Tag Archives: travel with kids

March 17, 2012

Traveling Abroad with Kids: The Good, the Bad, and the Funny

Today we’re featuring guest blogger Mandy Moise, designer for vfish, who just returned from a 65 day trip through China, Nepal, Indonesia and India with her husband and two girls, Ellie 2.5 yrs, Sloane 1yr. As Mandy puts it, “Dora the Explorer has nothing on my little ones.”

Travel with Kids

Recently on a flight from Chicago to New York, a woman looked at me and said, “Wow, you are brave to be flying with two little babies!” I guess “braveness” is relative.  It’s sort of the general perception from a lot of people we come across. Once you have children, your ability to travel is gone, or limited to quick trips to visit family. My husband and I dreamed of traveling the world (and we do), and I can honestly say it’s so much cooler with kids.  ( NOTE: I said “cooler” not easier. )

Travel with Kids

I’m not going to sugar coat it. Traveling abroad can be challenging with little ones. Personal space is not viewed the same in all parts of the world. In the USA, most people would not come and grab my kids to hold them or, just walk up to me and start photographing my kids paparazzi style.  In all parts in and around Asia, this is very common. People are friendly, and mean well, but try to explain to a 2-year-old why people keep grabbing at her cheeks.  By the end of our trip, my 2-year-old would shout “No pictures please!” and would bury her face into my shoulder. We were good sports about it until both kids ended up with eye infections. After that, I would politely block the cheek pinching snipers.

Travel with kids

One thing that is often overlooked is the travel logistics: strollers, gear, beds.  We used a Double MaClaren umbrella stroller and GO cribs by Guava Family as many hotels throughout the world will not have cribs. And if they do happen to have cribs, you won’t want to use them. Strolling internationally can be hilarious. Paved sidewalks? Elevators? Not so much. So have a good sense of humor, and a strong partner to help you out.

Travel with Kids

Throughout our travels, our girls see things most kids will never see. I truly believe that as they grow up experiencing these different cultures will help them be better humans and citizens. They learned and saw first-hand what poverty was, danced down the streets of Kathmandu, climbed the marble steps of the Taj Mahal and learned to love spicy food.  If you have the means and the time to travel with your little ones, do it!  The moments of joy you will experience in doing so are well worth the extra effort.

Travel with Kids

February 24, 2012

Animal Encounters in Central America

Our third Foreign Correspondent has returned from her travels! Mary, her husband, and her two children traveled to Central America this winter. 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. To learn more about her family’s adventures, check out her The World is a Book blog.

Family Trip to Mexico

During our excursion, we visited the country’s only zoo despite our limited time in Belize.   The Belize Zoo was established in 1983 as a haven for animals used in a forest documentary.   In time, it became a refuge for animals that have been orphaned, rescued, or donated from private owners.

This is unlike any zoo we’ve ever visited.   It currently houses over 150 different animals all native to Belize. Animals lived in thick landscapes much like their natural habitat instead of concrete cages.  The enclosure fences were shorter.  We were able to see most of the animals up close. On some exhibits, we could have reached in and touched them.  Of course we were tempted, but didn’t.

Family trip to Mexico

The zoo was so large, we had to come back a second day to see the rest of the animals. There were no giraffes or elephants here – much to my kids’ disappointment at first.  Instead, we were instead treated to animals we have never heard of or seen before. Ever heard of a tapir (Belize’s national animal that looks like an anteater), a Jabiru stork, a quash (racoon relative) or a motmot (bird)?

Family Trip to Mexico

We also had the opportunity to visit a monkey exhibit in Roatan, Honduras during this trip. I was particularly nervous of letting my kids step inside but was assured the monkeys were safe.  Once inside, the monkeys instantly clamored to find the nearest arm or shoulder to climb on.

Family Trip to Mexico

These animal encounters were one of the trip highlights for our kids.  They were introduced to new animals and learned about the importance of their native habitat.  These were memorable experiences that certainly fostered their love and appreciation for animals.

Visit our Studio T blog tomorrow to learn about the family’s experience in Mexican markets.

February 23, 2012

The Temple of Masks

Our third Foreign Correspondent has returned from her travels! Mary, her husband, and her two children traveled to Central America this winter. 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. To learn more about her family’s adventures, check out her The World is a Book blog.

Masks in Mexico

In Kohunlich, the most impressive site was the pyramid-like Temple of the Masks. The center stairs were flanked on each side by three levels of sculpted stucco masks at about 6-8 feet high each.  They were believed to represent the Maya Sun God “Kinich Ahau”.  The diverse faces were also thought to represent ancient Kohunlich rulers.

