Connecting with People, History, Nature and Current Events

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius

Looking for adventurous travel ideas and experiences to share with your family? Meet the Friedlanders: Tracey, Andy, Alexis, Jeremy, Kayla and Kade, a local family who loves exploring the world and making their travels together meaningful, memorable and fun! From riding ATVs in the Golan Heights and camels past pyramids in Giza to bringing school and medical supplies to children and families in Haiti and Costa Rica, this family believes that traveling is all about connecting with people, nature, history and, of course, one another. We talked to them about a few of their favorite trips.

It’s Not About the Trip, It’s About the People!

Romania

Romania may seem off the beaten path, but from Brasov to Bucharest, you’ll find postcard villages, overlooked cities, friendly people, fairytale landscapes, incredible history and friendly people. Don’t be surprised if people invite you into their homes to meet their families, ask you to join them in a toast to their children’s health or dance with them at their children’s weddings!

Don’t Miss:  

  • Brasov – Peles Castle, Black Church
  • Bistritsa, the town where the young Englishman in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” spends the night
  • The colorful Saxon Village homes, Town Square and nearby Bargau Valley
  • Bucharest is a combination of a modern capitalist city and remnants of a communist era gone by.
  • Ceausescu’s Mansion – ask to meet his former housekeeper
  • The Palace of the Parliament, the second largest building on the planet after the Pentagon

Service? Contact Eileen McHenry with Romanian Children’s Relief about many volunteer activities with and for the kids in RCR programs. Inocenti.Ro/En/Home

Itineraries? Contact Catalin Pascanu with Albatross Travel Romania. office@albatross-travel.ro

History Loves Company

London

“Picking up and taking off to England for a year may not have been a democratic decision but definitively was our best ever family decision!” Tracey says.

With all four kids enrolled at The American School in England, the Friedlanders spent a year immersed in culture, visiting historical landmarks—Churchill’s War Rooms, Bovey Castle, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle—and even celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving in Edinburgh with family and friends. With strategic planning and a two-suitcase per person limit, they had the experience of a lifetime as they attached to a simpler way of life.

Don’t Miss:

  • Ice skating at Hampton Court Palace
  • Cooking classes at Jamie Oliver’s restaurants
  • Eating your way through Borough Market
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of castles and palaces
  • Punting trips in Cambridge and Oxford’s Christ Church College (think Harry Potter)
  • Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta
  • Brighton Pier

The Call of the Wild

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Walk in Darwin’s footsteps and swim with penguins in one of the world’s foremost destinations for unspoiled landscapes and interactions with magnificent animals. Considered a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution,” the Galápagos have a fierce commitment to conservation and remain one of the few places where you can get up close and personal with playful sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises who are unafraid of humans, thanks to their living in an environment without predators.

Don’t Miss:

  • A cruise on the water with a house on an island (check out Casa La Iguana, Santa Cruz). Pair this trip with a stopover in beautiful Quito (Colonial Quito, lunch at Hotel Casa Gangotena and the San Francisco Monastery. If you can take the elevation, ride the cable cars!)

Service? Contact Quito’s Santa Lucia Orphanage and ask if you can volunteer with the kids, host a party during the holidays or donate much-needed supplies. Melaleuca.org

Itineraries? National Geographic Expeditions‎, NationalGeographic.com/Expeditions; Senderos Naturales, SenderosNaturales.com/En/Home; Epic Private Journeys, EpicPrivateJourneys.com

After Six Decades of Castro Rule, Cuba has a New President

Cuba

Cuba wasn’t off the beaten path for Hemingway, but only recently is it back on the U.S. traveler’s map! Known for its culture, cobblestone roads and rich history, Cuba lies just 90 miles off Florida’s coast. As one of only five communist countries in the world, it’s a nation full of juxtapositions of old and new—from vintage cars and towns frozen in colonial times to idyllic beaches and world-class art. 

Don’t Miss: 

  • Old Havana
  • Ration stores
  • Fuster’s Fantasyland
  • Trinidad
  • Cienfuegos
  • El Malecón
  • Hemingway’s writing retreat
  • Dinner at San Cristobal Paladar

Service? Pack your bags full of toiletries and small items to give away.
Itineraries? Travel independently under 11 categories (e.g. “Support For The Cuban People”) or with groups (Backroads, Backroads.com; National Geographic Expeditions‎, NationalGeographic.com/Expeditions; Cuba with Batia, CubaWithBatia.com).