1. Just do it!
In addition to expanding your child’s awareness through travel, exotic family vacations inevitably strengthen family ties and create dinner conversations to last a lifetime.
2. Visit schools or sports events: Nothing helps a child understand a destination better than meeting their peers. I love to arrange school visits or visits to local community sports events. Usually the local kids are just as fascinated by my kids as my kids are by them!
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Now is not the time to worry about a balanced diet or the usual house rules. It’s a vacation. Rest assured that your kids are gaining invaluable exposure, so if they eat nothing but fish sticks and French fries for two weeks and it makes them happy (yes, one of my kids did this once in Indonesia) they will come out of it no worse for the wear.
4. Have a great guide – Part 1: Having a knowledgeable guide is like bringing a wonderful educator along with you. They can truly bring the destination to life through their stories and knowledge, making a lasting impact on young minds. Case in point: I was in Dubai and Istanbul last year with my daughter. Most people don’t think of culture or history when they think of Dubai, but we had such a wonderful and passionate guide that my daughter and I walked away with a great respect for the Emirati people and their culture. Meanwhile, we were on our own in Istanbul, a city that one normally thinks of as being filled with amazing history, but my daughter did not make the same connection there. She actually wants to move to Dubai when she is
5.Have a great guide - Part 2: Yes, there is something to be said to wandering around lost in a new city, but if you are traveling with kids who can get tired, hungry and grumpy, everyone’s sanity can be saved by having a guide take you around who will not only impart knowledge, but will pick up on when little ones are tired or hungry and adjust the schedule accordingly, sometimes getting you back to the home base or nearest restaurant as quickly as possible!
6. Scheduling is everything: Don’t overdo it. Include some downtime in every day for your family to digest what they are taking in, and move at a slower pace than you would if you were on your own. It may be your first trip to China, it doesn’t have to be your last!
7. Hotel Selection: Picking the right property is critical so that when you have downtime you aren’t crammed into a tiny hotel room. Look for hotels that have a great indoor or outdoor pool, bigger rooms, or are located near parks or open areas to run around!
8. TV is a cultural exchange: A little TV viewing can give the parents a welcome break and your kids can see another aspect of the culture you are visiting. My kids still talk about familiar cartoon characters speaking in Thai and the crazy Japanese TV shows they have stumbled upon.
9. Don’t force it: If your kid doesn’t want to do something, let them have a little ownership of the situation. My 7 year old opted out of a monk cleansing in Cambodia once, and as the rest of us stood there in sarongs freezing and wet, we had to think she was the smart one.
10. HAVE FUN: That’s really the point isn’t it? Relax and enjoy and your kids will remember the trip forever.
Leslie Overton is a mother and the General Manager of Absolute Travel.
Being on holiday doesn’t have to be about geography. It is as much about adventure, exploration or even relaxation as it is about flight schedules, hotel rooms or miles traveled.
So if a far-flung destination is not in the cards just now, consider putting your creative juices to work to manifest a never-to-be-forgotten memory for you and your family. And, don’t forget to take pictures. Clear the calendar and consider these five ways to savor some family time without depleting your savings:
1.Go for it.
Plan to participate in a half marathon, hike the canyon or camp in the backcountry. This is the year to research, plan and execute that idea you’ve been talking about but never had time to organize. Declare it a family affair and make the preparations part of the fun.
2. Trade houses.
Find a friend or family member in a nearby neighborhood who is willing to join in the fun. Think about it: new toys in closet, bikes in the garage, playsets in the back yard and cereal in the cupboard. (Agree up front on what is included in the deal.) Trade information about local walking paths, parks, restaurants and movie theatres. Then enjoy the new view.
3. Make it a weekend – Part of the holiday mindset includes saying no to checking work email, or sending text messages, snap chats or posting on Instagram. If not for a week, agree to make family the focus for one whole weekend. Visit a new restaurant, go to a ballgame, take a long bike ride or play board games at home. If duty calls, let folks know your family is on vacation.
4. Focus on Free – Museums, festivals, lectures, parks, concerts and libraries are all sources of family fun where the admission is often gratis. Check local web sites and create your no-cost itinerary for the length of your “vacation”.
5. Book last minute and local – Check travel web sites for last minute deals in your home town or in a nearby city. Without air and significant gas charges, taking advantage of these down-to-the-wire deals can be worth the minimum expense. You’ll enjoy the travel treat knowing you’ve kept expenses in check. Contact: www.lastminute.com; www.travelzoo.com; www.hotwire.com.
52 Books For Travelers of All Ages
Find a book here for the explorer or armchair traveler on your list!
1. Travels with Charley in Search of America: (Centennial Edition) - John Steinbeck
2. In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson
3. Travels - Michael Crichton
4. Tao of Travel - Paul Theroux
6. Gulliver’s Travels - Jonathan Swift
7. The Travels of Marco Polo (The Broadway Travellers) - L.F. Benedetto
8. Backpacking Wyoming: From Towering Granite Peaks to Steaming Geyser Basins - Lorain Douglas
9. Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home - Susan Pohlman
10. The Road to Oxiana - Robert Byron
11. Facing the Congo - Jeffrey Taylor
12. The Size of the World - Jeff Greenwald
13. Road Fever by Tim Cahill
14. All the Wrong Places by James Fenton
16. Nomad’s Hotel: Travels in Time and Space by Ceese Nooteboom
17. Johnny Ginger’s Last Ride by Tom Fremantle
18. The Snow Leapard by Peter Matthiessen
19. Tiger for Breakfast by Michel Peissel
20. The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman
21. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
22. The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev
23. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog
24. Hiking the Continental Divide Trail by Jennifer Hanson
25. Imagine: A Vagabond Story by Greg Lingel
26. Empty Nest to Life Vest by Christie Gorsline
27. Big Earth: 101 Amazing Adventures by Russ Malkin
28. Next Stop Grand Central by Maira Kalman
29. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: 2nd Edition by Patricia Schultz
30. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
31. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
32. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
34. Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
35. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
36. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Just Kidding)
36. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
37. Hiking Through History by Kirk Ward Robinson
38. Life is a Trip by Judie Fein
39. Raining Cats and Rats by Donna Gottardi
40. Oh, the Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Suess
41. Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert by William Langewiesche
42. Come Hell on High Water by Gregory Jaymes
43. The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon
44. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
45. Coasting by Jonathan Raban
46. Venice by Jan Morris
47. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
48. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
49. The Journals of Captain Cook by James R. Cook and Phillip Edwards
50. The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara, Cintio Vitier, and Aleida Guevara
51. The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner
52. Seven Years In Tibet by Henry Heinrich Harrer
Introducing your children to other cultures is a wonderful gift.
Here are tips provided by the folks at Ethical Traveler that will help your entire family leave only footprints...and a positive impression.
1. Be aware of where your money is going.
Patronize locally owned inns, restaurants, and shops. Try to keep your cash within the local economy, so the people you are visiting benefit directly from your stay.
2. Avoid giving gifts directly to children.
Give instead to their parents or teachers. When giving gifts– everything from pens to pharmaceuticals – first ask what’s needed, and who can best distribute these items in the community.
3. Learn basic greetings.
Learn to say “please,” “thank you,” and as many numbers as you can. It’s astonishing how far a little language goes toward creating a feeling of goodwill.
4. Remember the economic realities of your new currency.
A few rupees one way or another is not going to ruin you. Don’t get upset if a visitor who earns 100 times a local salary is expected to pay a few cents more for a ferry ride or an egg.
5. Bargain fairly and respectfully.
The final transaction should leave both buyer and seller satisfied and pleased. Haggling is part of many cultures, but it’s not a bargain if either person feels exploited or ripped-off.
6. Learn and respect the traditions and taboos of your host country.
Never, for example, pat a Thai child on the head, enter a traditional Brahmin’s kitchen, or open an umbrella in a Nepali home!
7. Curb your anger, and cultivate your sense of humor.
Travel can present obstacles and frustrations, but anger is never a good solution. It’s perversely satisfying, but won’t win respect or defuse a bad situation. A light touch, and a sense of humor, are infinitely more useful.
8. Arrive with a sense of your host country’s social and environmental concerns. Our site will direct you to good profiles of many popular travel destinations. It’s also very useful to read the political background section in your guidebook, and the local English-language papers.
9.Learn to listen.
People in other nations often feel underestimated or patronized by travelers from the developed world. This fosters anger and resentment. Be aware that good listening skills and respect help shape the world’s view of your country.
10. Practice conservation.
Never be wasteful of local resources – especially food and water. Your efforts at conservation will be noted and respected by your hosts, and will set a good example for your fellow travelers.
11. “Can you please help me?”
This is the most useful phrase travelers can learn. Rarely will another human being refuse a direct request for help. Being of service, and inviting others to express their kindness, is what the phrase “global community” is all about.
12. Leave your preconceptions about the world at home.
The inhabitants of planet Earth will continually amaze you with their generosity, hospitality, and wisdom. Be open to their friendship, and aware of our common humanity, delights, and hardships.
13. Remember Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s best line.
“Strange travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” Go with the flow, and give free reign to your sense of adventure!
A little rain..... A cancelled flight...... Lost luggage.
In our family, when things don’t go according to “plan”, we say, “it will make for a better story later”.
Still, sometimes we welcome a little inspiration.
A gentle reminder of why we travel and how fortunate we are to see so much of the world.
These travel quotes, old and new, provide all that and more:
1. “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - Lao Tzu
2. “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” - Moorish proverb
3. "Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled." — Mohammed
4."Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller
5.“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot
6.“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux
7. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
8.“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
9.“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
10.“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
11.“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe” - Anatole France
12. “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
13. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
14. “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
15. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton
16. It is not down in any map; true places never are. - Herman Melville
17. To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change. - Charles Horton Cooley
18.“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” – G.K. Chesterton
19. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
20. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
21. “Experience, travel - these are as education in themselves” - Euripides
22. “We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” - John Hope Franklin
23. “You lose sight of things... and when you travel, everything balances out.” - Daranna Gidel
24. “I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro
25. “Make voyages! Attempt them... there's nothing else.” – Tennesee Williams
26.“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” -Francis Bacon, Sr.
27. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
28. “My travels led me to where I am today. Sometimes these steps have felt painful, difficult, but led me to greater happiness and opportunities.” – Diana Ross
29. “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
30. “Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking” – Antonio Machado
31. “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
32. “Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.” – Eudora Welty
33. “I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
34. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein
35. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
36. “Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” – Lawrence Durrell
37. “Travel can also be the spirit of adventure somewhat tamed, for those who desire to do something they are a bit afraid of.” – Ella Maillart
38. You may not find a path, but you will find a way. -- Tom Wolfe
39. "Travel penetrates your consciousness, but not in a rational way." -- Milton Glaser
40. “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
41. "Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries." -- René Descartes
42. "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." -- Henry Miller
43. "Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings." -- Hodding Carter
44. "We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." -- Jawaharal Nehru
45. All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
46. "The journey is my home." — Muriel Rukeyser
47. "To travel is to possess the world." – Burton Holmes
48. “Keep things on your trip in perspective, and you'll be amazed at the perspective you gain on things back home while you're away...One's little world is put into perspective by the bigger world out there.” – Gail Rubin Bereny
49. “One of the gladdest moments of human life, me thinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of routine, the cloak of many cares and the slavery of home, man feels once more happy.” – Sir Richard Burton
50. “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Scott Cameron
51. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
52. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Do you have a favorite inspirational travel quote?
Photo: Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes. The Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii.
Intergenerational travel is on the rise.
Busy family schedules and geographic distance sometimes prevent regular gatherings. Thus, “grand travel”, as one aspect of this growing trend is known, provides an opportunity for two generations to get to know each, and the world, a little better.
By spending time away, with parents out of the picture, grandchildren and their grandparents can forge their own special bond. Grand travel need not include a fancy holiday in a luxury resort or a visit to a trendy theme park. There are other options.
Here are a hand full:
Over the river and through the woods.
Invite the grandkids to your place and then paint the town. They’ll love getting comfortable in your home and seeing your local sites. Check in with your Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau for an update on great options for kids. Consult parents from your neighborhood or church for family-tested ideas. See your home town through the fresh eyes of youth.
Share your passions.
Do you love to ski, play golf, camp or scuba dive? A trip with the grandkids to indulge in your favorite activity will give them the chance to know a special part of you.
Share a bit of your past.
Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic neighborhood of your youth greatly influence the person you are today? Visit a war memorial, take in a concert or music festival or visit the old stomping grounds. Take the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with the kids. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there. And, remember, you are part of their history.
Learn a new skill together.
You’re never too old to learn a new trick! And the grandchildren will be impressed with your sense of adventure and curiosity. Learn to kayak, snorkel or spot rare birds in nature. Go snow shoeing, ice fishing or cross country touring. Find something that’s new to all of you and share the joy of learning together.
Consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort.
With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit the pickiest eater and itineraries to please the most well-traveled, such an option eliminates the daily decision making that can cause conflict.
Consult an expert.
For many, developing the plan is the hard part. There are travel consultants that specialize in helping families create intergenerational travel memories. They’ll serve up options ranging from cruises in the Galapagos Islands to train trips through the American West. However you choose to share time with your grandchildren, you’ll create treasured memories to deposit in your family’s history bank.
