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U.S. School Break Vacation Planner – Southeast Asia & Beyond

Here at Journeys Within, family travel has been at the core of what we do since the very beginning. Click here to read more about our founder Andrea Ross’ travels with her kids and tours we recommend for families.

Since pulling your children out of school for an extended overseas tour isn’t always doable, we put together this list of recommended tours for each of the major U.S. school holiday periods, to give parents a sense of how much they can do and see while their kids are on a school vacation.

Christmas/New Year’s Winter Break

Families looking to travel over the two-week Christmas/New Year’s break have the luxury of enough time to really dive into the culture and sights of a country or even two, which is why we recommend the two tours below. During this time of year, the weather in Thailand and Cambodia is as good as it gets – typical daytime highs around 80 degrees, without the humidity of summertime and little chance of rain.

Best time to book: By Sept. 1 or earlier if possible (early-booking discounts available 90+ days in advance)

First Time Asia for Families Tour

This tour is designed for first time Asia goers, but more specifically for a family traveling to Asia for the first time. Through experience we’ve determined how people imagine Asia and the kind of trip they enjoy on their first visit. As a group of family travelers, we’ve also determined a great daily pace for families traveling with children, and tours that are family friendly. By minimizing flights, maximizing day tours, and planning in time for naps or time to let the kids run around and get their wiggles out, you’ll see this tour may be just the right fit for your family’s first Asia adventure.

Classic Family Cambodia Tour

You can head out and explore all the different countries and culture Southeast Asia has to offer, or you can spend your time getting to really know all Cambodia has to offer. Cambodia is so much more than just temples. As we often say, “you’ll love the temples, but you’ll fall in love with Cambodia.”

Spring Break

Traveling over Spring Break consistently offers some of the best weather available in Vietnam, with not-too-rainy and not-too-hot conditions found throughout the country. Families willing to brave the heat and humidity in Thailand this time of year will be rewarded by one of the most family-friendly festivals in the world – Songkran (essentially a nation-wide water fight). In addition, lodging rates are often discounted during the Spring Break holiday period.

Best time to book: By mid-January is ideal, by mid-February if possible (early-booking discounts available 90+ days in advance)

Vietnam Spring Special for Families

This 10-day tour starts in the North with an immersion into Vietnamese culture and history, then takes participants out on the waters of UNESCO World Heritage Site Halong Bay for an overnight cruise amongst the remarkable limestone formations. Next, the tour gets active in historic Hoi An where you will walk amongst the ancient town and ride bicycles on Cam Kim Island. Finally, spend your last days in Saigon exploring the cultural diversity of this amazing nation.

Thailand Songkran Festival Tour for Families

The Thai New Year festival of Songkran is a great family-friendly way to get your feet wet (literally) with the traditions of Southeast Asia. This 10-day tour is designed to fit into an extended spring break vacation and will take families to some of Thailand’s most iconic destinations. Start in Bangkok where you’ll experience the nationwide water fight that is the Songkran festival. Next, head north to Chiang Mai where you’ll explore temples and take part in the Patara Elephant Farm’s Elephant Owner For A Day program. Finish up with a relaxing stay on the beaches of Phuket.

Summer Break

Who doesn’t love a summer beach vacation? While most of Southeast Asia is in the midst of the hot and humid rainy season during summer, these Thai islands are an exception. Plus, rates are discounted during the slower summer season.

Best time to book: By end of April if possible (early-booking discounts available 90+ days in advance)

Last Minute Beach Crawl Tour

Thailand has some of the finest beaches in the world and this beach crawl will take you through some of our favorites. You will begin your tour on Koh Samui, before traveling on to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

Thanksgiving Break

These days, many schools take the entire Thanksgiving week off, meaning you can plan a more ambitious overseas trip during this time period. If you’re going to travel over Thanksgiving, we figured you might as well celebrate food or take in a must-see festival that’s happening over the same time period (in 2018).

Best time to book: By end of September if possible (early-booking discounts available 90+ days in advance)

Culinary Immersion Tour

Asia is possibly best known for it’s food. From the spice of Thai food to the exotic textures of Laos cuisine and the sour mixes found in Cambodia, this tour will take you through these amazing countries exciting your tastebuds along the way. In each city we have tried to include a cooking class focusing on local cuisine, a meal with a local family to get the flavour of authentic cooking and of course one night out at the must-visit restaurant. Of course food doesn’t tell the whole story so in between these amazing meals we have included the highlights of each country: from the Grand Palace in Bangkok, riding elephants in Chiang Mai, visiting waterfalls in Laos and seeing the amazing Angkor Wat in Cambodia your eyes and ears are going to have as much fun as your tastebuds!

