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 »

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

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 »

MKB Book Club – Bilingual is Better

logoMKBbookclub2I’ll start this week’s chapter chat with a joke my kids told me:

What do you call a person who speaks two languages? 

-       Bilingual

What do you call a person who speaks three languages?

–       Trilingual

All right then.  What do you call a person who speaks only one language?

–       American

IMG_20130424_161930_847And, just to be clear.  That’s “American” with a derogatory tone.  I’m so proud that my kids think this joke is funny!  When I was in college, I took a seminar in which we had to describe the three things we really wanted to give our children.  I don’t even remember the first two things I listed.  Most likely something like “a roof” and “love”.  But I remember the somewhat desperate feeling I had about the third thing – “a second language.” I knew even then that my horizons were limited by my monolingualism and it seemed daunting to dream of doing better for my own kids.  As you can imagine, when Multicultural Kid Blogs offered up a book club on Bilingual is Better by Ana Flores and Roxana Soto, I jumped at the chance.  I picked Chapter Two: Why Bilingual is Better.  The discussion of Chapter 1 was sparked by a great post hosted by Spanish Playground. Read more »

360 Degrees of Longitude: Memories and Philosophy

CAM00250
I just finished a book that I originally really didn’t want to read, ‘360 Degrees Longitude’ by John Higham.  Traveling? Awesome! Other people’s travel memoirs? Not my thing.  But, my best friend said “read it” and, well, actually I ignored her for over a year but when she said “Seriously, read it!” for the 5th or 6th time, I caved and ordered it.  I then carried it around for months and finally opened the front cover a week or two ago.  And, guess what? I enjoyed every page!

Longitude CoverIt’s the story of a family traveling around the world.  As they plunge from Silicone Valley into Europe and then Asia and finally into the remote Amazonian jungle and over the Inca Trail, I started remembering travel details, travel lessons, and feelings.  By the end of the book, I was sharing in their vision of just how small and fascinating the world can be and spending a lot of time thinking about the value of travel.

The Highams apparently designed the first part of their itinerary around our past travel destinations – England, Prague, Krakow, Denmark, The Vatican City, Thailand.  In each of these locations, I could see the place with fresh eyes and yet remember funny anecdotes or similar experiences.  For example, I first visited Prague as a refuge from the high prices of Scandinavia.  The Highams fled there to avoid high prices as well.  In Krakow, they searched medical facilities for a wheelchair.  In Krakow, I developed a raging fever Read more »

Blast from the Past

There really are windmills in The Netherlands.

There really are windmills in The Netherlands.

The whole third section of our book is devoted to reinforcing the memories of a trip well taken and exploring the cultural diversity offered in your own hometown.  But what I neglected to include in those chapters is the memory boost offered by electronic blasts from the past.  Every couple of months I get an e-mail message from Nederlands Openluchtmuseum.  Even before I open it, it brings me a little smile.

Making paper at the Openluchtmuseum.

Making paper at the Openluchtmuseum.

Back in 2007, when the kids were seven and four, we took the whole family to The Netherlands for a scientific conference.  On an off day we took a train and a bus to a museum that was supposed to be fun for kids while documenting the everyday cultural heritage of the region.  We had a great afternoon walking through the period buildings of the “Open Air Museum” and interacting with people in period costumes doing traditional labor like milling grain or smithing. Read more »