I’d Prepare Differently Next Time

I can fully understand why it takes people 12 months to put a family trip together.  We haven’t had that time and I am glad we have used a travel agent to help us put everything together but I’d do things differently next time.

I set out to do a lot of the planning ourselves.  Our idea was to get the kids to discover the areas and to see what they really wanted to see.  This proved to be generally overwhelming and the kids were really just excited to go.  To be honest, when I started searching on what to see, what to do, it was overwhelming to me too.  That is when the travel agent got involved!

Now, six months down the track I’ve read lots and it is only now that I feel I could put our trip together – and I would do things differently than the travel agent has planned – and I could excite the kids with the details.  But that has only come after six months of reading myself.  What I would need now, is another six months to involve the kids.  But we leave in just over two weeks!

This has been a lightbulb moment for me in terms of education.  If I want to motivate my kids to learn – I need to be motivated myself.  The best way to encourage them in a subject they are a bit uncertain about is to know the subject and be enthusiastic about it myself.  I know there are times when we learn with our kids (and I was banking on this being such a time) but there are also times when we have to have some direction.

I am glad we have left plenty of free time in our days where we have planned tour or activity and maybe in those moments we can discover some of the things that I have read about – and if not, that is okay, I’m sure our days will be wonderful and full.

Our Expectations

I recently flew across Australia giving me the opportunity to sit, waiting, in airport lounges.  You overhear a lot of comments when you just sit quietly.

The first comments I heard were from some older folk who were just passing through our home town.  As they waited for their journey to continue they sat in our new airport terminal remembering what it used to be like – a shed is how they remembered.  They remembered arriving and thinking “oh no, what do we have here?”  They were pleased to see that things had changed.

I couldn’t decide whether to be indignant at their attitude towards our past, or be proud that we are growing.

But it made me wonder at the expectations we have when we travel.  It reminded me of something Brian said in his blog post here, that if we aren’t prepared for things to be different why travel.  A good point.  If you aren’t prepared to find a shed in the Kimberley – why travel?  It’s not that sheds at airports are anything that great – it is the adventure of it.

The  real challenge to us is that if we can’t throw ourselves into the different-ness of what we see we will miss the adventure all together.

I’ve been thinking how we can encourage each other as a family to rejoice in the different-ness.  I remember as a teenager my folks went on the Pritiken diet.  Mum would try a new recipe and look for our feedback.  In trying to be kind and encouraging we would label the new dish “interesting” – meaning please don’t ever cook this again!!    I wonder if we can come up with a word that reminds us to rejoice in the differences instead of complain?   I’m thinking on it.

17 Do’s and Don’ts of Overseas Travel

A guest post by our friend, Hayley Wilson

To the Adventurous Letchford family,

 Some handy dos and don’ts when travelling overseas:

  1. Bring books – to read on those looooooooooong aeroplane flights and airport stopovers.
  2. Bring card games – and/or a pack of playing cards and learn how to play games like Canasta, 500, May I?, Scramble, etc. (also for the long airport stopovers/times you are waiting). Be sure to keep something handy for recording scores to. See who can get the highest score over the whole trip.
  3. Always drink bottled water (and make sure the seal isn’t broken before you buy it).
  4. Learn a few words of the languages you will encounter (i.e. “Hello,” “Thankyou,” etc). People really appreciate it, and it may even get you out of a sticky situation.
  5. When travelling in third world countries, take toilet paper and be prepared for the worst when using public toilets (Trust me – I know).
  6. Be aware of the basic manners of the country. For example, in Muslim countries it is often not appropriate for women to look men in the eyes. In Thailand it is the height of disrespect to point the sole of your foot at anybody.
  7. Eat lots of Turkish bread (or whatever other yummy cuisine you can find).
  8. Drink lots of Turkish apple tea.
  9. In Muslim countries, don’t wear clothes that show a lot of skin if you are a girl – they see it as immodest (aka. Short shorts & sleeveless or ‘strappy’ tops would probably be seen as inappropriate)
  10. Be prepared for absolutely anything!
  11. Don’t get the flu (it’s no fun to be sick when you are on holidays).
  12. Bring band-aids, pain-killers, safety pins, rubber bands, and a good, long bit of string (they really come in handy sometimes, you know).
  13. Be willing to try new things (but not stupid things!).
  14. Bring spare camera batteries that are charged up (something I often forget to do).
  15. Take lots of photos
  16. Write lots in your journals (and don’t give up after a week or so if the going gets hard).
  17. … And tell us all about it when you get home!

Have a great time!!!!!!

Your friend,

Hayley

Hi, I’m Hayley. I’m 18 years old and I love history, photography, sewing, music, and reading excellent books. I blog about my life, thoughts, and photos over at thinkybits.

Travel Photography

Taking photos of what we see is one of the things we are all looking forward to.  Our ultimate goal is to create a photo album each – each using our own photos and journal entries, making it a personal memory book.

Over the last few months we have tried to get familiar with our own camera and have had a few lessons to improve our photography skills.  I still expect lots of fairly ordinary photos, lots of same ol’ touristy photos but that isn’t the point – we aren’t going on a photographer’s tour – we are going on a family memory making trip.  We aren’t looking for perfect photos – just photos that help us recall our memories.  Though of course, we also hope for the occasional ‘wow’ photo.

One of the things we talked about with our ‘lessons’ has been that our photos can tell a story – they can tell the story of what we see or what we feel.  We can use more than one photo to tell a story, and we can use different angles and different techniques to capture that story we want to remember. Talking about telling stories with our photos has helped the kids do more than stand in front of an object and click.  There is a bigger purpose behind having a camera.

