If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve undoubtedly had the near-universal experience of enduring a TSA security line or an immigration line upon re-entry to your home country.
What if you could bypass these lines for good?
You may have heard of Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. You fill out a (fairly lengthy) application, pay $100, and if your application passes the initial phase, you’re invited to an in-person interview/screening at a participating airport. If you pass that phase of the application, you are granted a Global Entry ID. In a nutshell, this is how it works:
At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit. (www.globalentry.gov)
In addition, people who are approved via the Global Entry program can also participate in TSA Pre-Check, which allows people to skip regular TSA security lines at participating airports and go through an expedited line — without having to remove shoes or other clothing items, open laptops, or do any of the other things that take up time in line.
Global Entry (and the accompanying TSA Pre-Check) is a good fit for your flying needs if:
In addition to inside info on things like GE and Pre-Check, as your travel advisor, I’ve got tons of helpful hints and connections to make your next trip an amazing one. I would be thrilled to meet with you and plan out your next great adventure! You can reach me by clicking here.
You know them when you meet them: those people who always keep their passport on hand, who can pack for an international trip in about twenty minutes flat, who’ve almost never met a travel idea they didn’t like, who would rather take three international trips a year than own a car. They never get tired of exploring.
Scientists might have discovered why some people tend towards wanderlust and others don’t.
One gene in particular, simply known as DRD4, is associated with dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brain’s natural “feel good” reward chemicals. For example, it’s released when we eat a delicious piece of chocolate cake or when we win at a race after training for months.
A derivative of DRD4, called DRD4-7R, is what’s come to be known as the “wanderlust gene.” In people who have it — only about 20 percent of the population — it shows up with an increased curiosity, restlessness, and desire to explore. And the one thing that almost all people who have DRD4-7R share in common? A history of traveling.
While nailing down the urge to explore and travel to only one piece of DNA might seem a bit simplistic, part of this unique gene mutation might be linked to the fact that the human brain and body are uniquely suited for exploration: unlike other primates, we have legs and hips that are designed to walk long distances; we have hands that can perform incredibly detailed tasks; and our brains are large and are naturally wired for creativity and change. Another source of the 7R gene might be those people groups in human history that experienced mass migration over long distances — they cultivated and passed on a relentless curiosity about new territory because that was what they were doing for generations.
Dr Richard Paul Ebstein, Professor of Psychology at the National University of Singapore, explored the question of the “travel gene” more in depth in the recent article. Regardless of its origin, Ebstein notes that people who possess the 7R mutation are people who exhibit “novelty seeking or extraverted behavior”.
Sound like anyone you know?
If you’re longing for your next great adventure, let’s talk travel! You can get in contact with my today by clicking here.
First things first
Let’s face it, it’s expensive to travel to far away places (and totally worth it, trust me!) Compared to most shorter distance, or domestic flights, you may already be experiencing some sticker shock.
But let me suggest a reframe here….
Instead of looking at the total price tag, break it down into cost per travel hour. Let’s compare 24 hours to Sydney at $2,500 vs. 3.5 hours to Vegas for $250. Sydney breaks down to $104/hour and Vegas to $71/hour - it doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it? Now, considering you are going to be spending hours and hours on that plane, it’s worth spending a little extra - per travel hour - to upgrade for more comfort.
Many factors like which airline you choose, how long your connections are, what style aircraft you choose, etc. are all going to affect your comfort and pleasure on a long-distance flight. As your travel agent, I will handle all of these details for you to get you the easiest, comfiest flight possible.
As we are planning your trip, I will recommend optional upgrades to you to make your journey more comfortable.
For business and first class travelers most airlines give you a set of comfy PJ's and a complete toiletries kit so you can "go to bed" in your seat which folds down into a flat bed (and they are yours to keep). (By the way, the complimentary PJ's on Emirates flights are DIVINE, so don’t think you’re just going to get cheap, disposable type pajamas.)