Loi Krathong for Families Tour

Let our top guides show you the bustling city of Bangkok before heading North. Take a tour of Chiang Mai and enjoy one of Thailand’s most picturesque celebrations, the Loi Krathong Festival (Nov. 22 – 25 in 2018 – which is the Thanksgiving holiday period in the U.S.) which marks the end of the main rice harvest and is designed to thank the gods for the yearly supply of water.

Fly to the Cambodian city of Siem Reap to take in the sights at Angkor Wat and be further inspired by the wonders of the entire Angkor Archeological Park. While in Siem Reap, see the beauty of the Cambodian countryside by horseback and kayak through floating mangrove forest in Southeast Asia’s largest lake, the Tonle Sap. Finish your trip by spending a few days relaxing on one of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches, coconut in hand.

More Family Travel Tips

Once you have chosen your dates, here are a few more resources for families looking to ensure their overseas trip goes smoothly with children of any age.

From the Ground-Kompong Phluk, Cambodia – The waters have risen, it’s time to kayak!

By Jay Austin

Every year at about this time, the waters of the Tonle Sap Lake begin to rise with the coming of the rainy season. Right now, the countryside surrounding Siem Reap is lush and green and we are only seeing rain once every couple of days, which is perfect! In the stilted-house village of Kompong Phluk, the rising waters mean that the usually dry streets become canals that the locals must navigate by boat, changing the whole dynamic of the village.

For many years, Journeys Within has collaborated with a local family in Kompong Phluk to greet our guests and allow them to see the village life through the eyes of the local people. This long-standing relationship not only allows us to provide unique access for our guests, but also offers a starting point for our sensational kayaking trips.

Just beyond the main village is a serene forest of mangroves which spends a few months a year completely flooded, creating the perfect route for kayaking. Our skilled guides lead our guests through the cool green canopy on a journey which finds you out on the open waters of the Tonle Sap – Asia’s largest freshwater lake. At a relaxed pace, this is an experience which is almost surreal. Having the opportunity to get away from the noise of the tourist boats on the main thoroughfare allows you to truly soak in the pleasantness of your surroundings and to thoroughly enjoy a day on the water.

Kayaking is available on Journeys Within Cambodia itineraries from around September to mid-January. The local team from the Cambodia office highly recommends this to guests as one of the most wonderful ways to see the real Cambodia.

Villages and Bamboo Forests: Trekking in Northern Thailand

Here Andrea explores traveler expectations and how an influx of tourism can affect the authenticity of local experiences. She also introduces one of our new tours — a natural trek meant to explore the beauty of Northern Thailand …

Our group heading out with guide Peo.
Our group heading out with Journeys Within guide Peo.

Ten years ago trekking in Northern Thailand was a pretty amazing experience. You could often walk for a day, passing through villages and seeing waterfalls and jungle, truly feeling you had escaped into another world. Sadly, in the last 10 years that experience has become something of a myth.

Villages that used to be surprised to see tourists now dress in traditional costume and set out souvenir stalls each morning. The increase in tourism in Thailand has changed the landscape in Northern Thailand, literally. Rice paddies are making way for shopping centers and small villages are becoming tourist hot spots.

As villages took advantage of the tourist numbers and the sale of their culture became commonplace many guests became disappointed in the experience, feeling as though they were pandered to and not getting a true feel for authentic Northern Thailand.

I felt we were caught in the middle — if we visited the more tourist-oriented villages guests were able to see the traditional hill tribe costumes and cultures, but they were also pressured to buy locally made products and often felt uncomfortable. However when we visited villages not set up for tourist visitors the hill tribe members dressed in jeans and t shirts were a disappointment to visitors and not the image they were expecting.

For a while we even stopped trekking in Northern Thailand as we just felt our guests would not be happy with the options available. In the last few years though we’ve been able to discover some new places and we have added some treks and jungle experiences, including bird watching, to our repertoire.

Thailand is such a beautiful country, from amazing vistas to simple flowers.
Thailand is such a beautiful country, from amazing vistas to simple flowers.