With a camera around your neck though, it is easy to make everything about the photo and miss the moment.  So we have also discussed that we take photos and then enjoy. There will be a time to put the camera down!

I have collated a prompt sheet so we can consider different things to snap as we walk through new experiences.  Some of these prompts include:

  • The things you see, smell, touch, hear or taste
  • Traditional crafts or clothing (be respectful of people)
  • Things that made you laugh
  • Food (and food prep if we see the prep side)
  • Buildings – whole buildings and the details
  • People watching, the crowds, the streets, people socialising, living life
  • Capture the old and the new, modern and history in the same shot
  • Fill the frame with your subject or don’t fill the frame with your subject
  • Skyline – be it in a city, or out in the countryside – lift your vision
  • Look at things from different perspectives, go high, go low
  • Find a theme for the day and click away – kind of like a treasure hunt (an icon, symbol, architectural detail, colour, reflections, animals etc…)

Other tips we need to remember

  • Be respectful of other people, whether those people are other tourists or people living their regular life
  • Check that photography (especially flash photography) is allowed
  • Always remember your stuff – your backpack, waterbottle, camera (we don’t want to lose things because people get carried away with taking that great shot!)
  • Take your photo and then enjoy the moment (as I’ve already said)

At other times and places I’ve blogged about one of our photo shoots here and here, and our lessons here.

Learning to Journal

copyright www.123rf.com

One of the things we want to do while we are away is for each person to keep their own journal.  To this end we have all chosen the type of notebook we want to have as our journal – nothing fancy – but everyone did have their own preference.

Everyone in our family enjoys writing in some way so the preparation for this aspect hasn’t been very hard though we have had a quick lesson on ‘journaling’.  Journaling is generally seen to be different than keeping a diary in that it not only records the happening of the day (such as a diary does) but it reflects thoughts and feelings as well, with the idea of learning and growing.

The challenge I’m putting out there to my family is to be more reflective in their journal than simply saying this is what we did and this is what I saw.  I would like them to think about things, to make connections with prior knowledge or beliefs, to be curious and ask questions.  I want them to be creative and respond to the world around them.

To help us all have some variety to our journaling I have made a prompt sheet that I will tape in the front of each journal.    Some of the prompts I’ve listed are

  • What did you see, smell, hear, touch and taste today?
  • What made you laugh?
  • Is there something that you wished you saw today?
  • What does God have to say about the things you saw today?
  • What made you think?
  • What character trait did you see exemplified today?

The key to keeping a good journal is to write every day.  We have no idea what travelling and sightseeing will be like for a family of six, for six weeks but we’ll give it a shot!

Passports – and they mean what?

One of the things that we had to do in preparation for our trip is get everyone a passport – Peter and Joshua were the only ones with current Australian passports.  This gave us a great opportunity to learn how to fill in forms, read instructions (and follow them), create a signature and to be content with ugly photographs of oneself!

But what does a passport mean?

A passport confirms your identity and your citizenship.

Our identity is one of “Letchford” – when we travel, and to be honest even when we set foot outside of our house here in our local town, we are seen as Letchfords.  We discussed with the kids what does it mean to be a Letchford – what is our family identity.   We may look the same, act the same, laugh at the same things, think the same – but these things do vary according to personality as some would say we aren’t very alike at all.  What really makes us the same is our values.  When we step out of our home we represent the Letchford family.

We are also Australian and our passport is proof of our citizenship.  Belonging to Australia has many freedoms – one such freedom is to be able to travel and enter various countries.  When we are overseas we will, in a sense, be representing our country.  People we meet will know us for being Australian.   With the privilege of being an Australian comes much responsibility to act in a way that leaves our country with a good name.

We are also a Christian family which means that we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:18-20).  Whenever we step out anywhere – be it here in our town, somewhere in Australia, or somewhere in Europe we are representing Jesus.  There is no passport indicating this identity – other than what is in our hearts.

We want our children to know that we don’t leave our identity here at home – it comes with us.  The things that we do here at home will be the things we do overseas, the values we have here at home will be the values we take with us.  We need to know who we are – and our passports only show a part of it!

Learning Before, During and After

copyright www.123rf.com

 

One of the truths that we have established in our family is that learning happens wherever you are and whatever you are doing.  Life brings us opportunities to either learn something new or to practice what we already know – be it issues of character, intellectual knowledge or practical life skills.  To this end our trip will give us plenty of learning opportunities.

Since the beginning of the year we have been looking at the history and geography of the countries we plan to visit.  My heart is that each of my children will be excited to see something that they have read about and to understand the stories behind what they are seeing.  Of course, we won’t know it all – I hope we never think we do – but between all of us we should know different things and be able to shed light on what we see along the way.    I hope that our reading and discussions will spark the imagination and interest and yet keep a curiosity that will maintain an enthusiasm for when we are actually there.

In preparation for our time away we have been learning how to take better photos and I hope to look at how to write better journals.  My plan is that we will all take photos and write in a journal.  Each day one of us will share their journal and photos on this blog.

When we get home everyone will produce their own photo album which will be a culmination of their journal and photos though we will also be able to add further research if we want to.   I look forward to these albums – each album will be different because each one of us will see the world differently.

From an educational perspective the children will be learning so much (so too will Peter and I!!)  We will learn about different cultures and religions, history, science, geography, art.  We will taste different foods, see different architecture and lifestyles.   We will learn to take photos to tell a story (art), we will learn to express our thoughts and feelings in our journal (Language arts).  We will deal with money, distance, time, weights as we travel (math).  We will be tested in our character as we live in close quarters, and have long days and maybe do things outside of our comfort zone.

What a joy to be able to do this with my whole family.