Gift-giving is a central theme of the holidays. But there are options other than cell phones, game consoles, jewelry or even those cars with the big bow on in commercials. We're talking about giving a gift that involves spending time with family or friends.
Andrea Khan is chief travel officer for the website, The Family Backpack, and a proponent of what she calls “the gift of travel.” That's the basis of her advice for parents this time of year. "As we're getting into the holiday season, think about giving your kids a trip somewhere, whether that's a weekend away or a week-long trip instead of toys or other gifts," she says.
Khan says that traveling benefits both parents and children. "It's a rewarding moment as a parent when you're helping to teach your kids, whether you're traveling to a foreign country and teaching them how to say 'please' or 'thank you' in a foreign language, or you're teaching them about the history of the United States because you're standing on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania battlefield."
There are just as many benefits for kids, she says. "When you ask kids why they like to travel, the first thing they say is time with their family," Khan says, adding that the experience lasts even as they get older. "They can look back at pictures and still have a concept of 'I was there.' If I asked you what you got for Christmas in 1985, you'd be like 'I have no idea' but if I asked you 'what was your most memorable trip?' I bet you could talk to me for a half hour about that."
Ultimately it comes down to finding time together in a hectic world. "It's about presence versus presents," she says. "Setting down those cell phones and just having those times and those adventures. Sometimes the adventures go a little awry, the car breaks down or the plane's delayed for four hours, but those are things that you still end up laughing about."