This last week I was able to try out one of our treks with my mom, Nicole and my kids. It was a pleasant surprise and I’m excited to be able to offer it to our guests. While you don’t get to see day to day life as much as we do in Laos and Cambodia, it is a good look at hill tribe villages and I think a balance between the tourist traps and seeing the “real thing”.

The view down into the village and out to the mountains behind.
The view down into the village and out to the mountains behind. You can see the path we take leading away from the village.

Above all else is was a wonderful opportunity to see rural Thailand and the beautiful bamboo forest. Here’s the description that will be included in future itineraries for those interested in trekking the bamboo forest:

Your guide will meet you from your hotel at 7:30 a.m., as this early start allows you to get on the trail before it gets too hot. Drive two hours to Chiang Dao where you will start your walk. I highly recommend a stop at a roadside coffee shop…an iced coffee or Chai Yen helps get you moving! Once in Ban Pang Tong  you’ll be dropped at the end of a dirt road. Hike up the road as your guide tells you about different flowers and birds you see along the way.

At the end of the road is a lovely village of the Lao Ho people. Here animism is still practiced and the local people are more wary of visitors and can be shy. Your guide will show you the different style of homes and you might get some shy waves from the kids. Leaving the village you’ll climb a steep hill for some amazing views of the rice fields and the village from above…don’t worry, this is the steepest hill of the day. Walk for a while in the sun seeing the fields and how the hill tribes survive through agriculture.

The toughest part of the hike, but worth it for the views!
The toughest part of the hike, but worth it for the views!

You’ll stop for a break in a farmers hut overlooking the valley and then as you continue walking you’ll enter the bamboo forest.

Stopping for a rest and a snack in a bamboo hut overlooking the valley.
Stopping for a rest and a snack in a bamboo hut overlooking the valley.

This beautiful area has a peace and calm about it as the bamboo rustles and groans and birds call. Walk this track and feel free to ask the guide questions or just soak up the beauty of your surroundings. Along the way you may see villages collecting wood, cutting down bamboo or hunting.

After a couple of hours you’ll emerge into a valley with huge limestone cliffs towering around you and fields of rice and corn on either side of the trail.

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Limestone cliffs covered in jungle!

Follow the path into a Karen village and meet some of the locals to see their home and have a break after the walk. In this village there are often hill tribe women selling souvenirs, but they aren’t the Karen, who are a more shy and reserved group, but rather the Akha from a nearby village, who are much more outgoing and interested in the tourist market. From here you have a few options: Option 1: Pick up bicycles and continue on to a Palong Village as well as a beautiful rides through the flatlands of Chiang Dao, seeing water buffalo, rice fields and day to day traditional Thai life. You will be met by your van at the main road after a two hour bike ride.

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A typical vista along the bike route

Option 2: You will be met in the Karen village by your driver and taken to the nearby caves where you can explore by lamplight with a local guide.

Option 3: Visit a local elephant camp, one of the oldest camps around and say hello to the elephants before taking a one hour bamboo raft down the river. After a day of trekking this cool ride is a relaxing a refreshing end to the day.

On our trek, we went with option 2. We had a late lunch at a local restaurant famous for its pork and Phad Thai and then the kids loved exploring the caves and seeing the local temple.

Buddha images inside the caves
Buddha images inside the caves
The kids and Nicole having fun with shadows!
The kids and Nicole having fun with shadows!
Cool rock formations in the caves.
Cool rock formations in the caves.

We all fell asleep in the van on the way back to the hotel! It was a great day and Peo, our guide, was a pleasure to be around. He spent time telling the kids about what we were seeing and doing, but also giving us space to just take it all in.

I’m pleased that we have a trekking option that I think really highlights the best of the hill tribes in Chiang Mai. It isn’t a costume parade, but you get a sense of life in the rural countryside and you get to really experience the beauty of the country. Also, my kids had a great time and didn’t cry once! Totally a win!!

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Andrea’s heads back to Southeast Asia and shares her top tips for family travel

In today’s blog Andrea talks about heading back to Southeast Asia with her kids to celebrate Journeys Within’s 10th anniversary and gives her top tips for travelling as a family…

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It was the perfect time to head to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia just days after finishing up our 10 year anniversary celebration in the US! Having gone through the photos and been reminded people and places I have visited in the past has been an amazing trip down memory lane. To now be able to pack up the kids and experience it all again is exciting.

