Whether your next family vacation includes exploring a nearby city, visiting another country, or heading to the beach, you might be wondering if there is some way to incorporate a little learning along the way. It turns out that adding a bit of education to your travels can make the trip more memorable and meaningful for the whole family. Here are some helpful family travel tips to get you started:
Let your kids help plan the trip
For this family travel tip ask the younger kids what they are interested in exploring: a beach, a city, or a campground? This can help kickstart the learning process because they will be learning about something they chose. For older kids, they can help select the location and plan the itinerary. Perhaps they’ve been studying something in school they will be interested to see for themselves.
Visit the library
Gather some information for this family travel tip. For little children, there are many books you can read to them at night to get them ready for your adventure. If you’re visiting a city, read a book about its famous sights. If you’re going to a beach, read about the sea life you might encounter. If you’re leaving the country, read about some interesting history from the area.
Create a PowerPoint presentation.
Put together some slides of the sights and history you will be exploring. Include photos of unique foods you plan to try. When you have a few minutes, go through the slides as a family and discuss what you will be seeing. When your child knows what to expect, the entire travel experience becomes much more meaningful. For a trip to Paris, explain that the Louvre used to be the king’s palace. Show a picture of the Mona Lisa and talk about how you’re going to see if her eyes follow you when you get to the museum. Your day at the museum will be much better for the family because your children will experience something they appreciate and understand.
Color a map.
Print out a plain map of your route. Show your family where you are starting and where you are headed. Give the kids some markers and crayons to trace the trip along the way. They can mark stops made along the route and draw what they see. If you’re driving to the Grand Canyon, have your kiddos trace your route and draw the scenery you pass along the way.
Learn new customs and language.
If you are heading to another country, find a language-learning app and start incorporating a few phrases into your family’s vocabulary each day. Heading to Mexico? Start greeting each other with holà and using gracias for thank you.
Make trying new foods fun.
Make a plan for foods you want to try on your journey. If you’re heading to Chicago, talk about their famous Chicago-style hot dogs and deep-dish pizza. If you’re traveling to Florida, discuss what seafood items you’ll be tasting as well as sweets like key lime pie. You can turn this into a bingo game with each family member labeling bingo boxes with what foods he/she will eat and crossing them off when they try them.
Visit the tourism office.
There is a wealth of information at the tourist office. There are often guided tours of places that are geared toward kids. Local museums often have kids’ programs for all ages that are interactive and amusing.
Have a photo scavenger hunt.
Give your kids a list of things to find for the day. Things to have them find can include: the coolest new food I tried today, the building with the best architecture, a painting I think I could draw all by myself, an adorable animal, and more. They can use a cell phone to take the pictures and later you can all share what you photographed and even upload them into a photo book of the trip.
Find lessons in the little things.
Sometimes we forget to embrace all of the little questions along the way. “Why do so many New Yorkers take the subway and taxis?” “When do the sea turtles lay their eggs?” Inevitably, there are opportunities for learning and fun all around us. For this family travel tip take the time to relax and answer your children’s questions. Vacation is a time when you can truly ponder life’s questions together.
When planning your next trip, get the whole family involved from the start. Do a little research and pepper in some fun facts along the way. Kids really do enjoy exploring things they know about rather than staring at random things they don’t understand. With a little bit of effort, your next vacation can be incredibly fun, meaningful, memorable, and educational.