FOR FAMILIES: Personalized Map from National Geographic


I'll let you in on a grand dream that Tim and I have.

Someday, when our kids are a little older, we'd like to travel 'round the world with them. To South Africa and Sweden, Mozambique and Madagascar, England and India, Russia and Romania, Greenland and New Guinea.

We'll take a year, plan an itinerary, pack our backpacks, and just go. It might be scary. It might be crazy. But I think that Tim and I are exactly the right kind of crazy to be able to pull it off. And can you imagine how eyeopening and educational and exciting it would be for our kids...and for us?

my-map-national-geographicTo help us plan our journey, the National Geographic Store sent us a 38-1/2" x 26-1/2" "My World" Personalized Map ($155).

Mounted in an elegant dark wood frame, this earth-toned map is the perfect decor accessory for any family's living room, office, or playroom.

The map includes five different colors of map pins (20 each):

  • Green pin indicates places visited in the world
  • Yellow pin indicates planned destination
  • Red pin indicates dream destination
  • Blue pin indicates location of family and friends
  • Black pin indicates genealogical roots

love-god-love-others-change-the-worldThere is also a square in the bottom center of the frame where you can include a personalized message, up to 70 characters. Many people choose to put "The Smith's Travels" or something like that. We opted to put our family mission instead, "Love God. Love Others. Change The World."

The map now hangs in our great room, an excellent reminder of how we ought to live and what we want to accomplish. Our 3-year-old loves putting pins up - a red one in London (because we'd love to visit there), a black one in Ireland (because my husband's great grandpa lived there), a green pin on Pakistan (because mommy's been there), etc.

wall-map-with-pinsTim and I like having that visual "cue" to keep us centered on what matters most.

The truth is any family would likely love to hang this beautiful, interactive piece of art in their home.

I give this a hearty five stars as a gift idea for globe-trotting, big-dreaming, geography-loving, or homeschooling families. I also think it would be a super fun gift for a child or teen.

I'll conclude this post by leaving you with a few of my favorite travel quotes:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” - Mark Twain

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - St. Augustine

Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.” - Mohammed

YOUR TURN: Name one of your "dream destinations" - a place that you have always wanted to visit.

national geographic store logoWIN IT! One winner will receive a "My World" Personalized Map ($155) from the National Geographic Store. To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Tuesday, December 8th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog or Tweet about my Christmas Gift Guide (or about this giveaway)…and leave a second comment telling me that you did.

*UPDATE* The winner is #79 Erica. Congratulations!

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116 comments on “FOR FAMILIES: Personalized Map from National Geographic”

  1. After a tireless search for the perfect Christmas gift for my "dreamer/traveler" husband, I think I have found it! One of the things that brought us together almost 3yrs ago is our love of travel and the people we have been along the way. I was born and raised in Italy and he has traveled extensively (Italy to Thailand!) It is so inspiring to see you and your husband take ownership of your family's mission. AND to include your kids on a such a wonderful adventure! I am 24 and my husband in 25 and we have decided to wait to have kids for a while... but now we don't have to believe that our love of travel ends with parenthood! But as for our next adventure? Japan and Australia!

    1. I wish you and you husband safe travels + fun adventures in the coming year, Amy!

      Travel certainly doesn't have to end when you become parents. In fact, my husband and I (along with our two little girls) will be driving across the country in an RV this year to help people. :)

  2. The world travels is an excellent idea that I have also begun to nurture with my children. We are planning our first trip to Cancun. A map of our family travels from National Geographic would be such a wonderful way to plan, and discuss our ideas. Of course winning the map would be terrific, however if we do not win, I think it is definitely worth the purchase. We are doing Cancun instead of Christmas presents this year actually, and the map could be a gift for all of us. Both of my children were excited about the idea, and have a much greater desire to spend time together exploring the world than to focus solely on material items. We have decided to focus on spending time together, and to spend our money on creating lasting memories that will also provide the children with a global perspective. The Christmas trip will be the first of many to come.