On this trip we visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang and Siem Reap. We tried out some of our old favorites and experiencing some new tours. I was excited to see our guides and thank them for their hard work and incredible energy over the last high season. I was also very excited to meet some new guides!

Mostly I looked forward to seeing my team and to see my kids back in the area of the world I love so much. My kids have done such a great job adjusting to life in America, but I don’t want them to forget the friends and experiences they grew up with in Cambodia! Since I haven’t traveled with the kids much in the last year it came as a bit of a surprise how much more work it is to prepare three people for travel rather than to just hit the road solo. Packing, prepping and scheduling becomes a lot more intense for a family and it made me appreciate our guests and what their preparations looks like before their big family trips! With that said, we boarded the plane to Asia ready for our adventure.

Here are 5 things I recommend for long flights with kids between the ages of 5 and 10:

1. Tell them where you’re going and what the schedule is. I realized that once I gave my kids the itinerary and explained the plan as well as had them help me pack, they seemed to relax. We forget as adults what a mystery a lot of life is when you’re young. Traveling is a lot more fun when you feel in control at any age!

2. Pack a lot of snacks, including a “meal” for the plane. My kids hate plane food so to help them get through the very long flight to Asia I like to keep them fed. We took Cup Of Noodles on the plane, the flight attendants happily filled them with boiling water and my kids had some comfort food and their bellies full so it was much easier for them to go to sleep.

3. Go to Target or the craft store and have them pick out an activity each. Then it’s new and exciting and keeps them entertained on the plane.

4. Set expectations. I am not the entertainment manager! From when my kids were very small I have explained to them that I am not the activity director on the plane. I will provide snacks and help with any issues, but they have to keep themselves entertained. I’m sure there are amazing moms everywhere willing to play 14 hours of UNO 30,000 feet in the air…I’m not one of them! For the most part my kids respect this and as they get older it seems to be even better! They play with each other, watch movies and play in their activity books and I get to read, watch a movie, or, miraculously, sleep.

5. Be kind. This is our travel mantra. When everyone gets tired and cranky and just wants to get there already kindness helps. Siblings that are at least thinking about trying to be kind fight less and this mantra is probably for me more than anyone!

So with all that in mind we headed off! Our bags packed and each of us looking forward to the adventure adventure and to celebrating our 10 year anniversary where it all started!

Meet Southeast Asia tour consultant, April

Meet one of the corner stones of Journeys Within Tour Company — our lovely Tour Consultant, April. In addition to being an amazing wife and mother of two, April is an intrepid traveler who finds that great food, life lessons and the quest for chocolate guides her …

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Working out of our office in Truckee, California, April turns the hopes and dreams of our guests into customized tours of a lifetime. Over the last seven years with Journeys Within, she has traveled through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar in search of the kind of experiences that enrich and enlighten. Here she talks about what travel means to her, traveling with kids and how travel has helped her grow…

What does your position at JW entail?

I’ve worn a lot of hats in the years that I’ve been with JW, but right now my day to day is pretty focused on tour consulting. I work with our guests to design their itineraries. When someone calls and says that they want to go to Cambodia or Thailand or both, I talk with them to learn more about their interest, their personal travel style and budget. Then I use my knowledge of the region to put together a tour itinerary that really fits them. We then work together to fine tune the itinerary until its perfect. After the guest and I decide the tour is right I work with our teams in Southeast Asia to make the bookings.

Why do you choose to travel?

Not to get cheesy, but I choose to travel because it makes me a better person. Travel allows the opportunity to learn about the world and people on so many different levels, and I don’t feel you can really learn and grow with out going out and experiencing the world first hand.

What parts of SE Asia have you been to?

I’ve travelled to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Burma. Having travelled to Southeast Asia every year for the past seven years, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to see so much of the region. Still it is remarkable how many places I still have on my wish list! I’ve been to the highlights and many off the beaten path locations within each country. I’m excited to continue exploring Southeast Asia as there are always wonderful surprises, as well as the comforts of returning to my favorite locations.

What has been your most challenging travel experience in SE Asia?

I’m really lucky that I always travel to Southeast Asia with Journeys Within. Because of that, travel has been relatively easy. I’m always picked up at the airport and always feel I have a friend and resource in country. So the logistics of the trip and the day to day exploring have never been challenging. What I’ve found the most challenging traveling experience in Southeast Asia has been finding chocolate. I really do get sad when I want a piece of dark chocolate and there is just none to be found anywhere! On the more serious side, taking the time to be less self involved while traveling and trying to really be aware of the local customs and culture  can be hard. You have to put in the effort to conduct yourself in a way which reflects the local customs and culture though they aren’t what you are used to.

