Travel is a popular topic among the adults of the world, the international wanderers who roam the globe in search of cultures, enlightening experiences, historic landmarks, and stunning natural beauty. We tend to return home renewed and ready to tackle the world with a newfound respect for diverse cultures and viewpoints. In short, travel changes us for the better. Why wouldn't we want to impart these same experiences upon our children?
Educational travel gives children a chance to learn and experience things firsthand. Instill a sense of wonder in kids early on and see how their imagination and sense of adventure grows. Make traveling with your children a fun, real-life educational experience.
SHOW THEM A NEW PERSPECTIVE
When teaching children, a lesson of any kind, showing often works better than telling. While their classroom studies may tell stories of restrictive or developing countries or show exotic lands that seem to cease to exist in their everyday life, you can take them directly to the source to illustrate what that means.
For instance, the Asian country of Myanmar is slowly starting to see a shift in public policy under new government leadership, but for years, it was considered an outcast due to its oppressive militia. Discovering its hidden jewels and centuries worth of history and religion is like making words on a page come to life.
Burmese boys in Yangon, Myanmar. Editorial credit: Dietmar Temps / Shutterstock.com
It can be an eye-opening experience to share this educational opportunity with your children and allow them to see how limited freedoms may be when you cross country and continent borders. They may not fully make the connection unless they, too, have to experience such limitations or extra challenges when traveling. Although tourism areas have a much safer, more trodden path, there are still pockets of the world that deal with struggles unknown to most every day.
INTRODUCE INTERNATIONAL FOODS
The culinary makeup of any destination is the heart of what makes a culture tick. People come together over food, whether they are natives or travelers passing through. Cook with different spices and ingredients sourced from recipes around the world. You can use it as a lesson in cuisine and culture.
Most likely your kids like spaghetti and meatballs. But if you're teaching them about Italian culture, they might be surprised to know, this isn't a traditional Italian dish, but rather an evolved, Americanized version of pasta served with meat.
What they may order at a chain restaurant in the states aren't always indicative of what regions of Italy are particularly known for; it's not all pasta and heavy sauces everywhere you go when you travel this European country. There are a lot of meats, seafood, and simply dressed noodles. Plus, when it comes to pizza, there are several versions, such Neapolitan or Sicilian, to enjoy depending on where you go.
LIVE OUT TRAVEL SHOWS
There are no shortage of travel shows, especially since there's an entire channel dedicated to this topic alone. Record shows with destinations you'll be traveling to or ones your kids find interesting, so they can get a closer look at the culture, landscape, and food of the countries you'll one day be visiting.
Mother and daughter sitting overlooking the rooftops of Rome at sunset.
Europe holds centuries worth of history, which your kids have most likely learned about in school. How incredible would it be for them to see their studies come to life through educational travel? Make a list of landmarks they'd most like to see and then, map out your itinerary to make sure they get adequate time at the places they've only previously seen in books or online.
DISCOVER NATURAL HABITATS
A trip to the zoo is nothing compared to seeing animals in their natural habitats, but it's a good place to start to identify where other species call home. Your kids can apply their zoo findings and museum research to up close experiences in the animals' native lands. A trip to Costa Rica, for example, is a unique opportunity for your kids because they'll have a chance to see several exotic animals, like monkeys, crocodiles, and sloths, living in their element, not at the zoo.
A boy riding his bike in the jungle.
Plus, they'll be exposed to many different landscapes rolled into one. Whether that's a trek through the rainforest or a hike up to a volcano, these are one-of-a-kind of adventures best learned about in person.
Travel truly is one of the best educational opportunities for your kids, so create a future that blends you, your youngsters, and a host of spectacular destinations in which to learn and discover what it means to be a part of a global community.