On making family travel traditions

I can’t stop thinking about an article I read in the New York Times in which editor Wendall Jamieson discusses why he knowingly went into debt to provide his children with memorable, international vacations before they went to college. Here’s an excerpt:


I’m writing this now because that trip to Japan, in April of this year, was something of a final chapter for Helene, Dean and Paulina and myself. Dean is 17 and off to college. For seven years, we have taken an ambitious trip during spring break. Everyone has had a vote in our destination — Europe four times, Hawaii, the West Coast (spiritually a different country than Brooklyn, where we live, right?) and Japan.

Their public school vacations always lined up, making planning a snap. But that won’t happen anymore with Dean in college. Also, we’ll be broke.

Helene and I went all in on these trips — dipping into the home equity account some years, and letting my American Express travel account grow alarmingly — because we saw a brief window when Dean and Paulina, who just turned 14, would be old enough to get a lot out of these journeys, and be fully mobile, yet young enough that they enjoyed spending time with us. These windows snap close fast.

We developed a model, and certain patterns emerged. We’ve mixed food and history with views and long walks and mastered transit systems. We plan but not too much. We try to fly nonstop, and accept that at some point someone will get sick. We don’t worry about the weather… It can be done. Debt or not – these trips were worth every penny.


His logic doesn’t come across to me as foolish; it makes sense to me. I consider travel an important part of one’s education. Numerous studies have linked a child’s exposure to different cultures with an increased ability to empathize and succeed. Of course, I realize that not every family can afford that luxury. It is far more budget friendly to expose a child to literature, museums and people from different backgrounds than to hop on a flight to Japan.

But if you could take your family on an international vacation, where would you draw the line in terms of budget? Would you go into debt?


My husband and I are careful with our budget, but we do have a pretty sizable piece of the pie dedicated to travel. Now that we are looking to the future and considering settling down in the U.S., we want our life to continue to be filled with travel. As we discuss where we might like to live in the U.S., “proximity to an international airport” ranks high on our list of wants.

What has worked for your family? I’m all ears. Meanwhile, a few links for your weekend:

How to mix health and travel in 2018

Should I try these foldable travel shoes? The cute factor ranks highly.

Stay close to home: The most underrated U.S. cities

I was really taken with this article on female ambition

The 27 items travel agents pack in their suitcases (#1 is a must for me!)

This made me wistful for autumn in Northern California

We’re watching this film in anticipation of an upcoming trip


5 thoughts on “On making family travel traditions

  1. Move to Kansas City!! Right in the middle ; ) We’d LOVE to make domestic travel a bigger part of our life now that we are back in the US. We want to see more national parks, the Pacific North West, maybe do a California coast road trip, visit family in North Carolina and New York, etc., etc. There are so many places to explore here! But, I agree, international travel is a true gift to give little ones. Big hugs to you three xx

    1. YES! I think it’s sound logic. We’re “saving” visiting all of these places until we’re back in the States, but it’s hard to wait! (Is the grass always greener?!! Ugh.) We need to add Kansas to the list 🙂 xoxo to you four

  2. My family loves to travel internationally too but that’s really because holiday destinations are quite limited here in Singapore. My husband and I are believers that our travels teach our kids invaluable things and so we continue to invest in them. There’s so much to do and see and experience in the US for your kids! And that’s really exciting.
    – amor

    1. I completely agree! I’m so looking forward to sharing Big Sur and the Outerbanks with my son when we’re living in the U.S. again. Also, Iceland! We’re saving Iceland for the future since it is so easy to get to from the U.S., yet so foreign and otherworldly.

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