Family Travel Hub

Why are maps so important?

When we think of maps, I guess a lot of us remember those big rollaway maps in our elementary school classrooms. You know the kind, they made a whizzing sound coming down which always signaled either immense boredom or intense curiosity. It was a roll of the dice. There was something about the colors and shapes that seemed to make a young mind wonder- or maybe wander, which was certainly my case!

My love for maps extended well beyond the classroom. I loved any kind of map I could get my hands on. Globes, atlases, the tricky fold out ones, theme park maps, museum maps, the Great Adventure Safari map, the New York City mass transit map; it truly didn’t matter. And I always learned something from those maps. For example, I remember discovering that American highways actually have a grid system that helps you know where you are, the lower the highway number, I 10, for example, the further south or west you were.

Another young discovery of mine is that all of the light posts in Central Park have a location marker on them that you can follow or use a map to plan with. I spent countless hours in the car with a Rand McNally atlas learning exits and town names and tracing red, blue and black roadways with my fingers. I admit it, I’m a map junkie.

As a teacher, my absolute favorite activity that I ever got to do was rent one of the world’s largest maps of Europe from National Geographic. My first graders and I kicked off our shoes and went exploring. We measured countries we had literature circles around England, we plotted a road trip from Germany to Italy using robots. We matched landmarks with countries. It was so much fun! They stopped renting those maps but I found out that they can be purchased now. Maps create a serious sense of logic out of what can seem like total chaos. They give order to our place on earth and help young minds start to see geographic connections as never before. Maps cater to both the linguist and mathematician mind set. They speak to current events and history. They restore order to nature as man interferes. Maps are the total package.

As a mom, I always seemed to be stuffing a map into my kids’ hands. Whether it was Disney or the Tokyo train system they go a map. Lead the way! My mother loves to tell a story about how my daughter, who was about 8 at the time, was able to take her to the Big Buddha while we were living in Japan. It took about 3 train transfers and you had to know how to walk through a department store to catch one of those transfers. My daughter had no problem. She totally had it down thanks to maps.

So, take out some maps! Have a treasure hunt, plot a trip using public transportation (which is completely underused in our country) and fall in love with maps! There is no doubt that maps contribute to being globally literate.

Recently, I was walking with my mom in old town Brussels. We were just taking in the scene and window shopping. Walking along, I saw a store window that I fell in love with. And if you’ve been following our page, it might look familiar. So, are you a map junkie like me? I hope so…

Maps are an essential puzzle piece to understanding
Family Travel Hub, Travel Think Tank

Patriotism as a Global Citizen. How travelers can honor those we love on Veteran’s Day.

Veterans Day is here. In our family, it is the kickoff to our holiday season. The holiday seems iconically American. However, Veterans Day started off 102 years ago as Armistice Day which marked the end of WWI and as the world started healing from The Great War, each nation involved created there own version of remembering. This makes the concept quite Global rather than quintessentially American and a great way to expand our horizons both patriotically and historically. Our own holiday evolved from commemorating 11-11-18 to honoring all who serve and have served. But make no mistake, there are plenty of countries that honor those who serve in their own way. I am lucky and grateful for the Veterans in my family. My dad, my husband, and a bevy of other relatives all served at one time or another. I even spent some time in uniform myself.

Finding our Ancestors for Veteran’s Day

One way other countries honor the military sacrifice is to remember the fallen. A great example of this is what you can find in France. This summer, I had the honor of meeting two veterans while I visited and the experience was life changing. My mom and I hopped into a sporty euro rental in Belgium and made our way west across the French border to an area out in the middle of nulle part- that’s French for nowhere. We were stopping to visit Private First Class Thomas McGovern. His address is one I can share: plot B, Row 18, Grave 11, Somme American Cemetery, Bony, France.


Thomas is my great, great uncle and died in the famous Battle of the Somme on September 27th, 1918. Visiting the cemetery is quite amazing. The superintendent escorted us out to the grave, among impeccably manicured grounds and explained to us the play by play of the battle and exactly what fate my uncle met. He produced a small container of sand from Omaha Beach to rub across the marble stone so that Thomas’ name was easily read. There, in the summer sun out in the French countryside, I became the first family member to come and pay my respects to him. I was all at once proud, connected, elated and humbled. It was a once in a lifetime experience!


