Category Archives: Cultural

This morning when I looked out the window I saw – snow! I really didn’t know if I should laugh or cry at this white, actually rather Christmassy view. I used to love snow and always just had to take a long walk every time it was snowing with those huge flakes. It’s a very special feeling, being outside in a totally white world. Wherever you look, you only see white. And when it’s snowing in that special way, with those big, dry, fluffy flakes that slowly falls to the earth, it has some kind of insulating effect so everything gets totally quiet. Except for the sound of the flakes, you can actually hear when they crash into each other and when they land on the ground.

Will these world traveler have a white Christmaas this year?

Will these world traveler have a white Christmaas this year?


This can be a really magical moment, as long as you can be with it and not start to think about the result of this nature phenomenon. Like how difficult it will be to drive to the shop. And, “will they be ready with the snow plows? And if this continues, will it make the tree branches so heavy that they’ll break and fall on the telephone wires again and cut out the phones? Well, nowadays we always have the mobile phones and Skype…

Wouldn’t it be much nicer to be in Southern Spain or someplace else instead? As the world traveler I am at times, do I really have to put up with this”?

Anyway, I started to think about all the Christmases that we had spent traveling abroad. I realized we’d had been celebrating Christmas both in warmer climates as well as in places with similar weather to what we’re used to from home.Here’s what I came up with, places where we have had the privilege to experience a different way of celebrating this holiday seasons (well, not always very different)

A totally Christmas free holiday in Sri Lanka

A totally Christmas free holiday in Sri Lanka

Mallorca – this was like a Swedish summer although you didn’t want to go swimming in the Mediterranean at this time of the year.

Sri Lanka – actually one of my most memorable Christmases ever, without any traces of Christmas, absolutely fabulous, love this country!

Grand Canaria, the Canary Islands – Magnus actually moved here with his parents when he was a child. GC is very European but climate wise more like Africa so there’s no problem spending the holiday on the beach

Bethlehem, Israel – On Christmas Eve it is something really special!

Austria – huge amounts of snow and the skiing was absolutely fantastic, best skiing ever! Also extremely romantic with horse sledge rides and snow covered “chalets”.

Canada – very similar to Sweden, both the weather and the Christmas celebration, except for the fact that you open your presents on the 25 (in Sweden we do it on the 24th)!

One of our favorites at the market in the old town in Nice, the olive stand!

One of our favorites at the market in the old town in Nice, the olive stand!

France – We spend some time in Provence one year and this time we had a Christmas tree decorated with Provencal patterned ribbons, lavender bags and whatever typically French we found. We had the market just outside our apartment balcony and man, the food you could buy there. French food in fantastic in general but at Christmas (we don’t eat the typical oysters and foie gras though).

Spain – This is like our second home so we have spent several Christmas holidays here (whole winter seasons, actually). We always go to the most Southern part which is the warmest and, as we see it, where people are more relaxed then in northern Europe. The climate is great in the winter (unless you want to do lots of swimming in the sea), the culture is interesting and you get to practice one of the worlds biggest languages. And it’s close to Africa!

No Holly in France, Mimosa instead

No Holly in France, Mimosa instead

England – When we spent the winter in England (why you may ask, but we did have some good reasons) we actually celebrated 3 totally different Christmases in 2 days. First the Swedish way on the 24th. The next day some friends invited us to come along to a “Christmas dinner” at a big Hare Krishna place (bought by George Harrison, the Beatle and given to them) where our friends were invited for special reasons. The same evening, we celebrated again with our friends, but this time in “the proper” English way.

Wow, thinking about this really puts me in my world traveler mood and makes me want to go away. It’s a bit short notice now though so I think I’ll start planning for next year. Or I start by thinking about what I would like my life to look like in a year.

What are you doing this holiday season? Any traveling plans? If not maybe it’s time to start planning for next year. Start imagining where you would like to go? What would you like your perfect holiday season to look like?

In a whole year, you’ll have lots of time to plan your dream trip and have all things fall into places. Why not let a Christmas trip next year be the start for your long term journey, and maybe, for your new life?

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My inspiration to travel was triggered again by a list of pictures that I found at The Most Alien Landscape On Earth. When looking at the pictures I just had the feeling that I want to see some of these places. They looked so amazing and I just wanted to experience them fully.

