(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

Would­n’t it be great if Pan­cho Vil­la could step out of a his­to­ry book and shake your hand on your first trip to Mex­i­co? What if he told you tales of his rev­o­lu­tion­ary escapades? (Or his stint in Hol­ly­wood while they filmed them?) Or sang folk songs with his squad of rebels while his wife served roast­ed poblano pep­pers around a col­or­ful table full of neigh­bors? Although we can’t yet go back in time, it is pos­si­ble to ran­dom­ly meet his descen­dants at the Farmer’s Mar­ket who could invite you to their home to share a meal or a Mex­i­can coffee.

Pho­to by Cris­t­ian New­man on Unsplash

The sad truth is, though, most fam­i­lies would­n’t take that oppor­tu­ni­ty. Already in an unfa­mil­iar and con­fus­ing land, if a fam­i­ly is unpre­pared, the dif­fer­ences they sud­den­ly encounter can become a daunt­ing bar­ri­er of fear and prejudice.
To com­bat this pos­si­bil­i­ty, one trav­el lov­ing mom cre­at­ed a pro­gram to build bridges through cul­tur­al bar­ri­ers. For­mer graph­ic artist turned trav­el agent, Christie Holmes designed Glob­al Com­mU­ni­ty to help fam­i­lies become famil­iar with a new des­ti­na­tion before they even step off the plane. By intro­duc­ing basic ideas and cul­tur­al prac­tices through books, movies and toys she pro­vides, fam­i­lies come pre­pared with a start­ing point for con­ver­sa­tions with locals once they arrive.
Christie Holmes for Global CommUnity

Trav­el­ing Mom

What’s the Point?

Holmes’s moti­va­tion to start this busi­ness was to cre­ate those con­nec­tions for her own fam­i­ly. Raised part­ly as an expat, Holmes spent her school vaca­tions trav­el­ing to near­by coun­tries with her fam­i­ly. When she mar­ried her hus­band, a man born and raised in the South, he did­n’t even own a pass­port. She real­ized she need­ed to make it eas­i­er for him and those like him, who were raised in homoge­nous soci­eties, to feel com­fort­able in for­eign sur­round­ings. “If I did­n’t make an effort, all our vaca­tions would have been trips to the beach,” Holmes said.
Christie Holmes for Global CommUnity

Trav­el­ing Fam­i­ly in Cos­ta Rica — (above) Christie, Alex, Clarke and Ella Kate (below)

For chil­dren, one of the best rea­sons to trav­el is to grow up under­stand­ing oth­ers, even if they’re dif­fer­ent. “The world is a class­room,” Holmes said. Chil­dren are open to expe­ri­ences that may thwart them as adults. The ide­al way to sup­port them is to give them at least a cur­so­ry under­stand of the com­mu­ni­ty into which they will trav­el. I have a friend who pre­pared her fam­i­ly for a sum­mer trip to Japan by down­load­ing a bunch of Japan­ese movies, order­ing books about the cul­ture and read­ing every blog she could find about Japan. I am envi­ous of her abil­i­ty to pri­or­i­tize her time, to make space to do that, because I pre­pare my chil­dren for our adven­tures by read­ing them a Wikipedia arti­cle about the coun­try or city the morn­ing before we leave.

How it Works:

Lucky for moms like me, Holmes took the time to cre­ate her Glob­al Com­mU­ni­ty trav­el­ing pro­gram which makes the process of con­nec­tion as easy as open­ing your mail­box and shar­ing the con­tents of the Glob­al Com­mU­ni­ty pack­ages with your fam­i­ly over din­ner or fun fam­i­ly movie nights.
The pro­gram works like this: Each fam­i­ly mem­ber first fills out a sur­vey which iden­ti­fies their trav­el­ing per­son­al­i­ty type and helps devel­op a long term trav­el­ing map, iden­ti­fy­ing parts of the world the fam­i­ly should vis­it and when. The trav­el agent with whom the fam­i­ly is work­ing part­ners with the Glob­al Com­mU­ni­ty team to design an itin­er­ary for a des­ti­na­tion that sat­is­fies each per­son.  If a fam­i­ly does­n’t have an agent, Glob­al Com­mU­ni­ty will pair them with one. “Google can’t come to the aid of a fam­i­ly if some­thing goes wrong while they’re trav­el­ing in the same way an agent can,” Holmes said. Chil­dren under 12 receive a hand­made doll (made by those who were once refugees, now absorbed into the Nashville com­mu­ni­ty) that looks like a child from the area where the fam­i­ly will be vis­it­ing and has a sto­ry­book that tells about the life of a typ­i­cal child that lives in that region.
Christie Holmes for Global CommUnity

Unit­ing Nations

Still in devel­op­ment, they plan to give old­er kids social apps to con­nect them to their des­ti­na­tion so they can share their jour­ney with their friends back home and stay in touch with the new friends they meet along their trav­els. Moms and dads get books and recipe cards to become accus­tomed to the tastes they will soon expe­ri­ence and under­stand the his­to­ry of the peo­ple they will meet. Togeth­er, fam­i­lies watch movies from the coun­try they will vis­it, strength­en­ing the bonds with each oth­er in addi­tion to build­ing new ones from their shared explo­rations. Glob­al Com­mU­ni­ty sup­ports the fam­i­lies each step of the way, from the minute they decide when they will vis­it their des­ti­na­tion to hav­ing a pri­vate guide and car meet them when their plane touch­es down and escorts then them to all part of their trip. “I want to take fam­i­lies out of their com­fort zone to see things they nor­mal­ly would­n’t with the help of Glob­al Com­mU­ni­ty and their trav­el agents,” Holmes said.
Holmes has part­nered with non-prof­its, Whole Plan­et (https://www.wholeplanetfoundation.org) and Pack for a Pur­pose (https://www.packforapurpose.org) to add even greater pur­pose for a fam­i­ly’s vis­it. There is even an option to vol­un­teer in the com­mu­ni­ty the fam­i­ly will visit.
“Our goal is to intro­duce every cul­ture to every fam­i­ly so they’re not for­eign­ers, they become acquain­tances and once some­one becomes an acquain­tance, you dis­pel a lot of fear and the unknown about oth­er cul­tures,” Holmes said.

Trav­el Map­ping costs $500 and a cou­ple of alter­ations are includ­ed in the price as a fam­i­ly’s needs may change over time. Over­all trip prices are all based on a fam­i­ly of four hav­ing two rooms in four or five star accom­mo­da­tions. Each fam­i­ly is met at the air­port and their tours are all guid­ed and they have a car and dri­ver through­out. Prices also vary from high sea­son to shoul­der and off sea­son. More infor­ma­tion can be found at http://nooneisforeign.com/