Tag Archives: travel with kids

August 19, 2012

Parenting, Danish Style

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part four of their adventure.

Travel with Kids

Different parenting styles have been big news in the past couple years, or maybe I’ve just started noticing since I’ve entered that chapter of my life. A couple years ago it was the Tiger Mom, this year it was French parenting. I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the differences I’ve seen in how the Danes parent compared to American parenting, as viewed through my personal lens.

Travel with Kids
Danish kids nap outside. Rain, shine, sleet or hail, all Danish kids I have ever met nap outside in their giant, beautiful prams. When they start attending nursery school at around a year of age, the prams go with them and all the babies nap outside in a covered area with sound monitors. It is believed that napping outdoors strengthens the babies’ lungs and gives them better health. While I have my personal doubts about whether that claim would bear out scientifically, I do like the idea of outdoor napping and have given it a half-hearted try with my two daughters (without much success, unfortunately). You can always find a parking lot of prams parked outside a restaurant or any public space.

Travel wit Kids
The Danes are famous for their biking, and cargo bikes are an especially popular way to transport the groceries and kids in Copenhagen. Cars are subject to a 100% car tax in Denmark and gas is at least twice as expensive as it is in the U.S., so many Danes choose to get around by bike instead. Cyclists enjoy extremely safe and convenient biking conditions in Copenhagen, including bike paths that are separated from the cars and special traffic lights for bikes. On any given day of the week, you will see hoards of cyclists: men in suits, women in high heels, students going to school, adults with kid seats on the back, big and little, male and female, young and old. I should mention that my my mother-in-law, who raised three kids and lives in the countryside, has never had a driver’s license and biked the 6 miles to and from work almost every day of the year until she retired last year. It’s quite inspiring!

Travel with Kids
Our annual trip to Denmark to visit half our family and friends is always a reminder of a different pace of life. We observe and reflect on the more relaxed daily living and high quality of life. People work fewer hours, commute less, have at least six weeks of holiday a year. These are just a few of the many reasons they have claimed the top spot in United Nations’ 2012 World Happiness Report. We find that our friends have an excellent balance between work and home life and while there are arguments against the system, Danes overall seem quite content.

Travel with Kids
We love being outside in the Danish summertime, even if the weather is not always summery. Our friends were eager to show us their sprouting gardens and walk along the newly minted bike path that replaced the old abandoned railroad. The kids were excited to jump on their ubiquitous trampolines and make use of the many play structures. Due to the intense weather during much of the rest of the year, Danes appreciate their summers with enthusiastic gusto. As soon as a ray of sunshine appears, the Danes immediately run outside to soak up the rays, even if it means being wrapped up in a blanket because it’s still cold.


August 18, 2012

These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part three of their adventure.

Travel with Kids

We’ve been going on trips to Denmark every summer for the past nine years, but the last four visits have taken on a new meaning: we’ve had our kids with us. We travel differently now, and enjoy Denmark in a new way.

Travel with Kids
When you live across the world from Farmor (father’s mother), time together takes on a new meaning. We spend a lot of our trip making sure our kids get to be with their farmor. The sight of Farmor’s yellow brick country house nestled amongst the fields of wheat and barley is always an exciting one, but it’s extra special now that we are reuniting our daughters with their Danish grandma.

Travel with Kids

We love visiting the cows that live near Farmor’s house and feeding them grass. They come running over, as the hares and birds scatter out of their way. It’s fun to see that a farm with around forty cows can exist.

Travel with Kids
Shockingly, we go to children’s parks now. The playground equipment is different from what we have at home, so it’s a novelty for our girls. On one of our park trips the skies suddenly clouded over and the rain poured down. Everyone gathered under a covered area, but I didn’t last long there because of all the smoking. There are some cultural differences that are hard to get used to.

Travel with Kids
Reuniting with our friends and all their children is so much fun every year. Our older daughter does well with the Danish, but really kids can make do without a common language. Most of the kids we know have  summer birthdays (you would want a summer birthday, too, if you lived in Scandinavia), so our older daughter has become very fond of the Danish birthday cake: a layer cake with jam and vanilla cream filling  covered with whipped cream.

