Getting kids excited about travel can be quite the task, especially if you haven’t done it before. I am a mom who loves to travel. I knew right away it was going to be a must for our family, even if they had to go kicking and screaming. Thankfully we have overcome the nerves. Now traveling is something fun the whole family looks forward to. My kids are now always asking where they are going to next.
I wanted to share what we do as I know it can be helpful as you make the leap to travel with your kids.
Virtual Travel: This idea came when local Stay-at-Home orders kept us indoors. Even more so when our family trip was canceled. What do you do when you’re stuck at home, but still want to travel? You research virtual travel options! I wrote an article about all the places worldwide we could visit. We decided that we wanted to start by virtually traveling to all 50 states in the US. Not only have we found it fun, but we have been learning a lot as we do it. We printed a map so we would know geographically where we were going. We talk about state facts and visit a few attractions from National Parks, State Parks, Museums, talk about famous people from that state, and try local delicacies. There are all sorts of things you can do whether you keep it broad or narrow it down to a specific thing you want to do every state.
You can reference our blog articles for some virtually travel ideas:
Little Passports – Little Passports creates award-winning subscriptions for kids that inspire them to learn about the world. Every month your child will receive a package filled with fun and educational toys, activities, and souvenirs designed to spark your child’s curiosity. Our kids get the World Edition and the USA Edition, but there are other options depending on your kid’s interest. Their package sparks dinner conversations and entices the whole family to want to go to new and exciting places.
They are having some amazing deals right now, such as 15% off during the month of May!
Watch Available Media – There are several options available whether it is a movie, a television show, or something on YouTube. Not only are they entertaining, but informational and they do entice quite a bit of wanderlust.
These are a few of my favorites:
Samantha Brown – Place to Love
Jeff Corwin – Ocean Treks
Jack Hanna – Animal Adventures
Mary Poppins Returns
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
National Lampoons European Vacation
Create arts and crafts. We do a lot of crafts at our house. It is not only good to get messy, but we get to learn as we are doing it. Whether that is traveling to New Mexico and doing a watercolor painting like Georgia O’Keeffe or using straws to design our own versions of the Eifel Tower. It is a good way to talk about what these destinations attractions are. A lot of these highlights and their significance helped shape these places’ identity. In these two examples, you can talk about New Mexico and Native Americans. O’Keeffe used the landscape of Taos as the subject of some of her paintings. The Eifel Tower was part of the World’s Fair in Pairs. Use this as an opportunity to talk about architecture or Parisian history.
Try Local Cuisines. One of my favorites while traveling is the food! Who doesn’t love to eat?!? Try making pizza. You can do a traditional Italian pizza, New York Style, or my favorite, Chicago style. Fry up some beignets and talk about Café Du Monde and the French Quarter. Sauté some teriyaki and use the opportunity to talk about Japan. Heck, find some chopsticks, and talk about the Japanese and their customs. The opportunities are endless, unlike our waistbands!
Learn a language. I know this is a steep one, but hear me out. I am not saying your kids need to master a new language, but simply take the time to learn some of the basics. If your kids are able to talk to people in their native language, it shows respect. When you relate to the locals, they will be more than willing to help you. Learn “please”, “thank you”, “help” and most importantly, “where is the bathroom”. Knowing just a few of the basics will go a long way when navigating a new country. Once you master the basics adding in more is always fun.
Teach them about other cultures and customs. If you travel to a country where it is customary for people to kiss, make sure, and try to explain that. Do some research on what clothing is acceptable and what types of clothing aren’t? Many countries have different views on something as simple as what you are wearing. It can also mean gaining access to a location you were really looking forward to visiting. If you plan on visiting a place of worship, make sure your kids mind their P’s and Q’s and are respectful, so have a conversation about it before you go. If you are visiting around a holiday or holy day, talk about why it is relevant and make sure to celebrate if you can. Knowing, incorporating, and educating on different cultures and customs will enlighten your travel plans.
Subscribe to Books and Magazines. We all want our kids to read, so give them something they will like to read about. I have found the below suggestions are big hits in our house.
Lonely Planet Kids: The Travel Book
Lonely Planet Kids: Adventures Around the Globe
Everything & Everywhere by Marc Martin
Miroslav Sasek – This Is… (Series)
Highlights for Children: Top Secret Adventures Travel Set
National Geographic Kids
Have them help with trip planning. We have found that once we have made the decision to go on a trip we ask our kids what they want to do while visiting. Last year we planned a trip to Europe. We gave our kids a list of the places we were visiting. We then asked them to pick a place from the list we provided. Once they made a choice it was their job to do some research on that specific place and activity using YouTube and Google. My 7-year-old son chose to go to The Beatles Story in Liverpool England. My 6-year-old daughter chose to go to Pompeii in Italy. Both were great choices and choices that were theirs. They owned a piece of the planning and were thrilled to go. Not only were they excited to go, but they were also excited to tell all of their family and friends what “THEY” planned on our trip. If your kids are younger and are unable to navigate YouTube or Google, just help. It will be equally rewarding for all of you.
Last, and most important – travel! Just do it. It may be intimidating the first time, but I promise it will be so rewarding once you do. You will be able to see the world through your kids’ eyes, which for me is one of the coolest things about traveling with them. I really appreciate a different perspective. They talk about our travels all of the time and ask really good questions. The greatest piece of traveling with our kids is that you are creating memories that are irreplaceable that will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime.