In the June issue of O Magazine, I have an article talking about how our travels have directly affected the way my children see the world.
In so many ways, what I wanted most for my kids out of our trip around the world was a direct result of the choices we made before and during our travels. As you can imagine, I have no regrets about taking a year to explore the planet and I’m already anxiously awaiting the opportunity to do it again!
Recently, The Morning Show on Global Television in Toronto invited me to come in and talk about family travel. They’re a great group and it was a lot of fun. The link to that appearance is here.
Below, I share a few more takeaways you can think about as you plan your next family trip (whether it’s for a year or a weekend) to help your kids grow from the experience.
1. Include them in the dreaming - A lot has been made of getting kids involved in the planning of trips and that’s great too, but sometimes we get the kids involved a little late in the process. Before we set out on our big trip we put up a large piece of poster paper and encouraged the kids to write down the things they wanted to do while we traveled. We were trying to get their dreams out on paper so they’d be tangible and so that we’d be able to make sure the trip we were planning also spoke to their interests. In the end not all of their picks made the trip ( No Cameron, we are not skydiving.”) but many did and I think they felt invested in the trip as a result.
2. . Don’t over research - This one is going to come as a shocker to some of you but it turns out a trip can still be a success even if you don’t do every single thing the guidebooks say or plan every moment of it. I’ve been guilty of it too. You spend a lot of money for a vacation and the feeling that you want to squeeze every possible thing out of it is natural, but we found that having time slotted in to do nothing in particular also helped to keep us sane and allowed us the chance encounters that really create the memories we were after. Take your head out of the guidebook and look around.
3. This isn’t school, it’s summer vacation – You don’t have to convince me that travel can be a learning experience. Heck, I took my kids out of school for a year because that’s exactly what I believe, but that doesn’t mean that every second of the trip has to be turned in to a lesson plan. My advice? Keep an eye on the curriculum. Have a good idea of what broad topics they learned last year and have a sense of what’s coming up in September Use what you know about the curriculum as you’re planning the trip to find things that might be useful or interesting to your kids because of school,but don’t turn the trip into summer school. We’ve already seen elements of our trip enhance the kids’ learning but often it has been because the kids themselves recognized and took pride in their insider knowledge.
4. Spend time where the local families are - Who goes to the local park on vacation when there are architectural stunners and world wonders to behold? We do.
Why? Because that’s where the local families are. The kids get to be kids AND meet kids. You’d be surprised how language barriers become non-issues when kids want to play and how quickly parents can become friends. Local families already know where the best places to eat and explore are for a family like yours. And the friendships the kids make can last long after you leave.
5. Get uncomfortable – This can be a tough one. Especially for people who are used to being in control *ahem* me *ahem* but I can tell you that some of the most memorable moments come when you’re doing the things you never expected to ever find yourself doing. Don’t let the fact that something is different from what you’ve experienced stop you from trying it. This doesn’t mean you have to throw caution to the wind or ignore your gut on safety issues, just that you need to be present enough in a moment to question whether the reason you aren’t doing something is simply because you haven’t done it before. Going left when you’ve always gone right might be the best decision you’ve ever made.