Travel Think Tank

Travel Time Out!

As we get back into the process of planning for travel, we are all excited to get out there and get going. When we dream of our future travels, we sometimes forget how important it is to remember we are not invincible. In fact, we want to pack so much in that we forget to plan a little travel time out. It’s okay to plan a beach day or a lazy day. It will be well worth it! Here are my pre-coronavirus thoughts on that very subject.

I Don’t Need A Time Out!

I hear you! You are not two years old! Can I just say this? Adults have more temper tantrums than kids. Can we say “hangry” people? No one enjoys a nap more than an adult. And no one, I repeat, no one wants to be around you when you are tired, cranky, and grumpy. We all need a time out and we deserve them! So, say thank you and really enjoy it! You are on vacation after all! So what does a travel time out look like?

Back in the Summer of 2019…

I’m on day one of my European holiday and Belgium 🇧🇪 has not disappointed! The weather is glorious and the airport, while rather dated, was a breeze from runway to rental. I’m traveling with my mom as I often do and we have stopped in this sweet little location for the night before we take in the Normandy region of France 🇫🇷 in the next week. So, why stop at a place like this? Well, this is a great spot to take a time out and recharge after international travel or after up time at a bigger venue. Genval has a lovely bistro full of locals, a beautiful old hotel with plenty of rooms and a lake to just enjoy! Yes, there are paddle boats and stand up paddle boards but, no, there is no swimming. I did check with the front desk and there are bikes for rent. Lastly, nearby is Waterloo with a modern museum that does a great job explaining why Napoleon met defeat here at Waterloo. #quietfind #berlintoparis?

field of texas bluebonnet
Travel Lifestyle, Travel Think Tank

Why Is Travel An Addiction?

Over the years psychologists, anthropologists and other very fancy people have weighed in to answer the question: why do people travel? They’ve sited studies and research from their very fancy places of work and even fancier scientifically sound universities who spout out data about serotonin levels and charts about which countries give the best vacation time to their employees. There are tons of articles and papers that analyze the reason why some people are addicted to travel and others could care less. It’s all very fascinating! But, I think that sometimes the simplest answers are the best. I travel because it makes me happy.

Travel comes in all shapes and sizes these days. From digital nomads (we’ll get into that later) to resort junkies, we travel addicts have found our wanderlust being quenched in many different ways. So, what made people start to travel anyway? Where did the idea of modern travel even come from?

architecture building dark dusk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Addicted To Modern Travel

Well, the most popular school of thought was that the Victorians got bored and set off to see the great art and antiquities of the Continent through a term called The Grand Tour. In fact, it is The Grand Tour, created way back in the early 1600’s by a priest named Richard Lassels, that gives us the name “tourist”.

A lot of controversy has come up when referring to someone who is a travel addict as a tourist. Some take great offense as they see a tourist as someone who merely skims the surface while travelers tend to have more of a deep dive approach to travel. Me? I’m on the fence. I see the point being made but I wonder if it’s necessary. Maybe the more important question is whether you are a vacationer or a traveler. For the record, vacationers go somewhere to relax and veg while travelers (or tourists) go to seek new experience.

As travel has evolved over time, there have been large groups that have found their own travel mojo by approaching their travel experiences from different angles. Maybe you fit into one of these categories.

The Bucket Listers

We simply can’t talk about travel addiction without talking about the buck list junkies. Typically uber organized, bucket listers work their way through a series of experiences that they prioritize. Often getting a bad rap as look and go travelers, bucket listers tend to know what they want. Bucket listing your way through the world can be a great experience as long as the list doesn’t become the biggest priority rather than the tool it should be.

photo of lake during daytime
Photo by H. Emre on Pexels.com

Addicted To The List

Let’s circle back to the most popular traveler of them all- the bucket lister. Many people don’t consider themselves bucket listers, but they are. It’s true, basically every traveler has a list, even if it’s to not make the next reservation, every kind of traveler listed above has a strategy that can essentially be called a bucket list.

It is only human nature to check things off a list. To plan. To be a logistics manger. In fact, many leading fancy people who study others say that travelers get just as much out of planning their trips as they do executing those plans.