The giant masks were magnificent and remarkably preserved considering they were built around 500 AD.  Some of them still had hints of their original color.  The faces were the only three-dimensional areas.  There were many symbolic messages on the masks with many different interpretations.   We saw the masks up close by climbing the steep staircase.  It was worth the climb to the top for some spectacular views of the forest canopy.

 

View in Mexico

In order to keep up our kids’ spirit of exploration, we engaged them in some activities. We asked them to identify items they saw around the masks and what its meaning could be. Travel after all is a learning experience.

Masks in Mexico

My husband and I knew that visiting the ruins would be a challenge to hold our kids’ interest. They kept themselves occupied by looking for animals and exploring hidden corners.  Sometimes, kids have more important things to discover.

Visit our Studio T blog tomorrow to learn about the family’s animal encounters in Central America.


February 22, 2012

Exploring Mayan Ruins and Temples

Our third Foreign Correspondent has returned from her travels! Mary, her husband, and her two children traveled to Mexico this winter. 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 the first part of their adventure. To learn more about her family’s adventures, check out her The World is a Book blog.

Mexico is expecting a record number of tourists in 2012. This is due to the myth of the December 21 apocalypse prophecy based on an ancient Maya calendar.  While we’re not one of the doomsday tourists, our family did visit Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and the Maya ruins on a recent trip.


Family Trip to Mexico

We chose the Kohunlich (pronounced KOE•HOON•LEECH) archaeological zone to explore.  It was located near the town of Chetumal, about five hours from Cancun and two hours from Costa Maya.

To get there, we took a long tour bus ride that went through many small towns.  Our guide pointed out schools and churches along the way.  We also saw kids selling items on the streets.  It was a good eye opener for our kids, at ages 6 and 9, to see how kids their age lived in this part of the world even if it was only a glimpse.

When we finally arrived, Kohunlich felt mystical and offered some of the region’s best preserved ruins. It was completely surrounded by a lush, tropical jungle where it was eerily quiet at times.  It was remote enough that it wasn’t swarming with tourists.  Its name was adapted from the name “Cohoon Ridge” after the abundance of Cohoon palms throughout the area.

Trip to Mexico with Kids

The ancient city was full of fascinating religious and residential structures to explore – a sunken palace, an acropolis, a ball court, courtyards, temples and expansive plazas.  Archaeologists believed this used to be a regional trading center between 300 – 1200 AD.

Family Trip to Mexico

Kohunlich was elaborately planned with stuccoed buildings mostly painted in red.  It was amazing to see how large they were and the effort it took to build them during their time.  Even with trees and plants enveloping crevices of the structures, we could still envision the grandeur.

We also did an interesting exercise with our guide.  He asked us to close our eyes and imagine being transported back to when this ancient city was thriving with life and visualize their daily routines.  He then played instruments that imitated bird and animal sounds of the jungle.  It provided a different perspective to experience the ruins.

While these ruins involved a lot of walking, the plaza was perfect for kids to run around in!

Family Trip To Mexico

Visit our Studio T blog tomorrow to hear about the family’s adventures in the Temple of Masks.


December 13, 2011

Ways to Introduce your Kids to French Culture

We’re excited to have Julia Pimsleur Levine, founder of Little Pim as our guest blogger today. Little Pim is the ultimate language learning gift for babies, toddlers and preschoolers – to learn more, visit What is Little Pim.

As the creator of the Little Pim foreign language teaching series for kids, people often ask me if my own sons, 3 and 7, speak French. They do speak passable French, but what is more important to me than the number of words they know is that they have fallen in love, as I did, with the French culture, sights, smells and tastes. Learning conjugations can come later.

Below are some of the ways we introduced our boys to French culture, language, and of course, le chocolat, on a recent trip to Antibes, France. Take a little voyage right here avec nous! (with us)

When kids want ice cream is a great time to get them to use their foreign language words… Even the most reluctant young student of French, Spanish or Italian suddenly finds courage in the face of ice cream. “Une glace au chocolat, s’il vous plaît” rolled right off my children’s tongue when we got to France! By the end of our two weeks there, they could say all the flavors and colors, a yummy and lasting learning experience!


We also got to attend a traditional French marionette show, where we saw carefully crafted paper maché puppets made in the same way they have been made for the last 100+ years in France …. And probably told the same jokes they have told for the last 100 years too. My three year old laughed himself silly and my seven year old scowled and could only be persuaded to sit through it on the promise of mousse au chocolat after dinner.  C’est la vie!