Niagara falls

Niagara Falls


But then I suddenly remembered the time we went to see the Niagara Falls. We were visiting friends in the US and they wanted to take us there and we were of course eager to go, having seen pictures. And usually pictures just show these fantastic waterfalls and not much of the surroundings.
So when our friends said that we had arrived at the falls when we in fact were in the middle of a city, we first didn’t believe them. We had this romantic idea that these falls were situated in the wilderness far away from civilization with maybe just a hotel or two nearby. But boy were we mistaken…

Niagara falls with city

Niagara Falls with City Skyline

We did have a fantastic day and it was an impressive experience to see the falls for real. But still the realization that the falls were just opposite this big casino, instead of out in the wilderness did leave us with a little feeling of being tricked. We were for sure expecting something different.

We have talked to a lot of people about our surprised discovery and without exception all of those that haven’t visit the falls themselves have the same romantic idea as we did.

So why am I telling you this? Well it is for sure not to tell you to keep away from the falls. On the contrary, it was an amazing experience that by no way can be substituted by a picture. Sure a picture says a thousand words but it is still nothing compared to the real thing.

A picture is a piece of art composed by the photographer. Way too often we forget that and mistakenly think it represents reality. But it doesn’t. When looking at a picture the experience is limited to one of your senses and also limited by the borders of the photo. You don’t get the whole picture so to say…

You don’t get to experience the traffic and the crowds, the cold wind, the air dampened by the fog from the falls, the smell and of course the sound. And this is one of the reasons why I just love traveling. I want the whole experience of other places and cultures, not just something that has passed through the lens of a TV reporter.

It doesn’t really matter if I discover the Taj Mahal to be less white than I expected. Or if the Pyramids in Egypt are smaller than in my imagination or even if I find the Niagara Falls situated in the middle of a city. What matters is that it’s my experience. It becomes a part of me and I learn so much from it.

Yes the learning that comes from real life experience is so much greater than anything you can get out of a book. And to us, as home school parents, traveling has been a great tool for teaching our kids about the world. The learning they got from traveling has been priceless.

Oh I can just feel, as I am writing this, that my desire to take off to go and explore the world is growing in me. Let’s see what we can do about that…:lol:

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My family loves books. And I mean truly and completely! I mean, we love books so much that spending time in a bookstore is like a favorite pastime for us. One hour, 2 hours, 3 hours…the whole day! Whenever we go someplace new, the first place we visit is a bookstore. Well, in a few cases we’ve been to the library first, but that only happens rarely.
Viktoria in Borders
I remember the first time we went to Los Angeles, USA. Well, it was the first time for me, but my parents had been there previously.
Viktoria in Barnes and Noble
Because of the time difference we fell asleep as soon as we arrived and the next morning we were up bright and early. So early that we had time to take a long walk through the neighbourhood around the hotel before the car rental even opened. When they finally did open we were the first costumers of the day. The papers were signed and we had the keys and then the man serving us asked if there was any particular place we wanted to have help with the directions for.

“Yes please, how do you get to the nearest Borders or Barnes & Noble??” It wasn’t the question he was expecting from a family with three kids (teenagers) on their first day ever in Hollywood… But after consulting his boss he could explain the way and very thankful for his help we left directly!
Outside Barnes and Noble
We emerged out into the Californian sun some time later after spending some blissful hours in the wonderful bookstore. Later that day we did have time to visit the Walk of Fame too…

This is common when we’re travelling. Michigan, London, New Zealand – same thing happened!

When we stayed in San Francisco for a few days we were tourists during the days, but the evenings and nights were spent in the Borders that, to our great delight, was situated just around the corner from our hotel and had some very agreeable opening hours (open till 1AM – unheard of in Europe!).

In Sydney and Brisbane, Australia, we were overjoyed to find Dymocks. But I must admit it was a disappointment that they were so very strict about their early closing times… 6PM… Ugh…

In India we bought books on the street. The prices were amazing, it was only the thought of how much luggage we had that stopped us from buying more books than we did… Still, coupled with the new shoes, dresses and other beautiful things we bought for next to nothing in India we actually had to buy an extra suitcase to take it all home…
Books
That wasn’t the only time we bought more books than we had room for. When we were in the US for a fortnight 4 years ago we bought about 40-50 books and the extra suitcase my dad had to buy this time was filled with books only! I remember my dad was a bit unhappy about having to buy an extra bag…

With this love for books and bookstores, you can imagine the frustration when in a country like Germany for example. The bookstores are big and lovely, but I can’t read the frickin’ books! Hence, when we lived in Spain we became very frequent visitors to the tiny but adorable English bookshop in Fuengirola!