I’m not sure how I feel about that exactly. I mean, I like when I get my confirmation e-mail saying everything is all set, but I don’t think I necessarily enjoy jockeying between different travel apps to find the best price. However, I am very good at it. On the other hand, I do like tracking down new opportunities for my next trip. Then again, I get bored easily. I really meant what I said I wasn’t sure how I feel.

The Typical Travel Addicts Start With The Package Traveler

By simply booking a tour through a well known company, package travelers are happy to scratch the surface of a couple of big named cities and take the tour while leaving the logistics to someone else.

The Road Tripper

Pack up the car or the RV and hit the road for sites unseen and enjoy all that the open road has to offer. Road Trippers spend a ton of time exploring nooks and crannies and meeting up with fellow road junkies through a huge network.

The Gap Year Backpacker

Free of worries with a minimal budget, backpackers trek from hostel to hostel and get the most out of their bare bones trips while they shape their definition of global literacy. Backpacking across Europe used to be a right of passage in some circles and while there is still a steady stream of people making there way into those youth hostels, many opt for the experience on other continents these days.

The Alternative Routes

While the majority of travelers fall into one of the categories above, there are some amazing travelers who look through a very different lens.

The Slow Traveler

Time in one place to take a deep dive into a culture or community is the top priority here. Slow travelers look for the connections and want to unpack the benefits and challenges that locals deal with. The benefits of slow travel come from immersing oneself into new circumstances and seeing where that leads you. Unfortunately, for most, time constraints tend to create huge barriers for the experience.

The World Schooler

Homeschooling has a very cool cousin and that cousin is getting more and more popular. World schooling is becoming quite a trendy way to experience all the benefits of homeschooling and take them on the road. Parents who choose this way of life tend to have tons of work flexibility and dedicate this time to not only classical education topics but also to soft skills that create worldly humans.

The Digital Nomad

For the ultimate travel experience, digital nomads craft their careers into portable jobs that compliment their travel addiction. It’s like winning the trifecta when DNs find a career, a companion, and a course that allow them to wander around the world experiencing as much as they can.

While some DNs have a home base, many live a minimalist lifestyle and prioritize their commitment to travel. Some people take years to arrange the perfect exit strategy from society norms. They often sell off everything they own, take on side hustles, and save like maniacs to get themselves started.

What Do Addicts Do To Make Travel Work For Them?

In the end, we addicts are addicted to the people and experiences that we find while we travel. So what do we do to make travel work for us? A few things come to mind.

  • Learn a little. Travelers learn a few words and get a hold on the cursory history of their next destination.
  • Do stuff. Travelers favor doing over just looking at things from a distance.
  • Eat slow food! Travelers avoid major chains and frequent mom and pop shops.
  • Balance. Travelers make it a priority to balance great icons and hidden gems.
  • Think responsibly. Contrary to popular belief, travelers are some of the first to think about hot topics like waste, and carbon footprints.
  • Communicate. Travelers use international words like photo instead of picture and toilet instead of restroom.
  • Enjoy downtime. Travelers enjoy talking, well, travel. They enjoy watching and listening to travel. They play games with their kids to enjoy even more travel. to expand their horizons or quench their thirst until the next trip.

What’s On Your List? 

For more ideas, especially if you are a first time traveler, check out these resources:

Family Travel Hub, Travel Think Tank

What should global citizenship look like in public schools?

Global Citizenship: (noun) The title used for those who approach culture and diversity with a positive attitude. A label that explains a traveler’s quest to understand the differences we have and the similarities we share. See also: globally literate, traveling gypsy, world traveler, worldschooling.

Classrooms that encourage global citizenship are rare.

Teachers are not teaching global citizenship.

As a public school teacher, I grapple with all of the well stated issues that every other teacher deals with: money, supplies, never ending common core (Note to educators: Wait! This post is NOT about common core! Keep reading!)and time. To tell you the truth, time might be my greatest enemy during the school day. Time is the thing I run out of, the thing I combat, the thing that has my kids mentally checking out two hours before the school day is over. It’s the common denominator for decisions like what book to pick or what lesson to cut out in order to ensure kids are ready for some useless test.