    Thank you for sharing your experience!


  3. Our son's first trip was on a plane with me when he was 5 months old. Despite the long trip, he never cried once except when we landed, which I quickly took care of. Then our wide-eyed baby boy took a week-long camping trip in the Eastern Sierra at 8,000 feet at 9 months old, and not at a KOA campground, mind you, but with only a picnic table and a fire ring set-up. We spent a portion of the time reading "topo" maps to decide where to hike and what to explore next. By that time, he was bitten by the travel bug. There were more camping and airplane trips. Then, at almost 3, we took him on a lenghty trip to Mexico (we had to get up at 3:30am to arrive at the aiport, which is about 2 hours away.) We then had to take a shuttle from the airport parking lot to the terminal; wait 2 hours; fly to Baja; go through customs; rent a car (with tremendous difficulty) and drive several more hours to reach a remote "resort." All the while, we kept showing him where we were going on the map. He never complained and was wide-eyed and staring out the windows the entire time. He may have napped for an hour. After spending 10 days at a beautiful beach bungalow and meeting some of the nicest people ever, we returned home. Our son saw many exciting places,things and had great fun at the beach. Despite this, when asked what his favorite part of the trip was, he told me us that it was the shuttle and airplane ride. During subsequent car trips, he would sit in the back in his car seat and read the map, pointing to signs showing the next road we needed to take.

  4. One of my dream destinations was Greece, I went there on my honeymoon and it was lovely! Another place I'd love to visit is Belgium. You can't go wrong with beer & chocolates!

  5. What a wonderful idea! I love being able to mark where you've been and where you want to go! My son would love to have this in his room. He's obsessed with maps and traveling right now. One of his dream destinations (and mine) is Australia. He wants to go there to meet Bindi Irwin at the zoo!

  6. Oh man! Before hubby and baby I traveled a lot, but I don't think my passport has been dusted off in a long time...this map may make me feel better or worse about that :)

  7. My parents are big travelers and my dad is a big geography/national geographic fan. Something like this would thrill him!! I especially love that you can personalize the map, makes it a great gift!

  8. My husband and I've been wanting to visit places together that we went before we met. For me Japan, for him, england. :)

  9. I think maps are great for every house. As a child I had one that I would mark all the places I was going to visit with green pins, and all of the places I did visit with red pins. My dad was stationed in Germany for 6 years, so we did see a lot of Europe. I had a lot of red pins around there. I will get a large map for my kids to do the same. It is fun to explore and dream!

  10. This is really cool! I am going to start homeschooling soon, and we are using a geography rich curriculum. How pretty this would be compared to the cheapo maps that we have.

  11. What a fantastic thing to have! I'm like you and would love to take my family and travel pretty much everywhere. For now, I think Australia and New Zealand are near the top of the list... although with that long of a flight, I may need to be knocked out to get there!

  12. I also love your personalization on your map. Beautiful. I've always wanted to visit Greece. I just think that it is such a culturally rich and amazing place. Not to mention extraordinarily beautiful. One day, I'll get there. I hope. :)

  13. I would love to visit Israel - that's next on my list of favorite places! I have been so blessed to have the opportunity to travel. Would love this map to pass on the enthusiasm for the world to my children!

  14. Ever since I was little, I've wanted to visit Japan. That dream still lives on. I'd love to see Japan one day -- from bustling Tokyo to the countryside -- all of it.
    musesofmegret (at) gmail (dot) com

  15. Hi Stephanie-

    You can find my brother and SIL's travels around the world at They did an amazing job of documenting their trip. Each of the older kids submitted posts as well (as part of their homeschooling assignments). Because of their blog, they were on Oprah- her team traveled to Africa to meet and film them. It was an amazing experience living it with them through their blog.

    Thanks again for your comments on my blog :)

  16. If money was not a factor, I'd love to be travelling the world with my husband and 4 children! Although, we would definitely have to bring along a grandma or two! I love this map and will definitely keep it on the To Buy list!