When you're ready to sleep, your flight attendant will prepare your bed for you with soft blankets and full size pillows.
The bathrooms in the business and first class cabins are significantly larger (at least 3X the size), which makes changing, brushing your teeth, and washing your face much easier.
I'm happy to price out business and first class tickets for you in addition to coach and premium economy tickets.
If this is the ONLY reason you choose to work with me as your travel agent, this is worth it. I will research and find you the best upgrade options so that you can actually enjoy your time in transit and arrive at your destination happy, well rested, and ready to enjoy your destination.
Just like with anything in life, preparing your attitude ahead of time is key to success. Why not look at the time you are going to spend on a long-haul flight as a glorious day of rest, a true holiday. No phone calls, no text messages, no social media, no responsibilities. You just get to sit and relax - sleep, read that great book you’ve been wanting to read, binge watch movies guilt-free. You’re going to be stuck on a plane for a long time, you might as well turn it into something you can enjoy.
So now let’s talk about how you can actually do that….
Prepare to be Comfortable
Wear comfortable clothes. Maybe not your pajamas, because let’s face it, most of us feel most comfortable when we feel “presentable” in public. But, do try to avoid clothes that are too tight, that bunch or ride up in funny ways, are made of materials that irritate your skin or are otherwise bothersome in any other way.
Everyone has different things they find comfortable, but consider soft, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen and design features like elastic waist bands.
Wear multiple thin layers so that you can add or remove clothing to help regulate your temperature in transit.
Comfortable shoes are also a must, and vary from person to person. Don’t wear brand new shoes that may still be in that break-in period and could give you blisters. Wear shoes that you already know you can walk all day in without your feet screaming to be set free! Slip-on shoes that you can take off easily are a great idea too - for ease through security as well as comfort once you’re on the plane.
Got long legs, or just like more leg room? Consider an aisle seat or exit row for more leg room, or, upgrade to business or first class.
Don’t carry on too much stuff. Even though you technically can stow a bag under your seat that doesn’t mean you want to. Think about how much leg room that extra large bag might eat up before you decide to carry it on. On the flip side, if you have short legs that don’t take up that much room to begin with, go ahead and stuff your bag under there!
Prepare to be Healthy
Pack plenty of food. You know what you like to eat and how much/often you need to eat. I recommend packing a little more than you think you will need in case of travel delays.
Nutritionists advise smaller meals with a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and plant-based foods to stay happy and healthy on long haul flights and to avoid jet leg.
For business and first class travelers most airlines provide you a menu of complimentary gourmet food, and in some cases, it's made to order - VERY different from the food served in economy.
You can alert your flight attendant of food allergies and sensitivities and they will accommodate you.
When you eat can be just as important, or even more important than what you eat. Eating sends important cues to your body to help regulate your circadian rhythm. Careful planning of when you eat before, during and after a long-haul flight can help you sleep better and avoid jet lag.
Stay hydrated. Air travel is dehydrating. That coffee you drink to stay awake is dehydrating. That wine you drink to relax is dehydrating. Dehydration exacerbates jet-lag, so in order to stay healthy you need to counteract all this with plenty of water. Make sure your water bottle never runs dry and sip on during your entire flight.
Pro Tip: peanuts and peanut butter are a great source of protein for many people, however if there is someone on your flight with a peanut allergy you may be asked not to bring these out - and why put someone at risk? I recommend choosing snacks without peanuts in them (don’t forget check your granola and energy bars too and choose flavors sans peanuts).
Prepare to be Entertained
Pack something to watch. Most flights will have in-flight movies, but your choices will be limited. You might want to bring your own tablet, or laptop loaded with a few movies that you know you will enjoy. Movies that you love and want to watch again or new movies that you have been dying to see - or both.
Pack something to read. Here again is where a tablet, or even your phone or laptop, shines! Make sure you have downloaded some books to read. I recommend more than one book, just in case you get bored of one, or finish it!