Usually, social studies is on the chopping block. I never seem to have enough time to teach “Me on the Map” or the Louisiana purchase. Social studies is definitely not a friend to common core. The quick fix from non educators who make decisions about education for educators is to simply use that context during language arts. Umm, excuse me? You want me to teach first graders subject and predicate while learning about latitude and longitude? Did I mention that half of them can’t read even though you expect it and the other half don’t know how to get a pencil without disrupting everyone? How am I ever supposed to allow kids to become global citizens?!

Seriously.

If I ever met the education genie and he granted me three education wishes, this is what I would ask for:

  1. Anyone who ever gets to make a decision about education has to substitute for a minimum of five days. From the school custodians to the President of the United States- absolutely everyone. And, unlike many other temporary gigs, there is no one to help you. No aid, no secretary, no personal assistant, no sub-time, no say. That, I believe would take care of a lot of issues.
  2. Remove common core from everyone’s memory and end this nightmare. Kids are being pushed well beyond their natural growth capabilities and it’s causing  a lot of problems. Seriously, what 5 year old needs to know what a scalene triangle is? Seriously? Removing all of the components of common core would solve a lot of teacher issues (I’m talking to you standardized testing!).
  3. Now, don’t be surprised when I say this: I would use my final wish to develop cultural opportunities for students to learn about this huge, wonderful world.

Dreaming a Big Dream

In a perfect world, the stars would align and the Heavens would open to reveal that the great mystery plaguing our educational system is our educational system! If those stars did align and if we could literally get a do over, what would our kids need to be successful global citizens? For starters, we would have to be really honest about what makes our students ready for all the world offers. Don’t get me wrong, I am more then agreeing with the need to ensure kids read, write and compute sensibly, fluently and with purpose. But is there more? I think yes. Here’s a sampling of the classes that I would love to see in basic curricula, one for each traditional grade level….

Global Citizenship starts young.

American Culture for Kindergarteners:

Learn about and celebrate holidays and traditions within our community, regions, and country. Kids can learn about Native American celebrations from the Southwest, they can learn about National Parks and Veterans Day. Our country has so much to be proud of, let’s share that pride.

Storytelling for First Graders:

As in: kids need to see the magic of storytelling. This is a wonderful way to connect great literature with world culture and history. Storytelling is a dying art and we should all be supporting its resuscitation. While reading and writing are so, so imperative to every young child, fostering the love of storytelling only fosters that foundation.

World Wonders for Second Graders:

Imagine having a chance to study the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and Machu Picchu? Students can learn about all of these amazing things through STEAM centric lessons. How about building the leaning tower of Pisa out of crackers or designing the labyrinth of Knossos for a marble? This is something that I could really get into! I feel the need to build a great pyramid out of cheezits.

Timelines for Third Graders:

Take a minute and think what would happen if kids simply explored a topic by piecing together the timeline of events. Think biographies, the space race, ancient Egypt. The possibilities are endless!!!! Students don’t really start to understand the passage of time until they are a bit older. Third grade seems like a great time to understanding this huge concept.

Gardening and Animal Keeping for Fourth Graders:

Think about it. The responsibility of care for a growing thing brings on life lessons in infinite amounts. From cultivating a carrot seed to watching a chick hatch, learning about the hows and whys of growth is an awesome thing. More importantly, understanding farm to table is time well spent.

Global Citizenship creates better challenges in middle school. 

Map Making for Fifth Graders:

Please note that I did not say Geography. Map making means exactly that: making maps. All kinds. Maps of communities, maps of the world, rainfall maps, graphs about maps, continental plate maps, maps that show all fifty states and their capitals. Theme park and tourist maps. Hands on maps. Lots of maps. As a teacher, I can only imagine the natural curiosity that would develop from this undertaking.

Research and Understanding for Sixth Graders:

Okay, you can read and write, but can you develop a project from start to finish? It’s what we do in “the real world” right? Kids are not used to staring at a blank piece of paper anymore. They do not journal and they do not write down their thoughts. In short, students are not reflective. Taking a long term process like this allows students to become better at being self starters and independent. That is a skill worth developing.  