  17. I, like you, dream of one day traveling with my children. I would love to take them to Italy and Scotland and show them where our families came from.

  18. My husband and I are newlyweds and value the travel that we have shared together. We want our new family to continue to see the significance in exploring the world and different cultures too. Often times our American worldview is so limited to just the United States,creating a family intention of adventuring out into the entire world is so important! Thank you for offering this gift! I imagine it is already making so many people think about where they have been... and where they are going as a family together!

  19. What a neat gift idea. My in-laws have traveled so many places they would need extra pins for sure. As a result my husband is well traveled as well. We honeymooned in Europe. I would love to take my kids back there when they get old enough to remember more of the trip.

  20. No kidding...I asked for a world map for Christmas.
    A dream location? I would love to visit more of Mexico and South America. And Zimbabwe to visit our World Vision kids.

  21. Chris' mom has one of these maps, and we're jealous. Chris loves maps so much that in his old office he copied a bunch of pages from the Thomas Guide (local maps) and put them all together up on the wall to create a giant map of the city we lived in. I'm pretty sure he'd like this much better. :) I have many dream destinations, but a few are New York, the Holy Land, a little village in Africa, Australia, and Paris.

  22. Traveling the world is one of the things I dream about doing with my family someday. I'm planning it in smaller trips, though. Once the kids get bigger, discovering a new place each year sounds wonderful. This wall map would be a great way to keep track of those wonderful travels!

  23. I would love to win this! I ADORE maps, and had a really hard time not buying an awesome globe in a store in Seattle (figured it might be hard to get home on a plane!). Anyway, as a former geography bee contestant and big geographical dork, I'd love to have a newer map to mark our travels and dreams on--the only big map I currently have is from 1993 and is a wee bit out of date.

    My dream places right now? Venice and Edinburgh.

  24. I would love to go see the Ancient Maya Ruins in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Places like Quirigua, Tikal, Antigua, Palenque, Chichen Itza, etc. I took a course my last semester in college about the Maya and ever since then have had a desire to go and see their culture and learn more about their beliefs in person! I have traveled to Europe and the Middle East, but now I believe it is time for me to head to Latin America...
    Thanks for a great giveaway!

  25. Holy Crap, Lady! 67 comments!? I'm impressed. Well, I just wanted to say that you get the coolest stuff. I would love to have a map like that. When I was in College I was able to get my hands on a bunch of old maps from the Language department. They were the roll up kind that hung from the ceilings with the springs and the mountings and everything. They were all printed on fabric rather than paper too. I so wish I still had them. I threw them out years ago only to be told that they were probably worth a lot of money after the fact. Duh on me.

  26. I have a top 3... and pray that i can make it to all of them!
    1- Greece... what a beautiful country
    2- Aurora Borealis. I just want to see it with my own eyes some day, from anywhere.
    3- Alaska, preferably on a cruise. i want to wake up and have coffee on a balcony watching icebergs float by. :)

    The map is awesome. And your family motto is equally cool!

  27. As crazy as it sounds to my boyfriend i really really want to go on a cruise through northern europe. I saw one once that stopped in Sweeden and Finland and Ireland and all the countries in that general area.

  28. What a great gift and totally something you'd wouldn't think of.

    My dream destination, hands down, would be Italy. I've been to London, Paris and all over the English countryside. My husband has been to Germany and has traveled through Switzerland. I think it's time we go to Europe together.

  29. My husband would love this! He is a professional land surveyor and is really into maps!

    The one place that I want to go and haven't been is Australia! :-)

  30. I've been a big fan of travel for years. I have a world traveling stuffed duck with his own Web site ( and a basic map with his travels on my wall. The duck's travels with friends only serves to stoke my wanderlust to visit the places myself (taking him along with me of course). This kind of map would help plan the aspirations for places to get to see, and try to use the experiences to educate others about the world. Someday I will hold the duck and the pair of us will show the world Red Square in Moscow, or the amazing heads on Easter Island.

