Category: Travel Tips

Should You Send Your Child on a Foreign Exchange Program?

Should You Send Your Child on a Foreign Exchange Program?

During my oldest son’s last year of middle school, we started planning on which high school he wanted to attend. He didn’t go to private school, but there were several academies available (11 in total). Learning new languages and studying different cultures in the world was something that he was passionate about. With that being said, he decided on the Global Studies and World Languages Academy, and was accepted into their program.

A week before he began his Freshman year of high school there was an information session on the academy’s expectations. At the end of the session, a current senior got up and spoke about his experience with the school, and how he participated in a foreign exchange program. At that moment, I remember internally freaking. I was thinking that there was absolutely no way that I was going to send my almost 15-year-old off to another country to live temporarily with a family that I didn’t know. It just wasn’t going to happen.

A few months later our son came home from school explaining to his father and I that there were scholarships available for a summer exchange program in Japan. He was taking Japanese in school, and a coordinator from Youth For Understanding came in to talk to them about it. We wanted our children to experience the world, so I didn’t want to hold him back. We told him to go ahead and complete the application process, and I did some research to ease my mind.

I believe it was around April when I found a packet in the mail addressed to my son from Youth For Understanding. I was so nervous (but in a good way) about whether or not he earned the scholarship. I couldn’t wait to pick him up from school to hand him the envelope. It was the news he had been waiting for, he got accepted and was going to stay with a family in Japan for 6 weeks! My husband and I were so proud and excited for him!

I wanted to write this post to help ease other parent’s minds about giving their child an experience of a lifetime. Here are the reasons that I recommend allowing your child to study abroad for either a summer or year:

Learn Cultural Differences

They get to experience the values, beliefs, and lifestyle of a family from another culture. It gives them an open mind to learn that “their way” isn’t the “only way” in life, and that it doesn’t make it wrong or right. Their experience allows them to educate their peers on the acceptance of cultural differences.

Experience New Foods

They get to experience all of the different foods from another country. Being from America, our son couldn’t get over how small the serving sizes were in Japan, or I suppose how big the serving sizes are in our country. He absolutely loved the cuisine in Japan and missed a lot of it when he returned home.

Develop Independence

It gives them a chance to be independent. I want to address that while I was nervous about sending my child to stay with people I didn’t know, it had nothing to do with him exploring another country. His father and I were more nervous about him losing his check card, passport, or other important documents. He was barely 15 when he left for his exchange program. Guess what? He didn’t lose a thing and he came back a more independent young man because of his experience.

Establish New Relationships

They get to meet amazing people that embrace them as part of the family. We are extremely grateful that our son’s host family wanted to share all that they could with him during his 6-week visit. Not just about their family, but about the beauty of their country as well. The sole purpose of an exchange program is to be a part of a family to learn about and understand their culture. Host families are not required (or supposed) to treat your child like they are on vacation. We truly appreciated all that his host family did for him out of the kindness of their heart.

The relationship that they develop with their host family can last throughout their life. Several years after our son graduated from high school, his host family contacted him and wanted him to join them on a trip to New York. He was extremely excited, and enjoyed showing them around and helping them translate English.

Explore a New School

He also got the chance to attend school in Japan. By doing so he was able to learn about the different teaching styles compared to his home country. He also got to interact with many students close to his age.

A Once in a Life Time Experience

It’s a once in a lifetime experience. As adults we always have the opportunity to travel around the world; but not in a way where you get to be a part of a family, and truly embrace the culture with the people that live there.

Promotes Cultural Curiosity

It opens their eyes to wanting to explore more of the world. The year after he returned from Japan he applied for another scholarship with a different exchange program, and was awarded a 2-week trip to South Korea, which he visited during the summer of his Sophomore year of high school. During his Senior year of his undergrad studies, he completed a semester in Spain and also visited many places along the way (London, Morocco, Iceland). While my husband and I have not been to Japan, Korea, or Spain (and we are a little jealous), he has taught us a lot about his experiences. His influences even caused us to share our culture with others as well, and we have hosted students from Japan and Denmark.

