20 travel tips for people w/kids

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Disclaimer: These tips are based on my own travel experiences. I'm sure not all will apply.

Find a trip that ticks all the boxes. for us, its a trip that involves a race I can do, an interesting city my wife can see.

  1. Its not about the kids, its about the family

  2. Don't buy the kids happiness...give them experiences they will never forget

    • give them a small amount of money and make them bargain for something they want with you hidden around the corner

    • give them the camera and let them take the pictures

    • let them pay for things and count the change

  3. Travel really lite, the less the better. Don't plan for every eventuality plan for the bare minimal.

  4. Tripadvisor/Yelp the place before you do anything

  5. Book an apartment and not a hotel. This way you can make breakfast at the apartment, make sandwiches for dinner and eat out if you want. Airbnb/booking.com is good for that.

  6. Its all about the mindset. Travel is supposed to be hard, the kids are supposed to be tired and you will get into an argument with your spouse at some point. Its all part of travel. If you are not tested in someway, how will you learn anything about yourself. If you dont believe me, ask Ibn Batuta.

  7. Resist the temptation of sending every moment to social media. this means that in order to enjoy the place you are in you need others to see it. 

  8. Travel is about learning something new, talk to locals, have dinner with them. This is the best part of travel. I have learned that talking to locals is far more important that taking a picture in front of land marks.

  9. Say no to a $8k Disney trip. Save money where you can and travel more.

  10. You dont need exotic locations to travel, you can drive 2 hours away and spend the night in a cheap hotel and the kids will never forget it.

  11. Ice cream and sweets are the last resort not the first resort.

  12. Try not to be an ifamily while travelling. Notice the "i" in iPhone, iPad, iMac, etc

  13. The kids will learn character from the parents during travel, they will see how they react to adversity. If you are throwing around "WTF's & Holy #$%^'s" every 20 minutes, they will learn that.

  14. You can travel with young children. You dont need to get it out of your system before you have kids. We have traveled with a 2 week old. They don't know if they are at home or in Thailand as long as their moo cow near by.

  15. Dont buy everyone you know gifts. It wastes valuable time and energy. But if you see that perfect thing in that quaint little store that someone will just love, then you can buy that. Once you get your mom a gift, you will have to get her mom a gift, then there is your aunt, then your other aunt, and what about their kids etc. Resist the urge to splurge on gifts. Buy a piece of art instead. 

  16. Husbands who bring the blackberry with them have made a choice and its the wrong choice.

  17. Learn as much as you can about the place before you go

  18. Travel is about teaching yourself and kids character

  19. Hang-up a map in your living room/family room with pins placed on where you have been. 

Homeschooled Children Smell Like Salami

I have seen it over and over again. Some well intentioned person asks my children which school they go to. They respond, "We are homeschooled." To this, the person looks at them like they were raised in a leper colony and says "Oh! that's interesting." Interesting is another way of saying, "Why are you ruining these poor children?"

The term "homeschooling" is a loaded term. It's usually synonymous with weird or socially awkward. It's for kids who don't wear matching socks and smell like salami.

So I tried an experiment, I told my kids next time they are asked which school they attend, they are to answer, "We are Worldschooled."

That evoked a very different "Oh!" A much more positive "Oh!" Usually followed by, "So where have you visited in the world?" This does two things: It makes the kids really proud and it forces the questioning parents to think, "Crap! I need to take my kids on some trips."

I propose we dump the term "Homeschooling" for the much more accurate and infinitely cooler, "Worldschooled."

(Guest Blog) 10 Grammar Rules Every Worldschooled Kid Should Know

Written by Chistina El-Ahmar

  1. Beginning and Ending Punctuation

  2. Paragraphing

  3. The Parts of Speech

  4. The Sentence and the Fragment

  5. Subject, Verb, and Object Forms

  6. Verb Tense

  7. Punctuating Dialogue

  8. Rules and Uses for Commas

  9. The Apostrophe & The Dash

  10. The Semicolon and the Colon

Suggested Reading and Resources:

  • Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynn Truss

  • The Power of Grammar by Mary Ehrenworth

  • The Elements of Style by E.B White and William Shrunk

  • Sentence Composing for Middle School by Don Killgallon

  • Discovering Voice by Nancy Dean

When it comes to writing kids need to care about what they are saying. They need to feel a sense of purpose that sharing their stories matters. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s voice is important. The sooner they understand this, the sooner they will take pride in becoming writers. Grammar should be taught not as a list of rules, but as a means to make writing meaningful and powerful. Therefore, Grammar should be taught to children through Story-telling and Narrative. Explain to kids the “Why” of Grammar and then demonstrate its power in writing through examples.

Ex. Why is Harry Potter a World Favorite? How does the author use her writing? Explore the structure of writing in favorite novels.

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Triple wins. How we create family resolutions.

I am not one of those super organized people. But the one thing I have done religiously since 2008 is plan my year in advance. I get the question all the time about how I manage these crazy races, travel, have a career, and spend time with my kids. This is how I do it. 

Prior to doing this, I would just go with the flow. what ever screamed loudest, I followed. I just went through the motions with regards to work, family, and kids. 

Since I have started planning out my year in advance, I've noticed an interesting side effect, I get a lot done, but i'm not really that busy. 

