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I’m here at the Family Travel for Real Life conference and thought I would try to live blog a little bit.  Since I’m not a stenographer, I can’t capture everything, but I hope that I can hit some of the highlights for those of you who were not able to attend.

Dia the Deal Mommy started us off with a few introductory remarks including a bit of her mission statement that “travel with kids is not only possible but necessary…”

The first speaker at FT4RL was Shawn Coomer from Miles to Memories.  I did an interview with Shawn a few weeks ago – he really has an interesting story.  He has traveled all around the world with his wife and son, including some time where he has taken his son out of school to travel.

He also talked a lot about the concepts of Travel vs. Vacation – travel is more about experiencing a different culture, versus vacation being a break from “real life”.  One of the main topics that he had was how to overcome obstacles preventing long term family travel.

He was not necessarily advocating taking your kids out of school, but just sharing what he does and what works for his family.  It was a great listen to talk about it.  When you think about it, long-term travel can actually HELP children learn about things way better than reading it from a book.  What better way to learn about the Great Wall of China or the Eiffel Tower than actually VISITING those places.

Another topic was that lots of times, kids are only interested in playing video games or watching TV.  There were a couple of suggestions from Shawn as well as some of the other attendees – check out books about the local area.  Find other children to connect with.  Help them plan the trip / pick the hotel.  Overnight trains and buses can also seem like adventures.

Follow the H.A.L.T. principle

The HALT principle applies to everyone in the family – don’t let anybody get Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.  I know this happens in our family – when people don’t eat, the blood sugar drops, and the bad behavior comes out… 🙂

Family Travel for a real budget

Some ideas for family travel while still staying on a budget. Obviously travel hacking can be a good strategy, but there are others as well.

Some good options are to – Stay in Local Hotels, Learn Local Customs & Rules (for example children don’t pay to ride buses in Guatemala, but they’ll take your money if you let them!), Utilize Cheaper Transport Options (2nd class buses, or ultra low cost carriers such as Ryanair) and Travel Slow.

With traveling slow, the biggests costs are hotel and transport. You don’t have to do every thing and see every site, as my wife likes to remind me 🙂 Don’t worry, the Great Wall of China will STILL be there if you don’t see it. It’s probably necessary (see the HALT principle above) to take things slower – there’s a limit to how many 12 hour days you can pack in back to back to back.

Stay tuned for recaps of other speakers!

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