Today’s parents are leaning more toward "travel that teaches" vacation experiences rather than the typical amusement park summer jaunts. Every destination offers its own unique experiences, whether it's soaking up history in Paris or London, or take a tour through some of Ireland's magnificent medieval castles. You don't need to visit famous locales with your family either- you'll find learning opportunities everywhere you go.
Planning Your "Travel that Teaches" Odyssey
Families can "wing it", learning as they go by randomly visiting historical sites, museums, national parks, etc., or they can make it a point to study places they plan to visit in advance. iPads, smart phones and laptops can instantly help fill in the facts as well as you travel. There's also a lot to be said for good old fashioned books as well, with travel guidebooks being great resources. Just keep in mind than when traveling with young children, it's a good idea to purchase books filled with colorful photos of the sites you plan to visit.
Tours and Family Adventures
There are several types of family travel related tours available, focused on combining learning with fun. A good example would be escorted group tours that take families to fascinating places all over the world. Imagine visiting some of Europe's most legendary cities, going on an African safari, or visiting New York in the U.S., packed with iconic landmarks. All of these travel destinations have fantastic itineraries, well-informed guides, and lots of special activities geared toward kids.
Some locations offer Ecotours, perfect for a family adventure, based on teaching the whole family about ecology, marine and wildlife. Ecotours are always popular with families who have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite creatures.
Family Travel Programs
Several organizations offer educational trips for kids, including the Sierra Club, which offers an extensive list of travel programs including several geared toward families. In addition, organizations, which include aquariums, often plan family travel focused experiences.
Sightseeing opportunities in major cities often offer a wealth of learning opportunities for kids, including many of the best museums. For example, there are art museums out there that offer brochures filled with kid friendly fun including scavenger hunts, free interactive exhibits and audio guides programmed specifically for kids.
Whether you're seeing the signs of wildlife on a family camping trip, or exploring historical sites in the UK, anywhere can be a great place for the kids to learn about history, culture and nature.
Here are some fun examples of things the whole family can do together during their "travel that teaches" vacations.
There's something truly magical about New York that draws people from all over the world. From the attitude of the locals, to the iconic yellow taxis, to the world renowned, legendary buildings, the "Big Apple" is a one of a kind destination. New York is also a surprisingly inspiring place to visit with kids of all ages as well, with its art galleries and museums, Central Park and don’t forget about treating the family to New York pizza and hot dogs. Next stop, the Gorilla Forest’s, an impressive 6.5 acre habitat or the massive Bronx Zoo with exhibits that include a butterfly garden with thousands of beautiful butterflies. All children should have an opportunity to see the site of Ground Zero as well, a symbol of the strength of New Yorkers.
Kids of all ages will enjoy all that Washington, DC has to offer from the National Zoo with its pandas and lions, to the International Spy Museum where the family can learn about Morse code and hidden cameras. You should also make time to check out the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
Thailand offers an exotic family travel experience where everyone can learn the art of porcelain and porcelain painting, take a Safari tour, visit the Phuket Aquarium and more. Even some of the resorts in Thailand (and other countries) offer fun, educational activities for the whole family that include cooking lessons, showing you how to make authentic Thai cuisine.
London is a place that dreams are made of, brimming with the palaces of royalty, historic art filled museums and more. There's really isn’t a better place to introduce your children to the distinctive charm, culture and history of Europe than London. Places you should definitely visit include the Tower of London, London Eye, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery. If you have little ones that are Harry Potter fans, make time to treat them to a Warner's Bros. Studio tour.
Italians are known for their love of family, so you can expect to receive a warm welcome wherever you go, even in 5 star restaurants. You will discover breathtaking historical sites throughout the country that include the Colosseum and Pompeii, nestled under Mt. Vesuvius. Other family friendly things to do include checking out the beaches, taking a boat trip, visiting caves, hiking through the mountains and beautiful landscapes where the kids can run and burn off energy. Other delights, of course, include the world’s tastiest ice cream and pizza.
If you're looking for a family adventure of a lifetime, visit Ireland with your kids. Ireland is filled with magic things to do, rich is history and endless opportunities to learn that your family will never forget. From exploring the multitude of castle ruins that fill its landscapes, to its historic monuments and welcoming locals, there are a lot of experiences to be enjoyed by the inquisitive minds kids of all ages.
Visit a World Heritage Site
Help the kids brush up on geography and history by booking a family vacation to some of the world's most noteworthy places. There are hundreds of natural and cultural treasures in the world have earned the status of "World Heritage Site" and all are locations of historical significance and unmatched beauty that will inspire the whole family.
Adding a learning aspect to your family vacation is a lot like "having your cake and eating it, too" – meaning that you get to enjoy all the regular vacation fun, in addition to enriching the overall experience for the entire family.