Wisdom Wednesdays: Homeland Tours

Taking a homeland tour requires lots of planning, lots of saving, and lots of consideration about what kind of homeland trip fits your family.  In many ways, selecting the type of homeland trip to take (or not take) is as individual as choosing an adoption agency, with many of the same questions to answer.

My daughter Elizabeth with her nanny — nine years after her adoption!

ALL OF THE NUMBERS:

  • Age(s) of your child(ren)…children 11 & under are charged the child rates for the trip and some plane fares.  Some touring groups have a minimum age.
  • What is the best age to take your child on a homeland trip?  You know your child best;  if you have hesitations, then the time may not yet be right.  Do they travel well?  Are they flexible?  Do they have adoption concerns?
  • Number of people on your trip/number of rooms or beds required.  Ask if you can fit in a single room, if that is desired.  We found some tour groups that wanted our family of four to book two rooms.  Our kids were 6 & 9 at the time. While the rooms were small, we managed well in a single room.
  • Size of the travel group.  Can you handle being part of a large group?  Be sure to ask about maximum size.  On our trip we had three different itineraries, breaking the group into A, B, & C groups, so we did parts of our trip with 15 families, parts with seven families, and parts with three families.
  • Number of cities to visit.  This one was hard for us, as we wanted to see everything.  We even added on a city to the two-week package.  While we enjoyed each city, we probably jammed too much into one trip.

STYLE OF TRIP/TOUR

  • Is the purpose of your tour primarily vacationing to your child’s homeland?  Are you mainly interested in sightseeing?  Or are you looking for a lot of adoption specific activities and seminars?  Do you want more time in the hometown and less on sightseeing?
  • The answer to these questions may dictate tour provider.  Most homeland designated tours include a visit to your child’s home city and finding spot, if desired. Others also conduct adoption seminars or have social workers along on the trip to address issues that may arise.
  • Is your tour provider willing to adjust to your desires for the trip?

Searching for hometown souvenirs with my daughter Sarah.

PERSONAL PREFERENCES

  • Do you want a lot of free time or a full schedule?
  • What is the right balance of budget versus level of comfort or extent of itinerary?
  • Do you have the physical strength to handle the planned activities?  Let’s just say that the nine-mile bike ride over cobblestones in 95 degree temperatures did me in!  It is ok to opt out of some things, but don’t plan a trip that has a lot of activities you would opt out of.
  • Do you want a group tour (the back of the bus is as much of the experience for the kids as the touring!), or do you want to plan an individual family trip?

Whatever you decide, be flexible and enjoy whatever experiences arise.  When planning a trip, evaluating if the cost was worth it was one of my main considerations.  It was a trip of a lifetime for our family and very confirming for the self-assurance and identity of our girls.  Worth the cost — for us, absolutely!  Careful planning will make your trip just as worthwhile.

~Nancy Williams, LWB’s Information Services Director

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2 Comments to “Wisdom Wednesdays: Homeland Tours”

  1. Dana@DeathbyGreatWall 9 January 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Is there a link to homeland tour providers?

  2. chinalwb 13 January 2013 at 7:37 am #

    I hesitate to recommend a particular list of tour providers since everyone’s needs are different. We used Always and Forever Adoption Homeland Tours and were very pleased with them, but that is our personal experience. You may want to start with your adoption agency or the agency’s travel provider. I’d suggest getting the tour plans from at least three providers so you can compare offerings. I would recommend going with a provider that has adoption experience or background. Google “China homeland tours” for ideas. There is a homeland tours yahoo group, and checking with your child’s SWI yahoo group can also yield reputable tours. ~Nancy Williams


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