Our Recommendation

Giving our son the opportunity to explore other cultures has been one of the best decisions that we have made. We don’t have any regrets whatsoever, and we highly recommend using Youth For Understanding to find a foreign exchange program that interests your child. If you are considering sending your child on a foreign exchange program and have any questions, please post them in the comments below.

Please follow and like us:
error
The Best Suitcase Organizer (Ever)

The Best Suitcase Organizer (Ever)

There are two types of individuals when it comes to laundry. The individual who washes, dries, places in basket and then leaves in basket. The other type MUST fold and put everything away immediately. I am an open-minded person, and feel there is no right or wrong way to go about it. I personally subscribe to folding everything straight out of the dryer, and putting all of my garments in their respective places.

With that being said, one thing that bothers me about traveling is having to dig through suitcases. It is alright if it is just a weekend, but any longer than that, I cringe at the idea of it. Everything in my house isn’t extremely configured (I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me), but there are a few things that are a necessity…suitcase organization is one of them.

Last year my husband introduced me to packing cubes. We bought a few and tried them out, and it was a game changer for traveling. It is like having drawers in your suitcase and makes it so easy to find what you are looking for. My favorite part about it is the fact that you can pull the cubes out of your suitcase and place them in drawers at your hotel or vacation rental home.

ebags Packing Cubes

This brand is by ebags and comes in an array of colors: aquamarine, black, blue dots, canary, eggplant, geometric, grasshopper, leopard, peony, and tangerine. These packing cubes are made of nylon and have breathable mesh on the top. Your purchase includes one small, medium, and large packing cube starting at $29.99 on Amazon. https://amzn.to/3012plQ

When our family went on our last vacation, we were away for almost two weeks. We didn’t have quite enough cubes, so we decided to try out a set by Amazon basics. These cubes are comparable as they are also made of nylon, and have breathable mesh as well. The Amazon Basics cubes come in a set of 4 in the following colors: black, blue, green, grey, sky blue, and red. You can find these cubes starting at $20.00 on Amazon. https://amzn.to/31qNKgx

My Opinion

Both brands hold up equally well. They are both made of the same materials, and the only difference is where the mesh is placed on the packing cube. Ebags offer more variety in colors, but Amazon packing cubes are more economical. I can honestly say that I don’t prefer one over the other, as both packing cube brands are equal in regards to quality. It all boils down to cost over option of colors.

Have you tried either brand of the packing cubes? Do you have a preference? What do you think of this method of suitcase organization? Let me know if you have in the comments.

Please follow and like us:
error
Adult Guide to Long Travel Days

Adult Guide to Long Travel Days

One of my favorite parts of vacation is traveling to the destination. I know that is the one detail that most people dislike, but hear me out. My husband frequently mentions that I need to take time for myself. It is something that I rarely do. I currently work 3 part-time jobs (my blog is included in that), instead of one full-time job because I love variety. I am extremely fortunate, as all of my jobs are able to be done from the comfort of my own home.

This sounds like a dream to many as they fantasize about working in their pajamas (that part can be true), running errands, doing laundry (ok, that can be true too), and even getting things done around the house. I have heard the opposite from people as well for fear of not being motivated to work. I have been working from home for quite some time now, so I am pretty good at staying on track with my tasks throughout the day. I would say that the main issue with working from home when you love your jobs is not knowing when to stop, hence where my self-care issue takes place.

Travel days are considered forced me-time in my eyes. I fill my backpack with fun activities, and the time just flies by. Listed below are my recent go to items that I truly enjoy:

VRBO

I absolutely love this bag by ebags. It can store your laptop as well as anything else you need to bring along on your trip. I love the back as it can slide over the handle on your luggage so that you don’t have to carry it around. It is available on Amazon for $99. https://amzn.to/319C6qg

If you love to do paint-by-numbers, you will love this sticker-by-number activity book. You won’t believe how many times I have been questioned at the airport on where I purchased my book. I usually end up spreading the love and pulling a page out to help someone with their boredom. Silvio Rebelo has created so many themes to choose from. I purchased mine from Amazon for $8.79 https://amzn.to/2A1F8AL

