When we think of travel, it often elicits visions of far off places and exotic locales. For many families, that imagery makes the idea of travel seem daunting and unattainable. But travel doesn’t have to be far off and exotic. In fact, for families, travel can be as simple as a drive to a place just outside your city. Local adventures are a great way to encourage the spirit of travel among your family.
I recently chatted with blogger, Prasti Purdum (who also happens to be my sister) from the blog, Here to There about travel with kids. For families who are intimidated by how to incorporate travel into their lives, Prasti is a great role model and inspiration. She and her husband have five kids. But that doesn’t stop them from exploring as much of the Pacific Northwest as they can. They love taking local adventures. Here are some highlights of our chat.
We did a lot of traveling when we were growing up, mostly through Southeast Asia. But we also traveled through Europe and Canada and around the US. Now that you’re a grown-up, what is your philosophy towards travel?
That’s a tough question. We like to travel, whether it’s exploring locally or outside of where we live. I think for us as a family, especially as the years have gone by, travel is really part of what we do as a family together.
It’s an opportunity to learn together as a family, whether it’s finding cool things to do around town or somewhere else. It doesn’t always necessarily mean going outside of the country for us. We can feel like we’re traveling, but not have to be on a plane all the time. We can still find that sense of hyper local adventure close to home.
You have five kids in your family, and four of them are under ten years old. What kinds of things do you do to try and instill that sense or spirit of local adventures into your kids?
During our weekends, especially as a family together, we make it a point to go out and do something. We’re not home on the weekends, usually, we’re out. I think just making a point to go out and try something is important. It can be going to the library, or participating in a local event of festival.
I think that’s what helps our kids have that sense of wanting to explore and wanting to see new things. A lot of times now, they have the expectation of, “oh, where are we going this weekend?” because that’s pretty much what we do. It’s not for everybody, but we like it. You get to know your community better. And you get to know the place where you live, and also get to meet new people.
You do homeschooling with your kids. Do you do things with them that expose them to the world outside of the US, or even just outside of Seattle?
We’ll do local field trips. A lot of times we’ll do nature walks during the week. Aside from that, in terms of exposing them to places outside of the states, we like to watch a program called Travel with Kids. It’s so fun to watch. It’s a family of four, and they go and travel all over the world and have a show about it. The kids love being able to watch that and see all these different places.
Because we can’t literally go to those places, we’ll watch something. Or, we’ll go to museums where they’ll have exhibits from other countries. So that’s something they can be exposed to without having to travel to that location.
Also, cultural festivals are really good to go to. The kids can get immersed in whatever culture they’re participating in without having to get on a plane. So you get a little taste of what it would be like if you were in that actual country. The Japanese Festival was really cool to go to. The next one we’re going to try and go to is the Polish Festival in July.
When you travel with your kids, or even when you go around town and explore someplace, what are some of the challenges that you come across in just trying to go somewhere with the kids?
The biggest thing is really knowing your kids and knowing when they’re pretty much done with being out. Sometimes you can stretch it a little bit. I guess that’s the challenge because you do have to work within that timeline. And when you do push it, you’re kind of walking this fine line of, “okay, who’s going to have a meltdown right now?” So that’s hard.
But if you know what your kids’ limits are, then we can go somewhere. And they’ll fall asleep in the car, and everyone’s happy. Other than that, I don’t think we really have too much of a hard time when we’re out.
So, on the flip side of that, what are some of the best things that you’ve found, in terms of travel with your kids?
I think it would be just having that family time together. That’s our time to reconnect, even though it may not seem like it is. When we go out and do something, everyone feels excited about being able to do it together. Also, we get to try new things together and learn together. I like that a lot, being able to learn together as a family.
Has your experiences with travel as a kid influenced how you are now as a parent?
Yes, I think so. We traveled quite a bit as kids. Ideally, once we are debt free, that’s one of our big goals. We really want to start to work on a travel budget. That way we can actually start working towards going to another country, and experiencing what it’s like there.
Ideally, that is something that we’d like to do as a whole family. But it takes money, though, so we need to start small. I totally think that my travel experience, and also having lived in another country, definitely shaped how I am now as a parent. And it also shapes what I want my kids to experience.
We may not always be able to travel outside of the country as often as we did as kids, but we’re definitely going to make it a point to try and do that as much as we can. That’s our goal.
You talked a lot about doing local adventures in your city and the surrounding areas. What are some of your favorite places that you guys have visited so far?
Here in Seattle, the Olympic Sculpture Park has been one of our favorite places for local adventures. For a family of our size, we try and look for things that are budget friendly. The Olympic Sculpture Park is free. But aside from that, we really like the sculpture park because we’re exposing our kids to art. And since it’s outside, we’re giving them the opportunity to run around if they want to and not have to be quiet and still. So it kind of allows them to have a lot of freedom to explore.
For touristy type of stuff, I would say the aquarium is one that we really like. We always learn a lot when we go there. Hiking trails are always a favorite of ours. We like going to Snoqualmie Falls, and also Mount Rainier. Also, the lighthouse on Vashon is awesome. It’s so magical and quiet and peaceful. The kids could stay there all the time and they could be happy. Nature is keeping them entertained, and it’s so awesome.
What is your biggest advice for other families when it comes to being a tourist in their own town and having local adventures?
Don’t be afraid to try something that you think might not be a good fit to bring kids along. For example, for the Japanese Cultural Festival, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to be like for the kids. It could be crowded, we have to take all the kids, and someone might get lost. There are all these “what ifs.”
But you’re not going to know until you try it out once. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, and that’s okay. Just be flexible about it. And also know that it’s okay if it doesn’t end up being a good fit for your family. In this example, it worked out really well. The kids had a good time. And we were able to experience all the different booths without feeling like there was a lot of people around.
And then on the flip side, when we went to the Pierogi festival. There was a huge crowd, and we didn’t even get any pierogies because the line went all the way around the block. It was insane. But if we didn’t go, then we wouldn’t have known. It’s just about being flexible about the outcome of where you decide to go to, especially if it’s something new. But you don’t know unless you really try.
Giving local adventures a chance
Family travel can often times be a challenge, but families like Prasti’s show that there are ways to make it work. She and her family take local adventures to get to know her city inside and out.
Obviously, travel runs in our blood. As moms, we both find ways to share our love of travel with our kids. For Prasti, as it is for me, instilling the spirit of travel into our family activities is one of the most valuable gifts we can pass on to our kids.
Do you like to take local adventures with your kids? Share your favorite local adventures in the comments.
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