“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain
Motherland Travel specializes in Family-Centered Travel and Heritage Journeys for adoptive families focused on building deeper connections.
Our trips are designed to:
Foster family bonding
Build self-esteem and positive self-identity
Cultivate rich cultural connections
We design purposeful and intentional family-centered trips to several countries around the world. We also design Heritage Journeys to a child’s birth country with their adoptive family. Our goal is to customize EVERY trip to meet the needs of EVERY family member! We do this by incorporating the concepts of experiential and transformative travel.
Experiential travel specifically involves using activities, nature, culture, social or spiritual experiences to enrich a traveler’s life and improve the way they connect with loved ones and with the world. The concepts of transformative travel are used to foster lasting change. We encourage families to journal, talk more about specific experiences, touch, hug and celebrate their accomplishments. Both of these travel philosophies (experiential and transformative travel) assume there is intention and purpose to the travel – which is very different than booking a traditional trip. After consulting with a family, we design an itinerary based on the specific needs and desires of that family. We consider the potential outcomes of those experiences and work to plan activities in a way that will achieve the family’s goals (family bonding, building self-esteem, cultivating a rich cultural understanding, etc). Traditional heritage travel has focused on cultural immersion, service learning, visiting orphanages, meeting foster and/or birth families. Although all of these components are important to international adoptees at different times in their life, research tells us that travel can be so much more, especially birth country travel. We believe that a child’s first visit to their birth country should be fun, fascinating and instill a sense of desire to better understand their roots. We also believe that a well planned and executed Heritage Journey can and should connect an adoptive family more deeply – strengthening those bonds long before a birth or foster family search is initiated. A Heritage Journey can be a time for healing, for building self-esteem, for families to connect on a level that isn’t possible at home. Travel can take us out of the normalcy of life and into a world of possibilities, heightened senses and a willingness to explore deeper on many levels! We want to leverage those emotions in order to create trips that will provide the potential for real and lasting change in individuals, as well as, the families that travel with us — an experience that is designed for transformation.
A Letter From the Executive Director
Hi! My name is Bambi Wineland and I am the Executive Director of Motherland Travel.
I have been in the travel industry for more than twenty years — as an administrator, a trip coordinator, a tour leader, a customer service liaison, a travel manager and now, I run my own company. I am also a wife, the mother of two adopted children (Jo Jo, from China and Jac, from Guatemala) and a traveler. I have spent more than half my life traveling, adventuring, and immersing myself in other cultures. Travel is my greatest passion in life, other than my family. In 2011 I took my daughter to China for her first trip back to her birth country, which I call a Heritage Journey. That trip was a huge wake-up call for me. I was well aware of the concepts of experiential and therapeutic travel but I had never applied the principles to my personal travels, let alone my children’s birth country trips. Even though I was in the travel industry at the time, I did what everyone else did and joined a group trip. What I realized during our China trip was that a Heritage Journey could be used for family and individual transformation. The depth of emotion in a Heritage Journey lends itself to transformation and allows the trip to be a tool for personal growth, deepening family bonds, building self-esteem and enriching a family’s cultural connections – IF those concepts are fully embraced. It is was through the experiences my daughter and I shared (both good and not so good) during our trip to China, that I was inspired to consider the benefits of experiential and transformative travel when applied to birth country travel. Since 2013 my team and I have spent a considerable amount of time researching and understanding the issues and needs of adoptive families. We have consulted with psychologists, therapists, travel gurus and adoption professionals to create trips that can be truly transformative. Combining our research and personal experiences with the principles of transformative, therapeutic and experiential travel, we gave birth to Motherland Travel in 2014. In 2014 and 2015 we designed Heritage Journeys for many families. The results and testimonials have been overwhelming. We are proud of our product and feel like it is unique to the adoption travel market. We’d love the opportunity to share our philosophies with you about our fully Guided Heritage Journeys. New to us in 2016 is the concept of Self-Guided Heritage Journeys. During several conferences, speaking engagements and client calls, I discovered that many of our clients prefer to plan their own trips. They have charged us however, with helping them design their family’s Heritage Journey to fulfill our three basic tenets: strengthen family bonds, build self-esteem and a positive self-identity, and cultivate their rich multi-cultural heritage. We have been working diligently to help our community accomplish this and we are now introducing Self-Guided Heritage Journeys. At Motherland Travel, we are committed to helping you design a Heritage Journey for your family (guided or self-guided) that can be a catalyst for positive transformation and years of inspiring memories. Our team has first-hand knowledge of the needs of families with internationally adopted children, years of experience running trips that meet specific experiential goals and a fresh perspective on the transformative and therapeutic power of travel. Our commitment to facilitate positive, inspiring and transformative Heritage Journeys for adoptive families is unwavering. Customer satisfaction and our passion for creating unique and individualized travel experiences are the hallmarks of Motherland Travel. To find out how we can help your family, please contact us, or Schedule aF FREE 30 Minute Discovery Session!
After listening to Bambi Wineland speak at the Latin America Heritage Camp, I immediately knew that I needed help from Motherland Travel with our upcoming trip to Guatemala in the fall. Her honesty regarding her negative experience while traveling with her adopted daughter back to China showed me that I could easily have made the same, and many more, mistakes. There were so many things that I hadn’t considered when planning our first family trip back to Guatemala since the adoption. After Bambi’s presentation, I understood that there was more to the Guatemala trip than just plane tickets and hotels. I hadn’t realized the emotional impact that such a trip would have on our son and the significance of the psychology of travel for us as a family, and Jack as a Guatemalan American.