Pack something to listen to. If popping in your noise-cancelling headphones and zoning out to your favorite music is your thing, make sure you have all your favorite tunes loaded on your device. Maybe even some new songs to keep things interesting.
Podcasts are another great option for audio entertainment. There is a podcast for every single interest out there. You can be entertained, or educated or both. And bonus - podcasts take up less space and use less battery than movies - so load ‘em up!
Pro Tip: Your device can also help relieve anxiety and help you get to sleep. Try downloading a meditation app (like Headspace or Calm). This article provides more info on the benefits of meditating while traveling, and some how-to tips.
Prepare to be Rested
In order to rest, most people need to be able to block out light and noise. A good eye mask and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or simple ear plugs are a must. Most airlines provide these sorts of amenities on overnight and long flights, but why chance it. Especially if you are picky about the style, I recommend packing your own.
You also might want to bring your own travel pillow. Travel pillows have come a long way since the only option U-shaped inflatable neck pillow. From luxury down jackets that convert to neck pillows to scarves that hold your head up while you sleep, there is an option for everyone.
Prepare to Have Happy Kids
Traveling with young children adds an entire additional layer of complication to your travel plans. But, with a little extra preparation the entire family can still enjoy the journey of getting there.
You might want to seriously consider breaking up a long haul flight with a 2-3 day rest and recover stay somewhere. Shorter travel days mean kids (and parents) aren’t likely to get as exhausted, making everyone more susceptible to melt-downs and even sickness.
Also, adding another destination adds more excitement and adventure to your trip.
Consider kid-friendly versions of all the preparations we have already covered, in addition to a few extra tips and tricks for keeping them healthy and happy.
In addition to bringing a few of their favorite things that you are certain they find entertaining, it’s always a good idea to bring a few new surprises to entertain the kids on a plane. Even the act of opening new gifts itself is entertainment! Think engaging toys - such as new coloring books and art supplies, new games, new books, etc. A mix of things you can enjoy with them, and that they can do alone for when you need a break.
Checklist for happy kids (and parents):
Check your stroller at the gate. If your flight happens to be delayed, your child(ren) will have a comfortable (and confined) place to rest.
Pack plenty of your child’s favorite (healthy) foods. There are few things worse than a hungry child, besides one that is amped up on sugar, or coming down off a sugar high. Think protein and complex carbohydrates to keep their bellies full and their mood calm.
Make sure they get the wiggles out before they get on the plane. Take advantage of all the space in the airport and run around. Kids need to move their bodies to burn off energy, and hopefully they will be ready to sleep when you get in the air.
Be prepared to combat the change in air pressure on takeoff and landing with a bottle (or breast) for babies and chewing gum or hard candy for those old enough for it.
I know, I know, all the experts tell us to avoid too much screen time for our children, but having a few movies or electronic games available on your tablet can mean the difference between misery and joy on a long-haul flight. Go ahead and make an exception here and indulge in some electronic baby-sitting for a few hours.
Pack a clean outfit (or two) in your carry-on, as well as plenty of wipes to clean up all the messes kids (and adults) often make.
Consider bringing their car seat on the plane. Kids are used to sitting still in them, it will help rein them in and may provide some comfort since it’s something familiar.
And lastly remember: this too shall pass. An unpleasant, uncomfortable long-haul flight might seem like a never-ending nightmare, but it will be over at some point, and the rewards of an amazing trip with be well-worth the relatively short time spent on the plane to get there.
