Hands-on Kids to Hands-on Travel
If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or teacher you know that kids love to learn with their hands. I mean, what’s the fun of just looking at Legos? Imagining and building your own Starfighter creation is so much more fun. Or what’s the fun of watching chocolate chip cookies through the oven door window? Picking up a warm cookie, popping it in your mouth, and licking off all the chocolate yummy-ness that melted on your fingers is so much better.
Adults are no different. We like to do—to taste, touch, smell, hear and experience things in a hands-on way. I mean, what’s the fun of riding in a van, hopping out and snapping a picture of an elephant. Wouldn’t you rather ride one? (Okay, or at least pet one.) What’s the fun of strolling through the maze of Chiang Mai’s Walking Street and staring at stand after stand of brilliant orange mangoes and long skewers of barbecued beef grilling over an open flame? Wouldn’t you rather taste them?
Hands-on Cultural Experiences
The same is true of travel. Hands-on cultural experiences make travel come alive in a up-close and personal way, which is why we go out of our way to include them in every tour.
We were on the outskirts of Hoi An and had just finished exploring the My Son ruins. This cluster of ruins is evidence of what once was the hub of the Champa kingdom and on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Next we headed for a seemingly more humble stop–a small family business. The couple there makes upwards of 700 huge rice paper “rounds” a week. They come in the soft-and-pliable-perfect-for-spring-roll variety as well as a crispy variation sprinkled with salt, garlic, and sesame seeds. Yum!
What made that experience special was…
stepping into their home,
chatting with the owners,
seeing their memorabilia from the war,
meeting family members,
tasting salty crunchy rice paper crackers,
and, to top it off, “just doing it” and trying our hand at making rice paper.
All of these things wrapped up together made a greater impression than any UNESCO world famous ruins. Hands-on cultural experiences highlight travel and countries in a way like nothing else can. They bring what’s “out there” close up and “right here.” It’s kind of like the difference between looking out the window at a field of green grass and running outside and doing a somersault in it.