Me at Boulders Beach, a beach known for it’s odd shaped boulders (of course) and the thousands of penguins that inhabit it
As our own children transition from infants to kids to teens, we are becoming more and more interested in the teen perspective on travel. What are the best ways to prepare for a trip and what kinds of experiences are most memorable? A great example of a teen trip well taken is our friend Fiona’s recent adventure in South Africa. Fiona is 13 and, while she was traveling, she wrote a fabulous blog about her adventures. We enjoyed reading all about her trip so, when we caught up with her over the holidays, we asked her some questions about her trip, about how much she had prepared, and about what she learned and enjoyed most. Read more
We think about cultural and historical education when we’re on the road with kids. We remember to take our kids to art museums, historical landmarks, and famous icons. But what about music? Music differs all over the world, it’s everywhere, and it’s often free. It’s something that can be hard to find time for at home so take advantage of being on the road to expand your child’s vision of what music means.
There are street musicians in almost every tourist hotspot around the world, local concerts, special cultural performances, and musical history. Try saving some focus for street musicians on your next trip. They’re in fairly predictable places so plan a visit and take some time Read more
Jacobo at Pikes Place market, Seattle
Eva wasn’t our first in-home travel experience. A few years ago, we hosted a 21-year-old boy from Columbia. He arrived in the middle of the night, looking very foreign, and clutching a bag of fast food take-out. “Oh boy” I thought. “What have we gotten ourselves into?” We had to communicate by writing everything down for the first few days but we were able to communicate better by the second week. His mother ran a restaurant so he made us a few absolutely delicious Columbian meals. Read more
Eva carving her first pumpkin
What’s the mirror image of a trip around the world? Hosting international guests. You experience the trip from the other side. International guests teach you about their culture (and also about yours). They can expand your way of thinking, help you learn a language, introduce you to new foods, and become lifelong friends. Sure, hosting takes time (and some money). Why do you think there haven’t been any posts for five weeks? But, as a host, your kids stay in school, you don’t have to buy plane tickets, deal with jetlag (much anyway), book hotel rooms, and you can keep your job. Why not consider it?
Eva, our recent guest from Hungary flew home yesterday morning. She was only here for five weeks and was busy training in karate much of the time. Yet, her spark made the time fly by and she was quickly incorporated into the fabric of our family. The first week, she started calling me “Mom” and referring to our girls as “sisters”. At first I was taken aback … I am so not old enough to have a 23-year-old daughter. But, I grew to love it. Last night, she called Bill “Dad”! She was better than a sister for our girls. She had insight into their psyche that only everyday familiarity can extend; yet, no sibling rivalry. Read more
Pictures of Earth from space are always impressive. We gain perspective, learn geology, see our own hometown in a new way, and maybe even pick up a little geography. On your next plane flight, why not spend more time looking out the window with your kids?
What you see will depend on both when and where you are. If you get a cloudy day, too bad. There’s not too much you can do about that. But on clear days and nights, you can see the world from your Read more
Looking for a new travel dimension? We heard about a local Renaissance Faire from a Groupon and decided to give it a whirl. $20 family pass, 30 minute drive – what could there be to loose? We saw singing, juggling, jousting, a working blacksmith, a pickle vendor with a little cart, dragons galore,
and a soda pub – buy one cool blue bottle of cream soda and get refills all day for a buck – sarsaparilla, root beer …. I don’t imagine we’ll be buying corsets, fairy costumes, or pirate paraphernalia anytime soon (not sure what those things have to do with the Renaissance though they were all present at the Faire), but we had a great time and were inspired to think about other possible options for traveling in time instead of space. We’ll start cheap and easy and then wander further away ….
National Parks are ideal family destinations. They’ve already done all the work to make it fun and education for your kids. The coolest program is the Discovery Pack program, available at lots of National Parks (but not all). We used them at Denali National Park; They’re available at Grand Canyon, Saguaro, Wupatki, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Voyagers, Canyon Lands, Yellowstone etc . Inside there might be activity guides, books, plant, bird, or animal ID cards, magnifying glasses, binoculars, thermometers, water testing kits, clay for making footprint casts, a blank journal, water color pencils, pastels, pens, blank postcards to create your own. All to borrow for free in most parks (some ask for a small donation). Some parks offer ranger programs to teach you what to do with the pack. Other parks, for example Biscayne National Park, have packs for teachers with lesson plans and all curriculum materials for a group of students.
There is also the Junior Ranger Program. Each kid gets a booklet Read more
On longer trips, we usually make a pilgrimage to a locally-owned, independent bookstore to buy paperbacks. The books are a great souvenir and they also enrich the whole experience. We went a little crazy in Juneau at Hearthside Books: Pacific Northwest Legends, Facts about the Iditarod, an Alaskan adventure by local author Will Hobbs, a book of mammals and facts about them, and a beautiful story of a girl and a sled dog.Reading local books on the road is fun (and sometimes I read them too). It gives the kids motivation and context for what they’re visiting as well as motivation and context for what they’re reading.