Family, animals, playgrounds, friends and birthday cake: these are a few of our favorite things.

August 17, 2012

Danish Hygge

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part two of their adventure.

Travel with kids

Hygge is a very uniquely Danish word that has no English translation.

The closest approximation is “coziness.” It’s what happens when it gets dark at 3:00pm in the wintertime, when it’s too windy and cold to enjoy the outdoors, when everyone is forced to be close together inside. Out come the candles, the music, the food and drink, the stories and jokes and laughter. That’s hygge, or at least how I’ve come to know it. To tell someone that your visit was very “hyggelig” (full of hygge) is the highest compliment. Luckily for us, hygge exists throughout the year so we get to soak it up in the summertime during our visits.

Travel with Kids

Danes love their open-faced sandwiches and it’s what we ate for lunch every day. The dark, heavy rye bread comes out first, and then all the toppings: butter, cheese, liver pate, eggs, cucumber, tomato, herring. There are many variations, but certain combinations are acceptable and others shocking. Who knew that liver pate and cheese was such an outlandish mix?

Travel with Kids

Perhaps because of all the time spent indoors enjoying hygge during certain times of the year, Danes care about how the interior of their homes look. Danish design is known around the world as simple, sleek, and light. Our Danish friends furnish their homes with a great deal of thought and intention- always hardwood floors, usually white or off-white walls and furnishings, lots of soft lighting, carefully chosen artwork.

Travel with Kids

It took me a while to get used to the length of the Danish meal. I remember my very first meal on my very first trip to Denmark many years ago; everyone was so lovely and eager to show me their beautiful country, but I was seriously jet-lagged and unprepared for the stamina the Danes have for sitting down and talking. A summer dinner date with friends can easily last seven hours, so it’s a good thing we like our friends.

Travel with Kids

I really love how the Danes make a point to sit down together for a meal. It’s how I was raised and it’s how I try to raise my family.

Perhaps it’s a bit easier for the Danes because they are usually able to get home earlier than the average American, at least in my experience. Nevertheless, the family meal is something I think is incredibly valuable and seems to be at the core of Danish hygge.

 

August 16, 2012

Danes on the Go

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part one of their adventure.

Travel with Kids
Our annual trip to Denmark to visit half our family and friends is always a reminder of a different pace of life. We observe and reflect on the more relaxed daily living and high quality of life. People work fewer hours, commute less, have six weeks of holiday. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, there are many reasons they have claimed the top spot in United Nations’ 2012 World Happiness Report.

One of our favorite things about Denmark is the many alternate modes of travel. This is our friends’ Christiania-style bike, where the kids and cargo can all be loaded in the front.
travel with kids
This is how many kids in Copenhagen are transported to school, on errands, or around town, and it’s one way people can manage without a car. Most of our friends went for years without cars, only purchasing them once they had multiple kids and moved out of Copenhagen to the more distant suburbs. Back during the late-1970’s oil crisis, Denmark instituted “car-free Sundays” and there were songs romanticizing biking. Fast forward 25 years and the Danes continue to invest in their bike paths. Along any given road, you are likely to see a parallel bike path, with lots of people using it.

Travel with Kids

We love the Danish rail system! There is an extensive network of speedy, quiet, and frequent trains that is used by many Danes to get to and from work, home, and errands. It’s an easy, although not cheap, way to get around Copenhagen specifically, Denmark in general, and all of Scandinavia. We are inspired to support our own rail systems at home in hopes that they, too, will someday be as efficient, as clean, as quiet, and as used as the Danish trains.

It’s not just the Danish trains that are so worthy of envy- the Norwegian trains are just as beautiful. This is the train from the Oslo airport into town. Our older daughter loves all forms of public transit (thanks to Papa), so she is very excited each summer to go on as many trains and buses as possible.

Travel with Kids
Instead of worrying about car parking, apartment buildings in Denmark have to make sure there is enough space for all the bikes! Cyclists enjoy extremely safe and convenient biking conditions in Copenhagen, including bike paths that are separated from the cars and special traffic lights for bikes. On any given day of the week, you will see hoards of cyclists: men in suits, women in high heels, students going to school, adults with kid seats on the back, big and little, male and female, young and old. The mercurial weather doesn’t even stop them- they just tuck their heads down and pedal into the rain, the wind, the sleet, and the snow of short, dark, winter days. I should mention that my my mother-in-law, who raised three kids and lives in the countryside, has never had a driver’s license and biked the 6 miles to and from work almost every day of the year until she retired last year. It truly is the way the Danes get around.

