Recently, Darren wrote a great article about why holidays need to be made more educational for children. As a mum, who frequently travels with her two young kids, I thought it would fun to contribute my favourite ways to make family travel more educational without compromising on fun.
Resort restaurants tend to feature comfort foods that travelers are familiar with. Even when their menus include local items, they are often “dumbed down” to appeal to a foreign audience. Restaurants along the tourist track are not much better. Instead, find a local restaurant and try it.
Not only will you learn about local food, but you will get the opportunity to meet locals (who will likely fawn over your kids) and try your hand at ordering in the local language. Do you have a picky eater? Even an excursion to try churros and chocolate in Spain counts, and what kid would not love that.
Museums do not have to be dry, boring places. In fact, many have special children’s areas that aim to make learning fun. Even when there are not special kids’ programs, you can make your own fun by giving your kids something to focus on as you make your way through the museum.
Pick up some postcards in the museum shop and send your kids on a scavenger hunt to match them with paintings on the wall, bring along a sketchpad, or make bets about whether the Dutch art section will have more pictures of dead fish or of dogs. Do not be afraid to let the kids go at their own pace.
It is ok if you do not see the entire museum or if the kids focus on just one area, (parents can always take turns hanging out with the kids in the cafe while the other parent views the rest of the collection).
Your resort might have a swimming pool and great kids activities, but your kids (and you) will get a chance to interact with locals if you head to a local playground. They will get a chance to learn that people are more similar to each other than different, and that making do in a foreign language can be fun instead of intimidating. Hence, before travelling, it is important that you consider lots of factors and check if a travel service provider like luxury tours Switzerland can help you with any of your concerns.
It is ok to ditch the boring language learning tapes before you go, but try to find ways to use the local language while you are travelling. Carry a phrase book & start a family competition about who can have the longest conversation (or figure out the most useful detail) in the local language each day.
You will come home with better language skills, and more confidence for your next trip!
Use books, videos to make history come alive
Historical fiction is a great way to introduce your kids to the local culture and history, but do not stop there. Movies set in the destination you will be visiting can help build excitement about the trip, and it can be fun to listen to local music before you go too.
It can be difficult for kids (and adults) to imagine what an ancient ruin looked like in its heyday. Look for a “then and now” books that show artists renderings of what the site used to look like, and bring them along on your excursion.
Volunteering to help with a local effort, especially if you are visiting a part of the world with a lot of poverty, is a great way to help kids gain perspective. They will learn first-hand how lucky they are, and how important it is to help people who are unable to help themselves. Opportunities range from one day to entire holidays built around helping a struggling community.
Most resorts are situated in or near sites of great natural beauty or historic interest. Take the time to leave the resort for a full-day or half-day excursion to see the areas nearby. For example, a trip to Cancun could include a helicopter ride to Chichen-Itza or a drive to nearby Tulum, both amazing Mayan Ruins.
Sometimes visiting an all inclusive or kid-focused resort seems like the easiest way to travel with kids, but cities can be great too. Public transportation makes it easy to get around, and with the notable exception of Rome, most cities have playgrounds and kid’s activities scattered throughout the urban core.
Add to that the fact that there are lots of great dining opportunities for parents, and there is no reason for anyone to get bored. Most upscale hotels can arrange babysitting so that you can enjoy a night on the town.
Debbie Dubrow is a mother of two (ages 3 1/2 and 2) living in Seattle, Washington. Her blog, the fantastic, DeliciousBaby.com is about travelling with babies, toddlers and kids, and is filled with personal travel stories, family-friendly city guides, and lots of tips and advice for travelling with kids.
• Holidays need to be made more educational for children
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