Written by Emily Kaufman, thetravelmom.com
This week, we have the honor of welcoming Guest Contributor Emily Kaufman, “The Travel Mom.” Emily has held high-profile television positions, such as The Travel Contributor for Good Morning America, and made appearances on programs like The View and Rachel Ray. Emily is the proud mother of two college-aged kids that have been her constant traveling companions and served as the source of her inspiration. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @thetravelmom.
In my humble opinion, there is no better way to learn than by experiencing something. Travel provides the perfect opportunity to get hands on, down and dirty, up close with an educational opportunity. There are many different places to visit, things to do, sites to see, and people to meet. Combining an educational experience with a fun family getaway has always been one of my favorite things.
I believe in thinking out of the box when it comes to creating fun learning opportunities. We are all aware of museums that are designed for kids, and they are terrific. I like to take it one step further and find ways to provide “real life” educational experiences for families by looking for situations that allow folks to actually participate in “doing” something.
Most every city has a Convention and Visitor’s Bureau that has the responsibility of promoting an entire destination. These organizations offer the most comprehensive look at what activities and events are taking place. CVB websites are a great starting point when it comes to looking into combining family fun and learning. There is usually a section for “families” and/or “educational vacations” on these sites, so they are easy to navigate.
Do a little research before you visit a city, and find out a bit about their history before you arrive. There are all kinds of ways to bring these stories to life that range from living history museums to walking tours led by people in character. You can ride in boats, tour on bikes, drive on segways, or hop on and off busses to experience a city.
Food is always an important part of a travel experience and brings much of the history to life. It is through food that many people are able to share tradition and culture. Try to seek out locally owned restaurants, so you can meet people and learn about the city through dining. Folks in the restaurant business tend to be warm and love sharing stories with their customers.
Often times, we learn by doing, and travel gives us the opportunity to participate in activities we wouldn’t do at home. Zip-lining, kayaking, and skiing are great ways to take in a new environment. Fly fishing, picking fruit from an orchard, or snorkeling provide up close looks at how things work. Touring engine rooms on cruise ships, going behind the scenes of a stadium, or working on a dude ranch all give us a chance to really experience things we have only read about or seen on TV.
Learning doesn’t stop just because we graduate from school. I believe it is a lifelong process that can continue as a family. If as adults, we show our kids that we are eager for new experiences, we model good habits for life. Take advantage of opportunities to show your children that travel is a gift and a terrific way to keep broadening all horizons.
Share some of your great family travel stories in the comments section!