An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Traveling with Kids: Two Ways to Keep them Engaged

Are you taking your family on a road trip? Traipsing through Europe? Exploring the Grand Canyon? Walking the streets of Manhattan? Here are two ways ours family makes those trips fun, educational, and memorable.

The Scavenger Hunt

When my husband and I took our boys on their first trip to Italy, I prepared a scavenger hunt highlighting some of the things I knew we would be seeing. The night before we left I gave them each a disposable camera and a list of 25 items to look for during our trip. Some of the items on the list were obvious: someone eating a gelato; a tower that leans; a sign written in Italian; a Vespa. Some weren't so obvious: a lion carved in stone (the lion is the symbol of Venice and is found everywhere in that city); a love letter to Juliet (the wall near Juliet's balcony is plastered with love letters asking for advice). Each time they found an item on their list, they took a picture of it.

They loved the scavenger hunt and took it very seriously. Once we returned home they put the list and their photos in a small album thereby creating a wonderful keepsake of their travels.

Postcard Journals

For that same trip I also wanted to find a way for the boys to record what they were seeing and learning. I knew, however, that a traditional travel journal was not going to work; instead, every day the boys would send postcards to themselves!

Here's how it worked: After a day spent sightseeing, the boys would select a postcard and write some highlights of the day. A postcard was perfect because they had a picture of what they saw, and the limited space on the back kept their journaling down to a few sentences. I kept stamps in my wallet, and whenever there was an opportunity we would drop them in the mail.

The best part was that a few days after returning home the postcards started arriving -- postcards from Rome, Naples, Capri, Sorrento and Verona. Getting the mail every afternoon was never so fun. These postcards, addressed to themselves, contain some of the best (and funniest) memories from our family vacation.

Once we returned home from our travels, the postcards kept
coming and coming!

In almost every postcard Timothy mentions how much he loves gelato.

Dear Me,
I went to Cortona today. It was so high on the mountain my ears had trouble getting used to the altitude. We sat on the steps pictured on the postcard and ate a panino. The pigeons practically attacked us when I threw a chip on the step. ~Jonathan

Dear Me,
Today we went to La Verna, a Franciscan monastery. We saw the real cloak that St. Francis wore. My favorite was, of course, the gift shop!! ~Jonathan

Dear Me,
I love Verona. I went frog hunting with Martha and we made a cake. ~Timothy

Dear Me,
Today we visited the Royal Palace in Caserta. It was beautiful, and it was where they filmed Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Walking the halls, I get shivers every time I think that Jar-Jar Binks was there. ~Nicholas

Dear Cool Kid (aka me): In Verona I saw a Colosseum and the Piazza Bra - a bra that looks like a pizza. Not really. Anyway I saw Juliet's balcony with all the love letters attached to the wall. By the way, the Piazza Bra is a square named Bra. ~Nicholas

Dear Me,
St. Peter's is a beautiful church. There is a spot outside that if you stand on it, all the columns behind the front one disappear so you only see the front one. We saw where most of the popes were buried. ~Jonathan

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