Savoring creamy, crunchy ice cream cones while strolling along the boardwalk. Building golden sandcastles baked by the sun and soaked by the surf. Collecting shiny white-and-pink shells shrouded in mist-colored sea foam.
Forty-nine percent of adults report that childhood vacation memories, like those above, are among their most cherished “possessions.” And 25 percent refer back to these memories, known as “happiness anchors,” to cope when times get tough. Of course, “happiness anchors” are just the beginning when it comes to the many benefits of a family vacation.
That’s why Global CommUnity is on a mission to reframe how families travel, one purposeful adventure at a time. Keep reading to learn more about the company’s one-of-a-kind approach to luxury family vacations.
“Happiness anchors” are more than emotional, social, and psychological byproducts of family travel. They’re an inexhaustible wellspring of hope.
John McDonald, Director of the Family Holiday Association, explains, “By using these memories as an anchor to take us back to more cheerful moments, we’re often able to approach problems with a fresh sense of perspective. But for many without such memories, reigniting a sense of optimism for getting through the tougher times can seem like an impossible task.”
These insights raise an essential question: how many “happiness anchors” does your family have?
Fortunately, it’s never too late to start collecting them. What’s more, the benefits of luxury family travel don’t stop with fantastic memories. Heading to parts unknown as a family also forges deeper bonds.
University of Toronto researcher Cindy Chan studies the impacts of travel on families. She argues that family travel experiences are more emotionally evocative and, therefore, socially connecting. “An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it—like the fear and awe of a safari adventure, the excitement of a rock concert or the calmness of a spa—and is more intensely emotional than a material possession.”
Christie Holmes and Keith Waldon, co-founders of Global CommUnity, understand the power of family travel. They’ve witnessed its positive impacts firsthand while globetrotting with their own kids. And they want to pass the benefits on to other likeminded families.
Today, they’ve distilled the curation of meaningful, customized trips down to a science. Their luxury family travel itineraries encourage culturally immersive, authentic exploration. And they promote the deepening of family bonds along the way.
Christie notes, “Our goal is to foster a broader worldview. And to allow people to learn how to engage culture at home and abroad as they connect with family members and friends.”
Family bonding in a travel context also stimulates your child’s developing brain in crucial ways. While on family holiday, two genetically ingrained systems deep within the brain’s limbic area get exercised. These are the PLAY and SEEKING systems, regions of the brain that may not get stimulated enough in everyday life.
When we engage in “playful” behavior, the PLAY system awakens. Triggers include giving your child a piggyback ride. Or, burying your teen’s feet in the sand at the beach. The SEEKING system engages when we discover new things. And family travel comes with plenty of discoveries. From exotic cuisine to new hiking trails and off-the-beaten-path shops and markets.
What happens when these two systems activate? They release feel-good neurochemicals like oxytocin, dopamine, and opioids. The result? Reduced stress and feelings of warmth and generosity towards others.
In other words, young minds thrive on travel.
Dr. Margot Sunderland explains, “The brain fertilizers triggered in enriched environments are also associated with higher IQ in children. So, spend time exploring together in a new space, and you’re making your child smarter.”
Global CommUnity brings deeper value to luxury travel with kids. How? By understanding and integrating concepts from brain science into every bespoke family journey. Your family travel experience begins before you ever pack your bags. You’ll receive age-appropriate, pre-vacation activities. These activities are designed to prepare your family for the adventures ahead.
Keith describes this approach as “key to the DNA of Global CommUnity—helping families get to know a destination through all of their senses.”
Pre-trip materials for families include:
Once your family reaches its destination, the excitement continues. You’ll enjoy a wide variety of meticulously cultivated travel activities. These are designed to stimulate little minds, engage the imagination of teens, and keep you feeling relaxed and pampered.
No matter the destination, Global CommUnity’s itineraries contain dynamic activities. These are designed to exercise the brain’s PLAY and SEEKING systems. (After all, it’s essential for older kids and adults to keep these systems active, too!)
Sample options for kids under 12 include flying kites with local children in India. Or, channeling their inner Robin Hood while learning how to shoot a bow in the UK. For teens, a Tokyo pop culture tour in Japan will captivate them. Or, a kayaking expedition to the stilt villages and floating tomato gardens of Inle Lake in Myanmar.
And adults have plenty of chances to get in on the action, too. Examples include a helicopter ride over the Delta to view animals in Botswana. Or, a visit to a Greek winery located minutes from the picturesque archaeological site of Olympia.
Besides “happiness anchors” and brain development, family travel opens hearts. And it encourages kids to cultivate crucial life skills like cultural tolerance and empathy.
Keith explains, “Travel humanizes the world. It makes it a lot less convenient to decide to disagree or to hate. Or, to support wars driven by financial things and ego. The hope of this planet is that future generations will have broader minds and bigger hearts and be more supportive of each other and the planet.”
Christie continues, “In your community, you can stay homogenous if you want to. But we wanted to broaden our kids’ horizons. With travel, they have a choice in engaging with other people and places to see what’s going on below the skin of that culture.” The goal? Transforming foreigners into friends.
Global CommUnity bridges the gap between family travelers and local communities. How? Through CommUnity Impact opportunities. These allow families to gain a global perspective through immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences.
During the process, travelers will have the chance to exchange ideas, problem-solving techniques, and customs with local communities. This intercultural sharing takes place in the spirit of mutual respect and leads to enlightening interactions for all involved.
To make the world a better and smaller place, Global CommUnity also partners with organizations that give back to local communities. These include the Whole Planet Foundation, Sew for Hope, and Pack for a Purpose. That way, you can rest assured your dollar has a beneficial impact in the places where it’s most needed.
Of course, travel comes with challenges—from logistics to language barriers. And as for finding relevant activities for kids? Many families never get that far. But Global CommUnity’s proven system designs itineraries around your family’s ages and unique interests.
As Keith explains, “We do the homework for you, so that you can focus on being a part of the family and enjoying your travel experiences together. We handle the stressful details involved with travel. We also specialize in curating experiences ideal for certain age groups. And we excel in engaging modern kids. Because of electronics, many have shorter attention spans and prove harder to impress. But we know how to gain their interest.”
Global CommUnity offers luxury family vacations to 25 global destinations. Each customized itinerary comes in both 4- and 5-star price points. Your family will enjoy opportunities to interact with a destination’s culture and people in profound ways. Explore Global CommUnity’s itineraries now and open the door to a vibrant world of luxury family travel possibilities.
Engrid Barnett for Global CommUnity
November 18, 2019