Sadly, bookstores in Sweden are hardly worthy of the name. They’re small, have very few books and are filled with pens and notebooks instead… Not that I have anything against pens, but it’s not the same thing as a book!

After spending a couple of months in Sweden I start feeling starved of good books. I miss the smell of new books. The first thing I do when I enter a bookstore is take a deep breath! Nothing compares to that smell and the feeling of finally arriving “home” that it gives me!

I just can’t stand it any longer, so out of desperation I order a bunch of books from Amazon just to keep me going until next time I go to Waterstones in England or Chapters in Canada or some equally heavenly place. Granted, receiving a package of long awaited books from Amazon has its thrills, but nothing can come close to a REAL bookstore!


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Our friends from “Have Kids – Will Travel”, the Bartlett family, are inviting other families to join them for a 7 day family cruise in the Caribbean in January.
The Norwegian Jewel
Sounds absolutely fantastic, doesn’t it? Just imagine taking some time off to join them and lots of other families and having the time to just relax, be together as a family and enjoy the sun, swimming and snorkelling in crystal clear waters, the company of other families, new adventures and create lots of happy memories together!

To us, family and travel is just the perfect combination. When you travel, you just let go of ell the everyday obligations and concerns and experience so many new things: new situations, new places, new people. You see and do things together, experiences that you will have in common and that will make you feel connected.

To travel as a family is just a fantastic way to strengthen your family bonds. And it’s fun! And you all learn so much!

Since the Bartlett’s are experts on inexpensive travel, they have managed to get a very good deal for this cruise. And, as they suggest themselves, why not take the opportunity to give your family the most fantastic Christmas gift (yes, we know, it’s a bit early to think about this now, but you may need some planning) instead of all the other stuff that probably doesn’t last that long anyway.

Why not give yourselves the ultimate holiday gift this year, a cruise in a fantastic location together with your whole family!

We’d sure love to be there ourselves and are looking into it at the moment.

Read more about this opportunity here: www.havekids-willtravel.com/cruise.aspx

As you can see from the invitation there will be some “Have Kids-Will Travel” seminars where you can learn more travel secrets.

And since many of the “Have Kids-Will Travel” readers and the Bartlett family themselves are homeschoolers we believe that this will be a great opportunity if you are interested in learning more on that subject as well.

Maybe this could even be the perfect opportunity to start you off in that new, independent, traveling lifestyle?


In a recent post, we told you about our visitor, Tilo, from Brazil. He was staying with us for some time to get a chance to practise his Swedish (his mother is Swedish). Tilo and his family have this fantastic place “Sempre Verde” (which means “always green”), some 90 km from Recife, Brazil. It’s situated on the edge of the Rainforest with a tropical climate.

Tilo and Malin

Tilo and Malin


You can visit this beautiful, ecological place as a paying guest and also as a Volunteer. As a Volunteer you stay at their place and then help the farmers in the area in different ways.

Malin, the mother, has started an Environment and Handicraft School for kids and young people in the area. As a Volunteer you participate in the work in this school as well.

You can read more about it at: www.sempreverde.tur.br

So, if you’re interesting in traveling and giving some of your time and energy at the same time, here’s a great opportunity to do this.You can read more about it in the Volunteering section.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”
Mother Teresa

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We recently read a travel book where it said something about “visiting exotic Sweden”. We suddenly realized that our own well known, sometimes even “boring” country, is actually as exotic as both Fiji and Tanzania. Just not to us.

This weekend we have been celebrating one of the most “exotic” customs that we have – the Midsummer. It’s obviously one of the few western world pagan celebrations (if not the only) still being celebrated.

Everything here in Sweden closes down. The cities are empty of people because everyone wants to spend this day out in the country (preferably in a typical small red cottage) together with their family and friends. You’re supposed to eat pickled Herring with sour crème and new potatoes and fresh strawberries for desert.

You make a Midsummer pole which you decorate with lots of flowers and then dance around it. The most important song is the one about the little frogs. The little frogs with no ears and no tails. You dance around the pole singing this song and everybody participate, young and old. All Swedish people know it! And we think it’s very fun (and funny).

Yes, it’s true! When we have been visiting different places around the world and people have asked us about a traditional Swedish dance or song this is the one we show them and it usually puts a rather quizzical look on their faces;-).

So, this time we filmed the whole thing just to make it possible for you too to participate a bit in this exotic custom!

Happy Midsummer!

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