April 9, 2020

6 Fun Ways to Make Family Memories During Your Staycation

Mother and kids sightseeing in the beautiful Italian town of Campiglia Marittima, Tuscany, Italy.

Families are spending more time together than ever, and we’re looking for fun, new ways to make that time count. Here are some ideas based on what we’ve been doing to keep engaged and bonding with the people we love.

We’re always looking for new inspiration – if you have some ideas to share, let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Follow us for a regular stream of activity ideas and virtual mini-vacations!

6. Get Crafty

Na’ama and her roommates made these birdhouses!

Our fabulous Trip Manager Na’ama Celine is a craft connoisseur. She makes wonderful embroidered work, and she has even been known to subscribe to a monthly puzzle newsletter.

Coronavirus didn’t slow her down at all – in the weeks before the CDC put forth the recommendation to stay at home, she and her roomies went on an emergency craft run and found some birdhouses on the shelves, waiting to be made. She bought them, brought them home and started building!

“They helped us focus on the positives and try to make the most of our situation together,” Na’ama said.

Na’ama and her roommates spent an afternoon building, painting and styling their birdhouses. She said it was nice knowing that the project would become a home to a happy little bird family.

“It allows you to spend time together without staring at a screen,” she said. “Your mind is active and you can laugh and make conversation!”

Maybe the craft store isn’t open right now – that’s okay! Family crafts come in many forms. Some ideas:

  • Build a castle from old cardboard boxes, or a blanket fort!
  • Write and make a short stop motion film (or a fun video for the internet!).
  • Color in a coloring book, then hang up your masterpieces in the house.
  • So what if it’s not Valentine’s Day? Make not-Valentine’s Day cards for each other out of construction paper, glitter, glue, whatever you have!
  • Have everyone in your family create a Powerpoint presentation about something no one else knows anything about. Then, give only the title of your presentation to someone else. They must present your Powerpoint with authority and confidence, but without knowing what is in it. This one is hilarious with older kids!

5. Cook Something New with the Kids

cooking with kids

Food has a strong connection to our memory of people, places and emotions, according to this Harvard University blog post. The author, John S. Allen, says some foods are special treats we connect with specific moments in our lives, triggering a response beyond mere taste.

“Food is an effective trigger of deeper memories of feelings and emotions, internal states of the mind and body.”

International cuisine triggers these memories because the novelty of something new sticks with us in profound ways. Try a South African Malva pudding recipe or check out some fried chicken and fries from Peru. International cuisine is a fantastic way to experience the world of travel from the comfort of your dining room table – oh yeah, and it’s delicious, too!

If you’re working with picky eaters, that’s okay. This is a great time to get them involved in making their favorite foods, so they’ll be better equipped to make them themselves. Maybe some rainbow spaghetti? This gif, courtesy of PBS, sums up why cooking with kids is a valuable experience.

Next, we’ll get them to clean the dishes!

4. Make International Friends

Thomson traveler Jillian Bowdring met her pen pal in the Eastern Serengeti.

While we are very proud of our Friends Across Borders program, your kids should be able to meet other kids from different countries even if they won’t meet up for a soccer game or barbecue dinner.

Allison, one of our advisory board members, said her son uses an app that lets you practice a language with native speakers called HelloTalk. Her son, who is learning German, matched with a German boy through the app. Together, they are able to practice both English and German writing and speaking!

“They talk almost every day,” Allison said. “It’s great because German isn’t offered in school here, so he has to work on it on his own. This gives him the chance to talk with a native speaker his own age.”

Connecting with kids across the world is a priceless, rare opportunity – we love when it all comes together!

3. Take a Virtual Mini-Vacation

We’re parents too, and we’re always looking for new ways to keep our families connected to travel. That’s why we’ve put together this blog post with some of our favorite international live streams and resources.

Our favorites include a giant illustrated map of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, a live stream of the Northern Lights and a 3D Mars landscape. But our kids are going crazy for Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems! Every day for the next few weeks, Mo is posting a new episode of his writing and drawing sessions at 1 p.m. ET, followed by a live stream. Grab the paper and pencils and join Mo to explore writing together.

Check out the blog post here.

2. Journal and Collage about Past Travel

Photo: Dariusz Sankowski

Haven’t you always wanted to snip up some photos, gather your memorabilia and whip up a beautiful scrapbook of your family’s favorite travel memories?

Even the most mundane items from your travels – transit tickets, receipts, coins – will induce a feeling of nostalgia for the places you’ve visited. Maybe you’ll make each page a new destination and fill it with mementos. Maybe you dedicate an entire scrapbook to just one trip. We love both ideas!

Journaling and collaging are fun ways for the family to relive past travel experiences. Everyone is encouraged to share their favorite memories, which might result in laughter, storytelling and a strong sense of wanderlust.

Here’s one very, very cute way we’ve seen to capture family memories. Remember Retroviewers? This company specializes in making 3D photo reels from your digital images. If you have the cash to foot it, this is one way to heighten the nostalgia of any photo!

1. Play Board Games or Stream Movies

Board games and movie nights are classic family activities for a reason! Low stress, low commitment – they are great ways to share laughs, tears and fun. Check out what movies we’re streaming right now, or some of our favorite movies filmed or set in Europe.

Maybe the kids won’t remember particular games you played, or the movies you watched, but the impression of many happy nights spent in the company of each other is the kind of impression that lasts well beyond a child’s formative years.

Please note: Games like Risk are not acceptable alternatives to world travel – once the quarantine is over, pack it up and get back out there!