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milestomemories-logoContinuing the fun at the Family Travel for Real Life (#FT4RL) conference, and continuing the live blogging!  I hope that you will follow along with me as we learn about family travel, and how those of us with families can take part in it with their families.  See below for the lineup of speakers and follow us throughout the day with #FT4RL

Our concluding speaker of the day is Shawn from the excellent Miles to Memories blog.  Shawn spoke at last year’s FT4RL conference and had a great talk about some of his adventures in travel (as opposed to vacations).  He told me on Twitter that I should make his bio good, and I’m hoping that maybe if I do, he’ll use some of his Lyft credit to give me a ride back to the hotel we’re both staying at tonight 🙂

Adventure Travel

One of his great points was that children are often more resilient than adults when it comes to travel.  I mentioned earlier from his earlier post talking about the difference between travel and vacation, but I think one of the great points was that BOTH of them are important, and finding what makes a deeper travel experience for you personally might be different than for someone else.

Family travel is NOT any different than non-family travel.  Don’t dumb a trip down just because you have children.  Personally, I think this is something that we have a hard time doing, but we are trying to travel more and give our kids some of these experiences.

Educating yourself and your children through travel

“Travel in and of itself is an amazing educational experience”

There are lots of good resources for educating your kids while traveling even if you are only on a short-term trip.  Long-term schooling while traveling is called “roadschooling”.

Some sample educational experiences from traveling families

  • Eating a traditional Indian meal the traditional way (with only the right hand)
  • Learning basic phrases and greeting in the local languages
  • Nature conservation through fun experiences like watching turtles hatch.
  • Walking tours in almost major city around the globe aim to teach about the history and culture of an area or city.  These are very popular in Europe and spreading them.  The tour guide typically works for tips, so they have an incentive to do a really good job.
  • Studying Spanish in Guatemala or any native language

Immersive travel

Immersion: the state of being deeply engaged or involved; absorption

A lot of the activities already mentioned provide immersive, fun and rewarding experiences.  Children don’t learn unless they are engaged, and when they’re interested, children will learn even without trying.  Shawn shared a great experience of him and his family staying for 9 days in the Mongolian countryside doing a homestay with a number of nomadic families (as part of their 18 month trip around the world)

Giving back / voluntourism

Voluntourism is the combination of volunteer and tourism.  Because it’s a huge industry, that means there are good and bad players.  So before you go, ask yourself what type of impact does it have on locals and are these companies ethical?

One of Shawn’s points (because he’s a frugal guy like me!) was that a lot of these things can be done without spending a ton of money

Some of the top companies he mentioned about voluntourism were:

  • Project Abroad
  • Hands Up Holidays
  • Globe Aware
  • World Expeditions
  • Voluntourism.org

matthew-25-ministries-logoThere were lots of trips from those sites that are marketed at $2,000-$6,000 per person (clean up beaches in the Galapagos, Elephant conservation in Thailand, build a library in morocco, repair houses of elderly Romanian citizens) that you can contact the local agencies and do those things for free or much cheaper.

There are lots of ways that you can help volunteer as a family.  Our family has donated time at a local charity called Matthew 25 Ministries, making hygiene kits for folks in areas with natural disasters.

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