I also enjoy old school coloring. You’re never too old to color. It’s such a great way to relieve stress. My go to book at the moment is Fantastic Cities by Steve McDonald. $13.67 on Amazon https://amzn.to/2HZlI41. I also recommend the Artist premium watercolor pencils https://amzn.to/2HVXfwk

Despite my need for more self care, I do enjoy reading self help books. At the moment I am really enjoying reading books by Brené Brown. Brené discusses topics on vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. I feel that she relates to many of us, and I truly love her work. $12.89 on Amazon https://amzn.to/31adYnt

Last but not least, I always bring my laptop with me everywhere I go. I absolutely love this little 13-inch pink MacBook Air $899.99 https://amzn.to/2AeFiFn It is definitely not a necessity for a trip, but I like to bring it to upload my pictures, and even work on my blog.

Now that I have shared with you what I like to bring in my bag for activities on the road, share with me some things that you like to do. Also, don’t forget that self-care is important and should be practiced regularly, not just when on vacation.

“Self-Care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”

-Katie Reed

Please follow and like us:
error
Hey! Want to go Camping?

Hey! Want to go Camping?

I was going to wait a while before I wrote this article, but it’s too good to keep to myself (I’ll get to that in a bit). I also feel that it is the perfect time of the year to write about camping. Summer is coming to an end, but there is still time to take advantage of the warmth by swimming in lakes, kayaking, fishing, or anything else that screams summer fun. I also think this is a good time to talk about camping as fall is approaching. It’s the perfect weather to snuggle up in a sleeping bag at night, but still enjoy the comfortable temperatures.

My family went camping many years ago when our sons were young and in the Boy Scouts.  We always enjoyed it and often talked about going in the future. We even kept all of our camping gear. Fast forward to about seven years ago. The spring season came around and either me or my husband would say, “hey, want to go camping”? This has happened every single year since then. The only thing added to the statement is, “but let’s actually go this time”. Guess what? We still haven’t been camping. Funny, right!

I recently learned about some new options of camping. I’m almost certain that they aren’t new ideas, but they are to me. The term is actually called glamping. According to dictionary.com, glamping is the activity of camping with some of the comforts and luxuries of home. While I am still interested in traditional camping in a tent, I wouldn’t mind trying out one of these options as well.

Mini RVs

Imagine riding in a mini-van that is equipped with bedding, a table, and a hatch that opens up to a mini cooking kitchen. Jucy RV Rentals offers just that. They offer several different styles of mini RVs to accommodate your family size.

Hit The Road in Your Dream RV

Jucy RV Rentals have locations in the United States in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Visit their website for additional information on their RVs.  

Pictured above: The Jucy Camp from Jucy USA https://www.jucyusa.com/

Tipi

How about a Tipi stay in Missouri? This rental is so beautiful that I really want to stay there. It is nestled in the woods, and the Airbnb listing states that it is accessible year-round, it’s fully equipped, and offers a hot shower in a temperature controlled bath house. You really have to see this one!

Pictured above: MAGIC Tipi Retreat on VRBO
http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/9156570/type/dlg/https://www.vrbo.com/4841111ha?arrival=2020-06-11&departure=2020-06-14&childrenCount=2&adultsCount=2

Tree House

This particular treehouse has been on my radar for quite some time, as it is only 2 hours away from me. It is located in Richmond, Virginia and is as cute as can be! You can go back to your childhood staying in this house. The owners offer a private bathroom as well as an indoor option to sleep if the weather gets too hot & humid.

Pictured above: Trailside Treehouse in RVA – Glamp with private bath on Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20724950?source_impression_id=p3_1566331847_h2nEUBk1FkXKaL5s

Tent on Top of Truck/Jeep

If you have a pick-up truck or even a hard-top jeep, this might be an option you’d like to consider. It is basically a tent that sits on top of the vehicle. It comes with a ladder so that you can get up to your sleeping space. These roof top tents are available for rent at Off The Grid.

