Imagine being 16 again…
If you could go anywhere in the world – where would you go? If someone had asked me that question when I was 16 I most likely would’ve answered New York City. I didn’t really dream outside of the US boundaries at that time. But I did dream about getting out of the Midwest. However I never left the Midwest until I was 30 when I moved to San Francisco. I guess that’s what makes me so determined to ensure that my nieces get the opportunity to go out and explore at a young age.
Because once the world starts to open up to you – so does your mind.
This is the question I pose to all of my nieces – if you could go anywhere – where would it be? My oldest niece, Bethany, answered Italy thanks to her love of pasta. But my next oldest niece, Evie, has been challenged by this question. Knowing that her turn to travel was coming up soon, she sent me an email about a year ago telling me that she had been thinking about her destination choice but was having trouble choosing.
Evie was perplexed – after all the world is a big place and when you can go anywhere, how do one decide? It took a lot of time and conversation, but this was her thought process:
“I have been thinking about where I’ve been wanting to go ever since you told me about this opportunity we were gonna have. I always thought I was going to go to Asia. I wanted to go somewhere that sounds crazy, that most people wouldn’t dare to go to. My first thought was Mongolia. I absolutely love the pictures I’ve seen of the gers, and just everything! I just knew it would be a little too extreme for my first world trip- especially with the food they have. So I started thinking more about it, and completely opened up to Asia, South America and even Africa. The whole time I still had the gut feeling of Asia. The hardest part is there are so many different small countries in asia and I’m not very well educated about them, so i had to look to aunt Sherry to help me out on that, and i I narrowed it down to my 3 guidelines of food, culture and non touristic, and chose Vietnam. “
As a little sidenote – I absolutely LOVE that she has these 3 guidelines, that she’s daring enough to eat anything, and that she wanted to go somewhere crazy…there is no doubt that we are related.
So this summer we will be heading to my old ‘expat home’, Vietnam, to experience the yummy food and seemingly chaotic culture that only Vietnam can offer. In order to avoid the typical isolating tourist experiences – we chose to go with a company that specializes in small groups for families and focuses on cultural exchange and local experiences – Intrepid Travel. I’ve traveled with Intrepid many times in the last 6 years – but this will be the first time I ever traveled on one of their family focused tours.
Family can be defined in many ways – and an aunt and niece traveling together is really no different than parents and children – especially in this age where there are plenty of women deciding that motherhood isn’t for them. I’m hoping that there may be some other kids her age on the trip too so that when she gets tired of me she has an outlet!
This July we’ll be traveling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City over 2 weeks – you can see our itinerary here – Vietnam Family Holiday.
I recently asked Evie what she was most excited and nervous about regarding the trip this summer.
“I’m most excited about the idea of travel. I love learning about how other people survive in different parts of the world, and to see what is important in their eyes. I love traveling and I can’t wait for such an awesome experience! And I like food.
I’m nervous for the idea that this is gonna be a long adventure. 13 or more days in a different country is going to be crazy! I also think jet lag is gonna suck. Terribly. And I’m not tbe hugest fan of planes, or at least take off and landing, so I was thinking we could swim possibly? ;)”
Evie will be the first person in her family to leave North America. We recently got her a passport and now she gets to learn about the process of obtaining visas, vaccinations – and gets to experience jet lag for the first time. All pretty exciting and daunting stuff for a 16 year old from Nebraska!
From my perspective – I’m really excited about getting back to Vietnam and being able to show Evie my old home and favorite foods. One of my favorite things about Evie is her love of food and cooking – so Vietnam will be a culinary delight for both of us! But most of all, I’m just excited to travel with her and experience international travel for the first time through her eyes.
By Kay January 30, 2013 - 7:22 am
I love this project! Will we get some guest posts from Evie? I’d love to hear from her. Tell her not to worry about the jetlag – I got over my jelag in a single nap when I was her age.
By Sherry January 31, 2013 - 7:46 am
Yes Kay – Evie will be doing some writing about the trip…which I think is one of the things I’m most excited about!
By Gillian @OneGiantStep January 30, 2013 - 9:23 am
Yay, Vietnam! What a great choice Evie!
