Travel has the power to transform lives and though its benefits are too numerous to list, the topic of what children gain through travel inspired a dynamic conversation on Twitter. A #TMOM Twitter Party with TravelGuard® Insurance by AIG Travel showed that when we travel, we become an integral part of that community. It gives us and our children the opportunity to experience new cultures, languages, foods, geographies, and traditions. After all, as the United Nations World Tourism Organization, creators of World Tourism Day note: tourism affects social, cultural, political, and economic values throughout the international community.
World Travel Tips
We’ve compiled a selection of party tweets from some of the Traveling Mom writers to get a deeper look into the ways these Traveling Moms see their own children’s lives changing as they travel the world. Whether a child is a visitor to a new city or a tourist in a far off foreign land, observing and living among cultures and communities that differ from their own provide eye opening experiences for even the youngest travelers. Here’s a roundup of the discussion that ensued when we asked the question that most travelers love to ponder– #WhereNext?
Question 1: Where in the world would you like to travel next with your kids & why?
Christine Tibbets, Blended Family Traveling Mom – Travel with kids to admire faces framed with fashion so different from their own. #TMOM That’s my #WhereNext
So often American travelers believe taking their old clothes to Third World countries is a positive, sharing and caring notion. We observed in Peru that such well-intended generosity undermined eons of traditions with weaving, colors, proper warmth and cultural connections. Guiding our kids (and one another) to see indigenous fashion as just right, most appropriate, is an important skill.
Kymri Wilt, Photo Traveling Mom – Nepal – to experience how happy kids can be despite circumstances. #WhereNext #TMOM
Six years ago I was in Nepal working on a documentary about a family of orphaned children who had been rescued from trafficking or found homeless on the streets of Kathmandu. I spent time with them on camera and off and listened to stories of their resilience and ability to overcome adversity. When the earthquake struck this year, the orphanage became a shelter for neighbors who had lost everything and the kids turned their effort to helping others.
They are growing into remarkable young men and women pursuing their dreams. We stay connected on Facebook and my daughter has met them via Skype. I hope to bring her to Nepal to spend time with them, so she can experience that happiness is not rooted in things, but in actions.
Question 2: How do you think world travel has shaped your kids?
Rebecca Darling, Texas Traveling Mom – I find that traveling is the BEST way to BOND with my kids! #WhereNext #TMOM
You get to really know your kids when you strip away all the outside commitments. Sports, dance, and other after-school activities pull you in different directions and take you away from each other. When you are traveling, there is a ton of one-on-one time, allowing you to focus on one other.
This summer, I traveled with my tweens for 5 weeks straight on a road trip. I can point to a dozen moments where I had such sweet conversations with my kids on our trip. We saw amazing sights they had only read about before. We felt history in so many places we visited. And we did this all together. These are moments that I will hold dear to me over the years. My hope is that my kids will too.
Tonya Prater, Ohio Traveling Mom – My kids have learned that they are a small piece in a big world. #WhereNext? #TMOM
In our world of instant gratification and social media overload, it’s easy for our kids to think they are the center of the universe-depending on how many Facebook likes they receive on a status.
Through travel, my kids have learned that they are a small piece in a big world. The world does not revolve around them. They’ve learned (and so have I) that they are a small piece of the puzzle in a box with other puzzle pieces. They’ve learned we all fit together–without hatred and prejudice. They’ve also learned through their acts of service, they can make a difference in the lives of others.
Nasreen Stump, Road Warrior Traveling Mom – My kids are extremely confident and adaptable. We are also bringing them up to embrace other cultures. #TMOM #WhereNext
All of my kids took their first trips when they were less than 8 months old. By now, they’ve traveled enough to make them very adaptable—we can plan a spur-of-the-moment trip and it’s not going to disrupt our routine.
They haven’t traveled extensively internationally, but we have visited several cities. When we do, we don’t usually stay in touristy areas but rather in walkable areas where locals live. This way we feel we’re a part of the local culture.
My kids have met and talked to different people and understand that not everyone is like they are. You’re not going to get that at a young age without travel. Kids often think that the whole world is like where they live. Because they’ve traveled so much, my kids don’t think that way.
Question 3: How do you prepare for the unexpected when you are internationally traveling?
Christine Tibbets, Blended Family Traveling Mom – Cope with unexpected on international travel by anticipating what might be. #WhereNext Not pessimism, just clarity. #TMOM
Unexpected encounters during international travel might mean illness or accident but genuine surprise at the appearance and mannerisms of people in other cultures requires coping too. It can be so hard not to stare, or to gasp. Coming upon the Holy Men in Nepal—Saddhus they are called—propelled me to a whole new level of awareness and appreciation that the lives people live are quite unlike my own. Clarity about potential encounters in new cultures could come with more advance preparation.
