My husband and I recently returned from an unforgettable trip to Brazil. The Brazilian beaches, nightlife, culture, and food were spectacular, but the true highlight was vacationing with our 14-year-old grandson, Ben. This was the first time my husband and I planned an international excursion with a grandchild — without his parents — and the experience was one we’ll never forget.
Travel opens a young person’s eyes like no other experience. It introduces them to foreign sights and sounds that free their minds and expand their world views. Travel teaches life lessons, like that people who look, speak, eat, dress, and behave differently are still people just like you.
By traveling to Brazil with Ben, my husband and I also expanded our own world views by viewing the country through his fresh, curious eyes and savoring new experiences through his enormous appetite for adventure. Ben’s excitement began the moment we stepped off the airplane, and he remained in a state of wonder for the entire trip. We watched him soak up every detail, ask questions, embrace a new culture and people, and try strange foods, and we were delighted as every one of his firsts transformed into our own.
The experience not only influenced our views of Brazil, but it also forged bonds among us that would never have been possible under other circumstances. Traveling without Ben’s parents allowed us to truly get to know one another in a new way, and appreciate each other far beyond the traditional grandparent and grandchild relationship.
FAMILY TRAVEL: International family travel from Friendly Planet broadens minds and expands horizons
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:
Some parents are a tad overwhelmed at the thought of traveling with their baby or young children. Others can’t wait to strap on the baby carrier and go, go, go. No matter which style of traveling you prefer, sooner or later, chances are, you’re going to be navigating an airport, highway, or foreign destination with your kids in tow. And according to family travel and mamma maven Jennifer Michaels, the best way to do travel with kids, is to do it prepared.
Jennifer is the woman behind Family Travel Planet, and the Family Travel Examiner column. She’s also a former television producer and Family Travel Expert for VisitFlorida.com. If anyone knows the inside scoop for saving money and keeping kids (and, let’s face it, that means everyone) happy while traveling, it’s Jennifer.
As you know, Friendly Planet Travel is currently offering some pretty incredible prices on the Mediterranean Highlights and Iberian Coast cruises, with the opportunity for up to two children to travel for free (just pay for airfare, taxes, and port fees). So what better time to stock up on tips and tricks for traveling with kids? I recently had the chance to talk to Jennifer, and know that everyone could benefit from her family travel experiences.
As I mentioned already, we have some pretty special deals for travelers for our Mediterranean Highlights by the Sea and Iberian Coasts cruises, and I wanted to go into a little bit more detail on what those savings entail.
On both cruises, children up to age 18 (maximum two children per cabin) can share with two adults for free. The only additional costs are the already discounted airfare and airport taxes, as well as port fees. That’s the lowest price ever available for children on a Mediterranean cruise.
If you’re considering booking a family trip, call the Friendly Planet Travel office at 800-555-5765 or send an e-mail to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org with the departure date and ages of the children on the cruise of your choice to determine the exact price of child passengers.
We’ve also struck a deal for our single travelers, who often get slammed with hefty supplemental fees when cruising alone. We’ve negotiated discount rates for them, so the supplements will be lower than cruises usually charge.
And finally, the basic tour price includes a free upgrade to a superior inside cabin aboard the M/V Louis Majesty, rather than the usual standard inside cabin. Further upgrades to higher categories with windows and balconies are also highly discounted, if you choose to upgrade.
As a follow up to Tuesday’s "Flight Fright" post, I wanted to broach the subject of breastfeeding while traveling. If you’re a mom who breastfeeds or has breastfed your babies, you know that breastfeeding in public can be a tricky subject. When the "public" is a crowded plane, it can be even trickier.
In my opinion breastfeeding can be done elegantly and easily, without exposing your body to strangers. And if you aren’t in puritanical America (we often treat women who breastfeed as though they’re hookers on the street), you have even less to worry about.
Not to mention that when traveling with a baby you breastfeed rather than bottle feed, you’re actually traveling with a lighter load in your baby’s diaper bag. And what mother isn’t looking to lighten the load?
My daughter-in-law has a routine that allows her to travel anywhere. She has a scarf or shawl that she carries with her. It’s a very light and porous material, so it allows air to circulate freely, making it a perfect drape for the baby while she’s nursing.
She wears the correct nursing bra, and always, while nursing, a top that has easy access, like a button or zipper, so that she only has to open up her top as much as is absolutely necessary. She holds the baby in her arms, drapes the shawl or scarf over herself and the baby, and the cover allows her to nurse the baby in privacy. Plus, the very same scarf or shawl you use to cover up while breastfeeding can serve duel purpose as an accessory for your wardrobe.
Viola! Breastfeeding on the go is a snap.
Jen Leo of the LA Times recently wrote about her excitement for her baby’s first plane flight in the LAT’s Daily Travel and Deal Blog. If any of you have ever experienced the joys of a fussy baby in a public place, you might be scratching your head right now. Yes, she said excitement.
Jen suggested some tips for flying with a baby and keeping your seat neighbors happy. But not only am I a travel agent and constant traveler, I’m a mom too. So I’ve had my own experiences flying with a baby, and I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s not that bad. For the full scoop, take a look at the comment I left on Jen Leo’s post.