By Tash January 30, 2013 - 10:30 am
Ohhh, love this project and loving reading about the selection process!
Looking forward to yours and Evie’s travels – going to be amazing!
By Sherry January 31, 2013 - 7:45 am
Thanks Tash! And you will be hearing more from Evie and her thoughts/impressions leading up to this trip. I can’t wait!
By Carmel January 30, 2013 - 10:38 am
This is such a fantastic idea! I absolutely love what you’re doing for your nieces. there’s no better gift.
By Jodi Henderson January 30, 2013 - 11:44 am
OMG, love this “once the world starts to open up to you – so does your mind.” So true!
I took my nephew to France for that reason, in part, but I’m tempted to take him somewhere else cause I don’t think his mind opened quite enough. A place like Vietnam might do it. 🙂
Can’t wait to hear how the trip goes!
By Adventurous Kate January 30, 2013 - 12:35 pm
GREAT choice, Evie! Vietnam is a fantastic country — and in my opinion, it has the best food in Southeast Asia.
Be sure to get yourself some custom-made clothing in Hoi An. It’s the ultimate souvenir from Vietnam. I got a beautiful fuchsia Vietnamese-style dress with white satin pants.
Love this project, Sherry!
By Adina | Gluten Free Travelette January 30, 2013 - 2:08 pm
What a wonderful project! I think I’ll have to take after your lead and do something like this for nieces/nephews or potential children down the line.
When I was 16, more than anything I wanted to go on this trip to the Carribean for kids my age where you learn to sail and actually work as a crew, exploring the islands for a few weeks. What an adventure that would have been!
By Sherry January 31, 2013 - 7:40 am
That sailing trip for kids sounds really cool! Yes – I seldom got to choose where I wanted to go on family vacation – I just went wherever my parents decided. I think it’s fun to let the kids choose!
By Jenna January 30, 2013 - 2:44 pm
Wow, how nice of you, that is such a great idea! It sounds like she made an awesome choice–Vietnam is on my wish list too. I’m looking forward to hearing about the trip!
By Kristi January 30, 2013 - 3:27 pm
I’m waiting in anticipation to read about Evie’s adventure. So, excited for her pick although I think Mongolia would have been awesome, too.
This inspired me to take my nieces where they want to go when they get older, too.
By Sherry January 31, 2013 - 7:39 am
Great that you were inspired to do something similar! I think Vietnam will be pretty shocking to her – but hopefully this will turn her into a traveler and she’ll get to Mongolia one day on her own!
By Kirk Horsted January 30, 2013 - 3:48 pm
What a great choice, and what a world-class auntie you are to offer this life-changing opportunity. Say, would you please get in touch with my brothers and hip them to this idea for my two kids!?!
By Sherry January 31, 2013 - 7:38 am
Ha! I think all Aunts and Uncles should be on board with this idea! Well – at least those who don’t have kids of their own!
By Darlene Foster January 30, 2013 - 10:52 pm
You have got to be the best Aunt ever!! What a great opportunity for Evie. She sounds like she will be a neat kid to travel with. Can’t wait for the posts.
By budget jan February 3, 2013 - 3:28 am
Go Evie. I think an Intrepid Tour will be a great way to see Vietnam for the first time. We usually do our own thing, but if I were to do a tour I would choose Intrepid. I think we would learn more if we did a tour.
By Erina Pearse February 13, 2013 - 8:06 pm
Lucky you Evie,one sees the “real” culture,country,& people with small group Intrepid tours.Jetlag is highly over-rated,on landing put your watch on local time, drink plenty of water,don’t get over tired.Have a wonderful journey,from NZer 71 & loving it!
By Erina Pearse February 13, 2013 - 8:09 pm
Lucky you Evie,one sees the “real” culture,country,& people with small group Intrepid tours.Jetlag is highly over-rated,on landing put your watch on local time, drink plenty of water,don’t get over tired.Have a wonderful journey,
( 71 & loving it!)
By remie July 1, 2013 - 7:45 pm
I hope you and your nieces can visit the Philippines one time. Been following your blog and it will be exciting to know you are here in our country 🙂