It’s probably safe to say most of our passports have remained tucked away, collecting dust over the last 6 months. Even domestic travel has probably not happened as often, if at all, for so many. Our world has been turned upside down yet it’s still here, longing to be explored.But even if we can’t travel on a plane, train or automobile to near and far places, we can still visit all of the beauty of our world from home.
As a family of 6 with 4 young boys, traveling isn’t always in the budget, especially across the globe. But we have a deep desire to share the world with our children. There are cultures, foods, and scenery to be seen and people to be met. While at the library one day, the boys and I stumbled into the travel section and we grabbed book after book, dreaming of visiting these places in person. And that’s when we decided to start our staycation travel from home nights.
Once a month, our family picks a country to learn about. We research the food and plan a delicious meal, make or get decorations that go with the culture of that country, and invite some friends or family to enjoy the travel experience with us. These have been such a hit and an incredible learning experience for our family. Although a lot of the work and preparation does fall on us adults, the boys look forward to planning and helping with these experiences. Something so simple has become such a fun and educational bonding opportunity for our family.
These nights are great for families of any age, and you can easily cater it to the ages and preferences of your guests. With a little preparation and creativity, anyone can have their own staycation. So far our family has “traveled” to France, Mexico, Hawaii, and Egypt with plans for New England, Iceland and Poland coming up.
Here are some ideas to include in your own travel from home night to make your experience feel as if you are really there:
This is by far my FAVORITE part of our cultural travel nights. Thanks to the Internet, we can research everything we need. I love Pinterest for discovering delicious recipes. I like to find dishes authentic and popular to the country we are learning about yet have ingredients I can easily find. I start with an appetizer or two, add on a main dish with some sides and salads, and we finish with a dessert. We also like to try drinks, if possible, from these countries. Our most-loved has been mint limeade from Egypt. So many of the foods and drinks we’ve tried are going to be made again.
When it comes to food preparation, I like to make as much as I can in advance, while saving some of the fun things to make with our boys and guests. This is about the experience so I like to ensure we save some of the baking prep to do together. It’s more about the journey for sure.
Our family, like many others, are on a budget, so we try to make these nights simple while sill making it feel like we are in the destination we are learning about. The kids will usually make flags or crafts related to the country. I find a lot of affordable backdrops, banners, tablecloths and additional items from Amazon as well.
There is something about music that just transports us. Thanks to Amazon Music, there are plenty of playlists that bring the culture and ambience to the next level.
The library is where it all started for us so we like to go back there with each new destination and check out books. From read-alouds to children’s books to books with great pictures, there’s usually a great assortment, and it’s a fun way to explore the world through reading together.
We love watching movies as a family, and our country nights are a great way to pull in history and culture of the country through movies. It’s amazing how many kid-friendly movies there are to choose from.
Another way we love to discover the world through media is to watch aerial videos of the country or any videos that feature historical sites, scenery, the people, and its culture. YouTube has been a big help for these videos.
My crafty art-loving boys find any chance to make a craft. Thanks to Pinterest and some creativity of our own, we come up with crafts to pull in the country’s history and culture. Hieroglyphic writing for Egypt night was a great way to pull in history, culture, and art. Plus, the kids were able to decorate our table to make it extra festive before dinner. And if there’s a fun game along the way, we are always ready to play. We had limbo and hula dancing for Hawaii night, and it was almost too much fun.
These ideas are a good start, but let your own imagination and budget help you plan. The heart of these nights is to gain a deeper appreciation for other countries and their people. The more we can embrace all of our differences, the more likely we are to reject hate and embrace differences. Learning that different is good and seeing the world for what it is at an early age is so important. These nights are fun, but they are so much more than just good fun and decorations.
The experiences are always so exciting and something I hope our boys will cherish and remember. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it’s the simplicity of these moments that makes it so special. Whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or not, traveling from home is a beautiful chance to connect with your family in a unique and educational way.