Go With a Purpose.
A blog about connecting through places that matter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Heritage Q&A with Family Travel Expert Eileen Ogintz

Today’s post is next in the series of Q&As with people with a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel. Eileen Ogintz is the founder of “Taking the Kids,” a popular and long-running online family travel column and blog. The column appears on online news outlets such as msnbc.com, CNN.com, SmarterTravel.com and Frommers.com. “Taking the Kids” is also in many newspapers around the country, including the New York Daily News, Newsday, Miami Herald, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Dallas Morning News, among others.

Ogintz is considered a leading national expert on family travel and is often quoted in major publications such as USA Today, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and parenting and women’s magazines on family travel. She has appeared on such television programs as “48 Hours,” the “Today” show,” “Good Morning America” and “Oprah,” as well as dozens of local radio and TV news programs. Ogintz also is often asked to speak to corporate groups.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life enrichment during your travels?
I’ve had wonderful, memorable family times exploring new places together with my husband and three kids. As the kids have gotten older, they often lead the way — on sailing trips and hiking trails, for example, and even in museums. The most fun are the unexpected adventures — dining at a tiny restaurant where we were the only ones not speaking Italian in a Tuscan town, meeting the farmers at a San Francisco farmers market, waiting out a storm in a cabin in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, or watching cartoons in a ski condo because it was too cold to be outside!

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
I was traveling with some cousins and their two young kids to the Grand Canyon. We took the historic Grand Canyon Railway, and it was great to see the kids’ excitement about everything — the train, the canyon, the hiking trails, becoming Junior Rangers. They made me more excited by looking at everything through their eyes!

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
There are so many! I remember after my kids’ first “big” hike in Yosemite — they were 6 and 8, and we hiked to the top of a waterfall — we ate dinner at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel dining room. It was a very grand room, especially for young children, and they were on their best behavior. But what was so wonderful was everyone made such a fuss over them because they had completed a tough hike. They were so proud of themselves!

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?
I think national parks are great for any family — a real outdoor natural theme park. I also love Colonial Williamsburg because it’s fun for all ages to time-travel and “meet” people who lived centuries ago — from slaves and shopkeepers to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I think Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower re-creation are good bets for the same reason.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
I like to learn about the people who are native to that area — what do they like to do with their families, what do they like to eat, where do they shop? I have as much fun trolling neighborhoods as major sites!

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
It can mean tracing your own family roots or your country’s history, and learning about a foreign culture or simply another way of life. It is wonderful to get out of your comfort zone — and take your kids — and experience what other families believe is important.

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?
I love New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco. I also love major European cities but also small foreign towns where tradition and buildings date back centuries. I met one woman in Innsbruck [Austria] whose family had been in the same business for hundreds and hundreds of years! It was amazing. We stayed in a hotel where Mozart had stayed! It was mind-boggling! The thing is you need to be open to these experiences and be ready to venture off the tourist track.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Invite Friends

Send an invitation to friends who share a love of learning, traveling and connecting with others. Invite them to join you in growing this new online community!
Your name
Your email address
Your friends' email addresses (use commas between email addresses)