Caution: this whole process takes a lot of time but it helps not waste a whole year.

1. What did you do the previous year?

I start with a simple brain dump of what I have accomplished the year before. You might be surprised by what you have accomplished or *not* accomplished. What trends do you notice? I usually do this exercise with my wife and kids. We try to find trends or interesting patterns that can shape the coming year. 

For example?

  • Where did we travel

  • What did my kids accomplish

  • How much money did I save/state of my investments

  • Major accomplishments at work/business

  • Books I read, things I've learned

I personally use Google sheets for this. Finally, we finish with the question, "what is this the year of"? When you look back 20 years from now, what will you remember 2017 for? "2017 is the year of having a new baby and moving to a new country" 

2. Ideas for the following year

Do a "brain dump" of things you want to accomplish next year. Just sit down and write anything that comes to mind. Just let the ideas flow. 

I do the same exercise with my wife and kids. My wife usually doesn't want to do this and rolls her eyes, but eventually she will start telling me what she wants the children to achieve and eventually what she wants to achieve. The kids rattle off their own lists too.

I spend a couple of days on these lists, adding, and removing.

Major themes will start to emerge. They will form the major "rocks" for the year. For example

  • Run an 'X' mile ultramarathon

  • Increase the revenue for my company by X%

  • Travel to 'X' new cities

  • Publish my first book

  • Children become proficient mandarin speakers 

  • Children become better swimmers

  • Actively help out a charity

I take the goals and make them scary/exciting. I am not sure why this works for me, but it does. It triggers something within me that makes me more likely to achieve the goal. Sometimes it will take more than a year to accomplish them. E.g.

  • Rather than run 50 miles-> run 100 miles.

  • Rather than learn Hindi-> give an entire lecture in Hindi

  • Rather than my son learn to swim -> do his first triathlon

3. Look for triple "wins" 

My goals used to be all about me. What I have been doing recently is trying to find goals that overlap with my wife and kids. That  increase the chances of my actually achieving the goals and it brings the family together. 

Once my family and I have the lists and they are sufficiently scary and exciting, I start looking for synergies.

For example, the kids need to practice their Arabic next year and she wants to visit her sister in Jordan and I want to do a multi-stage running race. So I started "googling" and found a one week desert Ultra in Jordan in March. A triple win.

We arrive at these but talking, talking and more talking. 

This is the secret sauce of the whole process. If my wife is part of the planning and I take her wants into consideration she will be my support system. This is one of the main reasons my wife supports what I do.

4. Categorize things into months

I start putting things onto the yearly calender like that. I put major events like major holidays, work commitments, travel commitments. I find out what gaps in my calendar I can play with. My wife wants to visit Japan, I want to do an Ironman and my son wants to do his first Iron Kids. So Ironman Japan in August goes up on the calendar.

5. Put "it" up or shut up

Once I'm done with my goals, I put them up on the wall where I can see them everyday. I also have a yearly calendar where I can see the major events I have planned. It's the first thing I see when I turn on my phone. 

Visualization is the second secret ingredient. 

6. Get started

I will make things real by booking races or holidays. I start right away. I don't wait or put it off.

Race resources that I use

  • Marathons around the world: http://www.marathonguide.com/

  • Ultramarathons around the world: http://www.ultramarathonrunning.com/

  • Triathlons around the world: http://trimapper.com/

  • Ironman.com, Challenge.com, Rev3tri.com

Inside the mind of a home-schooling mom...

Based on my observations over the past decade, this is what goes through my wife's mind.... So tired...

  • I'm sure we should be at a trip now...

  • Why wont you listen to me?

  • You're hungry AGAIN??!!

  • Wait, your kids are learning Mandarin???

  • Ben and Jerry's

  • Unschooling, Montessori, Waldorf???

  • Freakin dishes

  • Are they behind?

  • Is it too early for bedtime?

  • Are they behind?

  • It was all worth it

Choosing to be miserable

Example 1 -- Food

Scenario 1

“kids, what would you like to eat” Parent
“I want pizza!” Child 1
“I want burgers!” Child 2
“You have to decide for yourselves.” Parent
“It's not fair.” “you got to pick you last time.” “I hate this.” Children
“Forget it! I will pick. we are having Thai food.” Parent
“I don't want Thai” “I hate Thai” “you always have Thai” children
“These kids are so spoiled and don't deserve going out” angry parent

Conclusion: Parents and children are miserable.

Alternate scenario 

“Hey kids gets get dressed, we are taking you out for Thai food”
“Oh cool. thanks” 

Example 2 -- Movies

Scenario 1

“Kids, what movie do you want to watch”
“Frozen!” child 1
“Frozen sucks, I want the Lego Movie!” Child 2
“I hate the lego movie, it's so boring.” Child 1
“It's not fair.” “You got to pick you last time.” “I hate this” “Waaaaaa!” Children
“Forget it! I will pick. We are watching Starwars.” Parent
“No! we always watch star wars!”
“These kids are so spoiled and don't deserve watching  movies” Angry parent

Conclusion: Parents and children are miserable.

Alternate Scenario 

“Hey kids, do you want to watch Starwars with me? I'm making popcorn!”
“Oh cool. thanks” 

Conclusion

When did I surrender decision making to the kids? Am I being intellectually lazy? I’m going to stop giving my kids choices.