Ultimate Long-Haul Flight Packing List
Food (we covered this in detail already)
Tea bags if you have a favorite tea, or other drink mix
Refillable water bottle
Small toiletry kit with travel versions of everything you need to feel (and smell) fresh
Facial wipes or cleanser
Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
Hand and body lotion (you can save space by choosing something that works on your face too)
Eye drops (if you’re prone to dry eyes)
Small comb or brush
Tablet or e-reader
Book or magazine if you prefer a physical version
Cards or other small games
Small notepad or pen
Battery charger and cords - for your phones, tablets and even laptop
Ear plugs or noise canceling headphones
Socks (compression if you’re prone to feet/ankle swelling)
Slip-on shoes (or just wear these the whole time)
Motion sickness remedies
Baby aspirin, if recommended by your doctor
OTC pain medication in case your back hurts from hauling heavy luggage or your neck
hurts form the awkward sleeping position
Any prescription medication you need - please make sure any medications you rely on
are in your carry-on luggage and not your checked bag
An extra change of clothes (in case of spills or lost checked luggage)
Pajamas or just super-comfy clothes if you need to change to sleep
One of the best parts of traveling is getting to taste and savor all kinds of new and delicious foods, whether you’re driving across the state or flying across the world. And, without a doubt, it’s fun to let go a little and eat things you wouldn’t normally eat during a week at home—that’s part of the freedom and excitement of being on vacation!
But we all know the feeling when we’ve had way too much for too many days in a row: the total lack of energy, the bloating, dehydration, headaches, or hangovers, the pronounced jet lag, the increased susceptibility to getting sick. All of these things can really get in the way of maximizing your travel enjoyment. And if you’re someone with food restrictions, you know the added frustration of trying to find good food that will be good to you, too!
The great news is that it’s easier than ever to make the kinds of food choices that will keep you healthy and energized while you’re away from your usual routine. Here are some simple ways to eat great while you’re taking in the best moments of your trip:
However you decide to plan your meals on your trip, I’d love to help you get there! As your travel agent, I can offer you insider tips on transport, accommodations, and entertainment. If you’re ready to start planning, contact me today. I can’t wait to chat!
Nobody loves standing in long security lines, and I don’t know one person who is thrilled by the fact that most airline seats only recline about four inches, if you’re lucky.
But I do know people who love to travel, door to door — not just when they arrive at their resort. I know people who almost always have a great flight, no matter what. I’ve talked to people whose trips got rained out, or who missed connecting flights, or who got lost, or who even had passports stolen — and when I ask them how their trip was, they smile and say, “It was great!” and proceed to tell me the full exciting tale.
So what’s their secret? I’ll tell you: they’ve let go of the Perfectionist Mindset and adopted the Adventure Mindset. The difference between these two paradigms changes everything.
The Perfectionist sets unrealistically high expectations for themselves, others, and situations — and when things don’t go well, they often fall into self-blame or blaming others. The Adventurer makes a plan and is prepared, but is willing to roll with what comes along that might not fit with “The Plan.”
The Perfectionist often avoids risk and only goes with the obvious path in an attempt to avoid “failure.” The Adventurer is less concerned with control and more interested in creative approaches and critical thinking when it comes to problem solving.
The Perfectionist focuses on what isn’t working and is often impatient and critical. The Adventurer sees what’s going well and what there is to be grateful for and is quick to offer appreciation, flexibility, and help in tough situations.
As author and coach Naomi Teeter points out, the Adventurer knows how to ask “quality questions” when faced with a challenge, questions like:
If I’m honest with myself, I know that there are times I fall into the Perfectionist Mindset, in travel and in life. But I also know that at any moment, I can choose something different. I can always choose an attitude of adventure. And as a lifelong traveler, that has made all the difference.
If you’re ready to plan your next great adventure, I’d love to help you get there. You can contact me today by clicking here.
If you’ve never been on a safari and are considering it for the first time, you’ll have many questions. Even if a safari has been on your bucket list for years, taking your first steps to make your dream a reality can be a little overwhelming. Over the years, I have helped many adventurers; to help you decide and plan, here’s an overview of the key questions my clients ask.
Will I like a safari?
If you love nature and are glued to wildlife documentaries, then there’s no doubt you’ll be delighted to watch the action unfold in front of you. Catching your first glimpse of a giraffe’s head soaring over the treetops or hearing the distant roar of lions is exciting, and it only gets better and more thrilling the closer to the action that you get.
