This past summer, I was fortunate enough to take my kids on their first trip abroad, to England. In addition to being able to spend a day with fellow GeekDad Nathan Barry, we had a lot of things to look forward to — sights around London, Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, Bath, and more. This was no small undertaking and I wanted to make sure my kids got the most out of it.
My solution was to put my son and daughters in charge of our trip. While my wife and I laid out the itinerary, it was my ten-year-olds’ responsibility to learn about the places we were going to visit and act as our tour guides on the days that we visited specific landmarks and museums.
The experiment was a spectacular success. Prior to departing, they used their research skills from school to discover pertinent facts, interesting and unique details, and to craft reports that they could deliver upon reaching our destination. In addition to creating a wonderful database of information, the reports also had the pleasant side effect of stirring up even more excitement for our trip than I thought possible.
During our whirlwind tour, my wife and I got more joy out of listening to our junior tour guides than nearly anything else on our trip. (The exception being reading The Hobbit with my son, beneath a tree on a hilltop in Oxfordshire.)
Standing outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, waiting for the changing of the guards, I knew we had made the right decision. As my kids pointed out features and talked about the history of the palace, another child sat next to us, his back to the parade ground, playing Angry Birds on his phone. Months later, my kids are still talking about the things they saw and learned on this trip. This is definitely a strategy we’ll be using on future vacations.
Main image by Flickr user HarcoRutgers. Featured image by Flickr user ell brown, and has been altered. Both images used under Creative Commons licensing.