Forget Epcot’s World Showcase. Families today want to go beyond the ‘been there, done that’ summer vacation to see the real China, Italy, Japan, and Africa. You might be one of them — a parent who has always dreamed of traveling internationally with your children, but didn’t think it was possible because of the cost, stress, and planning required to put a trip together. There’s a lot to consider: choosing hotels, scheduling intra-country travel, knowing what sightseeing spots to visit, not speaking the local language, and the ultimate question: Will my children be OK (and actually have fun!) on this trip?
That’s why I’m so excited that Friendly Planet now offers families safe, affordable options to travel internationally this summer with our new family-friendly group tours. We handle the details, so you can concentrate on enjoying the spectacular beauty, culture, and history of some of the most jaw-dropping places on Earth with your kids (along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, too!), making memories that will last a lifetime.
You might be thinking: Is international group travel right for my family? One of the best parts of these tours is that every detail has been thought of. We’ve selected kid-friendly hotels with amenities that they’ll love, scheduled touring that kids and parents will enjoy, and picked talented guides who specialize in making sightseeing interesting for the entire family. And, by traveling with other families in a group, you and your kids will have plenty of opportunities to make new friends and share this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
But there are many more reasons to travel internationally with your kids. Here are just five:
1. Expand their world view. We live in a global economy, and it’s our goal as parents to raise worldly young people who understand how the world works. Travel exposes children to different cultures, helping them meet and understand people from all over the world. And at the same time, it has been said that you have to go elsewhere to truly appreciate your home. There’s so much more to life than iPods and Facebook, and international travel with the family is one of the best ways to expand the horizons of children while they’re young.
2. See the world through a child’s eye. Traveling overseas with children is an entirely new experience. Their wonder and excitement allows adults to see exotic places in an entirely new light, free from preconceived notions and assumptions. A child’s enthusiasm and pure joy are infectious, a real highlight of family travel.
3. Experience cultures and ecosystems before they change and disappear forever. The downside of globalization is that it’s making the world more homogeneous. Traveling with the family overseas allows you to explore the world’s vast diversity as it is today. At the same time, climate change is threatening some of the world’s greatest natural treasures: rainforests, the Great Barrier Reef, Darwin’s Galapagos Islands, the wildlife of Africa, etc. Some are even on the edge of extinction, so visit them now.
4. The ultimate antidote to adolescence. The inevitability of your child’s adolescence means that differences will arise between you, as freedoms are fought for and won. And through it, the shared experience of international travel can give you memories to return to and share even during the hard times. When all else fails, you will still have that afternoon of shopping in Beijing or the evening overlooking the cliffs of Mykonos. Shared memories are what keep families … well, families!
5. Share an adventure that your family will talk about for years to come. Face it. No one remembers the day you worked late or the deal you just landed. But your family will forever remember the sheer excitement of setting out on an epic journey. A Friendly Planet family-friendly tour is just the right mix of adventure and education, exhilaration and, yes, exhaustion. Something your family will look back upon and relive countless times, with laughter and longing — an adventure of a lifetime.
So go beyond the beach this summer. Set out on a great adventure that will create a lifetime of memories. I encourage you to check out our family-friendly tour options and tell us: Where are you going in the summer of 2014?