Motherland Travel truly thought of every detail of our trip. Bambi understood the impact that this trip would have on Jack and on the family as a whole. She orchestrated each day of our travel to maximize the fun, family bonding, ease of transitions and emotional impact. The trip planning was much less stressful for us because she thought of every detail and guided us throughout the planning process. She did the worrying for us! She kept in contact with the guides and us throughout our trip to ensure that all was going well. The support from her was exactly what this sometimes overwhelmed mother needed in order to better support my son and my family.
We were wonderfully guided daily throughout our trip. An easy to follow itinerary was provided to us prior to leaving and an arrival packet given to us in Guatemala, which held all our important vouchers and contact information. The guides provided by Motherland Travel not only were knowledgeable and fluent in English, but handled the dynamics of our family with ease. They had been trained in the emotional impact that a Heritage Trip might have on adopted children and were well prepared to handle any and all situations. We felt so lucky to have them with us. Their presence eased any worry or stress regarding the day to day events.
Our week long trip was such a success because of Motherland Travel! My son left Guatemala with a sense of pride of the country and of his ancestors. This had been our ultimate goal and the beginning for him of what we hope is a lifelong appreciation of both his country of birth and his country of adoption. This heritage trip provided an opportunity to unite his two worlds in a safe and honoring way. I cannot sing the praises enough for Motherland Travel and Bambi Wineland!
“My experience with Motherland Travel was exceptional. Prior to planning our trip, I felt anxious when I thought about our family returning to Guatemala. We hadn’t been back as a family since we adopted our son, Jack. Bambi and Motherland Travel not only helped ease my anxiety, they thought of everything! More than just book hotel rooms and transportation, their expertise helped us navigate the complex psychology of a heritage trip and ensured our physical and emotional safety. Bambi has great experience, empathy and compassion because of her previous work experience, her extensive travels in Guatemala and having an adopted Guatemalan son. From the personal guides that she selected, to the experience with a Mayan shaman, Bambi truly had our family’s best interest in mind.
Originally, I hadn’t considered using a “travel agency” for our trip because I was used to doing all my family travel plans using tools on the web. I am so grateful that we discovered Motherland Travel because we had only one opportunity to make a first impression of Guatemala on my son. Bambi thought of so many things that I would have missed. Our ultimate goal of the trip was to have Jack feel proud of his heritage. We knew that we had succeeded when on the last day of the trip as we were roasting cocoa beans at the chocolate factory, my son introduced himself to a stranger by saying “Hi, my name is Jack and I am from Guatemala.”
Bambi Wineland and Motherland Travel crafted a perfect heritage trip for our family to visit our son’s birth country of Guatemala. We were deeply moved by the personal threads and thorough work that was put into our itinerary. We had wanted to do this trip for so long, but were never able to overcome inertia. Bambi excavated our trepidation and helped us articulate our goals. She crafted a dynamic trip that matched our desires and budget. She was clear, accessible, and supportive throughout the process. Our in-country guide and driver enhanced the trip and helped us explore Guatemala deeply, embracing history, social struggles, culture, nature, and people. Our family laughed, cried, and loved as we experienced adventures – whether hiking a volcano, making our own chocolate in a chocolate museum, making tortillas in a local family’s home, exploring Mayan ruins, or visiting the people and places that nurtured our son early in his life. This multifaceted trip was a total success, and we, as a family, have been transformed by our travels under the guidance of Bambi and Motherland Travel. Every day was full of discovery, magic, color, love, and bonding. We can’t wait to start planning the next trip to learn more about Guatemala, and more importantly, to learn more about ourselves.
The trip exceeded our expectations, at every turn. I had wanted to plan a return trip to Guatemala for our family for years, but couldn’t overcome my trepidation about not being fluent in Spanish, not knowing where to start, not knowing how to craft a trip that would support my son’s needs, and not being able to afford it. The trip transformed all of my fears of NOT being able to do a trip like this into joy and success. The people, pacing, activities, accommodations, and scope of the trip was a perfect fit for our family.
I feel like Bambi asked insightful questions during the initial consultation, helping me articulate my goals for this trip. I appreciate the family bonding/adventure travel information she provided, as well as the general information about Guatemala. Bambi targeted our budget and made the most of every experience, given our financial restraints. The itinerary proposal and final itinerary were thorough, detailed, and very clear. I so valued the personal details about possible triggers for my son, visiting his birth country.
We are so grateful for the effort, service, time, and thought Motherland Travel put into planning this trip for us. We have been transformed by the travel. Eddy exudes a pride and joy when he talks about our trip, and talks about Guatemala. A few days after we returned, his teacher had him present to his class about how the ecosystems in Guatemala affect the culture and way of life. As I watched him present to his peers, he shared details and experiences that revealed how much this trip was profoundly imprinted on his heart and his identity. Our family benefited so much from being out of our comfort zone – we learned so much about our son’s birth country, about human resilience, and even more about our family. I can’t choose one favorite moment, or even pick out a single least favorite moment. The days were unique, yet perfectly balanced, creating a gorgeous tapestry of experiences.The Wall Family