Pictured above: High Country 3-5 Person Tent by Rent off the Grid
https://www.rentoffthegrid.com/rooftop-tents/

Yurt

Yurts give a great amount of space with lots of coverage from the outside elements. I found this gorgeous yurt located in the Smoky Mountains. It even has a fully updated kitchen. You truly have to see it to believe it!

Panoramic Creek Front Luxury Yurt on VRBO
http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/9156570/type/dlg/https://www.vrbo.com/1069013?arrival=2020-06-11&departure=2020-06-14&childrenCount=2&adultsCount=2

Let me know if you have ever been glamping before and which option you liked best! Getaway Simply offers specialized trip itineraries to make your vacation stress-free. Email me today at getawaysimply@gmail.com for more information.

Please follow and like us:
error
What to Pack on a Cruise

What to Pack on a Cruise

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

One of our favorite ways to vacation is by cruise. We thought that life would slow down once our boys grew up, but it seems quite the opposite. We are a non-stop household. Going on a cruise literally forces you to do nothing but relax. There is no worrying about what you are going to cook or where you’re going to go out to eat for dinner. You don’t need to figure out where to go for entertainment and you can be disconnected from the online world for the extent of your cruise. Although you have options to purchase an internet connection, the majority of our family opts out. I am the one that usually purchases the social media package, so that I can still be in contact with family and the dog boarder in case of an emergency. I know I can’t do anything while I am out at sea, but it just keeps my mind at ease.

Packing for a cruise can be confusing if you have never been on one. You may have questions on what is acceptable to wear to dinner or what the temperature is like inside of the ship. Even though I have been on about 7 cruises (all with Carnival Cruise lines), I recently found myself Googling what to wear on our last cruise to Alaska. We have always cruised to warm destinations, so I was at a complete loss. Our trip was in May so there was a lot of searching on weather averages, as well as checking the weather a few days before our trip. I have created this list to help you to be stress-free while getting ready for a relaxing time on your cruise.

Posted below is a helpful list to use for both warm and cold destination cruises.

The following dress codes are from Carnival Cruise Lines:

Notes: Dress casually during the day to include sneakers and flip flops.

 For dining room attire, the cruise casual dining dress code is as follows:

Gentlemen – Sports slacks, khakis, jeans (no cut-offs), dress shorts (long), collared sports shirts.

Ladies – Casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses; Capri pants, dress shorts, jeans (no cut-offs).

There will always be a cruise elegant night on your cruise. If you are on a 6-day cruise or longer, there will be two cruise elegant nights in the dining room. The buffet is open for those that do not want to partake in elegant night.

For dining room attire, the cruise elegant dress code is as follows:

Gentlemen – Dress slacks, dress shirts. We also suggest a sport coat. If you wish to wear suits and ties or tuxedos, by all means we invite you to do so.

Ladies – Cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses; if you’d like to show off your evening gowns, that’s great too!

Note: Not permitted in the dining room during cruise elegant dinner for ladies and gentlemen: shorts, gym shorts, t-shirts, beach flip flops, bathing suit attire, jeans, cut-off jeans, sleeveless shirts for men, sportswear, and baseball hats.

PARK 'N Fly - Airport Parking Reservations

Warm Weather Cruise

Clothing

  • Shorts/capris
  • Shirts
  • 1-2 pair jeans for dining room and/or evening shows (it can be a bit chilly at night in the lounge while watching shows)
  • Undergarments (underwear, undershirts, bra, socks)
  • Bathing suits (no towels, they are provided on the ship)
  • Sleep wear
  • Workout wear if you want to exercise. They have an excellent gym, as well as a jogging/walking track on the top of the ship
  • Elegant night attire if interested
  • Shoes (sneakers, sandals, flip flops, dress shoes for elegant night)
  • Sweater/light jacket for inside the ship

Additional Items

Many of these items are available on the ship, but the cost is much higher.

