Gift giving done right.

By Carmen Schaffer, Viva La Vida Travel

In this fast paced, self indulgent, “look at me” world we live in, it can seem nearly impossible to impart our values of being selfless, compassionate and generous beings on to our children. Mass media and societal influence seems to strip away all that we try to do for our children ~ often times feeling like an upward climb just to raise socially and globally conscientious children.

One of the best things that we can give our children is the the gift of experiences that deepen their perspectives on the human condition and help them become global citizens both in their own backyards as well as afar.

This holiday season, we will be bombarded with the stress of what to buy our children. We will spend more money than we would prefer in order to impart a sense of momentary happiness in our children’s lives. The key word in that last sentence is really, “momentary.” The joy of opening up presents fades as does the novelty of the gift itself and then it’s on to the “next thing” they will be wanting.

Let me tempt you with the idea of giving the gift of a deep and meaningful life experience with your child that will give back to him or her for the duration of their life. Give the gift of travel.

Consider taking a “half and half vacation.” Half of the time you dedicate yourselves to giving back to a community in need in the destination of your choice. Bring your skill sets with you and share your knowledge and abilities with those who would be greatly inspired by your gifts of time and good intentions. Learn local traditions, gastronomy, customs, lifestyles and embrace the differences between you yet relish in the similarities you will discover. Spend some time getting to know another culture, even if there are language barriers! Learn their language and share yours with them ~ open the doors of humanity by sharing yourselves!

The other half of the vacation will be spent experiencing the culture in a more “vacation-like” way but instead of being just a tourist, you’ll have greater insight into your destination and the people and your “vacation” will be so much more rewarding.

Planning a vacation of this sorts for you and your child or children has infinite rewards. Both you and your child will grow exponentially together as well as individuals. You will never know how the seeds you plant will grow within them but I guarantee if you don’t plan them, they will never grow.

Yes, travel can be costly. So can Christmas. My question to you is this: Would you rather spend your money on giving material gifts that quickly lose their luster or would you rather impart a sense of inspiration, hope and global consciousness upon your child that ultimately bring you and your child closer together?

Think about it. Travel changes lives. It inspires. The long-term benefits of a well spent vacation with our children will never be regretted, unlike that new cell phone or video game you may have just purchased.

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