It helps that it’s a very flat country.

Travel with Kids

 

August 8, 2012

Mirror, Mirror- on the wall

Back by popular demand is guest blogger Naomi who has a United States passport, but considers herself a global citizen and currently lives in New Delhi, India.  Along for the great adventure is her husband, one teenage traveler, two little citizens and an Indian street dog.  She blogs about their life (including an upcoming relocation to Singapore) at Delhi Bound [http://delhibound.com].

My kids are participating in a bit of an informal summer reading program and one of the books we recently read was Mirror by Jeannie Baker.  The book discusses the similarities between two families on opposite ends of the earth.  Our family often gravitates towards books with global themes, but this was one of the first to make me question just how much cultural diversity my children are collecting from their experiences.

With our recent zip code history, you might think that we have ‘cultural diversity training’ checked off of the list, but I think we still have a ways to go.  Raising global citizens – inside of the four walls of our home – means that we strive to accomplish these six things :

First to train our children to accept diversity.  In their small world, this may mean being understanding of the child who stutters when they speak or the grocery store clerk that has a different skin color.

Not that it takes second priority, but a spirit of service is also crucial, whether that means following a spend/save/share motto with allowance money, or helping to ladle out broth at the local soup kitchen.

I also feel that a strong voice is so important.  Children often have some pretty great ideas about the world that they live in. Ideas of how to make things better and how to make people feel welcomed.  Developing a powerful (albeit respectful at the same time) sense of self and comfort level in speaking their mind and sharing their ideas, is an important piece of this puzzle.

General understanding of the geography of our world is simple if you use the resources at your fingertips (internet searches) and your library to open up the globe to your children.  The first step – if you don’t already own one – is to purchase a tabletop globe or a wall world atlas.  Another way to expand knowledge is to attend functions that celebrate geography, like a recent “All About Me” where children (and parents) dressed in their ‘national dress.’  Fun stuff.

statue of liberty costume

American national dress

Appreciation of the music and food that makes the world go ‘round.  We have had a couple of theme dinners in our dining room (complete with fitting food and music) and we are excited to do some more. Make the menu planning a family affair and break away from the expected Mexican, Chinese and Italian.

Caprese Salad

Making our own caprese salad

Bring it home by taking the next step. Invite someone from a different culture, nationality or country to your house for a play date, or out for a ice cream cone.  Explore your differences and marvel at your similarities.

The old adage says to give your children roots and wings, but equally as important is to give them the ability to accept and understand those who come from a different nest.

August 7, 2012

Guatemala in Color

Guest Blogger Laura shares her experience of traveling to Guatemala with her children.

With summer at its height, many of us find ourselves heading out of town. For some, the beach beckons with its warm and lazy days. Or perhaps a trip to the mountains is the draw, with pristine vistas and fresh air. Wherever we end up, we usually return refreshed and with new memories. This summer, my husband and I chose a different break. After 5 years on American soil caring for our girls, now 2 and 4, I was ready to dust off my passport and hop a plane to somewhere new. The two of us volunteered to help take 25 teenagers to Chichicastenango, a small town in the western highlands of Guatemala. Mainly a service trip, we would be working alongside the indigenous K’iche’ Mayan people there, helping them build homes, make improvements to current structures, and hold a camp for school children. We would also have the opportunity to visit the town market.

Chichicastenango, or “Chichi” as the locals call it, has been one of the main trading centers in the Mayan region since pre-Hispanic times. The market today is the largest of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere. Known as the most colorful market in all of the Americas, it’s not hard to see why. The traje, or traditional native costumes of Guatemala, are bursting with color and together with their patterns connect locals to specific villages or groups. The vendors dress to sell their wares, which include ceramics, wooden masks, religious items and of course the fabrics. Oh, the fabrics. In the form of clothing, blankets, and so much more, they make the market a true feast for the eyes.

