Last week we talked about how a Heritage Journey can be used as a tool for transformation, self-growth and building deeper connections both culturally and within your family. We discussed being intentional and the need to set goals so you know what it is you are trying to accomplish.
After our experience in China in 2011, I knew future family trips (especially when I took my son to Guatemala for his Heritage Journey) had to focus on a few very important things:
- Building deeper connections — with each other, to the area where we were traveling, to nature, to ourselves. In the age of technology, building deeper connections with everything in our universe is, in my humble opinion, going to be what saves us a species. We are social creatures. We need each other and establishing deep, rich connections isn’t easy, it takes intention.
- It also became very apparent that building self-esteem was something that was essential to our trips. Adopted children, in general, score lower of measures of self-esteem – and my kiddos are both adopted. So I always think in terms of ways I can build self-esteem when we travel.
- I also want to be certain that any trip my family takes will foster rich cultural interactions. Yes, that is important for a Heritage Journey because it helps your child build a positive sense of self, but heck, any trip that fosters rich cultural interactions is more meaningful. It allows the traveler to understand that we are not all the same. It gives us a perspective outside our day-to-day lives – a worldview, as it were. It allows our brains to take in new information, creating new synapses. When we can experience life outside our bubble we become more compassionate, more tolerant, gain empathy and understanding. For me, those traits are always positive!
And as I’ve said over and over again, once you’ve decided on the goals for your family’s Heritage Journey, or any trip for that matter, you have to be intentional about planning a trip that allows for it!
Whether I am designing a trip for my family or someone else’s family, these are the things I focus on:
- Go somewhere. As Dr. Koettler suggests, movement allows for transformation. If you stay in one place, you aint’ gonna do much changing! Where do you want to go?
- Be present. I spend a ton of time coaching the families I work with on the art of staying present. And I’ll be honest, the more you allow me to do/plan for you, the more you will be able to stay present with your family while you travel!
- Understand the destinations, activities and accommodations. If you don’t know what you’re going to encounter, you cannot anticipate triggers.If you cannot anticipate triggers, you will likely deal with some heightened emotions, especially on a Heritage Journey. I know the destinations; let me help you!
- The order of things makes a big difference! When we know the destination really well and we understand the potential triggers, we can plan activities in a way that allow for the greatest success, mitigate distress and when applicable, time for dealing with heightened emotions.
- Use adventure activities to build self-esteem and greater connections. Adrenaline is released during physical activity and that can trigger the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone. Also, achievement and positive reinforcement build self-esteem. So in my universe, adventure activities are the coup d’état of disconnectedness. But you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone!
- Always have a soft place to land. If you cannot stop, relax and reconnect in the evenings, you’re never going to fully invest in each day. Make sure you pick a place that meets the needs of every single traveler in your group. This is essential!
- Insist on rich cultural interactions. Positive cultural experiences in a child’s birth country will foster a positive sense of self, which is crucial for building deeper connections and higher self-esteem. Also, as I spoke about before, all positive cultural interactions, regardless of the destination, give us greater perspective of the world we live in. When we experience the world outside our day-to-day lives, we become more compassionate and more tolerant. We also gain empathy and understanding. All worthy travel goals.
- Take time to reflect and talk about your experiences! Every day and especially every night, put down your cell phones and talk, snuggle, journal, CONNECT!
Bottom line, be purposeful and you will be on the road to using travel to transform yourself and your family into more connected and more caring human beings! As parents we must model this behavior for our children. If we can do it, they will do it.
Are you ready to start planning? If you are, you might want to read Things to Think About Before Planning Your Heritage Journey, then sign up for a 30-minute Discovery Session with me at www.calendly.com/bambi. I’d be thrilled to help you plan your Heritage Journey this year, or any family trip that you want to be intentional about!
Now let’s go explore the world!
My very best to you and your family,
Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach, and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel began by designing Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of those Heritage Journeys has always been on deepening family connections, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Motherland Travel also uses the philosophies of transformative Travel for designing family trips with purpose – building rich connections, with each other and the world! Read more about her here >> http://motherlandtravel.com/