Looking for places to go with the kids on Spring Break? Here are 10 educational spring break ideas for family getaways.
Most parents will tell you that family travel is one of the most rewarding things you can do together. While parents know that they are strengthening family bonds by travelling together, a new survey by the Student Youth & Travel Association (SYTA) tells us that our kids are benefiting more than we might think, “Travelling at a young age supports school performance, leads to successful careers and increases the likelihood of continued travel throughout one’s life.”
It turns out that all that anecdotal stuff about well-travelled kids being successful in later life is true. They do well in school, develop compassion and understanding of unique cultures and if you choose one of these vacations, they may even learn fantastic new skills.
Here are 10 great suggestions that are sure to be enjoyed by the entire family.
White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona
Dude ranches have been around since the late 19th century, and for good reason. The original concept behind these guest ranches was to give city dwellers a chance to get back to the land and learn about life on a working farm. Ranches like White Stallion hold true to this original ideal-and once you and your kids become comfortable with horse handling you’ll have a chance to round up cattle or venture out across the wild west desert. One week inclusive from $896 USD.
Cooking in Positano, Italy
Understanding where food comes from and how each dish arrives at the table is rapidly becoming lost knowledge for many kids. With this Italian cooking vacation you and your children will visit everyone from the local fishermen, to an old world cheese maker, to an ice cream maker. You’ll learn how to use fresh ingredients to make the kind of memorable meals you’ll want to continue creating once you’re home. One week with three cooking classes from $2900 USD per person. (Children 10 years and under are half price).
Arizona River Runners, Grand Canyon Rafting Trip
River rafting might seem more like an adventure than an education-but all the best learning has a basis in fun. This Grand Canyon trip provides a rare opportunity to be a guest in harsh environment that supports over 1,500 plant species, 300 types of birds, and 80 different mammals. While you journey through the canyon your guides will point out the geology of ever-changing landscape and talk about the regions rich human history. Three-day trips from $1,175 USD.
PADI Diving Sea Camps, various locations
Diving may seem like an adult pastime, but kids as young as ten can become certified and those as young as four can participate in PADI Sea Camps. Options include becoming certified together, or while you work on your own skills, your kids can take part in a beginning course for children called The PADI Seal Team. Randy Giles, PADI Canada Regional Manager points out that diving is not only “cool”, it also “presents an opportunity for kids to discover the underwater world while building character, self-esteem, and self-reliance.”
Norman Carr Safaris, Namibia
If an African safari has always been on your bucket list, but you’ve been waiting for your kids to grow up so you can participate, check out Norman Carr Safaris in Zambia. These walking safaris will take you through the bush of the South Luangwa Valley and National Park in southeastern Zambia, an area known for its plentiful wildlife and lush landscape. Kids will learn to identify animal footprints and droppings and then track the animals. You’ll also be introduced to the Zambian culture and learn a bit of the local language, have a chance to eat in the traditional Zambian way (with your fingers) and get to make a traditional clay pot or animal. Seven nights all inclusive from $3,500 USD. ($3,000 USD for children under 12).
Cotopaxi Service Project, Quito, Ecuador
Volunteer vacations are growing in popularity with families-they’re not only affordable but they provide an excellent way to learn about other cultures and appreciate our own. The Cotopaxi project in the Cotopaxi National Park and the Condor Biosphere combines mountain biking with replacing national park signs, and zip-lining with trail maintenance. It’s by no means a posh holiday-but the chance to give back is a priceless one. Five days inclusive from $930 USD.
If there ever was a city that combined education with vacation it would be Washington, DC. With dozens of free museums, monuments and exhibits to experience, DC is also affordable. Some of the best free deals include: The National Theatre’s free performance series-shows designed for the whole family, or head to the National Zoo to see the animals, and then take in the stars at the planetarium in Rock Creek Park.
Safari Surf School, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s warm water and gentle surf breaks have been attracting surfers for decades. And while surfing looks like a tough sport to master-in the hands of the right instructor you’ll discover it’s child’s play. The surf school is suited for any level swimmer even those not confident about being in the ocean. Packages with Safari Surf also include meals in local restaurants, and an option to participate in a variety of cultural and adventure activities. One week all inclusive from $1,280 USD.
The Sea to Sky Highway, BC
Most adults remember family vacations based around road trips-and these can still be one of the most fun and educational ways for a family to explore new destinations. The Cultural Journey on the road from Vancouver to Whistler helps visitors explore the traditional Squamish and Lil’wat territory with kiosks, viewpoint signage and pullouts. Start or end your journey with a visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler. The cultural centre introduces the history of the First Nations people while demonstrating how the ancient cultures are thriving today.
Chocolate Week, Belize
Learning about how food is produced is considered one important step in helping kids develop a healthy diet. And while chocolate may not be the first food to come to mind when we’re talking about healthy choices, it may be one of the most fun to learn about. On this trip you’ll head to the heart of Maya country to learn about cacao farming and chocolate making. Your kids will amaze their friends when they inform them that chocolate started out as a fruit.