There was so much to see, from the Mayan priests on the church steps burning sacrifices to the women in their traje selling flowers. I took in the sights, the smells, the feel of it all. And of course I shopped. I was tempted to bring back an entire wardrobe for my girls, from the huipils (traditional Mayan blouses) to the wrap around skirts.  I settled for dolls and headbands while they are still so small.

The market was a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking teenaged girls on a shopping trip like no other. A far cry from the local mall, they tried their hand at bargaining and came away with some fabulous finds and great memories.

I could go on, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And for this experience, pictures tell it all. They tell the story of a people who showed us a glimpse of their lives through what they bring to market each week. Their stories are woven in fabrics every color of the rainbow.

 

July 6, 2012

Embarking on an African Safari

Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

When we were planning our trip to Nairobi, Kenya, to visit by brother and sister in-law, everyone wanted to “do” an African Safari in the Masai Mara.  I was thinking, okay…I guess I am okay with sleeping in a tent in the Savannah with guards who carry guns, with somewhat “pampered” kids who have never gone camping.   But, where would we shower and clean up?  Do we have to mark our territory?  I had also heard various scary stories – for example, a friend of mine said that an elephant, who was “protecting” her baby elephant, charged their vehicle.  Hmmmm…I am okay with this…right?  You see my sister-in-law who is a very intelligent, had been putting together this amazing 2-week tour of Nairobi.  So when my sister-in-law suggested an African Safari in the Masai Mara, I said “okay, that sounds good.”

But as it turned out, what I imagined an African Safari would entail was a WHOLE LOT different than what I thought.

African Safari with Children

It took less than 60 minutes from the Nairobi Wilson Airport. The “jumper plane” made a handful of stops along the way to drop off other passengers at other landing stripes in the Savannah.

 

African Safari with Kids

The landing stripe at the Maasai Mara, meeting up with our guide having a tasty drink of tomato tree juice. Not like our tomato juice! This was more like punch.

African Safari with Kids

Accommodations – my expectation were far exceeded! The safari was more like a five star resort!

Savannah – The “prime time” to visit the African Savannah is during Migration season (July and September).  Apparently the Savannah is packed with thousands, even millions of herbivores: “some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 360,000 Thomson’s gazelle, and 191,000 zebra.”  We did not visit during the Migration, but we were still able to see a lot of wild animals!

African Safari with KidsAfrica’s “Big 5” – The “Big 5″ includes the African: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo. Why not the hippo or giraffe? Are they not large as well?  Apparently, game hunters came up with the term “Big 5″ (not safari tour operators). The African lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo are labeled as the “Big 5” not because of how large or dangerous they are; but for how difficult it is for hunters to bag them up, mostly due to their ferocity when cornered and shot at. Who knew??!!

Lions sleep 20 hours a day. That means a lion is only awake for about 3 years. Isn’t that crazy?
This was my favorite animal! They are so graceful and beautiful. “Leopards are strong tree climbers—they can even climb a tree while carrying a prey their own weight. Leopards often carry their prey up trees to prevent other animals, such as hyenas, from sharing their kill. They also store their food in trees (though sometimes they store their food on ground under leaves or brush)”. They are solitary animals (not like lions that are pack animals).
African elephants are the largest land mammals on the planet, and the females of this species undergo the longest pregnancy—22 months.
Buffalo are reported to kill more hunters in Africa than any other animal.

Personally, I find a running Giraffe much more interesting that a Cape buffalo. A giraffe is one of the few animals that use mostly its front legs when it runs.   They only sleep for a few minutes at a time (in comparison to Lions who sleep all day!). Of course, the giraffes’ biggest enemy is the lion.  Giraffe have 4 stomachs just like cows (their cud needs to travel all the way up their neck!). Watch the video below to see the giraffe we spotted during the safari.

 

June 29, 2012

The Maasai Jumping Celebration

We’re introducing guest blogger Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, who traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

Travel with Kids to Maasai Kraal

When we visited our tour guide Daniel’s Kraal (Maasai rural village, visible in the background of the photos above), we were invited to witness their lion dance which includes jumping.

