When I was young, family travel was a simple endeavor. Three generations of family, crisscrossing the eastern US and periodically venturing farther north. As minor travelers, my parents were not even required to show photo ID for us, much less spend months applying for passports and acquiring notarized permission letters from other custodial parents. Travel has always held a special place in my soul, and working with International Expeditions has afforded me an opportunity to share my wanderlust with my own child. For us, travel isn’t just vacation. In the words of my nine-year-old “travel is living.” After recognizing his obvious genius, I asked Conor for his best advice for other kids who want to travel. Please note: all answers given while trapped on the airplane en-route from Costa Rica to Alabama.
What three tips would you give to other kids your age who want to travel?
- Eat The Food: At least TRY new foods, even if you think you won’t like it. I was really surprised at how good the food was. I didn’t try anything too crazy — no grubs or anything like that — but fruits are a safe bet when trying new things. There are likely to be some weird juices, but in Latin America those strange juices are delicious!
- Don’t Be Afraid: If you worry that things are too dangerous or scary to try, then you’ll really miss out. Besides, you have parents to research how safe activities are! What if I had decided to not zip-line through the rainforest? Or had gotten out of the ocean once I got pounded by a few waves? That’s the most fun I’ve had in my life!
- Don’t Complain: My mom likes to stay in ecolodges where we don’t have TV or the internet. For some kids my age that would seem awful, but you don’t even miss shows or videos games when you travel. Go hiking in the forest! Go outside! Go swimming! Who cares about the internet when you’re at an incredible surfing beach?
What was the craziest thing you did during your Costa Rica tour?
Well, I showered naked in the outdoor shower at our bungalow in Tamarindo. It was kind of fun being outside with nothing but trees, birds and monkeys around. You won’t publish that will you? (Editor’s note: never trust mom!)
What is your least favorite thing about travel?
The plane ride and airports! It is hard enough waiting to get to someplace great — or then waiting to get home — but then you have to spend forever in Customs.
Where do you want to travel next?
I want to go everywhere, but maybe Switzerland to try snowboarding or Australia to spot kangaroos and poisonous snakes.
Why do you think it is important for children to travel?
You learn so much when you go to another country and start asking questions. It is the difference between living life and sitting in a classroom. When traveling, I get to find out what boys my age do in different countries, see exotic animals, learn about volcanoes and the environment, and even got to speak to one of the locals in Spanish! Maybe it was just “dónde están los baños,” but I was able to stop being shy and ask the question — AND follow the directions to get to the restroom, of course.
What are your best tips for making travel enriching for your entire family? Let us know in the comments below.