Your Next Vacation From the Comfort of Home

Plans for family travel were cut short by COVID-19.  With the children out of school, it is the perfect time to do some research on the places on your travel bucket list.   
Coming up with a list of dream destinations will engage and help educate your children about the different cultures around the world. Even if you’re not planning a trip immediately, working on a bucket list will help you dream now and travel later. 
There are lots of ways to do armchair traveling with your children: reading books, watching movies and TV shows, listening to podcasts or songs about traveling or taking online tours. Or you could go a step further and ask your child’s teacher if he or she has information on organizations that connect pen pals. Writing to someone their own age in another country can help children expand their horizons.
Don’t overlook the kitchen when you’re doing vacation research. You can involve the whole family in searching recipes, making a list of ingredients and cooking a meal that’s from a place on your travel bucket list. When you finally get there, you’ll be able to compare your effort with the local cuisine. 
As an easy first step, have your kids interview friends or family members who have traveled to another country or a different part of the United States. Help them draw up a list of questions to ask: How far away is this place? What were their favorite attractions and foods? What souvenirs did they bring home? If it’s a foreign country, ask how the languages, money and customs were different. If possible, have family members show pictures of the location via Zoom, Facebook Live or other video sites.  
Museum websites are also a good way to pique your children’s curiosity about places across the country and around the world, helping them figure out which spots they’d like to visit. For instance, New York City’s American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org) has lots of online photos, as well as games and other activities for children interested in dinosaurs. If your family loves the beach and swimming, check out northern California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium (montereybayaquarium.org), to learn about marine life and view the aquarium’s webcams. From your living room, your children can explore the world of flight at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (airandspace.si.edu) in Washington, D.C. A virtual tour of The Louvre (louvre.fr) in Paris offers an up-close look at the Mona Lisa. 
Books — including picture books, memoirs and travelogues — are a perfect way to become immersed in a new place without leaving home. Browse your library’s online catalogue or search online book listing to help you put together a list of titles to read that will whet your appetite for travel.
For travel ideas delivered to your inbox, several sites offer online virtual tours. Travel Leaders Group has launched Armchair Explorer, weekly emails including entries on topics such as the best places to go whale watching, breathtaking online tours of national parks and museums, wonders of the world such as the Taj Mahal in India and Rome’s Colosseum, and links to travel audiobooks. 
It won’t be long until people will feel safe to travel again.  While you are waiting for that day, make the most of this time with your children and include them in plans for your next big adventure!
Amy Eben
The Travel Advantage
©  Travel Leaders Group