Combining a vacation with an educational component can feel like a win-win – the whole family gets to enjoy a fun travel adventure together, and everyone gets to learn something to boot!
It seems like kids learn so much when they’re on holiday, don’t they? Maybe it’s to do with being somewhere new. Maybe their brains are automatically primed to absorb and soak up every experience when they’re overseas. Hence it makes perfect sense to flip our vacations into real life learning journeys, doesn’t it?
We asked Emirates for ideas since the airline offers more than 150 destinations in 84 countries and territories – almost the whole world at your fingertips! These are the five family-friendly places they say will excite and educate all little travellers.
Dubai’s deserts are probably the most unique place to learn about and explore a natural habitat and a fragile ecosystem. At the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, families get the chance to see Arabian wildlife like the Arabian Oryx while learning about sustainability and conservation. Over here, little ones can explore the unique desert surroundings in a four-wheel-drive or on foot with the help of a safari guide.
Not tired yet? If your kids are energizer bunnies (and whose aren’t?) make your way to the Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park. First of all, it has an 85-metre children’s proficiency course and track where children aged four to 14 can burn off excess energy to ensure a good night’s sleep. In addition, street signs, roundabouts and speed bumps make the park a great place to teach little ones about the importance of road safety.
Finally, bring them to the Children’s City near Dubai Creek Park. This is an educational wonderland where children can learn about everything — from anatomy to astronomy at the educational galleries. Furthermore, Children’s City also houses a planetarium where stargazers can fulfil their astronomy dreams!
If you have older children, bring them to the Anne Frank Museum to learn about the life during the German occupation. See where Anne Frank and her family hid and read the pages of her diary that she wrote in during this tumultuous period in history. As a result, kids can learn important lessons about freedom and equal rights here. (Tip: Prepare your children ahead of the trip with the museum’s online resources)
Another fascinating place to visit is the Van Gogh Museum, especially if you have an art lover in the family. Join the family guided tours or pick up a family guide if prefer to go at your own pace. The museum also offers interactive hands-on activities such as Vincent’s Travelling Case, which contains documents and worksheets that families can complete together while exploring the museum.
London, United Kingdom
London’s museums are wonderful places for children to explore and learn. Bring the kid to the Natural History Museum and learn more about the natural world. Home to over 80 million plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals, and London’s most beloved dinosaur, Dippy the Diplodocus, the museum provides a comprehensive learning environment. There are free Explore and Discover booklets for families to pre-read ahead of their visit. Kids under seven years get a starter pack with pens, paper and games to enhance their learning experience.
Much as we love museums, it’s important to get the kids active, even while on holiday. If your children are over four years of age, head to Clip ‘n Climb Chelsea for some healthy, action-packed fun. It’s safe enough even for first-time climbers so there’s no need to worry, mum. Kids and parents alike can test their agility and reach new heights via on the 21 wall challenges!
Have a Potter-head in the family? Die-hard fans of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter must visit the ZSL London Zoo which houses the famous Reptile House that was featured in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Furthermore, to complete the spellbinding experience, the zoo offers a Harry Potter-inspired map so you can spot fantastic beasts here!
Have your children ever been to the circus? If you’re going to Zurich in the year-end, be sure to bring the kids to Circus Conelli for a very special Christmas experience. Here, they’ll gasp in awe at the circus acts: from aerial acrobatics to juggling to an exhilarating BMX bike show. Housed under a red tent with bright yellow stars, this family-run circus has been entertaining Zurich residents for decades and is a spectacle not to be missed.
Every kid loves the thrill of discovery. That probably makes the Swiss Science Center Technorama a must-visit too. With 500 hands-on experiments available in the four-storey museum, no one will be bored! Especially relevant to families is that fact that this quirky museum has no “do not touch” notices – just “try it” signs! That’s because the museum encourages visitors to use their senses to learn about the science behind natural phenomena, light and vision, magnetism and more. Consequently, it’s perfect for curious little minds and hands!
New York City, USA
At first glance, New York may not seem like a family destination. But look a little deeper and you’ll discover places that can make everyone in the family go “Wow!” First, we recommend a trip to Tannen’s Magic Store. New York’s oldest operating magic shop, this has been supplying magicians with magic items since 1925. Either pick up invisible paint, performer wands or rabbit producing hats – kids love all these and they make perfect props for family performances back home. And if they’re not too busy, the current owners may even impart some tricks to the kids!
Another must-see is Books of Wonder, New York’s oldest children’s bookstore. The store carries a vast selection of literature for all ages, from board books for infants to picture books, novels, young adult books, first editions, and rare children’s books. Most noteworthy of all is a special Oz department devoted solely to books by L. Frank Baum and his successors!
Once the book-lust has been satisfied, it’s time to let the kids get their creative juices flowing at The Museum of Modern Art. This contemporary art museum has works in almost every art form, from painting, sculpture, photography, performance, film, architecture to modern design. If it all seems rather esoteric to you, don’t worry. Look for the activity stations which are designed to promote interactive learning for kids.
Flying to these Destinations
Emirates flies from Singapore to all these destinations. Because the airline has so many child-friendly amenities, it’s a firm favourite of families all over the world. Here’re some of the things families can look forward to when they travel with Emirates:
1. Mother and baby rooms at Emirates’ airport lounges where babes can have a nappy change and a quick feed in peace.
2. Designated play areas that kids can enjoy while waiting to board.
3. A snack box filled with treats and a specially catered children’s menu for meals.
4. Baby meals for infants, in addition to food and bottle warming services.
5. An Emirates Fly With Me travel-themed bag or lunch cooler for young explorers (we’re giving 5 of these away, see below!).
6. Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment system with 90 kids channels and 50 Disney favourites.
7. Funky kid-sized headphone sets to ensure a perfect viewing and listening experience.
8. Finally, a chance to enjoy the best views from the plane, watch the take-off and landing from the pilots’ view, or simply admire the scenery below on the Airshow channel.
:: Giveaway! :: We have 5 sets of Emirates Fly with Me (Lonely Planet Kids) Kiddie Bags to give away. These come with educational books, creative crafts, and a travel journal to document your child’s overseas adventures.
Here’s how to win one:
1. Like and share this article on Facebook. Keep your share public so we can see it!
2. Like the Emirates Facebook page
3. Tell us which of these five destinations you’d pick for a learning holiday with your kids
All the best!
Closing date: 12 noon, Wednesday 8 November 2017. Please note that winners will have to self-collect their prize at Dhoby Ghaut.
For more information on Emirates, including flight bookings and terms and conditions, contact your travel agent or visit www.emirates.com/sg
*local terms and conditions apply
Destination images courtesy of Emirates.