Most of us know that travel and tourism are two different animals. Travelers; those who travel go forth into the world not just to see it, but to feel and experience it. Tourists, on the other hand, tend to stick to the beaten path. They may want to experience their destinations, but not necessarily in a profound way. There’s little depth to the beaten track, and there’s little in the way of transformational contact with the cultures being encountered.
Were that not the case, the world would undoubtedly be a much better place. It would be filled with people who feel connected to other cultures and sympathetic to the differences that make us fascinating humans, living on a small planet.
Alas, there are too many tourists and not enough travelers. But if you’re a thoughtful person and you have children, part of your mission as a parent is to change that reality. When you teach children to be travelers, not just tourists, what you’re really doing is creating a better world, in which understanding is the norm, not the exception.
Getting off the tourist track.
To travel mindfully, getting off the tourist track is your first order of business. That means avoiding anything even remotely redolent of package tours and all-inclusive resorts. To be a traveler and not a tourist, you need to know about where you’re going beyond the usual guidebooks.
Sit down and do your homework, starting with where you plan to stay. Finding the right place to stay depends on what you’re hoping to teach children while you’re traveling. Do you want them to see the great museums at your destination, or encounter unique cultural realities? Are you looking for an immersive experience that includes encountering the food and music of your destination?
Seek out areas which offer the kind of experiences you want your children to have while you’re traveling. That’s not necessarily the most central area, but it’s certainly one which offers access. That access is an experience itself, as public transit can be the source of memorable encounters – encounters that change a child’s life and perspectives.
Speaking the language.
Even if you’re traveling within the USA, this country is home to many distinct cultural settings which you’ll want to explore. If you’re going to New Orleans, for example, you’ll want to know what “lagniappe” (something extra) means.
But speaking the language goes beyond differences in the way people speak. It extends to customs and manners. What’s acceptable at home may not be acceptable where you’re going. Manners and unwritten behavioral rules exist everywhere. Try to find out what those are at your destination before you go. Instead of culture shock, you’ll experience cultural contact.
Junior Tours has been teaching children to be travelers, not just tourists since 1967. Junior Tours was founded by a teacher whose greatest desire was to do just that. Ever since, we’ve been offering children unique educational tours that help them understand the world around them by learning from it.
Contact us to find out more.