The 2015 Great NEWS posts share Healthy Habits to enhance the quality of our family life. Today’s post covers Family Friendly Eco Tourism. With summer vacations now over and children starting back to school it seemed like the perfect time to start thinking about next summers family vacation. Many people are looking for an economical and unique family vacation that also includes a cultural, educational and learning aspect to it. This post will offer some helpful hints on booking Family Friendly Eco Tourism adventures in general.
The main challenge is learning how to balance activities and scheduling for the entire family so everyone meets their level of enjoyment, interest and relaxation. How many times have you planned a great family vacation only to come home with big bills, bulging belly and a bad sun burn? How many all inclusive American buffet resorts can you survive without gaining weight and getting a hangover or sugar high overdose?
Have you considered participating in a cultural, educational and inspirational trip that could turn your young boys and girls into young men and women? Think about how great it will feel to see them return home with a higher level of gratitude, maturity and wisdom regarding the amazing world we live in. What about creating Magic Moments with your family that will last a lifetime?
I have met students whose parents spent $7,000+ for National Geographic trips to photograph birds and butterflies in Central America. These trips may last from 7 to 10 days and the students are basically chaperoned around to several spots to click some pictures and have some fun. Often the children are of mixed ages and levels of travel experience so the trip is geared to a low level of challenge and opportunity for growth. While all travel is a learning experience a great family vacation will provide memories to last and share for a lifetime.
There are other stories of parents spending over $8,000 for a family vacation where they ate mostly American food and soft drinks with minimal cultural interaction or life lessons learned. Think about it for a few minutes. How much time do you want your family laying in the sun being coated in harmful sun screens and still getting burned when they could be having the adventure of a life time learning international relations, leadership skills, safety, travel skills and much more. When families travel together and access experienced international eco travel guides and local accommodations versus the big name hotels they feel connections, hear sounds and see sights missed by regular tourist groups.
Why eat fast foods at Domino’s, KFC, McDonald’s or Subway when you can immerse yourself in an international culture and enjoy truly great local cuisine? Food and social interactions are a major part of any cultural experience and the best way to have a great time and really get away from the ho hum routine back home is to totally change your activities, customs, environment, foods, habits, language, people, sights, smells and sounds. Imagine staying off the beaten path and enjoying local food and music in a real local culture experience.
Imagine a trip or vacation where the parents and students have the opportunity to develop new skill sets, learn leadership traits and meet and mix with new cultures. What will happen when students actually take an active role in planning the trip and rotating within various roles to accept responsibility, develop new logistical skills, expand their horizons and open up their confidence and leadership abilities?
One of the best investments you can make is preparing your students for the day when they leave the nest and have to make fast decisions and use good judgment. Good judgment comes from making decisions, mistakes (decision feedback) and learning life lessons in order to adapt to new situations to make better decisions in the future. Students need challenges and independence to build their confidence and decision making skills. Team work and revolving leadership roles in foreign countries are a great way to expand their horizons, deal with problem solving and open their global awareness while they have fun and learn to think on their feet.
In other countries students are trained from early ages to travel by bus, train, ferry, planes, ships, subways, taxis and trams efficiently and safely. Most American students would perform poorly in a youth version of The Amazing Race when competing against students from Asian and European countries. Most American students are well versed with a Disney cruise or theme park and maybe summer vacation to Mexico featuring the all you can eat American buffet with burgers, fries and hot dogs .
Having stayed at Hostels and Youth Hostels in many other countries you quickly notice a higher level of awareness and maturity in the children over most US students that bury their head in their video game or zone out listening to their phone for hours while the parents take care of all the details.
Unless your student is a boy scout or girl scout they likely do not even know how to plan, pack and prepare for extended travel. I have seen American students travel with a jumbo suitcase exceeding 50 pounds loaded with hair dryers, rollers and multiple pairs of shoes while the European student can manage with a small suitcase or backpack less than 22 kilos. Most US students have minimal knowledge of communications, first aid, foreign languages, safety, scheduling, world clock, international etiquette, currency conversion, foreign ATM machines, overseas communications or international calling. Eco tourism is a great way to help you help them gain fantastic experience while having a great time with lots of fun, camaraderie and new friends. Families can learn about international conservation, countries, cultures and cuisine.
Benefits of Parent and Student Eco Tourism
Creative Writing Opportunity: Offer students an opportunity to develop better creative writing and journaling skills. Sending emails and writing well thought out social media posts can be an excellent summer writing program. Writing reviews for Fodors, Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and other travel sites is another way to expand writing skills.
Develop basic logistics and traveling skills. Help them learn about dealing with real world challenges and opportunities for self growth and personal development. Show them how to make packing lists and travel itineraries.
