Guest Post: Family Travel - 20 Before 20 List

Awesome Travel Stuff

I met Melanie Thompson Beaudin at a TedX event in Winnipeg this past June. Melanie is one half of the Joyful Life Co and we got to talking about our businesses. When we began talking travel Melanie just lit up and she began to share about the 20 before 20 list her family has. Meaning 20 travel experiences they want to have as a family before the oldest child turns 20. I thought this was one of the best things I had ever heard! While I don't have my own children, many of my fondest memories are of travel with my family. The following may not be the shortest read but I encourage you to take the time to read it. There is so much gold in it and it encapsulates why I think travel is so powerful in general! Melanie said talking about this/sharing it feeds her soul and I just love that so much!

Hi Shari! I'm so excited that you asked me to share this. I had so much to say when I got right down to it! Thanks again for asking me to share our family journey with the 20 Before 20! Melanie

What inspired the list?

Our 20 Before 20 list began on our 15th wedding anniversary. Out for a celebration dinner, my husband Paul and I were reflecting on our 15 years of marriage. All of the memories that stood out the most were ones of vacations we had taken, as a couple pre-kids, and as a family with the littles. Traveling with our kids was always something we wanted to do. It was the reason we had made a lot of choices in our lives; we wanted the time and ability to show our kids the world. By traveling, we wanted to show our kids how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country, on such a beautiful planet. We wanted them to know how much we need to protect the oceans because they had SEEN the ocean; that we need to do our part for climate change because they had SEEN the glaciers, and that people and love are all the same in any language, on any continent. We wanted them to grow up with the life experience to know that they are global citizens, with global responsibilities. And then we wanted them to have a good dose of fun, too! In order to provide these opportunities, we knew that time was ticking and we needed to provide some focus to our travel. My oldest was eight at the time, and we hoped that he'd be willing to travel with us at least until he was twenty... This gave us twelve years to pack it all in!

Where did we get our ideas?

When we created our list, some of the items came easily. Places like Tofino, BC and the California coast were places we'd always wanted to visit. But to find the beautiful locations, possibly a little less traveled, took a bit of research. We spent lots of time googling 'places to visit before you die', and 'best places to travel with kids', for ideas. We had a family meeting, discussed the options, and had some input from the kiddos. It was tricky, but we narrowed it down! It was important to us to have a balanced list. Some places just for pure fun, some places for the pure beauty of our world, and some places for a historical understanding of who we are and where we've come from.

What is our favourite memory?

Our favourite memory by far is staying in a little cedar cabin on the beach in Tofino last summer. We spent our days wading in the ocean, fell asleep listening to the waves, and ate breakfast in our jammies on the beach. Every time I smell cedar, I go back to that beautiful place. I felt so grateful for the nature that surrounded us and the closeness we felt as a family. Our second favourite memory was when my son tasted his very first root beer float in Disneyworld. {G} has a severe allergy to nuts, and was also allergic to dairy until two years ago. At the time, we hadn't had the opportunity to find an ice cream shop that carried something both dairy and nut free. We walked into a soda shop on Main Street USA, and they had a few allergy-friendly options that included an ice cream float made out of nut-free soy ice cream. My son ordered one, and the look on his face when they passed over the dreamy, frosty glass loaded with foamy root beer and a big scoop of ice cream with a cherry on top was one I'll never forget! It was pure joy.

Favourite trip?

Our favourite trip was our West Coast road trip adventure last year. We scratched off several '20 Before 20' items on this one adventure. We ventured to Drumheller, through the Rocky Mountains in Banff, Lake Louise, and British Columbia, explored the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stayed in Tofino and visited Victoria, took two ferries, and drove home through the US catching a rodeo in Cody, Wyoming and visiting Yellowstone Park. We saw so much, and enjoyed every minute (aside from a major traffic jam outside of Seattle!).

Next trip? We are planning our next big trip for next summer. We have three possibilities in the running: Ottawa/Quebec and the east coast of Canada, Alaska, or California and the West Coast highway drive. We are still in discussion...

Most stressful moment?

For me, trying to travel without a plan! We headed out last year with a few things booked, but lots of 'unscheduled' time. That was a challenge for this over-planner! My husband would likely say the driving through unfamiliar cities in rush hour!

Words of wisdom to other families? My words of wisdom... choose some places that speak to you. They don't have to be profound, they just have to be somewhere you can go and enjoy as a family. The time together, creating memories from shared experiences, will connect you in a way you can only get from stepping out of your typical routine. And even when something fails, it provides great stories for years to come! Also, combine some of your destinations when you can. 20 Before 20 doesn't mean 20 different trips, sometimes you can scratch off three or four items on the same vacation. Also, involve the kids in the planning. Order the brochures, look things up online, get them to help plan the route. There is so much to learn and so much fun in the process, long before you even leave the house!

Here is our 20 Before 20 List, aka '20 Places to Take the Kids Before My Oldest Turns 20' These are in no specific order, and we keep it fluid. If we change our minds about one destination or learn about somewhere new we'd like to go, we change the list!

1. Niagara Falls, Ontario

2. New York City

3. Ottawa on Canada Day

4. Canadian Rockies

5. Florida (Disney World, Cape Canaveral, Universal, Lego Land)

6. Peru/Bolivia (Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, Salar de Uyuni)

7. Alaska

8. Churchill

9. Grand Canyon (Petrified Forest, Mesa Verde, Co., Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon)

10. California (Yosemite, ride a cable car in San Francisco, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Pacific Coast Highway Drive, Redwood National Park, San Diego Zoo)

11. Washington DC (Smithsonian)

12. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, Michigan

13. Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

14. Galapagos Islands or Australia (this one is still to be determined...)

15. Wisconsin Dells

16. Paris/London

17. Hawaii (Volcanoes National Park)

18. British Columbia (Vancouver Acquarium, Tofino, Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Wild Pacific Trail)

19. Eastern Canada (Montreal, Quebec City, Magnetic Hill, Bay of Fundy, PEI, Newfoundland)

20. Yellowstone National Park

Thank you Melanie for this inspirational share!

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Shari Block

Shari Block

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