What is teaching to travel?

As you know I am an unabashed adventurer whose drug of choice is travel and adventures… so it was just a matter of time before I began teaching others how to travel.

My passion for travel has no bounds and so raising kids with a parent like this there are things that are going to surely rub off.

During their kids’ formative years (from 10 upwards) I planned and then co-planned numerous trips both domestic and international with Zach and Sam.

It all began with engaging them in the process of travel but also consciously teaching to travel.

It is important to start small…

The first thing I began with was letting them select the destinations for our trips. I know this may sound a little odd, but I found it instructive to work with them on destinations as part of this process.

The only rule I used was that they both had to agree…

As you can imagine this became more difficult as they got older, but it also showed them the importance of research and compromise.

Small wins!

One of my favourite trips we had was spending their March break vacation in Iceland.   It was such a cool adventure exploring all facets of Icelandic culture and their breathtaking home island!

The next portion of the curriculum was for each of them to plan a half day activity, this ended up evolving into a day-long adventure.

The only rule I had was that for whatever they planned, the other two had to go along with the adventure irrespective without complaint (yes, that also meant me!)

It all began with encouraging them to research the options available in each of the specific locations and create an itinerary for the three of us.

Over the years each of them contributed significantly to the quality and array of travel adventures we had.

As an example, during a trip to China, Sam wanted to visit Shanghai and the surrounding areas.  During her research she discovered the city of Suzhou or the “Venice of China” (UNESCO World Heritage site)

This incredible city is just 90 km northwest of Shanghai and so she and I set off to explore (this trip was a father-daughter trip).

Without Sam’s in-depth research, I likely would not have discovered this incredible location nor visited Suzhou.

Another memorable experience was during a visit to San Francisco Zach planned a visit to Muir Woods.  If you have had the pleasure of experiencing a giant redwood forest, then this is the place to go.

So many of these great experiences over the years, but planning a trip is just the first part of learning to travel.

Next is understanding the golden rules associated with packing for a trip…

As my good mate Roscoe taught me, place everything you think you’re going to need out on the bed without any thought for the practicality.

Then pare it back to only 50% of what is on the bed and take that!

Remember, you can wash your clothes while travelling… either in a basin at your hotel, find a laundromat or ask the hotel to launder your clothes.

If all else fails and you find that you need a specific piece of clothing, you left on your bed then go buy it!

A great example was when Zach and I spent three weeks travelling through Europe for his High School graduation present.

Packing only a backpack he decided the best method to travel was by train.

So with two Eurail passes in hand we flew into Berlin, before making our way to Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, before our return via Salzburg, Munich and Frankfurt.

He managed every aspect of the trip in terms of the itinerary and destinations.

Quite the adventure, particularly as we were caught up in a soccer riot in Prague during a UEFA cup game between Sparta Prague and Red Star Belgrade.

The main square was full of Red Star fans that had just gotten off a 7-hour train journey from Belgrade and as you can imagine reasonably rowdy, facing them were the local riot police in full gear on the ready.

Zach and I stood transfixed to what was unfolding in front of us as the Red Star fans began jeering and baiting the police.  I decided it was time to leave before it got completely out of hand…

If that’s not an eye-opening experience, then I don’t know what is.

Our days consisted of having an early breakfast and then going our separate ways.  Allowing Zach to explore independently and then meeting up for drinks and dinner was amazing for him.

This level of freedom gave him the confidence to be able to travel by himself as he’s gotten older.

In fact, both of them are now fully independent travellers which is amazing to witness as they continue to explore the world around them.

Sam recently spent a week exploring Scotland in a camper van with her best friend, while Zach took his girlfriend Kathryn to Canada for two weeks.

Both are planning their next trips already!

When Sam graduates from university next summer she plans to spend three months in the Greek Islands unwinding from her five-year undergrad while Zach and Kathryn are headed back to the US at Christmas, before moving back later next year for his Doctorate program.

I guess I’ve created two true global citizens.

Super simple things to help them learn to travel…

Until next week