Before I became a mom I never quite understood what my mom-friends meant when they would complain about needing a vacation after the vacation. Don´t we all? But, now I really understand at a cellular level what they meant. Vacations abroad can offer the most enriching cultural, language and horizon-expanding experiences for our children. There´s no way I would trade that right now just because it is too exhausting. In today’s economy the thought of a family trip across borders is a bit daunting and not for every pocketbook. The beauty of living in the U.S. is how diverse and multicultural this country is, so you really don’t even need a passport to experience other cultures and have a unique adventure!
The key to an enjoyable family vacation is in the planning and in making the whole trip an immersion experience and not a huge to-do list of landmarks, museums, attractions, etc. that must be seen. Instead, plan on immersing your family in a real cultural adventure that will enrich them so much more.
When your child is old enough to appreciate the adventure, spend some good time planning a trip that will be a learning experience for all. Consider using something like AirBnB to find an apartment or house where you can settle in for a while and live the native experience. This method also allows for savings – renting an apartment or home means you can save money (and calories) by shopping for local foods at local markets and preparing them yourselves.
Staying active while on an immersion experience abroad will come naturally if you choose a well-planned city or a small town here everything is within walking distance.
- Either way, pack a lunch and grab bikes to tour the surroundings and visit local happenings. Just the biking in itself will be a thrill, and there´s no better way to get to know a place and its people than to bike or walk it.
- Children can let off steam by visiting local parks and small museums. Small museums are best for kids because they don´t get too overwhelmed, and what they see are excellent conversation starters about the local culture you´re experiencing.
- Another excellent way to stay active while being immersed in a new culture is to go hiking where children can experience nature in new ways.
As you can see, traveling with your family doesn´t have to be exhausting; you can actually make it a productive, rich and active experience that will make a lasting impression. Just plan ahead to transform the inevitable exhaustion into meaningful activity.
Ana L. Flores is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby.com, a community and resource for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children.