  • PASSPORT
  • Backpack for walking around port/excursions https://amzn.to/34svtRZ
  • Surge protector power strip. There aren’t enough outlets in the room for everyone’s electronics. https://amzn.to/2MVMVZv
  • Card games/small board games for sea days (They do have a few scheduled activities during sea days, but nothing beats a good table game.
  • Clips to attach towels to beach chair https://amzn.to/2ZL0twS
  • Sun screen https://amzn.to/2PRhKAK
  • Aloe https://amzn.to/2HLoV7h
  • Lanyard for your room card (Carnival themed lanyards are available on the ship) https://amzn.to/2PPSJpK
  • If you don’t think you will get enough value out of the bottomless bubbles card (soda card), you are allowed to bring a maximum of 12 sealed cans or cartons of other non-alcoholic beverages such as soda, juice or milk (per person). Bottled water is not allowed. Juice, water & tea are available for free on the ships.
  • On the day the cruise embarks, you are allowed to bring on board one standard 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne per person.
  • If you enjoy flavored water drop-ins such as Crystal light, you can bring those on board.
  • This past cruise we learned that we can bring sealed snacks on board as well. We brought our protein bars and beef jerky that we purchased while in the Seattle, Washington Port.
  • Small pop up hamper. We always travel with one. It makes it so much easier to keep dirty clothes out of the way. https://amzn.to/34nXFFD
  • Door decorations if you are celebrating an event. Most doors are metal. Carnival Cruise Lines requires fire retardant decorations.

Cold Weather Cruise

My family cruised to Alaska in May 2019. The temps were in the 50’s the entire time. We recommend dressing in layers, as you will frequently be going in and out of the ship. It’s easier to remove layers instead of sweating in heavy winter clothes. We didn’t bring a heavy coat, just a medium weight and a light weight jacket.

Clothing

  • Shirts (short sleeves and long sleeves)
  • Jeans
  • Thermal pants to wear under jeans
  • Undergarments (underwear, undershirts, bra, socks)
  • Bathing suits (no towels, they are provided on the ship) The pool on the Carnival legend was heated, but very few people were in it. They do however have a hot tub inside the gym and on the decks.
  • Sleep wear
  • Workout wear if you want to exercise. They have an excellent gym, as well as a jogging/walking track on the top of the ship (weather permitting, it may be cold).
  • Elegant night attire if interested
  • Shoes (sneakers, casual dress shoes for dinner, dress shoes for elegant night, some people wore boots)
  • Sweater for inside the ship
  • Gloves & hat (We didn’t bring these, but some travelers may prefer to bring them)

Additional Items

  • PASSPORT
  • Backpack for walking around port/excursions https://amzn.to/34svtRZ
  • Surge protector power strip. There aren’t enough outlets in the room for everyone’s electronics. https://amzn.to/2MVMVZv
  • Binoculars if you are going to Alaska (Great for whale watching, spotting seals, eagles, and bears on land) https://amzn.to/31biWQZ
  • Card games/small board games for sea days (They do have a few scheduled activities during sea days, but nothing beats a good table game.
  • Sun screen (You can still get sun burn in the cold climate) https://amzn.to/2PRhKAK
  • Lanyard for your room card (Carnival themed lanyards are available on the ship) https://amzn.to/2PPSJpK
  • If you don’t think you will get enough value out of the bottomless bubbles card (soda card), you are allowed to bring a maximum of 12 sealed cans or cartons of other non-alcoholic beverages such as soda, juice or milk (per person). Bottled water is not allowed. Juice, water & tea are available for free on the ships.
  • On the day the cruise embarks, you are allowed to bring on board one standard 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne per person.
  • If you enjoy flavored water drop-ins such as Crystal light, you can bring those on board.
  • This past cruise we learned that we can bring sealed snacks on board as well. We brought our protein bars and beef jerky that we purchased while in the Seattle, Washington Port.
  • Small pop up hamper. We always travel with one. It makes it so much easier to keep dirty clothes out of the way. https://amzn.to/34nXFFD
  • Door decorations if you are celebrating an event. Most doors are metal. Carnival Cruise Lines requires fire retardant decorations.

I hope that my list helps you pack for your upcoming cruise. Remember that this is my experience with Carnival Cruise Lines, as I haven’t cruised yet with other lines (but plan to try them out in the future). I will soon create an article on the ins and outs of cruising. What kind of questions do you have about vacationing on a cruise ship?

Please follow and like us:
error