Environmentalism for Seventh Graders:

a chance for kids to learn about the challenges of the world and research the best practices to reverse the damage. How will we ever start the reversal of damage to our planet if we don’t involve our future leaders? A class like this leads to connecting our past to our present in more ways than one.

Logic and Sequential Thinking for Eighth Graders:

Experiencing the consequences of the “if… then…” model can be an important step in helping young minds develop. From interpersonal relationships to global trends, the study of logic allows students to have some quality time to stop and think before they move on. Sequential thinking not only includes putting things in order but also finding the things that shouldn’t be in a series. The most concrete example of this is coding. Coding is becoming more and more popular across grade levels but it could find a real niche here.

Global Citizenship focuses on life skills in high school.

Survey of World Language for High School Freshmen:

Imagine a chance to learn a little about lots of different languages and the origins of words in our own language. Did you know that the English word for baby carriage is perambulator? As in not walking yet? Kind of like ambulance? You know the thing that you use when you can’t get to the hospital on your own? I love language.

Greek and Latin Roots:

A companion class to world language so kids to realize that there is more pattern in languages than first meets the eye. Have you ever watched the National Spelling Bee? It is amazing! I always think that we would save ourselves so much time and effort if we were more in tune with how words work and what they really mean. For example, I remember when my grandfather taught me the real meaning of dilemma. I stopped using the word altogether. (It means a two part mathematical problem with no known solution.)

Lifeskills 101 for Sophomores:

It’s time to learn to do your own laundry, repair a buttonhole, bake a cake, DRIVE, and learn about budget and economy in some way. Students need to learn these adulting skills in order to be a functioning adult no matter the background that they come from. Can they make a dinner? Can they take care of their things? Now, perhaps you think that driving isn’t something to include in schools- I say “perhaps they need to at least have the classroom portion and the controlled course lessons” to ensure that they can help themselves in case of an emergency. This is the class that always makes me say “I’m glad you know calculus but can you post a letter in the mail?”

Art and Culture for Juniors:

I’m not talking about this is a flower on a cave wall. I’m thinking more along the lines of “did you know that this was stolen by the Nazi’s?” Think history through the eyes of artists. So often, we dismiss the creative mind as “not essential”. I beg to differ, it’s those creative minds that develop our richness of culture, our understanding of the beauty around us. I don’t think the question is “how do we fit art in?” but rather “how can we afford not to?”

The Current Political Climate for Seniors:

They are about to be voters you know. We might as well start them out on the right foot. What are the political issues plaguing our economy and culture right now. Who are our allies, who brings threat to the table? What is our country’s response? How do others solve the same issues? Be an informed voter!  

Tech Touches To Create Global Citizens

Technology Use and Applications across grade levels: This is a class that takes kids through the age appropriate use of technology for educational purposes. Learn where the on and off switch is, learn how to film a movie. Let’s face it, kids are going to be exposed to computers. We better start teaching them how to use them like a tool so that they don’t start getting used by those very computers!

Barriers to global citizenship

A couple of other things that come to mind is the fact that there are many students who are quality athletes on private teams (dance, gymnastics, swim, crossfit, to name a few) who do not get any credit for their time, dedication and effort. Why are these kids not getting PE and health credit for this? Some will say that there is no way to monitor this. Sometimes, you’ve got to believe in these kids and give them the credit where credit is due.

While we are on the topic, why do bilingual children have to take a language? Really? They’ve got it, thank you! My kids were becoming fluent in Japanese when we returned to the States from many years abroad. They don’t offer Japanese, so instead of letting me buy them Rosetta Stone, they FORCED them to take Spanish! Seriously!? I requested Latin but that was only offered at another school, too bad. (Mom rant over, I promise! )

The Verdict…

Now, I know you may agree or disagree with some of these classes. I get it. You may have your own idea about what kids should and shouldn’t be learning in order to give kids a boost up and be considered global citizens. That’s exactly what the STEM people thought. This is merely my opinion. But let me say this: I spend most of my waking hours with these kids and I meet a lot of people around the world who do the same. It’s time we made some serious changes to empower our future to be more prepared than we ever were. So, magic education genie, if your out there, can we chat? There’s a lot of future global citizens who need you.