No trip to France would be complete without a ride on one of their ornate and spectacular Carrousels. These are nothing like the US mall version and are a great place to teach kids words like avion (plane), cheval (horse) and unicorne (an easy one!).

Ever since the trip, both boys greet me in the morning with a half-joking “Bonjour maman!” in unison, and thank me for their Cheerios with “Merci maman!”. And they don’t even realize that with all the amazing things they experienced this trip, the best is yet to come!

What language would you like your child to learn? Answer below for a chance to win a Little Pim Gift set in the language of your choice.

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Congrats to Lisa Pelanne who will be receiving a Little Pim Gift set in the language of her choice!  Thank you to everyone who participated.  Please follow our Studio T blog  for more travel stories, contests, and our Behind the Design inspirations.  To learn more about Little Pim, visit their website at: http://www.littlepim.com/

September 20, 2011

Eva’s Journey to Australia

Every year Tea employees receive a dividend from Tea to use towards international travel. On Studio T we’ll be sharing travel stories of our employees as they travel around the world. This post is by Eva, who traveled to Australia with her family.

You can’t miss the marsupials, birds, reptiles, insects, and aboriginal art when you go to Australia. The country’s ecosystem supports a wide variety of wildlife, and Eva committed herself to photographing as many animals as she could on her vacation. Most of these photos were taken at the Wild Life Park on the Gold Coast, which is located on the Eastern side of the continent.

I need to sleep, please be quiet!

Guess how many colors are on me?

It's too high for me to jump!

I can eat tons of fish.

Wake up. Uncle crocodile is here.

Eva's son Simon, wrapped up in a very real-looking snake!

We love sharing our travel stories with you. Learn more about our journeys by reading about Ana and Nuala’s recent vacations. Interested in sharing your travel stories with us? Learn about becoming a Foreign Correspondent.

 

September 16, 2011

Foreign Correspondents: Traveling with Children

Our second  Foreign Correspondent has returned from her travels! Stacy, her husband, and her two children traveled to Istanbul and Jerusalem 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 the final part 5 of their adventure.

The best part of our trip is being reunited with our family and friends.  Of course, my husband was born and raised in Jerusalem, so his ties run deep.  And I worked in Gaza and the West Bank and lived Ramallah for several years, so it’s a bit of a coming home for me too.

When we visit now, because they are older, our kids can play with their new cousins (more and more every year) and our friends’ kids.  It’s fun to watch their friendships deepen each year.  It’s also a great opportunity for them to work on their Arabic.

There is so much joy as we travel and spend time with our family.  But there are difficulties.  I would be remiss to not mention them too.  One of the more difficult aspects of our trip is now that our son is seven, he is aware of the situation around us.  He can’t help but notice the deteriorating political conditions and occupation surrounding him.  It’s difficult to explain to him why we are pulled to the side at the airport for exhaustive questioning, why soldiers took his cousins – the bride and groom in full wedding attire – to a police station on the way to their own wedding, why there is a 25 foot high wall separating long standing Palestinian neighborhoods in half and long detours to get to a checkpoint to wait in line to be allowed to cross through.  And then he asks why we can cross through the wall but so many of our friends and family cannot (we can because of our US passports but some of our friends and family cannot because they hold West Bank IDs which does not allow crossing from one side of the wall to the other).  It’s difficult for an adult to comprehend this, but it is impossible for the children.

Police holdup on the way to the wedding.

One evening, we were driving, and we heard the adhan, or Muslim call to prayer, over a loudspeaker.  It’s beautiful and haunting at the same time.  Our son asked about it, and I explained that many people say a prayer when they hear this call each day.  He asked what they pray for.  I sat kind of bewildered, trying to think of something to say and, before I had a chance, he answered his own question, “Maybe they’re praying for freedom and justice and friendship.”  I think he’s exactly right.

It’s interesting and sad (and inevitable) to see the time your child first becomes aware that not everyone lives a carefree life.  This is true for many, many people wherever you live, of course.  But for him to not just see but to also feel such glaring disparity and question it at such a young age makes me sad for him because a piece of his innocence is lost, but proud too because he is an aware and sensitive and thinking person.

Our hope for tomorrow is a more just and livable life for the entire region.  It will take leadership and bold steps and pragmatism which has been sorely lacking for decades.   In the meantime, we will savor our lasting memories of the good times had, the love of our family, and the eager anticipation of next summer’s adventures.

Our Foreign Correspondent program is ongoing. If you’re interested in sharing your family’s international adventures with us you can find out more here.