But it’s not just the ‘Big 5’; a safari offers so much more, from delightfully comical warthog encounters to majestic elephants. It’s quite likely that when you recount your trip to friends and family at home, your highlight will be something different from what you expected before you left. Whether this is a sunset watering hole experience or the sight of hundreds of wildebeest, the memories will last a lifetime.
Is it suitable for me?
Safaris are active, they’re dusty, hot and have more than their fair share of insects and bumpy tracks. To catch some of the action, you’re likely to be up early, or late, or both. The environment is likely to be more rustic than what you’re used to, and the culture quite different. If you can take all of this in your stride, then an amazing experience awaits.
What’s best, a guided or unguided safari?
That depends. Can you tell which prints and scat belong to which animal and how long ago they were left? Most of us can’t, so sit back, relax, and leave it to the experts; this is their back yard, and they know its inhabitants well. Enjoy scoping the horizon and the thrill of discovery without the stress of maps and itineraries and the worry of missing something. You’re on holiday!
That said, some smaller parks offer an excellent unguided experience and would give you a flavor of the larger wildlife experience on a big reserve safari. Addo Elephant Park in South Africa is one such example. This is a self-drive day trip that’s a fun day out that would complement a South African sightseeing holiday, for example.
What’s the accommodation like?
As with any holiday, anywhere in the world, there is a choice of accommodation. Yes, you can camp, and your choice will range from bare canvas to luxury structures. But don’t feel driven by some quasi-canvas authenticity; safari lodges are available, and if this is where your comfort zone is, there’s no shame. Lodge accommodation needn’t break the bank; offerings range from budget to luxury.
How do I choose which safari is best?
There is indeed a huge choice. Some locations are vast, some smaller, some are private reserves, and some national parks. There are regions better for seeing certain species and at particular times of the year and some that specialize in certain species or encounters. To get the most of your holiday, I would always recommend using an agent.
Why? Experience and knowledge.
Over the years, my company has helped many animal enthusiasts choose the perfect safari and accommodation options for them. Established agents with great reputations will have amassed valuable insight into locations and operators and will be best suited to match your requirements
Is it safe?
Choose an established operator with a great reputation, and a safari is a thrilling experience. Remember that the majority of your adventure will take place from the safety of a vehicle guided by experts in animal behavior. Follow their directions. Remember to stay hydrated and apply common sense; don’t wander off on your own, venture out at night, or take a dip in a lake or river, and your experience will be a wondrous adventure.
You might be concerned about tropical diseases. Consult a health care professional early to get advice about immunization and malaria precautions, as well as any other concerns that you may have. Remember that some immunization protocols need to be initiated many months before departure, so don’t leave this until the last minute.
When Should I book?
Early. Plan ahead, not just because of the aforementioned medical considerations. Some of the more specific safaris book up well in advance, so it pays to be early. The sooner you book, the better options you will have for flight times and deals too.
Do I need a visa?
Maybe. Depending on your passport and where you are going, you might need to apply for a visa before you go. Visa applications involve completing some paperwork and sending off your passport. Some locations operate a visa on arrival system, which means your visa requirements are taken care of upon arrival at your destination airport, often a fee applies. Again, a good agent will help you understand your requirements.
What should I pack?
Think comfort and hot weather and pack lightly.
African safaris seem to touch something deep in your soul. Maybe it’s the connection to nature; maybe it’s something more primitive. Whatever the connection, if it’s something that ignites a spark, don’t delay; you won’t regret it.
Ready to Start Planning
Use our online schedule to book a complimentary Safari Travel Planning Session
When I was a kid, the image that came to mind when I heard “bed and breakfast” was one of an old house filled with antiques, soft four-posted beds, a wandering cat or an old sleepy dog on the property, maybe run by a sweet elderly couple.