I learned about the basic American hotel room from Howard Johnson in the 1960’s. Two double beds with back boards bolted to the wall, two fake oil paintings above said backboards, a stand in between the beds with a lamp and phone, a standard bathroom, and a TV. The last time I checked, little has changed. When you book a room in the USA you know exactly what you are getting.
This is not the case overseas. Europe has a 1-5 star rating system that is extremely consistent. But the stars have more to do with the amenities offered than the overall glamour quotient. My family quickly found that three star hotels were the right match for us. They were affordable, often family owned, clean, and came with breakfast in the morning. But the similarities stopped there. When it came to design, well, let’s just say that half the adventure of our day was exploring our night’s lodgings.
First, when you make reservations you must specify how many people will be in the room because you are charged per person rather than per room. Since we always wanted to be together, we would ask for a room for four people thinking that would be easy: two queen beds, Ho Jo style. But that was simply not the norm. Because there is no norm. Sometimes we’d get a double and two singles, or three singles and a sleeping bag, sometimes bunk beds, and sometimes four singles jammed into a space that looks like it could hold only a double. And the beds were not always lined up in neat symmetrical fashion. They were jammed in whatever way worked like pick-up-sticks that fall every which way.
Some of the rooms were cozy with wood furniture and pretty wallpaper. And some were as austere as prison cells with a tiny window that opened onto a dark alley. And the bathrooms, well, talk about an adventure all its own.
These are some of the unique styles that we have had the pleasure of sampling:
1. The shared bathroom down the hall. No comment.
2. The tiny bathroom that doubles as a shower. There is no shower curtain to cordon off the shower area. Simply a shower head in the ceiling and a drain in the floor. The entire contents of the bathroom gets soaking wet including all of your make-up and toiletries. After toweling off you feel this pressure to towel off the entire bathroom. Very time consuming.
3. The tiny bathroom that has a little shower curtain but no basin on the floor so the whole bathroom fills up with water since the drain usually is very slow and you have to slosh around in an inch or two of sudsy water while you attempt to towel off and get dressed. At least your toiletries and make-up are safe. But be careful not to drop the hairdryer.
4. The tiny bathroom with a shower curtain and a basin to catch the water. This is an appreciated upgrade. Even more so when the water temperature doesn’t alternate between ice and lava while you are showering.
5. The mid-sized bathroom with no shower. Only a tub with a hand held spigot for rinsing. Bath tubs are not necessarily designed for pampering, unless of course your idea of relaxing involves bending all of your joints at 90 degree angles at the same time. Again, this bathing experience usually ends up with water all over the bathroom floor as the absence of a shower curtain insures that the water from your hand held sprayer will bounce off your head and shoulders and land anywhere outside the tub. Besides, it is inevitable that at least once during the bath you will forget about the sprayer and will turn it in some unexpected position and it will spray all over the room. Usually hitting your make-up and toiletries.
6. The fancy bathroom. Once in awhile we would luck out and get a spacious bathroom with a big tub and separate shower. We would feel like royalty and take turns soaking in the tub after dinner thinking about the good old days when this was just a normal occurrence.
7. My personal favorite was the bathroom in the hotel outside Siena. This bathroom, presumably to save space, had a molded shower/bidet contraption that was cylindrical in shape. (God help the people that were over 140 lbs because there was no way the door would close) Besides the fact that you had to shower in the previous tenant’s bidet residue, you were sure that any moment you would be beamed up to the Enterprise in your birthday suit to meet Captain Kirk and the crew.
And another thing.
You will invariably find a cord hanging in every shower or bath. It is affixed to this little box that is stuck to the wall high above your head. Presumably it is to call for help if there is an emergency. What, exactly, are all of these bathroom emergencies that are going on all over Europe? Why have we not heard of these on CNN or FOX News? If you do pull on it (and you have no idea how tempting that is) does someone magically appear to help you? Does that someone look like Andy Garcia in a towel?
There is something to be said about all of this diversity. It has been amusing, creative, and entertaining. It has been the fodder for countless breakfast conversations and night time giggles. It somehow feels more human, and the fact that they are family owned makes them cozier. Maybe it’s the pride that goes into it, or the ‘make-do’ spirit. Or the individualism and personal touch of the owners who welcome you upon arrival and whip up breakfast for you at dawn.
It certainly made us wonder how a country such as ours, based on the strength and freedom of the individual, could evolve into a nation where everything looks the same.
Where’s the individualism in that?