Monday, March 4, 2013

Project with a purpose


As y'all know we are taking a big trip at the end of the year.

A trip that grows bigger and slightly more terrifying with every dark midnight hour I spend worrying about all the details.

And bigger still the more times we get turned down for accommodation because at that time of the year (high summer vacation) most self-catering places have 5 or more night minimums.

We don't have time to spend 5 nights anywhere.

I could book a hotel, of course, but for my family a hotel is truly our last choice.  4 of us in one hotel room is tight.  For one night or two but not for 4 weeks.  Also I don't think it is appropriate for our kids to share a bed at their age.  So this makes me a picky traveller?  I know there will be times on this trip I have to compromise but when one is spending close to $20,000 for a month of our lives a top priority is that the trip is memorable for the right reasons and not for miserable sleeps and cramped places.

So I am constantly looking and also realising that moving 4 adults across the world and back is a big job. There is much to consider (like technology needs for close to 40 hours on planes, car rental, suitcases, seasonal clothing, immunisations etc).

And while organising is my thing I do not really want to lead a tour group....I want to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience with my family.

I have been considering ways to get them engaged in the whole trip.

I decided that what we needed was some visuals.  So on Saturday when I had a rare 3 hours to myself I went out and assembled the supplies to make two trip boards.



I used canvases so we can pin things onto them.

I also spent some time at a map store and got a couple of maps.  I printed out calendars so we can all see the actual days we have in each place.

Our trip is roughly half in the Cape and half in Kwazulu Natal with family (over Christmas). And then a few days in Frankfurt on the way home.

I created TO DO lists so we can all see what needs to be done and also left spaces for everyone to fill in their wishes and choices about things to do and places to see (after they do their own reading and research)

As soon as the map was up the kids spent ages and ages looking at all the places and asking all sorts of questions which led to numerous interesting discussions.  Its so fascinating to hear them talk about a place that is so much part of my DNA, to hear their questions and preconceptions.  They pulled up some websites last night and compared the size and population of South Africa to that of British Columbia and Canada..... they quizzed Allan and I on capital cities and official languages (so much has changed in the 20 years since we left!) and we had a few good laughs over the pronunciation of places and the kids are picking up some basic Afrikaans along the way.  My desired outcome was well underway and the boards are not even up yet!


I thought about putting it all on the upstairs hallway walls but in the end I decided to colonise the dining room wall.

The conversations will ebb and flow over the months, the lists will get checked off, the dinner table will be a place to talk about excitement or worries or questions and make plans.

I was second guessing myself a bit about how far ahead I am doing this, whether teenagers will stay engaged.....so I did some research and found this tidbit of advice on the Lonely Planet website
that validated my own thinking (funny how the interweb can deliver up just what we want to hear sometimes)

1. Go team!
‘The family who plays together stays together.’ Simple, yet powerful, wisdom. Get your teens involved in all aspects of the holiday from the very onset. Discuss destination choices, itineraries and activities. Reading guidebooks and online travel sources will not only stir up pre-trip excitement but also stimulate young minds. Encourage your children to ask questions and make sure you listen keenly to what they have to say. Keep their sense of ownership of the travel experience alive by continuing to assign tasks while on the road, whether it’s navigating, reading maps, updating a travel journal or being appointed 
chief photographer.

So my "project with a purpose" has started well....... now we need a few key pieces to fall into place and then we can get onto the fun stuff!

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