While this image certainly has its own kind of rustic charm, it should be said that the bed and breakfast has evolved significantly in the last several decades. In fact, many B&Bs today provide all of the plush luxury of a hotel — plus the added bonus of more privacy, more personal attention, and lip-smacking homemade meals, often in the tradition of the country or region where you’re staying.
You can find exquisite B&Bs all over the US, of course. In addition, inns throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, Wales, Italy and beyond offer a wonderfully personal way to experience Western Europe. What might surprise you is to find this same intimate tradition in places like Cambodia, Thailand, Brazil, and New Zealand. They really are anywhere you want to go.
In these unique spaces, you don’t just get a plate of pancakes and some coffee in the morning. You can get multi-course meals with complimentary wine service in the evenings, plus easy accommodations for dietary needs. You can find top-of-the-line spas, in-room fireplaces, gorgeous swimming pools, breathtaking views, and peaceful grounds to walk. Just like at a big hotel, you can choose to interact with other guests, or you can opt for private room service. You can be in the heart of a busy city like Amsterdam or Chicago, just steps away from main attractions — or you can rest in total quiet in the green Irish countryside or overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Perhaps best of all, when you stay in a B&B, you are one of a handful of guests staying in a place that is owned and operated by someone who is personally invested in your enjoyment. You’ll feel personally taken care of — which you are. As one happy reviewer put it: “The thing that made our stay was the personal touches. We now have a problem, though – nothing else will compare!”
If you want to jump start your imagination with some unbelievable photos, you can check out this 2016 Traveler’s Choice Awards for B&Bs .
And when you’re ready for your next romantic, cozy getaway, I’d love to help you plan it down to the last perfect detail. I might even be able to find you a place with a friendly old dog if you like.
When it comes time to buy a travel-loving friend a gift, it’s easy to feel stuck on what to get. Journals are great — but not all travelers are journalers, and those that are often have at least a few blank ones on hand. Here are unique takes on classic ideas for the various kinds of travelers in your life.
For the foodie: send delicious global flavors right to their doorstep. Try The World with top chefs from Argentina to Morocco and assembles gorgeous boxes filled with curated delicacies from each country. Delivered every month, each box contains descriptions for how to use the tasty and exotic flavors in your own recipes.
For the well-accessorized: customize a favorite map to make cufflinks, bracelet, or pendant. Have a special place you want to commemorate? Maybe the place of a first date, or a favorite childhood destination? This can be a beautiful and deeply personal way to show your traveler that you know what matters to them most.
For the crafty commemorator: check out this simple, beautiful way to re-trace steps and wonderful memories with a map and thread. The maps can be titled, as well. Imagine a wall decorated with these minimalist representations of adventures!
For the traveler who has everything and wants to give back: Why not make a donation to a favorite cause in your traveler’s name? You can choose organizations that support environmental stewardship, advocate for people in crisis, promote education, or help bring beauty.
For the traveler who’s always up for adventure: I’ve written before about how experiences pack the biggest punch, happiness-wise. At Experience Days you can give the gift of a lifelong great memory to someone you care about. Try everything from hang gliding to art lessons throughout the United States. What a great surprise for honeymooners or a friend’s next big adventure!
For the gadget-junkie: this funky, color-coded 4-in-1 adapter is perfect for the tech-savvy traveling family and will help ensure everything stays running smoothly. For the hardcore gadget-junkie, what about these stylish vests, hoodies, and jackets with interior pockets (for men and women) to hold everything from smartphones to keys to water bottles?
For the photographer: If your friend is never without her smartphone or camera, why not make it easy for her to create beautiful, lasting photo albums, calendars, or prints of her best shots? At Artifact Uprising, she can connect directly with her Instagram account and assemble her most gorgeous memories.
If you need help planning the next adventure to fill an album, stitch on a map, or wear around your neck — contact me today! Let’s get started!
