Keith Bellows's kids have all the luck: He takes them out of public school for trips to the Galapagos Islands beaches and Canadian fjords, and even wrote a book about their adventures, 100 Places That Can Change Your Child's Life: From Your Backyard to the Ends of the Earth. Since Bellows is the editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler, it's no surprise his kids have well-stamped passports.
The Washington, D.C.-based Bellows was in Seattle yesterday to speak at the Visit Seattle Annual Meeting, a 2013 tourism outlook from the group formally known as the city's visitor and convention bureau. "Travel is not the same as a vacation," said Bellows. "It's a transformation."
In front of 600 hoteliers, restaurateurs, and tour operators, Bellows also dropped some travel secrets, like how he gets his under-10 kids to enjoy museum-going: Only spend 45 minutes, tops, at any museum. "That will make you come back," he says.
Bellows also plans "We're Not Going Anywhere" days with his children, letting them spin the globe and pick a country at random. Then they spend the day having, say, Irish food while listening to Irish music and reading Irish stories. And when the family hits the road, the kids actually plan what they'll do—"within reason."
After Bellows spoke, Visit Seattle released its numbers on tourism's 2012 impact on Seattle. More than 10 million visitors spent $5.9 billion in King County last year, paying $479 million in taxes, supporting 53,500 local jobs. Bellows wasn't surprised at the numbers: "Seattle has a very palpable, very definite state of mind." The city isn't in his 100 Places book, but he's all but promised an appearance in the upcoming sequel.