plan kind of took to the back burner, so then I thought, what else can I do to make an impression on the travel world? We have so many resources and so much access to different things around the world that I thought it was a great opportunity to share that with him as well. So, I thought, let’s see if I could make him the youngest child to visit all seven continents.”
After researching the current record holder, a child from the UK who visited every continent in 205 days, Lesley decided to aim for Max becoming the youngest American child to visit every continent instead.
Max Smith has visited five continents but still needs South America and Antarctica to accomplish this goal. In February 2023, Max’s family is going on the Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity Cruise in Argentina and heading down the coast until they arrive in Antarctica.
Lesley’s ten-year-old daughter and husband also travel with her and Max, but at times stay behind for her daughter’s competitive cheerleading and her husband’s work.
Lesley shares, “The rest of the time, Max and I will go by ourselves, and sometimes that requires us to be apart for a week or two, but we’re all doing the things that we love most.”
Brainstorming Content Ideas
When Lesley first started posting, extreme adventure content like skydiving, jumping off buildings, and racing cars were some of her best-performing content. However, after becoming pregnant with Max, she needed to take a step back and reevaluate how she could share extreme adventure content for parents like herself.
She shares, “People want to continue those adventures when they have children. They just don’t think it’s possible… but if you’re going to wait until you can travel with the child, you’re going to have to wait until they leave because there’s always going to be problems traveling with children.”
Many parents wait until their kids are older to travel. Still, they may end up having another child, or a huge event, like the pandemic, may stop them from traveling later, which is why prioritizing these adventures now is essential.
“I’ve learned that the best content for both the blog and for Instagram and for my social media is to post about the adventures that I’m still going on with the children. Parents really want to see how it’s possible, what you did to make it possible.”
The Secret to Lesley’s Success
Lesley shares, “I think that the most important thing is to engage with your audience, so if people comment, I try to reply back to them. I try to DM them. I try to stay engaged with people that are actively engaged in my content, and then you create a relationship with them.”
She also always asks tourism boards and travel companies she works with to share campaign content on their website and social media accounts, giving her additional exposure.
Collaborating with Bark EUROPA is one of Lesley’s favorite and most successful campaigns.
She explains, “I worked on promoting them about six years ago, and I sailed with them to Antarctica from Argentina, but as part of the training crew. That’s how it works. You go on the trip with them, but they’re a tall ship, and so part of the journey is working as part of the training crew on the ship, and you’re responsible for manning the helm, hauling the lines, [etc.].”
Lesley posted content about the trip and ship when she could since Wi-Fi cut out during certain parts of the journey. As a result of her posts, she ended up booking the entire ship. The cost of sailing was several thousand dollars per person, so this was a highly successful ROI for Bark Europa.
In addition to this fantastic ROI, Lesley had an excellent, memorable experience that she still shares about to this day, making this an ideal collaboration for both.
Max Smith has been to 15 countries and 18 states and sailed on the largest ship in the world. However, these numbers will soon increase with upcoming trips, like the family’s planned trip to St. Lucia this July.
Lesley shares, “It doesn’t just stop with the seven continents. We’re thinking in the summer, we’re going to visit 30 countries in Europe this summer and try to cross off as much of Europe as possible because the ultimate goal would be to make him the youngest child to visit every country in the world. The current record is held by a 21-year-old American woman. We are actually thinking we could possibly do that before he turns 10.”
She adds that this goal will depend on the state of things, such as the war in Russia.