Australia is a vast country, with so many amazing places to explore and iconic monuments to see. Your trip to the land down under is sure to be unforgettable and the memories you make along the way will be treasured forever. However, if you want to make your trip as special as possible, it's important to do your research. Here are five things you need to know before embarking on your Australian adventure.
1. The weather is more varied than you might think
Australia is known for its dry climate and scorching temperatures. Many think that the entire country experiences temperate weather all year round, but this is not the case. The weather is incredibly varied, depending on the city you choose to visit.
Cities in Western Australia, such as Perth, typically experience drier summers with warmer weather while southern territories, like Tasmania, experience cooler weather. Many people don't realise that you can actually go skiing in the Hobart region of Australia and their resorts are just as amazing as European skiing destinations
2. Australia is huge
This might seem obvious, but have you really stopped to think about how big the country really is? It's the world's largest island, 32 times bigger than the UK, and has more than 7 million km² of land to explore. You should take this into account if you're planning to visit as many cities as possible during your journey, as it can take hours or even days to get from place to place. Flying from Sydney to Perth can take more than five hours, and it takes almost three days to drive if you're on a road trip.
3. The exotic animals aren't all scary
One thing that puts people off visiting Australia: the critters and creatures. But Australia isn't just home to giant snakes and crawling spiders waiting to pounce. There are so many other amazing animals to see; cute and fluffy animals are also in abundance. Embark on an Australian safari, where you might be able to spot a kangaroo in its natural habitat or even an adorable stubby-tailed wombat. You could even get the chance to cuddle or feed an Australian koala bear. Surely that has to make enduring the scarier animals worth it?
4. Travel insurance is a must
While travel insurance isn't mandatory in Australia, it is strongly recommended, even if you're already overseas. 38% of people aged 25-34 traveled without taking out insurance, which is a risky decision to make if the worst should happen. A reciprocal healthcare agreement exists between Australia and some countries (such as New Zealand and the UK), but this only covers you against very basic medical care and should not be considered a substitute for health insurance. Make the right decisions and cover yourself against theft, damage and last minute travel cancellations if you want to enjoy a carefree Australian holiday.
5. The people are very laid-back
It’s a stereotype, but there might be a grain of truth to this one – Aussies are famously laid-back! Whether it’s because of the climate, the miles of beaches, or the barbecue culture, one thing’s for sure: people in Australian love nothing more than kicking back and having a good time. If you’re travelling to Australia, you should definitely follow suit! Don’t take things too seriously when you’re there. Relax with the friendly locals, and let all the stresses of your life back home float away.
It takes a lot of work to get ready for a family trip, even if you have a travel agent doing the planning and booking for you. Choosing the right places and activities, all while trying to maintain some semblance of your normal routine, especially if you have younger kids — can be a real challenge.
In the hectic pace of everything, it can be easy to forget the bigger reasons families choose to travel with their children: to enrich their lives, expand their emotional and cultural horizons, and help them become better global citizens.
So it’s great to encourage kids to be involved in the planning and to participate in family activities — but what are some ways that you can really get your child curious about your travel destinations without adding yet another list of to-dos to a parent’s already-long list?
Here are some ideas for sparking the love of travel in your child on your next vacation.
Use your child’s natural interests to make a destination come alive. Does your kid love painting? Music? Dance? Sports? Animals? Have your child research ahead of time about activities or places that might speak to his existing passions. Maybe the place you’re headed has an incredible soccer culture, or was the home of a famous photographer. Maybe it’s known for a certain kind of food, or has some quirky museum. Have him gather as much info as he can, and let him choose a way to dig deeper into that interest — a play, an exhibit, a match, a festival.
Use a travel journal. If your child likes to write or draw, this can be both a wonderful way to document experiences and a way for kids to have alone time if they need it, or wind-down time in the evening before bed. Set aside even just 10 minutes for them to write down or doodle something from the day. A journal can be used before leaving, too — it can be a place where a child documents questions she has about where you’re going, things she wants to learn, a place to glue in pictures of places she wants to see, things she’s excited to try.
