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How to Turn Family Travel into Learning Experience for Kids?

Travels with Charlie

Are you planning a family vacation or a family travel soon? Travel with kids is fun, but tiring sometime. In addition to fun, travel is a great learning experience for kids. They will see things they don’t usually see in their everyday life, have different daily routine, meet different people, eat different food, … Mostly, kids are excited about travel. It is a great opportunity to mix some learning into the excitement.

How to turn travel into learning experience for kids

how to turn family travels into fun learning experience for kids
What can parents do to make the travel experience into a fun learning experience for kids? Here are some tips I learned over time, and I would love to hear yours too.

1. Have kids join the travel planning:

We recently had a spring vacation to NY. Before the vacation, we read some books about NY together. There are many traveling books for kids. We found Travels with Charlie and read the one covers Northeast areas. In the book, there is a page cover each state in Northeast area. For NY, we see most major landmarks in the NY state, such as Niagara Falls, Wall Street. There are enough coverage for the New York city too. Turn travel experience into learning experience - read ahead

In addition to books, we also did some online search together to find some interesting things for kids to do in NY. We decided together several places we want to visit: 1-2 key landmarks, like Empire State Building; 2-3 museums, like Guggenheim, MET, Natural History Museum; 2-3 fun places for kids, like the Hall of science. The highlight is the Sony Wonder Lab. It is a hands-on science museum and it is free. My son had the best time there.

2. Learn about the places you plan to visit ahead of time.

Books are great way to learn about places. Many places have their own website and apps that have tons of information. We visited Guggenheim website together. I downloaded Guggenheim app long before the trip. We were able to use the app to identify some art pieces we want to see and read something about the artwork before we visited the museum. I found learning ahead of time helped tremendously on museum visits with kids. It holds the child’s interest to visit the pieces you talked about, it also reduces the pressure to force everything you want kids to know in the short time period of the visit.

3. Find a fun way to help kids record the travel experience.

We used several apps to create travel journals. To name a few: Explain Everything, Doodlecast, Haiku Deck, now is free; Book Creator; StoryKit, which is free.

These apps let kids take pictures, and import the pictures into the app, then add text or drawing to tell the story of the picture.

We usually ask my son to pick at least one picture from each day to put in the app, and add some quick notes every time when he selected the picture. By the end of the vacation, he had at least something to keep for the future and it was made by himself.

If you don’t have access to apps, an instant camera will also be a great idea. You can even give the camera to kids and don’t have to worry about your good camera get damaged.

What are your tips in getting kids to learn while travelling?

Below I listed some apps mentioned in this article.
If you would like to check it out or purchase it, please use the App Store link provided below. The cost is the same to you, but iGameMom gets a small percentage. Thanks for your support! Note: The link works for all countries.

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Looking for more learning ideas for family travel or holiday travel? Check out Smart Ways to Use Tablets During Family Travel and 11 Math Activities for Family Vacation and Holiday Travel.
smart ways to use of tablets with kids during travel
kid math activities for family vacation and holiday travel


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{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Wendy

    You are SO right! Travel is one of THE best learning experiences for children. Never underestimate the curiosity and enthusiasm of a child, no matter the age. The library is FULL of books for children to introduce artists, cultures, countries, and cities. Fiction books that take place in the location of your trip are great too. One hint I used successfully for years: When going to a museum, visit the gift shop first. Buy postcards of art works or objects in the museum and create a treasure hunt as you look for those art works or objects during your visit. 🙂

    • That is a brilliant idea. I will have to try it next time. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lisa Nolan

    I loved your post! Perfect for summer time! So many great travel tips for families! We hope to go camping for the first time (together as a family)! Pinning and sharing!

  • Shelah

    When children are well prepared travel always goes easier. You have some really helpful tips here. The travel apps look awesome, I will have to check them out.

    • Those apps do make it a lot easier and more fun for kids to record their journey. It was fun to use.

  • JDaniel4's Mom

    My son loves to talk about trips! We need to involve him more in planning them.

    • It is also helps to prevent the last minute “I don’t want to go there” – since it is his pick. 🙂

  • Country Fun

    Have shared this through my facebook page for my families before their summer plans are set. Love the ideas suggested and think some of them will too.
    We love Doodle cast and Explain Everything for productive apps. Even the 2 yr old has used them.

    • Thanks for sharing the ideas. Explain Everything is one of my favorite. 🙂

  • Michelle @ Delightful Learning

    This is great! I never make the time to explore before traveling!! Great ideas. 🙂

    • We started doing it a couple years ago. I love it. The child usually got over excited or tired during vacation, and it was hard to get him to learn something completely new many times. Learning ahead time works really well for us.

  • Jodie @ Growing Book by Book

    I love the travel journal idea. Can’t wait to explore some of these apps.

    • Thanks Jodie. Can’t wait to read everyone’s post for each state.

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