Heed Warning About Troubled Areas and Travel More Sustainably if Possible
By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency
Have you made, or at least drafted, your New Year’s resolutions yet?
I don’t mean the usual ones — to lose 10 pounds; drink less, spend less time scrolling on your phone, snapping at the kids, etc. I’m talking about ones you might actually keep, especially in these turbulent times.
First, of course, we all hope for peace — or at least a ceasefire in the Middle East and for hostilities to end in Ukraine.
Many of us will resolve to resume travel overseas once it is safe to do so. The U.S. State Department recently issued a “ worldwide caution” for Americans traveling overseas. It’s not only traveling to or near a war zone, but the State Department also warned, it’s being caught in demonstrations and potential “violent actions” against Americans.
That said, where does your family most want to go overseas? After the pandemic, many took their bucket list trips. Perhaps, it’s time to start saving – and planning – that trip.
I also resolve to be more environmentally aware when I travel in 2024. I don’t mean just using a reusable water bottle, recycling, and taking public transportation, walking, or biking, though that all does matter, as does reminding hotel staff they don’t need to change towels and linens daily, and using reef-safe sunscreen in the ocean.
I mean, paying attention to what the destinations and modes of transport are doing to help the planet and doing our best to travel more sustainably. Check out what cruise lines are doing, too. For example, Three of Windstar’s small cruise ships were audaciously lengthened and re-powered to improve their environmental performance on the high seas, with less polluting propulsion and generator engines reducing fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent per nautical mile.
Each Princess Cruises ship has approximately $25 million in dedicated environmental equipment and technology on board. Princess has reduced 50 percent of single-use plastics and 30 percent in food waste over the past few years.
I also resolve to take more trips that make me get out of my comfort zone, as I did on a white water OARS raft trip last summer on the Salmon River in Idaho. Whether it’s navigating an unfamiliar city, not knowing the language, climbing a mountain (like when I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa with my older daughter), backpacking or conquering an expert slope on a ski mountain such adventures are certain to build confidence. You also meet the most interesting people who will inspire you to take a bigger step out of your travel comfort zone.
You may also see your family in a different light. When I climbed Kilimanjaro with my daughter, Reggie, she had just graduated from high school and I realized on that trip that she was an adult, albeit a young one, capable of leading me and others.
I know “slow travel” is a thing, but I resolve to slow down when traveling this coming year, not rushing around as much to try to see everything but appreciating what a place has to offer — the chance to meet locals at a farmers’ market, (I still think one of the best meals we had was a sausage on a baguette at a Normandy farmers’ market), a hike to a waterfall, people-watching in a new city over a cup of coffee, an out-of-the-way restaurant recommended by locals….
I recently wrote a column about how playgrounds can be as important for traveling families as visiting historic sites and museums. I resolve to spend more time in parks and neighborhoods when I travel. We don’t want to miss the important sites and experiences — the Louvre in Paris, the Tower of London, a ride on a San Francisco cable car, or a Broadway play – but there is something to be said for just soaking in the atmosphere. I resolve to cut our next itinerary in half.
I resolve not to plan trips or activities without input from the family. I learned a long time ago that my kids were happier travelers when they had a say in the itinerary. Now that they’re grown, I know if I want them to join us, we need to consider places and activities they are keen to experience.
At the same time, I resolve to plan trips that will include reconnecting with family and friends. Even if it’s only a day or two, such interactions are important, whether meeting the next generation for the first time or visiting an elderly aunt. I resolve not to be too busy.
We’ve all struggled with frustrating travel delays this past year. I resolve to keep my cool — no taking out my frustrations on an airline ticket agent or a hotel clerk when my reservation has been lost. Certainly, having travel insurance can help in such situations, but I resolve not to let the missteps ruin the experience. At the very least, the situation can make for a funny story — and a good example for the kids on how to behave when things go wrong.
Happy travels in 2024.
(For more Taking the Kids, visit www.takingthekids.com and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The fourth edition of The Kid’s Guide to New York City and the third edition of The Kid’s Guide to Washington D.C. are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)
©2023 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.