Posts Tagged ‘family community service’

August 20, 2012

10 Things Kids Bring Home from a Family Trip

Jessie, Ed, and Lillie in their front yard.

Thanks to Jessie Voigts, our special Guest Blogger for this excellent perspective on family travel:

You spend a lot of time planning family trips – and coordinating said trips! Between teens off with their ipods to dealing with toddlers and diapers, how do you KNOW that these family trips are worth it? But wait – your kids bring home a lot more from family trips than you think. Take a look…

1) Memories. Of course! But it might not be the memories you suspect – of whitewater rafting, or seeing the Eiffel Tower, or hanging with their cousins. It might be the cute squirrels at the local park, the best meal ever, discovering a new food they love, or learning something new.

2) Photos. Be sure to give your kids a camera to take photos. You will be surprised at both the angles (closer to the ground? Or super high, if you’ve got a teen taller than you are!), and the subject matter. Our daughter takes a little stuffed ugly with her, and photographs it wherever we go. Little Ugly has been in a lot of strange places.

3) Humanity. Whether your kids are upset about the stray or mistreated dogs in Nepal, Barbados, or Bahrain; or visibly learn about animal and human rights wherever you are (we’ve all fielded the homeless question), travel is a great chance to teach about humanity. By learning that others are less fortunate than we are, and trying to act on such knowledge, they are on their way to becoming good global citizens.

4) Funny stories. Nothing brings a family together more than camaraderie, which is, in turn, fostered by going through experiences together. From the funny assistant at the airport, to ordering a meal in a foreign language (mostly via sign language), to finding out that people in a certain country just LOVE babies and will hold them for hours and parade them around like a rock star, travel is packed with experiences that will provide great stories…for life.

5) A desire for peace. Our daughter, when seeing cultural differences up close, has gained a strong desire for peace and people to get along. She thinks that intercultural differences are fascinating, and has pledged to learn more about different people and cultures around the world, firsthand.

6) New Experiences, new friends. Whether it’s ziplining, scuba diving, hiking, camping, snorkeling with turtles, or viewing great art, new experiences bring people together and can foster a lifelong fascination or hobby. As well, you can make new friends from group travel, or through meeting locals. These can become friends for life.

7) Learning more about your family. You can learn a lot about people from being in close proximity to each other for an extended period of time. You can also learn about how people react in any situation – often surprising us, how well they can deal with a crisis. By learning more about your family, everyone becomes closer due to these shared experiences. Your teen might ask you to read and talk together about a book about a place you’ve visited, or your 5 year old might surprise you by painting, from memory, a piece of art they saw in an art museum on your travels. You might surprise your kids and husband by jumping first off the cliff into the deep water below, or your father might show unexpected depths while riding a chicken bus.

8) New cultures. Our daughter’s best friend, when asked this question, noted that in Hawaii, she was amazed to learn of the Hawaiian culture. She loved the luaus, the colorful fabrics, and how they utilized the hibiscus flowers in welcoming people. Our daughter loved watching kids tv shows in Ireland – she learned some Gaelic, as well as how kids learn and play in a different country.

9) Love of new foods. It might be roasted tarantula (doubt it), Thai food, boiled peanuts in the south, new jams and pickles, or recipes. Wherever you go, I’m sure you’re eating locally – and shopping at the grocery store whenever possible! You’ll find new foods you love (and probably new foods you dislike). Bring them home, and incorporate these new foods into your meals and snacks!

10) A desire to travel more. Long after the sand has disappeared from your swimsuits and suitcases, and the special candy you brought back is digested, you’ll find something not so surprising. Your whole family will have a desire to travel more – to learn and play and experience the world together. And that’s what family travel is all about – having new experiences, and discovering new cultures and people – together.

Jessie Voigts is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published two books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.



January 9, 2012

Top Five Reasons to go to the Galapagos (aka ECUADOR!)

Happiness in Ecuador

Funny, none of these particular reasons have to do with the Galapagos Islands. For years we’ve fielded calls from families wanting to go to the Galapagos. Yes, it is a really cool place to go. Do you want to spend your whole vacation in the islands? No. Why? Because mainland Ecuador has so much to offer – and you are flying through there anyway . Don’t miss out on what most of our families say is the very best part of their adventure! Why?

1) If you buzz right through to get to the islands you’re wasting no-value travel time and overnights to your precious vacation schedule. Stop and smell the roses – literally! Ecuador is one of the world’s biggest exporter of roses. See rose plantations and orchid gardens en your way to some real adventure. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to drag you through museums.

2) Did you know some of the world’s coolest rock climbing is right here in mainland Ecuador? We have an expert climber who has prepared a really cool beginner spot – just for us – for you to try your hand at rock climbing. Are you experienced in this sport? We have an option to knock your socks off.

3) While you are investing in your family memories you may also be interested in showing your kids how meaningful it can be to give back to the world. We’ve partnered with a school full of gleeful children – and a school in need of support from those of us who have something to give. Come visit and start up a game of soccer with these great kids! We’re building a play ground and delivering supplies to the classroom – you can help!

4) Villages, markets, artisans, cobblestone streets, country lanes… the local people of Ecuador are some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet. The opportunity to learn about their traditions and crafts is a highlight of our family adventure in Ecuador.

5) SURPRISE! This is the best part. No one expects it, almost everyone loves it best of all. Mainland Ecuador is full of opportunities for horseback riding, hiking, tasting great food, learning a new craft, and meeting interesting people. But we don’t want to tell you everything you might see and do…come be surprised in Ecuador. We’ll add you to our long list of families who found the adventure of a lifetime in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.



December 7, 2010

Extraordinary Children and the Makings of Hope

At the age of 11 Jim’s niece Jessica spent two years in Indonesia while her father did relief work. Now at 16 Jessica has created a beautiful photo essay about her impressions, titled The Makings of Hope. Her time in Banda Aceh affected her profoundly and the depth of feeling and expression in this essay are remarkable. It’s an emotional watch, and well worth the seven minutes.

Are you impressed by children who make a difference? We’d like to share a story like this each month. If you have a child in your life who is making a difference (or know of one), email me at moo@familyadventures.com. For each month’s selection Thomson Family Adventures will donate $100 to the charity of your choice.



June 24, 2010

BAJA: Top Five Reasons – plus one more

Underwater play

There are many reasons Baja Mexico is an adventurous family’s delight. Maybe you haven’t considered it, but here are some reasons why you should:

1) It’s a breeze to get to, with nonstops from Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Phoenix – and more?

2) We sweep you away from the chaos of Cabo and up into the peaceful and relaxing environs of Todos Santos – such beauty!

3) Everyone knows the guide makes the trip – our TFA guide in Baja is no exception.

4) Boredom doesn’t live here: Spend your days surfing, tidepooling, hiking, and horseback riding. Kayak in crystal clear water, and snorkel with curious sea lions by your side!

5) In February come see the whales migrating through – it is said they’ll look you right in the eye and they glide by!

6) Become a language mentor, and help teach local children English while learning about their lives.

We could say more, but isn’t this enough??