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9 ways to teach your kids about the world without leaving home

By IMOGEN HALL
updated September 29, 2021
Boy looking out train window tips for traveling with kids
Sarah Ricks

Do you want to travel the world with your kids but find yourselves limited by finances, school holidays, illness, or your family’s environmental impact? While you may struggle to completely replicate the incredible experience of travel, there are plenty of ways you can introduce your kids to the world without even leaving your home. As Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Use these ideas to have family adventures from home, while leaving no carbon footprint.

A young boy leans over his world map that he's colouring in. Next to him is an open atlasThere are many great resources to help families explore the world from home © Teresa Short / Getty Images

1. Read fact books and atlases

From Dr Seuss to Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and beyond, fiction is a fantastic way to take kids on a journey to faraway places. But in terms of properly learning about the world, nothing beats a really good atlas or fact book. Thankfully, any decent bookshop has a wealth of beautifully-illustrated, carefully-researched and well-designed children's non-fiction books about our wonderful world.

We’re not just talking about our own range of Lonely Planet Kids books here. Keep younger children busy with Usborne’s Lift the Flap Picture Atlas, while older kids will love learning about how geography has shaped the political world with the children’s version of Prisoners of Geography. Maps is another one to treasure with detailed pages of cultural information overlaid onto regional maps. If you’re looking for more ideas, family travel bloggers at ytravelblog have put together 12 suggestions for books about maps for kids.

Two young children sit on a wooden floor surrounded by colourful blocks. The oldest child has built a towerGet creative with junk modelling, or build landmarks with blocks © Cavan Images / Getty Images

2. Get crafty and creative

Toddlers exploring new lands in cardboard boats, younger children fashioning landmarks with play dough, wooden bricks or Lego, and tweens and teens making laser cut models or 3D puzzles from kits; whatever age your kids are there are ways to create something fun together which tells them a bit more about the world. To get you started, our Cardboard Box Creations book has lots of ideas for junk modelling, the Brick City series shows you how to make landmarks from New York, London and Paris from Lego and you can even build your own History or Dinosaur Museum.

Both Lego’s Architecture series and CubicFun’s three-dimensional models are big hits with older children – and making these together is a lovely way to bond with your increasingly independent tween or teen. If you want to keep things simple, get the kids making their own map or drawing a landmark. Colouring in a world map on a doodle pillowcase is a surprisingly educational and mindful activity for the whole family.

An aerial view of a table covered with different dishes, including rice, a curry dish, roasted chicken and a saladLearn about a culture through its food © Zurijeta / Shutterstock

3. Take a culinary tour

Is there a better way to get to know another culture than through its food? If you can’t get first-hand experience of these new tastes then bring them into your own kitchen. Use kids cookbooks such as The Around The World Cookbook or follow the BBC show My World Kitchen where children from different countries show you how to make a typical dish.

Make it even more fun by turning your kitchen into a local cafe or street food hut, complete with menu (and prices in the local currency), music and appropriate cutlery and crockery. Start simple with a gingham tablecloth, some croissants and milky chocolat chaud to take you to Paris and progress to making sushi, mastering chopsticks and a more mindful eating experience in Japan.

4. Dance to kid-friendly tunes from around the world

Put on some tunes from around the world and have a dance. Luckily for you we’ve got just the playlist to get your family started on their global musical tour. You could also pick a country you want to visit and teach yourselves a dance using a bit of inspiration from YouTube.

5. Try language apps and online quizzes

With apps and gaming there are plenty of opportunities to learn while you have fun. Stack the States or Stack the Countries, Flags of the World, Animal Quiz, Duolingo (for language learning), DimDomWorld Map all come recommended and we’ve not even got started on virtual reality. The sky is the limit when it comes to online opportunities to learn about the world, just make sure you spend some time on the device with your kids so you know what they are doing.

A row of colourful houses with pointed roofs stand alongside a dock. There is forest on the hills behind and the snow is falling heavilyBergen in Norway, the inspiration for Arendelle in Frozen © Tatyana Vyc / Shutterstock

6. Get the television on

While we know we should be avoiding too much screen time for our kids, there’s no denying that children can accumulate a lot of knowledge by watching and playing on screens. Something as simple as family movie night complete with themed snacks, can provide the chance to transport the whole family far away from your home for a couple of hours. Think of Indiana Jones and the Middle East, Frozen and Scandinavia, Ratatouille and Paris, Rio and Rio de Janeiro, to name but a few.

