I love to travel. Aside from the derailment of my schedule, the expense, the hassle of airport security with three kids, the planning, the food (or rather, my gut’s reactions to it), not speaking the native language, getting a house sitter, and all that other stuff that travel often involves, it’s great. Visiting historical sites, exploring museums, soaking up local culture, and buying souvenirs are all awesome. However, I am here to tell you that you can have all the awesomeness and none of the headaches using one simple tool: the Internet.
How to Take a Virtual Vacation
- Decide where you want to visit. You can pick anywhere in the world, but realize that some places are going to have a lot more information available online. For example, Venice or Paris might be easier than, say, Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan.
- Plan the sights you want to see. Travel guides and blogs would be great places to begin looking for ideas. Museums, monuments, and famous landmarks are good places to start. Once you have a list, look for websites that have good information and lots of pictures! You might even start a Pinterest board for your trip to help keep track of your links. And don’t forget to check your local library for any good books they might have on hand. If you’re looking for some good websites to start gathering information for a virtual trip, you might try:
- Ask good questions. “Why is this famous?” “When was this built?” “Who is this named after?” etc. Write down your questions—you don’t have to know the answers (yet).
Taking the Trip:
- Introduce your kids to the location. Tell them about it, and give them some initial reading (online or in a book).
- Read, look, talk, and play. Show your kids the websites, your Pinterest board, books you checked out, etc. Discuss them, point out great pictures, and have fun.
- Have an information scavenger hunt. Bring out your list of questions, and let your kids add to them. Answer as many as you can. You might even make a little competition to see how answers many each kid can find!
- Make a notebook. Treat it like a vacation scrapbook. Include things like a map of your (imagined) travel route; homemade “tickets” for your plane, train, or bus trip; printed photos of the locations you visit; notes, quotes, trivia, and stories; coins, stamps, and collectibles from the country; anything else you think would be fun or interesting. Bonus points if you send a Flat Stanley or find a pen pal in your chosen location.
- Slideshow time! OK, you don’t have to invite people over to look at slides of your vacation for an hour and a half, but do give your kids a chance to share what they’ve learned. A informal oral report will do the trick. Grab Dad after dinner and show off their notebook, laugh at the funny Photoshopped picture of Kris climbing the Eiffel Tower, and talk about the cool things they discovered along the way.