The following is a guest blog by Dr. Jessie Voigts. She has a PhD in International Education, has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. Jessie is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, and is passionate sharing the world through her site, Wandering Educators.
I know what you’re thinking – sometimes family travel is difficult, from the never-ending “are we there yet?” to boredom and picking fights with siblings to the always hungry child. But seasoned parents have plenty of travel tricks up their sleeves so that family travel is harmonious and joyful – and one of them includes trying different forms of transportation.
On our epic road trip to Newfoundland from Kalamazoo, Michigan this summer, one of the highlights was taking the Marine Atlantic Ferry from North Sydney to Argentia. It was a highlight for many reasons, but these four stand out for our family:
- Are we there yet?
One of the beauties of taking the ferry? Knowing you have a large stretch of time and the only answer to that question comes from the announcement system after 14 hours. I loved the freedom from the clock that taking the ferry gave us.
You can’t be bored aboard a ferry. After exploring the ship when we first boarded, our introverted daughter watched out the window, read in her cozy bunk, listened to music, and stayed put in the cabin, using it as down time to recharge. My husband, on the other hand, was out and about – exploring, playing a few video games, people-watching, and taking in the view from the front windows. I gloried in a space free of wifi, and read and slept like there was no tomorrow. We also played games – card games and monopoly; watched a movie in the movie theater; took shadow selfies on deck; laughed and told stories; enjoyed the special atmosphere of being somewhere with nothing to do but what we chose. It was marvelous family time.
- Connection to nature
Rarely are we in nature for an extended period of time. And while taking the ferry isn’t personally being within nature, like you would get with camping, it is a new type of connection to nature. How many of us go to sea? Not that many – I’d certainly never been sailing for more than a few hours before. We loved being able to look outside or wander the decks, watching the weather, sun, clouds, waves. We looked for marine wildlife when we left the harbor, and watched the landscape change over the course of 14 hours. We felt the roll of the sea for 14 hours – it gave us a taste of what life aboard a ship might be like. The sea was magnificent, our connection to nature incredible – even though we were inside for most of the journey.
- No internet
It bears repeating, because we are a very internet-connected family (and society). Having no internet for 14 hours was pure bliss. We reconnected with ourselves and each other, slept deeply, and had time to live in the moment, find pockets of solitude, get away from work, and reconnect.
What has your family found to be their favorite parts of taking the ferry?