For two years, I’ve attended the Mom 2.0 Summit and for two years I’ve entered the National Geographic contest at the summit that awards a National Geographic Family Expedition to one lucky winner. Alas, that winner has not been me or else you would have seen it plastered everywhere online (I was actually a finalist for the contest in 2014!)
My entry is almost always the same.
I WOULD MAKE A GOOD WINNER BECAUSE MY FAMILY REALLY LIKES TO TRAVEL.
And then they ask me to talk about a recent trip. Inevitably, that recent trip has been to Walt Disney World. Now, we love Disney but we also love the great outdoors. Or, at least, my husband and I do. I haven’t done a good job of instilling this in my 9 year old yet but there’s still time!
We’ve started talking about how we can expand our horizons as a family, get more active, and see the world around us. As a National Geographic Kids Insider, I learned about several ways that we can do all of these things in a way that will fit our family.
Interested in family travel? Look at some of the unique options offered through National Geographic for all budget levels.
Let’s say you were saving your money for a once-in-a-lifetime family trip. Where would you go? I asked this question of my then 7 year old when I was picking out what National Geographic Expedition I’d love to take my family on if I won the Mom 2.0 contest. We went through the entire website, talked about the itineraries, and then I let him pick. It was a long shot anyway that I’d win.
But he had no trouble settling on a trip. Surprisingly, he wanted to head to Alaska where I’m sure the idea of panning for gold won him over. Alaska is one of many destinations for a National Geographic Family Expedition. These are trips designed for both parents and children over the age of 7 to fully immerse in a region with an expert and make the trip not just a vacation but an adventure.
Last year’s contest winner will actually be heading out on her adventure this summer when she takes her family to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I’d really pick. Their family expeditions all seem to offer something for my family from ziplining in Costa Rica to visiting my husband’s roots biking through western Ireland or touring the major cities of China and learning the culture of where my brother lives.
Although these trips aren’t cheap (usually starting around $3500 per person, not including airfare), it’s truly meant to be a trip of a lifetime. Not only do parents get expert interaction, but the kids also get someone dedicated to making it an interactive experience with them at their level. That’s family travel at its finest.
Love adventure but don’t have the budget for something like a National Geographic Family Expedition? I feel ya. That’s why I perked up when I heard about a new program with National Geographic called Journeys.
Not as heavily scheduled as the Expeditions, Journeys offer you fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.
And the best part? Prices start at about half of the Expedition prices. The 70 new itineraries currently start at $1199 per person (not including airfare) and scale up depending on the location, itinerary, and length of the trip. Here’s a quick flavor of what Journeys offers family travelers.
Let’s say your children are getting older. Maybe they’re already students of the world. And when you suggest some quality family time, they roll their eyes because they’re just not that into that.
(Actually, if you have children like that, please don’t tell me. I’m already dreading the teen years!)
But let’s face it. Children have less boundaries than we did growing up and they don’t want to wait to explore the world. That’s why National Geographic offers Student Expeditions for middle school and high school students.
While I can’t imagine sending my student off to another part of the world (never mind that I begged my parents to let me go on a student exchange program to Japan when I was in 9th grade), the more opportunities we can offer our kids, the more it can broaden their perspective and even their life path.
These Student Expeditions have programs specifically designed for learning (much like the Family Expeditions), community service, and even specialized workshops like photography.
The programs typically run over the summer and require an application as students are selected based on “maturity, enthusiasm, motivation, and willingness to live and participate constructively in a supportive community environment.”
Again, the programs are NOT inexpensive but there are scholarships available for students who would not otherwise be able to attend. Oh, to be a student again!
Clearly, there are places for you to explore with National Geographic, whether as a family or as students. So what about the grown ups, specifically mom and dad? Yes, there are many National Geographic Expeditions geared towards adults only. But there’s one more opportunity that Nat Geo offers for a unique getaway and that’s their Unique Lodges of the World program.
While there’s nothing that says children can’t go (in fact, they have a special section dedicated to lodges offering the best family getaways), all of these lodges represent something that combines both luxury and sustainability. Perhaps something that adults can appreciate more.
Our lodges offer a rare kind of experience where protecting the planet’s treasures is an integral and inspirational component of top-notch service and accommodations. They are destinations in their own right—and they set the standard for authentic and responsible travel.
Frankly, in glancing through the lodge list, I started taking mental notes of places I’d like to visit. Topping my list is Churchill Wild – Seal River Heritage Lodge in Manitoba, Canada. You might think it’s the up close experiences with polar bears that draws me but honestly, it’s the opportunity to see the Northern Lights in person. Definitely a bucket list item!
National Geographic encourages you and your family to make 2016 the year of travel. I already have lots of ideas that I’m working on for my family (more to come on that) but I’d love to hear which type of National Geographic travel appeals to you and your family. And please, you have to pick your favorite Unique Lodge. Just looking is half the fun!
This post is part of my role as a National Geographic Kids Insider. It is not sponsored but is filled with lots of good information including my opinions!