International travel with grandkids
BY JANET DIEMAN
Mention the delights of post-retirement travel to a group of seniors, and eyes light up. Everyone, it seems, has a story to tell – where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, where they’re going next.
Mention that you decided to take your 10-year-old grandson on a trip to China, and everyone stares open-mouthed. An adolescent? Overseas? The disbelief grows even stronger when you mention international travel with a three-year-old.
Responses include, “Why would you do that?” “Are you crazy?” “How can you call that a vacation?” “What are you thinking?”
It’s true. Traveling with kids is not a vacation during which you relax, are pampered, and escape the responsibility of everyday life.
You won’t experience an opera, attend the opening of an art exhibit, partake in a cooking class, tour a winery, or linger over an elegant five-course dinner.
But you might see how cheese is made, slide down a ramp into a salt mine, see incredible vistas during a pony trek, hike on a trail in search of trolls, learn how to dress in a toga, or spend hours enjoying street entertainment, all the while tasting yet another flavor of gelato.
Planning travel with a focus on child centered interests does not mean you can’t enjoy seeing and learning new things. The new things are just different than those you’d observe when traveling with adults. And they come with one incomparable bonus – sharing that event with a little one you adore, while enjoying the thrill of learning together.
Traveling with kids comes with luxuries no tour includes. Intangible rewards that last a lifetime. It offers incomparable memory making and bond building – much beyond what is available in the day-to-day environment at home. These gifts provide the foundation for endless “remember when” conversations that conclude with “where can we go next?”
When you travel you learn. Reading about and seeing pictures of other countries/cultures is only the beginning. Actually being there, is a multi-dimensional experience that takes learning to new heights and exponentially expands understanding. All sensory input channels are on full alert, drinking in every sight, sound, taste, smell and touch that grabs attention and excites discovery in children.
Even a young child who travels internationally returns with a larger perspective of him/herself and the world.
Being in a different environment and interacting with the people who hold different expectations and believe different things, opens one up to more acceptance of diversity, curiosity, inquiry. Experiences while traveling help us examine life and, perhaps, adapt what might have been an unexamined given. Even a young child who travels internationally returns with a larger perspective of him/herself and the world.
To see a foreign country through a child’s eyes is a joy. What he sees, and therefore what you see; what he experiences, and therefore what you experience, will amaze you. And, yes, the things you see are not at all what you’d encounter traveling with adults.
Why not take a beloved grandchild to London or Paris or Zurich or Beijing? Better yet, take him/her to Killin, Oberwesel, Wengen, or Delft. Living with the locals in a small village provides the perfect setting for experiencing the culture of a country. Plus, it offers opportunities for activities not found in urban areas. Lawn bowling anyone?
Why not share your knowledge and perspective against the backdrop of a shared adventure? You’ve blocked out two, three, or four weeks to be together in an unfamiliar place. You’re together 24/7, seeing unfamiliar things every day. You have the life maturity and wisdom to help your grandchild understand what s/he encounters and link it to a bigger picture called life.
The lifelong memories and bonding you return with are priceless. They’re souvenirs you can’t purchase, beyond anything you can imagine. I have proof – thousands of photographs. You might enjoy a quick trip through selected samples. Imagine yourself and your grandchild in each one.
Start dreaming. Then plan your international trip – traveling with kids. You’ll be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Janet Dieman
Janet’s passion is travel. She writes about it (through publishing children’s books, creating a One-Minute Vacation monthly newsletter, penning guest blogs) and speaks about it (through in-person Travel Talk presentations) when she’s not busy planning or taking her next trip.
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