Family vacations are on the rise. A 2017 AAA study found that 35% of Americans will travel as a family, and another study focusing on millennials found that 20 and 30-somethings with kids were more likely to travel than couples and singles. Not only are family vacations a thing, but more families are thoughtfully looking at what those trips consist of. What can a trip overseas teach kids about cultural difference? How does tourism impact local communities?)
Whether you’re packing up the car for a weekend road trip or crossing the Atlantic, here are a few tips on how to uphold feminist values on your next family vacation.
1. Cultural Immersion over Tourist Traps
Instead of a tourist-heavy resort experience, find ways to immerse your family into the culture of the place you’re visiting. To be a responsible traveler, teach your kids how to respect other cultures by learning their customs and how to deal with cultural differences. This can start with a simple Google search.
Take your family to sites that tell the history of marginalized people or cultures. And if you’re traveling out of the country, teach your kids how your country has affected the one you’re visiting, and vice versa.
2. Know the Impact of Your Visit
Another educational opportunity for older kids in particular is to talk about the impact of tourism on the country or community that you’re heading to. This is true both overseas and in many tourist destinations throughout the country. Learn more about responsible tourism.
Avoid the pitfalls of voluntourism, where you volunteer while on vacation. It might seem like the perfect way to be a responsible traveler, but the fad has its issues. Sian, who lives in South Africa explains, “I often see foreign families trying to do voluntourism as some kind of ‘bonding experience’ and it’s so awful – you’re literally using another person’s hardship in order to fix strained relationships and to have something to discuss at the dinner table.”
Instead Sian suggests buying locally produced products and “educating others about the place to challenge stereotypes and don’t fetishize or exotify the people in those communities.”
3. Focus on experiences rather than material items (or pics)
Sure, we all love taking home mementos from our trips, but those t-shirts and trinkets don’t hold up nearly as well as our memories. The same is true for those gazillion pics we upload to Facebook before the plane even lands.
One feminist traveler, laurie pea, suggests “having space to reflect during and after the trip; what’s would you share about your home city or town with someone coming to visit? There’s always history at home.”
Consider starting travelogues — either individually or as a family, and encouraging everyone to journal about their experiences. Check out We3travel.com’s printable journal pages.
4. Search for Local Feminist Role Models
Especially if you’re traveling within the U.S. where you can easily research local organizations that work with kids, search for the ones with your values. Look for women and minority-owned businesses and organizations to support. You’ll end up finding individuals who can serve as role models for your family.
BTW, that feminist role model can be you. You can provide an example of an empowered woman making her own decisions in new situations, just like Jodi and Julie:
Jodi took her seven kids on a 21-day road trip by herself through nine states. “For me, that was very feminist because I was striking out on my own, dealing with RV repairs, tackling every aspect of our travel by myself, not buying into that culture that says we need a man to keep us safe, and modeling real independence for my kids. We stayed in state parks, nice RV resorts, and off the grid. It was epic.” You can read more about her trip at http://offbeathome.com/traveling-when-you-can/
Julie travels with her husband and kids every year. “We do a working sabbatical each year. We’ve taken our kiddo to SF, France, New Zealand and are off to DC this year. It’s a feminist activity because my husband and I balance parenting, work, leisure time equally to make the most of the trips whether prepping for them or during them. Our daughter knows an afternoon with dad while mom works is the same as a morning with mom while dad works.” Read their travel blog.
Photo of girl with the airplane courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.