The Family Traveler’s Handbook – New book, New perspectives

When we leave our homes, we leave behind the web of possessions and accumulated to-do lists and focus on spending time together” – Mara Gorman

bookcover-FamilyTravelersHandbook

There’s a new family travel book on the market!  Why would we review the competition?  Well, because it’s a great book with lots of new perspectives to offer.  I read it cover-to-cover, enjoyed it, learned from it, and smiled regularly.  It’s a quick read with no nonsense.  Mara’s inherent philosophy is that everything can be travel.  She describes her first trip with her son – a trip down the block to visit neighbors.  Mara’s vision of family travel encompasses all activities that get parents and kids out the door, exploring the world together.  Read more »

Meditation on Coconuts

And coconut trees …

IMG_8906 Read more »

Traveling with Kids – Food and Candy from Around the World

IMG_9296MultiCulturalKids a group of writers excited about raising multicultural children is hosting a video discussion circle in which we ask and anwer each other’s questions about traveling with kids.  The circle starts off with Olga from European Mama asking about travel secrets and then Leanna at AllDoneMonkey wonders about fun travel detours.  Ours was definitely an unexpected overnight in Memphis TN on New Year’s Eve – yes you can get BBQ delivered in a pink Cadillac!.  Then Michelle at Mother Tongues asked us about food and candy – a favorite subject in our family.  Watch our video answer about traveling with kids – food and candy around the world.

The conversation goes on at BilingualkidsRock where Olen answers our question about travel “equipment” that saved the day.  TrilingualChildren, InspiredByFamily, MarocMama, MultilingualMama, JourneysOfTheFabulist, and ThePiriPiriLexicon all contribute.  Jump in anywhere to enjoy listening in, thinking about traveling with kids, and meeting these interesting folks.

American Toilet Candy

Click to watch our video answer about travel and candy

Traveling in Thailand with Kids

IMG_20140107_173006_311I’m writing from an old, wooden Thai guesthouse with a peaked roof and a romantic white mosquito net hanging over the bed.  We’ve just enjoyed two glorious weeks in Thailand with our daughters, returning to a country we love after about 18 years away.  There’s been an enormous influx of tourism since we left.  Where we were once the only westerners on islands full of mangroves and Thai villages, there are now fancy resorts and throngs, yes throngs, of tourists from all over the world.  These tips are for you as a traveling family to help you enjoy Thailand.  They are also aimed at educating traveling families about how they can contribute to protecting the country and the culture as they explore.  There’s so much to enjoy for families in Thailand and the more you know in advance, the better travelers you can be.  What do you need to know to make a trip to Thailand with kids successful? Here are a few questions you might be asking … Read more »

Remembering Thailand – Ashley

boatWe’re going back! Eighteen years ago, I promised friends that I would be back in two years.  Easier said than done.  There was a wedding and then a baby and then another baby.  Somewhere in there we gained car payments, a mortgage, and two full-time jobs to go with it all.  Plane tickets aren’t cheap and vacation time is priceless.  What seemed so simple, never happened.  I thought about my friends; I sent cards; and even experimented with Internet calls in their first incarnations.  But I never got back.

Then, a few years ago, we were outrageously lucky enough to spend six months in Vienna, Austria.  As we made new friends and began to feel at home, there was a strange underlying sadness for me.  How could I commit to this new culture, to the German language and its torturous grammar, and to our new friends when I had never made it back to Thailand? Read more »

8 Tips for Enjoying a Timeshare Sales Pitch

931We recently attended our fifth timeshare sales pitch.  They’ve all been interesting in their own way – the product itself, the style of the sales pitch, the interaction with the salesman.  The first event we attended was near our Seattle home and probably just months after we were married.  The man running the slideshow asked folks to raise their hand and tell the group what they got for their sixth birthday.  No one had an answer.  Their 10th birthday?  Christmas when they turned 16? There were a few timid answers but not much.  Then he asked “OK, then, tell me about a vacation your family took when you were a kid.”  Hands shot up in the air and everybody started talking.  I know, I know.  It’s unfair because he didn’t ask for a vacation the year we were some specific age and we were all there for a travel pitch because we liked travel, but it was powerful!  Maybe that timeshare sales pitch even changed our lives? Since then we’ve Read more »

What is CostULess Travel?

Cost U Less travel, Cost-U-Less Travel, or CostULess Travel is a “travel program” pitched like a timeshare condominium.  We received multiple offers in the mail advertising an “opportunity” to receive two free airplane tickets and two nights in a hotel in exchange for hearing their pitch.  We love traveling and though we’re not really interested in timeshares, curiosity finally made us cave and we called to learn more.

The woman on the phone was friendly but mysterious.  She would tell me nothing about the free gift (those free plane tickets and hotel rooms that sucked us in) and seemed to know very little about CostULess except that (1) it’s spelled with a “U” instead of a “You”; (2) it is NOT a timeshare; and (3) it’s a discount travel club.  I imagined something like a travel Tupperware party and decided that, at worst case, it was only 90-minutes and we could blog about it.  How bad could it be right? Read more »

Old-fashioned In-flight Fun

We traveled a lot when our kids were young and entertaining them in planes, buses, cars, and restaurants was a challenge.  I recently cleaned out our travel box and found some of my old favorite, mostly homemade, old fashioned, travel tricks.  These cheap and easy finds helped me not just endure our adventures but truly enjoy traveling with my kids.

felt bookMy Travel Book: I took an old 3-ring binder, a light, plastic 1” binder, and I converted it into a travel activity book. It only came out when we were “on the loose” so it was new and exciting every time.  Inside were several cheap, plastic, transparent pencil holders.  One held small toys.  At the time of this photograph, it was a collection of linking monkeys from an old-fashioned “Barrel of Monkeys” game.  Read more »