As a family we operated several hospitality businesses, travel was our children’s best education.
Our children, now both grown, experienced their younger years watching us improve and build up the hotels, motels and caravan parks we purchased until they were ready to sell and we would move on to the next opportunity.
Due to the nature of our businesses, our holidays rarely coincided with school holidays.
Negotiations with teachers concerning the future missed classes would be finalised and we would enjoy our break. It was important to me to make use of our destination to further my children’s life experiences and cultural education.
We were so convinced of the benefit of travel to the education of our children that we decided to home school both children.
When planning your next overseas holiday with your children don’t allow yourself to say, “This is all too difficult to undertake with children”.
While you are away stay flexible and if you need a day’s break then sleep in one morning and just go out for lunch somewhere simple and start the more adventurous stuff again the next day. You are on holidays give yourself the right to relax as well.
I can’t begin to tell you the amazing memories we have shared in our travels. Sure we did the typical tourist things but we also experienced life as a local.
On one trip we spent nearly 6 weeks in Rome. Our accommodation was not in the city centre but in a residential area, a tram ride away from Termini Station.
We shopped at the Super Marcato and bought our fruit and vegies from the local market. We were the only Aussies there and rarely found anyone who could speak English. It was Fabulous!
In the apartment block that we stayed in one of the residents’ daughter was getting married and we (all the neighbours) hung over our balconies in the central courtyard to wave the bride off on her way to the church. Her family had decorated the courtyard for the occasion. It all looked so festive. Priceless!
The opportunity to travel as we did is even easier these days.
Destinations now offer so much more for the family to get immersed in their culture.
You can now take your children to cooking classes, participate in home stays, experience street food tours, push bike tours and so many more family friendly experiences.
The challenge is more to find authentic experiences. So often all you see are recreations of the local culture as it was in the past. These are wonderful but the most amazing experiences are those that are still a part of your guides or the performers’ everyday life.
Our family’s love of travel has taken us into the travel industry. During which we fell in love with many countries but none more so than Vietnam. It is one of only a few places where you can still introduce your children to genuine and diverse cultures. I suggest you hurry and experience the authentic Vietnam while you still can.
Take your children to see the Red Dao ethnic minorities and their cultural dress, sample an Elephant Ear fish from the Mekong Delta, enjoy Pho for breakfast and take a guided tour through Saigon with someone who lived there through the war giving your family an insight into their life experiences during that time.
Take Vietnam tours with English speaking Vietnamese so you can see the country through the eyes of a local.
Your children will never forget the adventures you experience with them.
While they are enjoying their holiday they will be becoming, more knowledgeable, more adventurous, more compassionate and more closely knit with each other.
If something doesn’t work out as you would have liked, teach them to be resourceful and understanding by diffusing the situation and not being the cause of an escalation of the problem.
As a previous owner and operator of hospitality businesses I know that sometimes mistakes happen. Staff make errors they are sorry about, but never the less cause customers grief.
In these situations I have explained to my children, “If we are nice, the hotel staff will do what they can to fix the problem, but if we go in ranting and raving the poor staff member who may not have had anything to do with the problem will feel like they are being attacked for something they didn’t do. No one likes to be put in that situation, so be considerate and we will get much further”.
There are so many opportunities to teach valuable life skills while you have 24/7 time with your children, so take advantage of it.
Remember one of the most valuable things we possess is our memories so make the most of creating them.