Traveling with kids can be tricky. We think you know that if you ever tried to visit some places with your youngster. Choosing the right activities and programs to keep them entertained and engaged is the key. Here we have gathered the top 6 things to do with your kids that not only will be fun but also help them to learn new things, and motivate them to discover different cultural experiences when traveling.
Best Cultural Experiences to Try with Kids When Traveling
We love taking our kids everywhere and have been traveling for over 20 years with them. While we love visiting beaches, and mountain towns, one of our favorites is exploring historic sites and learning about different cultures. Visiting the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona left such an impact on my daughter, she wrote her high school essay about it. My son’s college application was based on his experience from our visit to Lisbon, where we had a local guide take us to different spots both scenic and cultural, and even enjoyed Fado on our last night in Portugal.
You don’t have to commit to an entire cultural trip when traveling with kids, all-day museum visits and historic site explorations might not be what a toddler or young kids enjoy. You can slowly introduce them to different cultural experiences in between other activities. Make it bite size and hands-on activities.
Here are some ways to add cultural experiences when traveling with kids:
1. Hire a local Guide when visiting Cultural Sites
Every place has a story to tell, but you won’t hear it on a packed tour bus. The best way to experience a place and truly understand its people – past and present, is to explore it with a local person or guide. This way both adults and kids can hear stories… and have meaningful and memorable experiences.
When visiting a new location, especially cultural sites we like to hire a local guide. Recently in Athen, we visited the Acropolis and Parthenon to learn about the Greek culture and mythology with the help of our guide from Athenian Tours. It was so informative for us and our kids.
Here are some places/websites where you can find guides and small private tours:
- GetYourGuide has an extensive collection of experience and tours
- Walks Tours provides memorable experiences like after-hours drinks at the Met Museum, time alone in St. Mark’s Basilica, and more. Quality experiences that are just a little bit different than the norm.
- Context Travel offers private and small group tours for travelers who love to learn.
- Do the research and hire a local guide or ask a local friend to take you around.
2. Mask Making Workshop in Venice
Venice is a beautiful city on the water, famous for gondola rides, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the legendary Venetian festival, Carnivale dates back to the 17th century. The symbol of this festival is the Venetian mask. It can be bought in many souvenir shops, but you can also attend a class and paint it by yourself.
Kids can create their own unique keepsake of Venice at a Carnival mask-making workshop. They can learn about the ancient techniques of creating masks from papier-mâché. It will be fun for the children because they will be able to satisfy their need for creativity and also learn about the origins of these masks.
Older kids might enjoy visiting art museums but younger kids will enjoy hands-on art experiences. You can do some research to find these experience that is offered in most cities. An interesting activity for children and adults is to paint a Faberge egg in St. Petersburg, Russia, or try a Batik workshop when visiting Bali.
3. Attend a Tea Ceremony in Japan
Japan is another great country to visit with kids, it offers many cultural experiences. From the tea ceremony to ikebana (a form of art that involves artistically arranging flowers of different seasons in a flower vase), learning about Samurai, Japan’s fierce and honorable warriors, to calligraphy – both kids and adults can indulge in a large variety of cultural experiences that are both authentic and fun.
A few of our favorite memories from Japan are the Ninja training the kids did in Kyoto and learning about kids, the many Zen Temples we visited and the day we followed our guide through Tokyo with our kids.
4. Go Truffle Hunting in Italy
What child doesn’t like looking for treasures? And add in a cute dog, no child can resist this activity!
Truffle hunting is ALMOST the same! As a bonus you can try a meal made with truffle at the end of the activity or sometimes you can buy it at a discounted price or go home with some truffle oil or truffle-based goods.
You can go truffle hunting in Northern Italy, Provence, or even in Greece! There are several species of truffles that can be found in Italy, but the most famous are these three: white tuber magnum pico, black and Bianchetto, or tuber borchii.
1. White truffles are the most popular among connoisseurs because of their aroma, sharpness, and taste. The most famous is the white truffle Alba from the Piedmont region. They are be found in Marche, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Abruzzo, Umbria, Lazio and Molise.
2. Black truffles are probably the best in the world. In Italy, the best black truffles are in Norcia and Spoleto in Umbria.
3. Bianchetto, also called spring white truffles or “March”, grows all over the country. They are white truffle’s poor cousin and less smelly and smaller.
In general, you can go truffle hunting all year round, but specific varieties have their seasons:
● Alba, white truffle: end of September – December.
● Black: November – March.
● Bianchetti truffle: January – April.
There are also truffle festivals, you can plan a trip around it (lucky you!):
● in October, there is a festival dedicated to the white truffles of Piedmont;
● in November — Alba International Truffle Festival;
● the last three weekends of November are the truffle festival in San Miniato (Tuscany);
● The second and third weekends of November, the truffle festival is celebrated in the southeast of Siena — in San Giovanni d’Asso.
5. Take Cooking lessons in Thailand or Vietnam
Do your kids enjoy eating and trying new dishes? Book a cooking class where you can shop for authentic produce in local markets and then cook up a storm in the lively class. Thailand and Vietnam are great places where you will be able to learn about new cultures through food. You will probably not find such a variety of dishes and tastes in any other country. So, why not try to cook something from their national cuisines together with kids?
The names of some of the Thai dishes may be hard to pronounce but they are so delicious. Perhaps this experience will inspire you and the kids to experiment with cooking when you come home.
6. Visit a Chocolate Farm in Costa Rica
Kids love chocolate! And if you are a fan of it too, this tour will bring joy and happiness to all of your family and also can be a new way of education for your children. During the tour, you will see how chocolate cocoa beans are grown, and the process of collecting and drying them. You will also learn how chocolate was used in ancient cultures and how it is processed today.
Science plays a big part in chocolate making. If your child has subjects such as chemistry or physics, you can easily explain processes such as the controlled crystallization. An important step is where the cocoa butter is cooled at a temperature that results in uniform and stable crystals. You can even describe the observation to them in the lab report. If you face any problems with it, you can easily search for lab writing samples or lab report writing services.
Plan ahead and book this tour to the first international cocoa plantation in the Central Pacific Region of Costa Rica and of course, you can try fresh, real organic chocolate.
I hope this post about 6 tips to include cultural experiences when traveling with children was helpful. You and your child will never get bored while traveling, in addition, you will spend a good time together and get the best cultural experience.
Featured Photo of Holi celebration from Pixabay.
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