How You Can Take a Vacation
and Keep it Educational for the Kids

See also: Top Tips for Surviving the School Holidays

When most adults envision going on vacation, they probably think about relaxing without work or other responsibilities. Many parents worry that their kids will stop thinking over vacation and lose focus for the next school year. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Taking a vacation is one of the best ways you can invest in your kids this summer. When children travel, they learn through hands-on experiences and build skills that benefit them for the rest of their lives. Here are seven ways that you can take a vacation and keep it educational for the kids.

1. Read About It

Before you pack and head to your destination, give your kids some context. Spend some time talking about where you’re going and answering any questions they may have. If you’re visiting a historical site, sit down with books and movies that explain more about your destination’s history.

This works for trips that aren’t historical too – for example, you can give your kids fictional and scientific books about the beach before your summer vacation. Reading will challenge your children to engage with their trip in a new way. For kids, vacation is less about rest and more about exploring new ideas.

2. Practice Courage

Travel isn’t for the faint of heart. You can strengthen your kids’ courage over vacation by helping them engage with their fears in a healthy way. For example, your five-year son might be scared of water. During your vacation, you can spend time with him in and around water, helping him build safety skills that reduce his fear.

Although travel can be exciting, it often pushes people out of their comfort zones. If you really want to help your kids grow, let them see you challenge yourself. If you’re afraid of heights, go bungee jumping. If that’s too much, try a zipline. Your children will learn to push themselves if they see you personally growing during vacation.

3. Make New Friends

People carry a wealth of information and experiences with them. While you’re on vacation, take every opportunity to make new friends and learn more about other people. This is especially important if you’re traveling far away from home – locals can help you understand and enjoy surprising elements of a foreign culture.

Wherever you go, try to meet new people who can expand your kids’ horizons in a positive way. If you’re vacationing at the beach, talk to other families with kids. Go to local meet-ups and classes where you can find friends. Summer vacation is also a good time to teach your kids how to engage with strangers safely.

4. Embrace the Outdoors

Engaging with the environment inspires wonder and curiosity. Wherever you go this summer, spend time outdoors exploring the natural world. You can have your kids complete a scavenger hunt or simply talk about what you see while you’re out hiking. Learn about the ecosystem you’re visiting and practice identifying new plants and animals.

Research shows that spending time outside reduces stress and strengthens the immune system. Nature reduces mental anxiety and rumination, calming the brain so it can think and learn from a relaxed state. Spending time outside teaches your kids to ask big questions and recognize their connection to the planet.

5. Visit a Foreign Country

You don’t have to leave the country for your kids to have amazing, educational travel experiences. However, crossing national boundaries can give your kids new perspectives on themselves and others. When kids experience new places with their own five senses, geography comes alive.

Traveling to a foreign country gives you the opportunity to talk about communication, respect and human expression. Language and cultural differences will help your kids understand both how different and how similar humans around the world can be. Foreign travel will push your kids to expand their minds, hearts and dreams.

6. Visit Museums

Going on vacation usually involves traveling across space. You can take your kids on a journey through time by heading to local museums and learning centers in the locations you visit. Museums are a great way for families to learn more about the history and culture of a specific location.

They make learning fun by helping kids experience history in a tangible way. Talk through exhibits with your kids and connect what they’re learning with personal experiences. Let your kids ask questions and follow up on topics they find interesting.

7. Document the Journey

Reflection can turn any vacation into an educational experience. Have your kids keep a journal where they write down their thoughts and experiences during vacation. After you get home, you can read through these memories together and contrast your different experiences. Writing will help your kids develop their thinking muscles.

You could also give your kids disposable cameras so they can document the trip. Let them take pictures of the things that matter to them from unique angles. Nothing brings back memories like a photo. After your vacation, you can turn these pictures into a scrapbook so the trip stays fresh in their minds.

8. The Power of Experience

Invest in your kids’ education by taking a family vacation this summer. Whether you go abroad or drive an hour away, your kids will gain new perspectives and experiences that they can draw from for the rest of their lives. Travel will awaken your kids’ curiosity, fill them with wonder and inspire them with new ideas.

To make your vacation more educational, learn about where you’re going beforehand. Visit museums, document memories and help your kids face their fears. Intentionally make new friends and spend tons of time outside. Travel outside the country to experience culture shock and new perspectives.

About the Author

Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you'll find her in a yoga class, advocating for body positivity, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen, or smashing the patriarchy.