Broadening our children’s perspectives and giving them a world view is one of the main reasons for family travel. While sharing new experiences, we can also help children become responsible travelers.
Responsible travelers enjoy experiences others miss. They see landscapes, towns and attractions not typically found along main tourist routes. They meet and interact with local people, having the satisfaction of knowing they helped support the local economy. Not to mention they spend less time standing in line.
These tips will help your children learn to respect the places they visit and, in turn, have a more rewarding trip themselves.
Avoid Touristy Spots
Try to avoid over-touristed sites or Instagram favorites for more authentic local experiences. These experiences will be better for you and the kids, as well as better for the places you visit. Does your family really have to wait in line for the perfect selfie?
While planning an itinerary, think about the stress overtourism puts on iconic sights and their communities. Instead, hire a local guide for a day to see some less-famous and less-over-touristed attractions. If it’s bragging rights your family wants, think how much fun you’ll have saying, when asked about some famous attraction, “We skipped going there, and went to a beautiful place the locals know about; we were the only foreigners there.”
Explore Local Markets and Go on Neighborhood Strolls
Spend time in a local market or stroll through a village or neighborhood where you’ll meet local people, not other tourists. That’s what your kids will remember, not standing in line for a picture or being rushed through a crowd to see the Mona Lisa.
Look for Local Festivals
Check for local festivals. Join the people who live there as they celebrate their harvest or a holiday. Festivals often include colorful parades, music, local foods, carnival rides and a general atmosphere of people having fun.
Use Local Transportation
Use local transportation when you can. It puts less stress on the economy and makes kids feel like part of the community. If you’re not sure what’s available, consult the RomeToRio website for bus, train, taxi and driving options, as well as times and schedules. You can even make train reservations there.
Stay in Locally Owned Hotels/Accommodations, Eat Locally
Share your tourist dollars by staying in locally owned hotels and eating in neighborhood restaurants. The experience will be more authentic and you won’t be surrounded by other tourists.
Shop from local craftspeople instead of souvenir shops. Look for artisan studios and cooperative shops, and for craftspeople selling handmade goods in markets. Instead of t-shirts, encourage your kids to choose souvenirs unique to the destination.
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