Favourite travel memory?

On a horseback ride through the countryside in Siem Reap. We went there with our JW Team, and our JW Jr. Team, which consists of all the children of the staff. My son was about 6 years old when we went on this tour together. He had never been horseback riding, so it was fun that he got to say that his first time riding a horse was in Cambodia. It was a beautiful afternoon and we were riding through a part of Siem Reap I had never been before, and just that would have been enough to make it a very special memory.

favorite travel memory

But when we stopped at the temple and all the kids got off their horses and started playing on and around the temple, my favorite travel memory was formed. Gavin and Cooper (Andrea’s son and Gavin’s best friend), were climbing the temple ruins and they were pretending the temple was Buddha’s last resting place. Then they started talking about the Khmer Rouge and how a battle took place there, but that Buddha had marked the temple as a safe structure. They ran around for about an hour hiding from the incoming troops, and trying to find relics of Buddha, while I sat back and enjoyed an ice cold soda and just watched how much fun they were having. While their sense of history was wildly incorrect, the fact that two 6 year old American boys were climbing on a temple in Cambodia, discussing Buddha and the Khmer Rouge, moved me. These are the things that only travel can give you. The things these boys are learning isn’t from books, it’s from exploring and it will always leave a very special memory in my heart.

Your favourite property in SE Asia?

I’m completely spoiled, I’ll be the first to admit it. Song Saa Private Island is my favorite property in SE Asia. Read my previous blog for more detail.

Favourite dining experience?

I have three favorite dining experiences which are all completely different so I’ll share each of them.

1- “The Bagan Feast”. When we were in Bagan our lovely guide Jo Jo asked us if we’d like to try some local food and of course our answer was a resounding yes! In the span of about an hour we were served 33 different dishes! He said that in the days of the king they would serve him 330 dishes nightly and the Bagan feast is a local way to honor the king’s tradition. But what I really loved was trying all of the local dishes and how much Jo Jo enjoyed explaining each dish and the history around the dish, and sharing his personal stories of the Bagan Feasts he’s had with his family.

2 – Song Saa in room movie experience. The first night we arrived at Song Saa Private Island they had made note that we were traveling with two young children and they asked if they could arrange something special for us that evening. When we came back into our villa after a day of exploring the island we arrived to an in villa movie theater arranged just for us. Along with a popcorn bar (which had about 5 different types of popcorn) and some kid friendly dinner plates with pasta and veggies. Throughout the showing of  Kung Fu Panda, the servers brought in three courses of a beautiful five-star quality sea food meal, but it was served in the comfort of our lounge area while we snuggled with our kids and watched the movie. After our meals we each designed our own ice cream sundaes.

3. Nang Gin Kui. I had the pleasure of attending one of the weekly join dinners at Nang Gin Kui – the #1 Bangkok Restaurant on TripAdvisor and home of Florian Gypser. At first I was a bit hesitant as it would be a small group of 7 other diners at a restaurant set up in a local’s apartment. I had heard of the amazing food and atmosphere at the restaurant, but I wasn’t sure if that would still be as amazing if I felt shy around a bunch of strangers. The host of dinner, Florian, was great at starting conversation with the group and really had a magnificent way of knowing when to start up conversations and when to simply let people be. He also made sure your glass was always full. Each of the 12 courses were prepared and served perfectly, and I really enjoyed the “de ja vu” courses – a.k.a. a second helping of the best bites! The group was made up of ex-pats from America, Italy and travelers from Iran and Australia — there was a lot of interesting conversation and laughter. The dinner took place when there was a midnight curfew in Bangkok and although the dinner started early that night, 6pm, we were all rushing to taxis at about 5 minutes to midnight like Cinderella leaving the ball. It was a very unique and special experience and I highly recommend adding it to trip to Bangkok.

Do you have a memorable guest?

We’re really lucky here at JW as our guests are all pretty remarkable. I feel like there’s a type of person that chooses to travel with us and they tend to choose to travel with us because they’ve done a lot of research and they want to work with a company that supports the local communities and a company with a personal knowledge of the region. Guests who do that much research care about where they are going and how they are making an impact when they travel, and working with people like that is always a pleasure.