Try a scavenger hunt. How many kinds of gelato can you try? How many colors of cowboy boots can you spot? Can you track down all the famous buildings built by a favorite architect? Make a list of landmarks that were important to a local band? This is something that can be adjusted for younger and older kids, and can be an effective way to engage older kids especially. It keeps them tuned in more, and there can be a reward when a “list” is completed — dinner of their choice, for example.
Use photography as a way to help them pay attention. For a kid who loves photography, the lens can be an excellent way to help ignite curiosity and help them be present to the travel experience. For younger children especially, an inexpensive disposable camera works just great and can make them feel very grown up; older children might have access to a simple digital camera or a phone with a built-in camera. They might choose to just photograph whatever strikes their interest, and that’s fine — but they can also decide ahead of time to keep an eye out for something specific: interesting flowers, unique doorways, motorcycles or scooters they like, desserts, street signs, gardens, markets, sunsets. Being aware of and respecting cultural etiquette around taking photographs, of course, there are tons of incredible creative opportunities. This can be a wonderful way for a child to discover a new interest he didn’t even know he had.
If you choose to go the digital route, you can even set up an Instagram account specifically for your trip if you like, and your child can use a smartphone as her camera. This is a great way to visually and verbally record what they’ve seen and experienced. They can use it to build vocabulary in a new language by photographing an object, asking a local what it is, and then labeling the image with the word and its translation. If your child doesn’t enjoy traditional journaling as much, this can be an alternative way to have time set aside each day for remembering, documenting, and processing in a different medium.
Having an Instagram account also offers a wide variety of ways to print off and use selected favorite images — photographs, magnets, prints. And your child can use the Postagram app to instantly and inexpensively send postcards of the trip to friends, family, or back home again.
Use a recorder to capture new sounds, voices, and music. If your child is more aural and visual, you can use a small digital voice recorder to capture the unique traits of your destination. Car horns, street music, sounds of natural surroundings, food cooking, traditional ceremonies, language, laughter — all of these paint an auditory picture of your vacation that will spark wonderful memories for years to come. Again, if your child doesn’t enjoy traditional journaling, keeping a recorded journal might be just the thing that will really spark his interest.
Use the power of compare and contrast to sharpen curiosity, create awareness, and start good conversations. Have as a goal each day — and this can be something the whole family can do — to note one thing that’s similar to what you do at home, and one thing that’s different from what you do at home. Do kids play similar games? Eat different foods? Drive the same cars? Wear the same kids of clothes? Listen to different music? Have the same kinds of pets? In addition to observing similarities and differences, talk to them about their thoughts around what they’re noticing. What questions come up? What’s comfortable for them, and what feels totally unfamiliar? Do they see things that they wish kids did more of back home? This can be a powerful tool for kids to be present to what’s happening around them, and can help them process the culture shock that can accompany the newness of various environments, as well. It can be a way for you to get to know them better, and it can be a way for them to understand more about themselves, too.
An added bonus with these ideas is that they don’t really require any additional management or planning on the part of a parent. As with any other trip, each family will have to establish ground rules and be aware of the cultural expectations of the places they’re visiting. But other than setting aside some quiet time each day, which most families need, anyway, these activities are largely child-driven and executed. Yes, you’ll likely have to help your kid plan or reserve tickets for a chosen activity or event — but that’s something you would be doing for that day, anyway. The difference here is that your child will be a part of the process. And, yes, you’ll likely be stopping a little more as your child notices, points out, and talks about everything she’s taking in — but in the end, that seems like a wonderful opportunity for connection with your child, and a chance for parents to slow down and absorb a little more, too.
Traveling with your children provides a one-of-a-kind educational experience for them, and a powerful bonding experience for the whole family. I would love to help you design the perfect travel experience for your family! Click this link to schedule a “Let’s Get Acquainted Session” with me let’s plan your family’s next great adventure.
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