As our journey continued, I had someone else to check in with. The next day, we drove out to the Meuse-Argon American Cemetery to meet, for the first time as well, John McGovern. He is Thomas’ brother and, by heart breaking coincidence, he also perished on September 27th- just 46 days shy of the armistice. The cemetery that he rests in is shared with 14,000 other brave boys who put on a tin hat and stepped up to fight in an unknown world. Again, the sand, again two flags of pride and solidarity, again emotions that make one grateful and awestruck.

So on this Veterans Day, I say thank you to all of you who have served. I appreciate you all. And I encourage you put on a bright red poppy and

The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy.

The American flag flying over Omaha Beach.

seek out those veterans who may not be as close as most. They may be just the thing for you and yours to learn so much about your own family and how they contributed to the greater good. There are 26 American Cemeteries overseas with over 130,000 brave Americans who are hoping a family member might visit. If you are interested, start your research with the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Poppies represent the spilt blood of the many lives that fought for liberty.
fashion woman notebook pen
Family Travel Hub

The World According To Zoey

Ladies, Gentlemen, fellow travelers, nothing makes me happier than introducing you to the bright minds of tomorrow. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Zoey. She’s in elementary school and a fantastic budding writer. Take a look at her very first blog post! I’ll be sharing more from Zoey in the future. I sure hope you are as inspired as I am!

fashion woman notebook pen
Photo by Negative Space on

About Me:

Hi! I’m Zoey and I am going to be blogging about all sorts of fun things! You might know me from a past class, my siblings, the school newspaper (I was a reporter), or announcements. I have 4 sisters, Grace, Ava, Mya, and my baby sister, Lorali. I have 2 dogs (Wrangler and Lana), a cat (Archer), and over 25 fish (Mostly my older sister’s)! Me and my family travel a lot. We have gone to Disney world, Outer Banks, Lots of beaches in Florida, the Poconos, Myrtle Beach, and wait for it… The Bahamas! I went to Nassau, Bahamas just last summer! I hope you enjoy my blog!

It’s time to celebrate!

I’m going to tell you all about some nationally celebrated days we have going on this week. (The best ones that are not boring). Yesterday, Sunday, was National No Excuses Day. I love this because I’m full of excuses and I really need this day. My mom is always getting on my case because I will come up with excuses why I can’t help my sisters clean up. (But they do the same thing) Today is National Neighbor Day, I hope everyone waves, says hi, or maybe does something kind for them. Tuesday is  National Starbucks Day. I don’t understand why people like starbucks so much, you can make coffee at home for way cheaper.  Wednesday is  National Checklist day. I will have a blog entry about this topic coming soon!!! On Thursday it is National Homemade cookies day. We all know that Mrs. A Morris makes THE BEST cookies. I think my cookies are about halfway to how good her’s are. Friday is National Name your car day. Do you have a name for your car? We do not name our cars but if we did our expedition would be called The Old Girl because sometimes my mom says that. It’s also National Walk and Bike to school day (Note for teachers; I hope to see bikes in the parking lot!) I have also found out what month it is (Both September and October). It’s pretty crazy how every month and day have things going on but no one really knows unless they look it up. 

                      September; (There’s ALOT, but here’s what I found to be the most interesting.)

  • Baby Safety Month
  • Better Breakfast Month
  • National Chicken Month
  • National Honey Month
  • Self Improvement Month
  • World Candle Month

                          October; (There’s ALOT, but here’s what I found to be the most interesting.)

  • American Cheese Month
  • Eat better, Eat together, Month
  • National Book Month
  • National Bullying Prevention Month
  • National Caramel Month
  • National Chili Month
  • National Dessert Month
  • National Pasta Month
  • National Pickled Peppers Month
  • National Pizza Month
  • National Pretzel Month

I hope you enjoyed reading these National Days! Don’t forget to share with your family and celebrate! And there you have it. National Days and the World According to Zoey!

photo of planner and writing materials
Photo by Bich Tran on

For more on how great the big wide world is check out our posts like the art of the journal. We’d love for you to visit!