Travel with kids Jumping Tradition with Maasai

Maasai jumping is a tradition done at celebrations like a wedding.  The highest jumper gets the most ladies (of course)! They were kind enough to invite us to try. Check out of the video of us taking part in the Maasai jumping tradition.

 


 

June 28, 2012

A Visit to the Maasai Kraal

We’re introducing guest blogger Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, who traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

 

Travel with kids to Maasai Village in Nairobi, Kenya

It was incredible to visit a Maasai “village” located in Nairobi, Kenya.  A “Kraal”(“Kraal” — krôl, kräl) is a rural village, where a Maasai family lives, their huts in a circular area, to protect their livestock at night. Our Safari guide, Daniel,  took us to see his family’s Kraal. Daniel’s family consists of one dad, seven moms, and 70 brothers and sisters.  WOW!  Yes- 70 brothers and sisters.  Only Daniel and Daniel’s brothers with their respective wives and children live in the village we visited.  After the brothers showed us their lion dance and how high they can jump, we were invited to go inside their village and see how they live.

Water…no aquifer; they get their water from nearby lakes and streams.

Food…no grocery stores; they crop their own food by hand, in dessert conditions…(mind you…)

Eating utensils…no forks; they gather around a large bowl of food set on the ground and scoop up the food with their fingers or with pieces of bread.

Fire…no matches; they make fire the old fashion way with sticks and elephant poo!

Homes…no brick and mortar; they build their home with mud, sticks, cow dung and cow urine!

Wealth…no money; they measure wealth in terms of cattle and children.

Medicine…no hospitals; they use the urine of animals.  It is thought that the urine of animals is holy and that if used in the right way it can cure sickness.

American Girl with Massi villager

To see how they live in comparison to us, well, was inspiring and humbling.  Amazingly our oldest daughter, Kayla, who is 7, got it.  Here is a passage from her journal that she kept on our trip, “People are poor in Africa.  Okay, when we were driving in the Maasai Mara, we stopped at a village, we saw how the Maasai people live, and their house is made of cow poop and sticks. The girls have to make their houses and it takes three months and they don’t have shoes they are barefoot. “

 

June 1, 2012

Bedtimes, Jet Lag and Time Zones

Back by popular demand is guest blogger Naomi who has a United States passport, but considers herself a global citizen and currently lives in New Delhi, India.  Along for the great adventure is her husband, one teenage traveler, two little citizens and an Indian street dog.  She blogs about their life (including an upcoming relocation to Singapore) at Delhi Bound [http://delhibound.com].

creative ways to beat jet lag with kids

Our family is very soon set to begin another relocation and pretty big move across yet another ocean.  As we start to organize our passports and boarding passes, my thoughts fall quickly to jet lag and bedtimes!

Our typical experience with the dreaded jet lag is that it takes us ONE full day of adjustment for each time zone that we’ve crossed (so from India to Nebraska, we figure on nine days).  That’s a lot of days that can end up “wasted” unless you look at it creatively!

Fill a small bag with new items (yes NEW!), including a flashlight and explain to your children that when their bodies wake them up and it’s still the middle of the night, that instead of fully getting out of bed, they can use their flashlight and read in bed, or color on the floor right near their bed.   As soon as we get UP and out of bed, we instantly tell our bodies to cease from resting.  It isn’t a perfect solution, but it can offer some extra time for mom and dad to get some shut-eye.

Creative Ways to Beat Jet Lag
Another thing to remember with jet lag is that often your kiddos have NO choice but to fall asleep in the middle of dinner a couple of days after you’ve arrived.  Heavy lids, droopy limbs and a need for sleep that is impossible to resist is so normal.  Stave it off by getting as MUCH sunlight as possible during the day and stay away from processed sugars!

Bedtimes are another struggle in our household, no matter which time zone we’re in.  Try starting the process just 30 minutes earlier than normal!  Depending on the age of your children (our two youngest are currently 5 and 8), it can make a WORLD of difference!  After just ONE week of an earlier bedtime, we notice that our children are more rested in the morning (even if they get the same amount of sleep overnight) and even eat better during the following day!

When do your little travelers go to bed?  How do you help your family adjust from jet lag?