Global Youth Friendship and Leadership. Give teenage students an opportunity to meet other students from many countries around the world. Use the trip to focus on building a strong foundation in communications, leadership, self growth and personal development.
Reading travel blogs and books can help students learn planning and research skills. When the children are more actively involved in the selection of activities they have some “skin in the game”. This can also help teach them budgeting skills and time management since there is only so much money and time to go around on vacation.
Seminars at Sea – Caribbean Cruise. Think about the possibilities for fun and excitement during a 7 day cruise in the eastern or western Caribbean with educational courses on board and fun excursions in port. When the family travels in style on a cruise ship everything is confidently designed to make the trip easy, fun and minimal impact to the pocketbook. If you have flexibility around your travel schedule last minute cruise trips are an opportunity to travel for less.
Wanderlust and Wonders of the World
Imagine a terrific trip to the tropical rainforest of Belize, Costa Rica or Panama. Here the family can enjoy a short plane trip yet quickly become immersed in a totally different country and culture that is beautiful and different to what they normally experience back home. Many people have never heard of Belize let alone traveled there yet this English speaking country has some of the best rainforest, reefs, rivers, ruins (Mayan) and reserves in Central America. Costa Rica is also a beautiful tropical paradise with amazing scenery and things to do. All three offer great opportunities for developing international travel experience and discovering more about our neighbors to the south.
A longer international trip to Frankfurt Germany, London England or Madrid Spain is a great trip to Europe for students and parent alike. Even if you have been there before there are many sights, smells and sounds to expand your horizons to new levels. These countries had a huge impact on the history of the US so it is great to visit them and see the differences and similarities. These modern cities give students a chance to learn a lot of culture and history that are many hundreds of years older than anything in the US. Did you know there are English language training programs in Germany and Spain that offer food and lodgings for a week in return for you being there to help people improve their English.
I attended an English language course with # Vaughantown based in Madrid and had a great experience in Valdelavilla a tiny town near Soria in northern Spain. See a great travel blog post by Nora Dunn about an Anglo cultural volunteer opportunity in Spain. You can even see a picture taken during one of the delicious meals with me standing with a plate of tasty Spanish food.
An excursion to Helsinki Finland, Oslo, Norway or Stockholm, Sweden is also a great way to meet amazing people and see unique geographic areas. The fiords, lakes, mountains, rivers and seas in these countries are beyond description. Many people there speak English so it is a diverse culture and great adventure yet easy to communicate and build your international communication, logistics and travel skills. The days are very long in the summer so it is quite a busy trip with lots of opportunity for seeing different geography and great sights for memories that will last a life time.
Traveling by ferry, planes, subway, trains and trams can be economical and fun. Families can buy EU rail pass tickets on line and there are excellent discounts for students. Teachers can access Edutopia, EFTours, ETAdventures, Explorica and People to People Student Travel for additional opportunities to travel. Churches also often host various missionary programs with travel abroad.
As you can clearly see there are many exciting family eco tourism destinations and opportunities for experiential learning for great family fun and fantastic self growth. Leadership, personal development and self confidence are some of the most important skills you can instill in your students and eco travel is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
The Healthy Habits 2015 series shares simple suggestions to help maintain family happiness and health. Family Friendly Eco Tourism is a great way for families to experience new cultures and destinations without spending big bucks. Planning far in advance can help save you money and time in the long run. Having each member of the family participate in the planning and research teaches children valuable critical thinking and logistics skills that will serve them well later in life. Eco tourism and international travel requires a little extra planning that is well worth the investment of time to have a mastery action plan and well thought out agenda.
This Great NEWS post on Healthy Habits shared some simple suggestions to open up ideas and possibilities for exciting eco tourism travel opportunities. Eco tourism is a way for the entire family to have fun and learn valuable life lessons about the people, planet and plants that make up our world.
What is your current Gap?
Are you traveling to all inclusive all you can eat buffet destinations overindulging in harmful beverages and foods? Are you harming your families health wanting to have a good vacation only to over consume and over spend instead? What if you could enjoy an educational excursion and save money while your family help discover other countries and cultures?
Mastery Action Plan (MAP)
Imagine how much better you could feel when you stop filling your body with harmful beverages and foods and start consuming local cuisines and pure water? How much money could you save when you cut out the fancy hotels and check out a family hostel instead? Developing a family eco tourism travel mastery action plan requires extra planning and preparation in order to have a magic moments family vacation.
Call to Action
What comments, commitments or concerns come to mind regarding the benefits of family friendly eco tourism? What other ideas and inspiration will help motivate us towards better behaviors, beliefs and biology for a better 2015 and beyond?
Next week the Great NEWS blog will share:
Belize Family Friendly Eco Tourism
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