  31. This would be the perfect gift for my husband. He devours National Geographic. We have a huge old map of Ireland over our couch. This would be a great addition.

  32. I'd love to adopt a baby girl from China or Korea, so maybe one day I'll be able to mark that as a place I've been!

    I adore your family's mission statement. It speaks to how I feel perfectly.


  33. I got a map similar to that for Mike since he has travelled internationally so much for work. It is a great tool to have!

  34. I LOVE this!! We love maps...with our family spread all over the world, we have heaps of dream destinations and places we want to visit/live. We have a huge satellite image of the whole world above our may have inspired me to blog about it. I also love the life verse you put on your map. Thank you for being so intentional about making a difference!

  35. I love maps like this! We'd have to limit ours to family trips or set a date since my husband traveled extensively when he was a kid (his family lived overseas). I don't know where we would put it, but it would be awesome!

  36. my brother and SIL have one of these- they took their 4 kids and traveled around the world for a year. they've marked everwhere the whole family has gone with one color, where my bro has gone with another color and the parents as a couple have gone with another. It's very fun to see all of the pins in the world.

  37. The idea of using a map to show favorite places is great. A couple of years ago, I gave a marked up map to my mother so that she would "see" the places where her grandchildren have been.
    However, what I liked most of your post was the explicit display of your "Family Mission". I never thought of it. I can think of a mission of my wife and I as to "raise good kids", but a family mission is a much more powerful statement. How did you come up with it? I will read some more on your website to see if I can find something realted to that. Very interesting. Thanks for giving me the idea. I will work on it.
    Just a final thought - as a person with ancestry roots in Spain, this article reminded me about heraldry, each family would have one. I wonder if their mission or values was also reflected in the symbols shown in their cout of arms.

  38. Australia is on the top of my list! I really want to go to Spain too but DH has been there a few times and I'd like to go more places that are new to both of us... LOVE the map idea! DH and I too hope to travel more when our kiddos are older. Aside from a business/pleasure trip to Peru just before I got pregnant with #3 we haven't been too many exciting places since #1 arrived 7 years ago!

  39. We absolutely love to travel, and this map would be such an awesome reminder of where we have been and where we would still like to go. I have seen this map and think it is so cool...National Geographic has such unique gift ideas in their catalog. Thanks for sharing this giveaway with us!

  40. Two years ago I went to my dream destination....which was Paris!!! My new dream is England....visit the land of my ancestors!!!

    ykatrina at hotmail dot com

  41. We have lots of dreams of where we want to go. Our current dream is that God is calling us to work in New Zealand on a university campus. My husband will be going in Feb. and then on to finish our support raising. Then the whole family. Whe we are there we would love to visit lots of places. The map is an awesome idea to remember where we have been!

  42. I love that you have that goal ... traveling shapes who you are for the better! I have been out of the country several times and will continue traveling as long as God will allow. Next trip will be to Eastern Europe to visit my family's homeland ... I can't wait! God Bless!

  43. I've always wanted to visit Barcelona, where my father was born. My husband was born in Portugal, so hopefully one day we'll be able to do a combined Spain/Portugal excursion. Right now we have a 3 month old so being on an airplane for 6 hours isn't on my wish list.

  44. I love to travel and have traveled overseas and loved it. I love to look at Maps, I always have since I was a kid. I don't know why but I love looking at all the places and mountians and rivers. Plus my kids learn too by looking and asking questions.

  45. Although I did not travel as much as I would have liked, we have given my son the opportunity to travel, with studies, friends, ...and this would be a wonderful gift for him to see the world map and his own miniature footprints on this earth!

    What an amazing and great item for a fun gift!

  46. Oh, this is perfect! We've wanted just such a map for our family--especially to be able to mark the places around the world we've visited and lived, and the places we will go.

    My dream destination is probably Italy--I've always wanted to go there, but somehow have always ended up going to other places not even remotely close! :)

  47. Wow, what an amazing family gift. We love maps in our home, as they are a reminder to us to pray for the peoples of the world. I have been to several countries across Africa, and love every single one of them. There are still so many places that I would love to travel, namely Ireland and Scotland, as my family comes from that land. Someday, I pray.