Common Sense Media has an extensive list of educational TV shows for kids, but obvious places to start are the Planet Earth or Nature series. With smaller children you can’t go wrong with the British series Go Jetters, where four explorers travel the world learning all about major landmarks.

A young girl places the final pieces in a colourful jigsaw of the USA, while an adult watches onMap puzzles help children see how parts of the world fit together © Camille Tokerud / Getty Images

7. Complete a map jigsaw

As much as we appreciate the benefits of technology in terms of learning about the world, when it comes to family bonding nothing can beat a digital detox and time spent together on a more "traditional" activity. Working on a jigsaw together can create a strong sense of teamwork. For younger children choose a world map, solar system or even simple animal pairs which gives you a chance to talk about what you see as everything comes together. Older children will relish the challenge of more and smaller pieces, and might enjoy identifying the landmarks at the end in this 1000pc one from Ravensburger.

8. Try your luck with world-themed board games

Risk and other games involving world domination are a good way to develop a (slightly skewed) sense of geography in older children. Train enthusiasts will love Ticket to Ride, which comes in all sorts of variations for different parts of the world. You can create your own little vexillologist with Flags of the World, consolidate their knowledge of the US with Scrambled States and make them a super quizzer by focussing on the geography questions with the family edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Sustainable travel goals for 2020

Sustainable travel goals for 2020

Make meaningful travel goals for 2020 - from escaping the crowds to travelling by train.

9. Get fancy with some dress up

Lastly, if you want to feel really good about your parenting, one of the best analogue games you can play is to dress everyone up as explorers (or Greeks, or wizards, or whatever your dressing-up box or household can find) and go marauding around your home finding objects that show you something about the world. Reconvene and get everyone to tell you what they know about their object, create a story about it, or simply use it as something to research and learn about.


This article originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet

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How rum is making at comeback at these 6 distilleries

Quick: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions rum? Chances are you think about sticky-sweet, umbrella-garnished beach drinks, fraternity parties, or Coke. But in 2020, this historic spirit is more diverse, sophisticated and, most importantly, funner than ever before, as American small distilleries produce a variety of styles – both classic and creative. Their spirits can hold their own against time-tested legacy brands. Like any craft spirit, rum is arguably best enjoyed at the source, where you can talk to distillers and see how it’s made. Here are a few to check out around the US and Caribbean when you’re passing by. 1. Lassiter Distilling Company: Knightdale, North Carolina Yes, the Caribbean is the heartbeat of the rum industry and rum was a cornerstone of Colonial New England’s economy, but here’s a little lesser known fact: before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, rum was drunk all along North Carolina’s coast. 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Lyon Distilling Co.: Saint Michaels, Maryland When Lyon Distilling launched in 2013, it completed a drinking trifecta. Now travelers can visit a brewery, a winery and a distillery, all within Saint Michaels, a one-square-mile town on the Chesapeake Bay’s picturesque eastern shore. Located 45 minutes from Annapolis and 90 minutes from Washington and Baltimore, the town attracts makers of all sorts, like boat-builders and brewers. That, along with the fact that the bywaters of the Chesapeake were a rum-running hub during Prohibition, convinced co-founder Jaime Windon that this was an ideal spot to open a distillery and make maritime spirits. “The proper shore is 90 minutes from us. With all the sailors coming through there, making rum feels right on Bay,” Windon says. 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Inspiration

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Inspiration

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A long time locals favorite – it’s nickname is “The Legend,” A-Basin has a fun vibe and food and drinks on the mountain are affordable for Summit County. The resort is also famous for its parking lot scene around The Beach – the part of the lot that backs up to the lower mountain chairlifts. Reminiscent of a football tailgating party, expect music, dogs, brews and full-on cookouts. For lodging, prices are definitely a bit higher as you are in the heart of Summit County, which is home to mega resorts like Breckenridge and Keystone. There are a number of small towns that service all these resorts including Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne. Hotels start at about $125 per person per night, but Airbnbs can go for around $75 per person per night. All of these towns have fast casual or straight up fast food dining options as well as affordable restaurants and some good craft breweries that also serve food.