"Eight Is The New 12" For Worldly-Wise Kids Traveling Abroad

29 July 2009

Family adventures from Classic Journeys target youngsters eager to explore foreign shores

La Jolla, CA - When it comes to international travel with kids in tow, the age-old debate still swirls: How old is old enough for children to truly appreciate a trip abroad?

A recent article on family travel entitled "Rules of Engagement" revealed what child development experts have long believed: kids today are becoming far more worldly at an earlier age. Hence the author's pithy proclamation: "Eight is the new 12."

At Classic Journeys, the California-based provider of family adventure tours to more than a dozen exotic destinations worldwide, the trend has been evident for years.

"Between the ages of seven and 16 is prime time to expose kids to other cultures in a fun, engaging way," observes company president and co-founder, Edward Piegza. "The more exotic the destination and its daily activities, the more eagerly kids respond."

Karen Gouze, Ph.D., director of training in psychology at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, agrees. "Children are much more knowledgeable by age seven or eight than they used to be," Gouze explains. "They're exposed to a much more diverse group of people in their everyday lives, so they're more interested in the outside world."

For Piegza, the highlight of any Family Journey is the moment when multiple generations really click. He cites a "city mouse" Manhattan family as the perfect example. In 2008, Gary and Yang Sciscent and their three children (aged 12, 11 and 7) joined the company's Peru Family Journey, where mountain biking through the Sacred Valley on their way to Machu Picchu made for an unforgettable family outing. Less than a year later, the family experienced a second "aha moment" while riding camelback, Bedouin-style, over towering sand dunes on the company's Morocco Family Journey.

Whether guests are paddling a dugout canoe in Panama, skimming along a zip line in the cloud forest of Costa Rica, or swimming with the world's smallest dolphins in New Zealand, they're likely to hit it off instantly with the company's native guides. By taking advantage of every teachable moment – yet never making it feel like school – Classic Journeys' guides make history and culture come alive. From unearthing wildlife (the weirder the better) to relating centuries-old local legends (like oil being poured over the heads of ancient attackers in Tuscany's hilltowns), they capture the imagination of young and old alike.

As parents who love to tour with their own kids, Piegza and his wife, Susan, have mastered the logistics and eliminated the language barriers in each region the company visits. Even planning a trip during the school year isn't a problem, with seven multi-generational Family Journeys perfectly timed for winter and spring breaks:

  • Morocco Family Journey - Departing December 29, 2009, and March 28, 2010, for nine days/eight nights
  • Costa Rica Family Journey - Departing December 27, 2009, March 14 and 28, & April 4, 2010, for seven days/six nights
  • Panama Family Journey - Departing December 27, 2009, March 14 and 28, & April 4, 2010, for seven days/six nights
  • Peru Family Journey - Departing December 27, 2009, and March 28 and April 4, 2010, for seven days/six nights
  • New Zealand Family Journey - Departing December 28, 2009, for nine days/eight nights
  • Zambia Family Journey - Departing December 29, 2009, for 10 days/nine nights
  • Tuscany Family Journey - Departing April 4, 2010, for seven days/six nights
Adult pricing for winter and spring break Family Journeys starts at $2,995 per person (double occupancy, land only). Children up to age 16 enjoy significant discounts when sharing a room with one or two full-paying adults.

Readers who want to learn more about the company's ever-expanding roster of Family Journeys – including detailed itineraries – may click on www.classicjourneys.com/family, or contact a Guest Services Coordinator directly at (800) 200-3887.

About Classic Journeys:

Classic Journeys offers cultural walking adventures, culinary tours and family journeys in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. Guests enjoy luxury accommodations and gourmet meals that reflect the best of each region, coupled with soft adventure activities, daily interactions with locals, and native guides who make countries and cultures come alive. Tours are six to 12 days long with two to four hours of easy-going walking per day. Land-only tour prices range from $2195 to $6995 per person (with discounts for small groups and children traveling with parents). Average tour size is 10, limited to a maximum of 18 guests per departure. Full details and links to itineraries are available at www.ClassicJourneys.com.