Posts Tagged ‘family experience’

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.



June 23, 2011

Graduations: Love them and Weep.

A gift from kindergarten

When my #2 child Mira was in kindergarten, she painted this little clay pot which held just one spindly piece of cactus. It has been my treasure for, oh, the last 16 years (this pot is only about an inch across, and the cactus is bursting out of it). And so now, as my #3, and last, child Leo graduates from high school and I contemplate a long over due repotting – I find an analogy!

Yes, our kids are like plants you love, water and nourish. And yes, they will grow even if you don’t buy them the next size up. But eventually you see they get pretty stifled if not given their freedom to blossom at their own pace.

This is what I thought about after witnessing Leo’s high school graduation. We just dont have a choice.

In our family, travel has been our gift to each other. Opportunities to see a bigger world, to learn new languages and new cultures. Through these opportunities I’ve seen Milo, Mira, and Leo gain coinfidence, be open and curious about people different from themselves, and be welcoming to all ages from all walks of life. As a client said recently, a family adventure is not just a vacation, it’s an experience. We have been so lucky to have those experiences.

And now, perhaps as my pay back for instilling the love of foreign lands, I’ll send this boy off to Madrid for his freshman year of college. I have no doubt is he far more ready than the average 18 year old to drop into a country where he doesn’t speak a word of the language. Thank you ThomsonFamily Adventures, and all of the guides, mentors, and travel companions who have given him, and all of my kids, a great education over the last 8 years.

After I drop him at the airport in August I think I’ll go home and re-pot that cactus.



January 23, 2011

Survey Says……

Mira enjoying a real experience in Tanzania

How are families planning on spending their money? On things, or on experiences? Thomson Family Adventures has complied the results of our 2010 family travel survey with interesting results. Compared to 2008 and 2009, we see that more families report they are planning on traveling in the future. Well, we didn’t need a survey to tell us that since we see it every day – but there are other travel trends that are interesting too. If you want to see the statistics we’ve compiled (yawn…) let us know, we’ll be happy to share.

Most interesting to me, as a parent, are the comments.

One family wrote that the economic crisis caused them to change their lifestyle for the better. “Our family has been living a minimalist lifestyle for the past 3+ years. We decided to live “below our means”, and pay off all our debt. I just made my last student loan payment, which was the last of our debt. Our plan has been to start putting our money towards traveling and adventuring as soon as we got debt free – and we’ve finally arrived! We initially became minimalist as a practical matter, but we have since come to realize that the less “stuff” we accumulate, the happier we are. New life experiences and building relationships, we have decided, are much better ways to spend our money than accumulating more “stuff”.”

Maybe all of us could learn something from their experience. I thought I was getting rid of my ‘stuff’ because I don’t have time to manage it all anymore – but really, it’s because I am spending my time on the experiences I’d rather be having than playing with my stuff. Right?

This got me thinking about the minimalist lifestyle. The truth is, I can see it may well not be less expensive, but it will result in less STUFF. And I am quite sure it encourages us to live within our means, which is always a good idea. ISn’t it amazing when you stop accumulating Stuff you have more means ?!?

When I head out for my Experience, be it dinner out or an adventure to another country, I would always rather spend a few dollars more for better value, or for a better purpose. I don’t mind paying for expertise that will improve my event. I like paying a travel agent for good advice on my flights. When I go out to eat I like to support my local restaurants (including those that employ my children :) ) and always plan on leaving a good tip for good service. Supporting people who work hard to help what I experience on my adventure is the best value of all.

What do you think….Are you spending less — or just being more careful about where you spend it?