  48. My mom is from Zealand and I have a SIL from Barbados. I've been lucky enough to visit both places but I'd love to go back to NZ with my husband and make a stop over in Australia.

  49. We have done this for years on an old NG map torn out the magazine. My kids love to look at where they have been and dream about where they want to go!! Thank you for the great give away!

  50. That is a cool map! We also have a love affair with maps, geography and traveling. In our homeschooling we started out with learning about a state a week and during that time we had a large USA map on our dining room table as a table cloth. We loved being able to discuss geography, quiz each other and dream together. Now we are on to countries (currently we are studying the countries in Asia one by one). My boys chose to decorate their room with maps which has been quite fun.

    We dream of visiting Isreal, England, Germany(the former two are where are ancestorial roots are), Belarus (we have missionary friends there), Malaysia (A bunch of University students we became friends with live there) and so much more!

  51. What a fabulous map concept. I have recently begun the genealogy of my family! One place I want to do is stay in a castle in Ireland.
    Thanks, Cindi

  52. Amen, sister!

    And I'll add my favorite quote, though more about language than travel, but the concept is the same:

    "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
    --Nelson Mandela

    We've perhaps done more traveling than NG has pins , but I am a firm believer in giving our children experiences over things, and so we travel. Here in the U.S. and abroad.

    I love the NG map. And I would love a 'grown-up' one since Isa has taken every map from her NG subscription (she has her own) and papered her bedroom walls with them.

  53. I love, love this map! My husband and I are huge travelers - I met him while I was living in Thailand after traveling Southeast Asia for several months. Our oldest daughter was born in Thailand where we lived until she was 1 1/2 and all of my in laws are in Thailand. Experiencing other cultures is such an important part of life and we also have plans to travel with our kids more (we've taken one trip back to Thailand with both girls for 2 months) and probably take a year with them to live there as well. This would so make the perfect Hannukah gift for our whole family!!

  54. I absolutely love that map. Hubby would go crazy over it. There are many places I would love to visit (Spain, Brazil, Africa, Costa Rica, Argentina, Honduras and the list goes on). Hubs and I love to travel but for the last 3 years have only gone back to Jamaica because we love it so much. But I know we need to try different places. Hubby would love to visit Greece. I have been there many years ago when in high school but it would be great to experience with him.

    Oh I could talk about travel all day. Might even think about starting a travel blog but how boring would it be if all we did was talk about Jamaica and Disney LOL Might start our own personal blog and go from there!

  55. Only two months after we were married, my husband and I left for South Africa to live for a year to do volunteer work. In just our first year of being married, we visited 12 countries together! We love to travel and this poster would make the perfect gift for him.

  56. I love this. This made me stop and show my husband. WOW. I dream of traveling the world with my husband and kids. Teaching them and letting them meet other people that God created who are not exactly like them. What a wonderful reminder of the great commission. I love it! Thanks!

  57. I want to go to New Zealand. I've heard such great things about it and everyone I've ever met from New Zealand has been super kind. It's definitely on my list!!

  58. if i thought my husband would spend that much money on a map i would totally be asking for that!! as i've mentioned before one of my dreams is also to travel the world with the kids when they are older. i was thinking we could manage six months.
    one of my dream places to go would be Ivory Coast in Africa. I'd also love to go visit where our ancestors came from (Ireland and Scotland).
    We'd plan to visit historic sites and art museums and incorporate that into the kids' "schooling".
    sigh....i don't want my kids to grow up faster but sometimes i wish we were leaving tomorrow on our great adventure.

  59. I love this map! What a excellent idea to use this with your kids. I really like the markers for the map with the different colors (I am a very visual learner).

