One of the best things about traveling is learning about other cultures and lifestyles. If your child is new to exploring the world, you will get a kick out of his or her wide eyes, confused expression or unique perspective. You will be surprised how much you learn through your little one’s eyes.
Adventuring through new cultural terrain on family vacations can change how you and your children view the world and the people around you. There is always something new to learn, see and experience when you immerse yourself in a new culture!
Stepping Through History
There are two very different ways to get a feel for culture. One is to visit historical spots and soak up information about the past. Each location varies in its history and significance, but every destination has something to teach. In Taipei, learn about three distinct faiths—Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism—at one of Taiwan’s countless temples.
Europe is full of old-world sites like the Acropolis in Athens, Greece and the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. These ancient sites provide children with unique family vacations that they can remember in their history classes for years to come. Similarly, cities like Krakow in Poland have obviously been rebuilt, but still house many artifacts and buildings that were crafted during Medieval times.
For more recent history, stay closer to home and visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia, to learn about those that founded this country and the culture they crafted in our nation’s past.
Another option for learning about the cultures of the world is to immerse yourself. Pack up the family and head somewhere new where you can live among the locals. It will enrich your trip and instill an appreciation for other cultures in your children.
So how do you immerse yourself? Just jump in! One great way is to learn the language and customs, like saying “thank you” in Mandarin or learning to make dried fish in Taiwan. In Hawaii, attend a luau or learn to surf to embrace the island culture. For a different island experience, dive deep to make friends with marine life in Curacao. Join in on a local celebration, like Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, to get a taste of local holiday customs. Family vacations to the Amazon in Ecuador can give children a chance to hike through the jungle and cacao fields or sit among butterflies.
Instead of sticking to Rome, where there is plenty to learn, rent a farmhouse in the Italian countryside and spend your time as if you lived there permanently. It will give you a real taste of local lifestyle. In Vietnam, stay in a small village and walk or bike to neighboring towns to get a feel for the area. Family vacations in less-traveled areas give children a new perspective on everything from food and housing to transportation and local scenery. In Peru, living amongst the locals means riding in boats made of reeds and learning about medicinal plants.
Some vacation spots, like the California town of Solvang, allow travelers to learn the culture of another place entirely. Though it is located on North America’s western coastline, Solvang is the Danish capital of America and is therefore inspired by the cities and culture of Denmark.
Between Family Vacations
Since we can’t always be traveling, immerse your kids in culture from your own home as well. Our Art of Travel section is filled with travel games for kids that can be completed on the road or in your own living room. Discuss the 1,000 species of frogs that fill the Amazon basin as you doodle and design colorful amphibians. Talk about tribal patterns and the importance of jewelry to African cultures as you create your own decorative neckwear. Teach your child above Native American teepees, crafted with buffalo hide and wooden poles, while they create their own. Study the work of French artist Henri Matisse as you cut out abstract shapes and make your own piece of modern art.
Other Pure Wander travel activities for kids explore aspects of culture in Japan, Mexico, Greece, Thailand and more. You can find rich culture wherever you go—even your own home.