Tonya Prater, Ohio Traveling Mom – Frame of mind. Be flexible and don’t freak out when things don’t go as planned. They rarely do when traveling. #WhereNext? #TMOM
Travel takes a lot of effort, planning, money and time. We put a lot of pressure on the entire travel experience and often if things don’t go as planned, we can be disappointed and think our entire trip is ruined. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I’ve traveled and everything was perfect, but that doesn’t mean the trip was ruined or not worth taking. In some cases, the trip has been better due to a change of plans. Remember, as moms, we have a lot of influence. How we react to situations can set the tone for our entire trip. If I’ve learned one thing when traveling, it’s to watch my state of mind.
Dana McKenny Zucker, Triathalon Traveling Mom – We plan for the unexpected by having #travel insurance, cash & right credit cards. We like to have a local contact too #WhereNext? #TMOM
So often when we plan travel, something happens before we even take off. We have had broken bones days before take off, work emergencies and political unrest where we are headed.
Then, once on the trip, I cannot even count the times something happens. Let’s talk about a few. How about when my son’s daily injection pen broke, or when the hotel had a fire the day before we arrived or when the twins were alone in Southern France and the banks all closed for a town event unannounced.
For all these reasons we make sure we always get the appropriate travel insurance, for our need from trip cancellation to medical assistance like prescription replacement. We also make sure we carry with us enough cash in the country’s currency to last us 2-3 days. And we make sure our credit card and/or bank card has cash and payment assistance world wide. We carry both an American Express and a MasterCard. Many international destinations do not take American Express so having a MasterCard or VISA is a bonus.
Question 4: Hotel concierges are helpful—if you had 24/7 travel concierge service during your trip, what would you want help with?
Kirsten Maxwell, Teaching Traveling Mom – Help with restaurant recommendations. We never know where to eat since our son has food allergies! #WhereNext #TMOM
Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a 24/7 concierge? Not the kind that gets you theater reservations, but one that performs extraordinary tasks.
If I could create the perfect concierge, it would be one who could provide me with restaurant recommendations for our food allergic child anywhere, anytime. As a traveling family, one of the most stressful aspects has been finding safe foods for our son to eat while on vacation. While many restaurants in the United States are very capable of dealing with his peanut and tree nut allergies, we have found this to be more difficult when traveling abroad. It becomes even more complicated when there is a language barrier.
Can you imagine if there was a service you could call 24/7 and they would tell you where to go that would be safe for your food allergic child to eat? That would be magical for our family and helpful for many other families too. Maybe I’m onto something here, and hopefully one day this dream will come true.
Leslie Harvey, Frequent Flyer Traveling Mom – Someone to point me to the best local food and driver/local guide would be awesome! 😉 #TMOM #WhereNext
Although I’m hardly a foodie, I want to eat where the locals eat when I travel. Too often the restaurants where tourists find themselves aren’t authentic—even if they aren’t McDonald’s. These kinds of restaurants are often overpriced.
I rely on hotel concierges (who are locals themselves) to steer me to the places where they like to eat. I can get a delicious, authentic meal and also save a few bucks. Now if I could only get my children to eat something other than macaroni and cheese!
Question 5: What are some of the challenges to world travel with your kids?
Mary Heston, World Traveling Mom – Traveling the world w/ kids is spectacular! They often find more commonalities than differences #WhereNext #TMOM
Whenever we have traveled to foreign countries our kids have always managed to talk with kids their ages. It’s been a wonderful thing to see. The kids they talk with never focus on the cultural difference but instead on the similarities. It is typically the same whether they are talking to kids from Europe, the Middle East, or a South American country.
They talk about their favorite music groups, video games, and internet sites. They often talk about what they do in school and how they get around school rules. They talk about their least favorite classes (which they also often have in common). After they’ve talked about all they have in common, then they ask each other what life is like in their hometowns. Through these conversations the world seems larger and smaller at the same time.
Question 6: No matter where you go in the world, what travel tips would you share with other Moms?
Gina Vercesi, Unplugged Traveling Mom – Taking photos is wonderful, but don’t view your entire trip through a screen. Look with your eyes, make memories. # #
So often when we’re traveling I see parents and kids alike glued to their phones or cameras taking pictures or video of everything around them. I can be just as guilty as can my own children, especially my middle daughter who adores photography.
But it’s important to drink in your surroundings and to be present in the moment when you’re traveling. Oftentimes it is the moments when we lower the lens and observe the world though our own eyes, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a new place, that create the deepest memories of our travels.
Paul Eisenberg, Traveling Dad – Set an example for your kids: Spend less time playing w/your phone during your trip. #TMOM #WhereNext
My kids understand when we travel together for my work, I need to take a lot of notes and photos with my phone. But at the end of a recent father-son trip, my 8-year-old got upset with me. He thought I had gone overboard using my phone during the trip and it broke my heart because he was right. In the process of working I was also taking care of business with my phone that could have waited. It was a sharp reminder that I need to balance my work with enjoying the moment.