Having spring break and other travel plans postponed or cancelled is a gigantic disappointment for those of us who were supposed to be sitting on a beach, trekking the National Parks, or exploring ancient ruins. But serious times call for serious measures. Clearly, there are bigger issues than our family’s travel plans; however, there are ways to explore the world without leaving your house and make your own virtual vacations. Caveat: these suggestions require screen time, but it’s educational screen time and will help young minds dream of future trips once we can travel again!
Google Arts & Culture teamed up with 500 museums around the world to show off their incredible collections. You can tour everywhere from the most famous and largest museums in the world like the British Museum (our favorite in the whole world), the Ufizzi, the National Gallery of Greece, and NASA, to smaller, but equally impressive sites like the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago or the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. I will warn you that once you go to the site, you may not leave it for several hours. It’s truly incredible and addictive. It’s a great place to research places that you’ll want to see in person in the future.
Rick Steves’ entire video catalog, which includes country-specific info, kids’ education videos via his Classroom Europe site, language learning videos for Italian, French, German and Spanish, and even the art of Europe, is available online. Sip some water with gas (sparkling water) or a cup of chocolate (hot cocoa) while viewing the scenic landscapes and historic sites on your virtual vacations.
There are several historical sites and museums in China that offer virtual tours via their Web sites. Travel to the Far East to see Xian’s Terra Cotta Warriors and an exhibit from the National Museum of China in Beijing. While watching these, consider making a favorite Chinese dish like egg rolls or fried rice to add to the ambiance.
Zoos are getting in on the act, too! The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting a FaceBook Live Home Safari at 3pm EDT while they are closed. And several zoos have videos of their animals that you can watch. The San Diego Zoo Kids site has live cams and videos of their animals. We loved watching orangutans and penguins today.
U.S. National Parks are another place to find some great footage and learn more about their geography. You can experience Yellowstone, Yosemite and several other parks via their National Park Service YouTube Channel or via their individual Websites. Put on your shorts and hiking boots just like you are in the woods.
There are hours of content for you and your kids to explore from your couch (it has taken me almost 10 hours to get this post up because I keep getting sidetracked by looking through all these sites and dreaming of future trips). These virtual vacations just might help itch your travel scratch until we can get back on the road or in the air. For now, these sites can definitely help you add more places to visit to your family travel bucket list.