  60. Wow, I love this giveaway. My husband and I have a similar dream. Our goal is to both have jobs where we can work from anywhere in the world (with Internet access of course!). We already have several travels between us - most from before we were married and a few after. We want to expose our children to God's work outside of the US and we hope to take to a cross-cultural trip with them in the next couple years. My daughter is an excellent traveler already...we just need my son to get a little older and more patient for traveling. He wants the adventure but doesn't like the waiting/sitting in car or airplane part!

  61. Joe and I would love to travel one day - we just wish the bank account would allow it. I have to admit we would start with the tropical places. After living in Gunnison, Colorado (where is can easily get down to -25 in the winter and this morning it was 3) it makes sense we want to see warm places. As to one place we really want to visit there is not one place it is everywhere. I don't think I can say there is one place outside of the US that I do not want to go see.

  62. I LOVE this! We are trying our hardest to plan a trip to Europe for next year, the thought of it with small kids is daunting, but we would love to do this. My family always had a map in the house, with pins marked as to where we had is still up, so is my grandma's!!

  63. Love, love, love this idea. Apparently this idea is popular in Europe with upper-middle class families who rent a small sailing ship and take off from the south of France. Sounds romantic and amazing (and also terrifying!). I'd like to visit New Zealand most.

  64. What a fantastic gift idea. I'd love to hang this in our great room. My husband and I have done a little world traveling, and have dreams of visiting so many more places: Victoria Falls for our 10th anniversary, South Korea to adopt a baby boy, Scotland to visit a castle where one of my ancestors lived, and many more.

  65. This sounds like a great gift! I have always wanted to visit Italy. My husband's parents are from there and showing the kids where daddy is from would be so awesome!

  66. PS - (I already entered, so don't count this one!) :)

    My in-laws just got back from a two-week missions trip to South Africa, and their pictures are AMAZING! They helped out at an orphanage there. So jealous!

  67. I am absolutely in love with this! I've wanted to hang a map with where we have gone and where we want to go but I haven't found a pretty one in my price range. I love what you put on yours too- if you love God and love each other, you really can change the world!

    So far since my husband and I have been married (2 years) my map would have Hawaii, Washington D.C., Rhode Island, Boston, Cozumel, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and 1/10 of a mile of North Carolina. I can't wait to add Europe to my list of places I've been!

  68. Someday, I would love to visit Italy. My mother always wanted to go there, but never got the chance...

    LOVE this! My whole family would LOVE this! :)


  69. What an amazing thing! I think that would make a great gift for anyone. I think I might get that for my family next year as a family gift (if I don't happen to win it this year, LOL).

  70. This would be a great gift for our family! As retired Air Force we have already done a lot of work related travel and have many dream destinations, but how neat to show Gracie her birth land of Ethiopia, or her mommy's birthplace of Alaska. She would be able to see that although we all come from many places we are one family.

  71. This is so cool!! I have a map of the U.S. that I do this with, but I'd love to expand my horizons. :) Places I'd love to visit: Greece, Africa, India, and Italy. :)

  72. This is a GREAT idea! Although I would love to visit all those crazy and exotic places, I would first like to see so many great historical sites right here in our own country. I've been all over Europe and my husband has been to Spain and the Canary Islands (all great places to visit), but I'd love to spend a week and tour NY, DC, Seattle, etc. I want to visit the great historical sites of the Revolution, Civil War, etc. Then I'd love to go visit the Canary Islands to see where my husband was too. I love the colored pins too. It is so exciting to see a pin designated for genealogical roots. Those would be the next places to visit pins too! GREAT IDEA!

  73. I have too many dream destinations to even narrow down to a few... I have been to Guatamala and would like to return to apprentice as a mid-wife- so that's a dream re-destination, but I'd also like to go to South Africa and India- that's for starters today. When I was about 13 I got a big map like this and had it laminated and put pins on it- well that map has disappeared I'd love to win this one.

  74. It makes me happy to read your personalized message on your map. I often pray that our son would grow up to love God and His people... with passion. I don't know what that will look like for him, specifically, but I am excited to find out.
    This map is a wonderful way to pray for those around the world... those who are serving God and those who don't know him. I love it!

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