A few memorable guests are Edna and Steve Kornberg. They travelled with us in 2010 and they were so enthusiastic about their trip to Southeast Asia and when they returned home they said it was “the trip of a lifetime”. I’m now working on a second trip for them as they’re heading to another part of the region. They are so kind and really want to get to know the people and give back to the communities in these regions.

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Have you ever traveled with your kids?

I have absolutely traveled to Southeast Asia with my kids. I’ve traveled with my son when he was 2, actually he turned 2 while we were in Thailand, and again when he was 6. I’ve also traveled with my daughter when she was just 18 months old. I’ve listed out some ups and downs of traveling with my kids below:

  • The down:

Kids like to take breaks and nap.

  • The up:

Kids like to take breaks and nap! It’s amazing to take the time to slow down and relax and take breaks while you’re traveling. What you discover in that down time, with the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve seen in the day. It’s also nice to take that down time for yourself every once in a while.

  • The down:

Traveling with a kid in diapers is messy!

  • The up:

At least you’re staying in hotels and eating in restaurants so you aren’t cleaning up diapers and a messy house!

  • The down:

It’s a 24 hour of traveling from the US to Southeast Asia.

  • The up:

You’re forced to get up and walk around the plane instead of binging on the entire Glee series with no break to even stand up. Also, you appreciate how well behaved your kids can be.

  •  The down:

They won’t remember all the details of this incredible trip.

  •  The up:

What they do remember, is the experiences with new friends, trying new things, learning something about other cultures, and the time that you spent with them.

Any tips for parents travelling SE Asia with kids?

The most important tip I can give for parents traveling with their kids is to go with the pace of your children, plan less and be open to changes. I find that you’re heading all the way to the other side of the world and you don’t know if you’ll be making this trip again so there’s a lot of pressure to fit everything in, but when you travel with your kids they move at a slower pace at times or things happen and you need to head back to your hotel, so you may miss that museum or temple you had on your list. Take extra time in each location to allow for flexibility, and don’t be upset if you have to skip something or head out early. Really take the time to enjoy exploring with your children, you’ll see and experience so much more viewing the world through their eyes than what any guide book could ever show you!!

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Bring two sets of extra clothes and shoes in your carry on. Kids are messy, and it’s inevitable that if they make enough of a mess to have their clothes changed once — they’ll probably do it twice!

Allow your kids to do a part of the trip planning, give them a half a day that is something they planned. It gives them something to be excited for and gives them pride when the rest of the family enjoys that portion of the trip.

Pack a wet bag. This is my favorite kid product ever and every parent should travel with one. They are designed for diapers, but they are perfect for holding clothes that have gotten messy or wet swim suits.

Pack a first aide kit, with Tylenol and allergy meds. While you’re on tour if your kids get sick Journeys Within can get your kids to the doctor if needed or get you to a local pharmacy, but I find it reassuring to have the things for minor sickness or an allergic reaction easily accessible in my own first aide kit.

Bring snacks from home. While I think your kids should try local foods and experience the culture, sometimes it’s nice to have a quick snack on hand that is comforting. I find granola bars and fig newtons to be easy to travel with and a perfect little blood sugar booster for kids.

Andrea gave me this list when I was taking my first trip with my then 2 year old son and it’s still a great reference.

How has traveling changed you?

It’s opened my eyes to different cultures, giving me the desire to learn more and to be more respectful of the different ways of life and the different points of view individuals have. I’ve brought that back to my everyday life, really opening my eyes to how everyone approaches life a little differently, and seeing that as a really great thing. Travel reminds me a lot of school. Every time you travel you learn so much, and in learning more you realize how much more you have to learn. It’s a beautiful cycle really.

Travel has also helped me to slow down. You want to see and experience, and sometimes that means just sitting down and watching the boats slowly float down the Mekong river, or catching the sunrise at Angkor Wat, or playing a game of cards. It’s not about how many things you can get done in one day, it’s the quality of the experience. I do try to remember that and bring it home with me — although, the amount of coffee I consume makes it hard to slow down sometimes!

Travel has allowed me to appreciate all that I have. And I don’t just mean that about the roof over my head, and the ability to get clean drinking water from a faucet – but it has made me appreciate those things. The quality of my life is really high, in health, family, my job, and the opportunities I’m afforded. Real wealth has nothing to do with income and because I’ve traveled I feel I can see that easier and I realize just how much I have.