Best Movies About Hawaii to Watch Before Your Trip

Best Movies About Hawaii to Watch Before Your Trip

Isaac Hale Beach, Big Island, Hawai’i

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Whether you are planning a trip or dreaming of the islands, enjoy this collection of the best movies about Hawaii! The Aloha state is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful places in the world, in fact over 100 feature films have been shot here. It is also one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world, allowing directors to utilize an extraordinary range of dramatic natural scenery. Grab your popcorn and expect a visual delight!

Our family lived in Hawaii, and we love to bring the beauty, culture, and history of the islands into our lives on the mainland, often through film. I’ve also asked travel writers to share the Hawaii movies they recommend to people planning their own trips.

We start with some fantastic films made by Hawaiians and other residents of the Hawaii. They will help you gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the islands, inspiring you be a more thoughtful traveler. You will also appreciate the exquisite natural beauty of the islands and find inspiration for caring for it while you visit.

You can extend the joy of your travels and understand the country much more deeply by spending the months (or years!) preceding your trip by learning about Hawaii. At Trip Scholars, we offer many resources and ideas to help you dive deep into understanding your travel destinations before you arrive. 

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Table of Contents

Movies in the Hawaiian Language


2020 | NR

This evocative and memorable animated film is one you will want to watch before your trip to Hawaii. It tells the legend of the mahu deities (deities of the third gender, embodying both male and female) who came from Tahiti to Hawaii to share their healing powers. Their healing gifts remain in four Stones of Life, or Nā Pōhaku Ola, on the beach in Waikiki today. 

The eight minute short has won numerous international awards and is narrated completely in Hawaiian with English subtitles. You will be captivated by the animation style and transported with the soundtrack. The story is a haunting reminder of the suppressed history of Native Hawaiians and encourages us to learn more. This same interpretation is also available as a book.

Both adults and children can enjoy this film from home and then visit the stones in Waikiki. You can find the location here to add a visit to the Stones of Life to your itinerary. 

Movies About Hawaiian Culture

The Haumana

2013 | NR

This multi award winning film was written and produced by the Hawaiian actor, director, and hula master Keo Woolford. It is a top movie recommendation because of the realistic portrayal of local Hawaiian culture, engaging acting, and captivating hula scenes.

Haumana is Hawaiian for disciple or student, and this highly enjoyable film allows us to learn and be inspired alongside the main character, Johnny Kealoha. Kealoha hosts a highly commercialized Polynesian show for tourists in Waikiki but is asked by his Kumu Hulu (master hula teacher) to teach the high school boys hula class. As he grows as their instructor, he also expands his own understanding of hula, his culture, and ultimately himself. 

The movie is filmed on Oahu and the cast has many local Hawaiians. We are given an intimate window into learning traditional hula, with a gorgeous soundtrack including contributions from top Hawaiian musicians like Robert Cazimero. The characters navigate blending ancient Hawaiian traditions with being teenagers on modern day Oahu. Add it to your queue today, you will be glad you did!

Documentaries on Hawaii: Culture

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

2012 |NR

Hawaiian music is certain to be a highlight of any trip to the islands and this documentary will give you a much deeper understanding of its influence and importance. Plus, it is an absolute joy to watch and listen to Jake Shimabukuro! The virtuoso is a world famous ukulele player who has shown global audiences what an exceptionally talented and creative player can do with this beautiful instrument. 

The documentary follows Shimabukuro through a season of performing, but also looks back on his childhood and forward to his future dreams. His humility, curiosity, and generous spirit are easily highlighted throughout the film. It is uplifting, not just because of his musical performances, but also because of his inspiring life story.

Start a playlist of Hawaiian music while still at home and include both Shimabukuro’s solo work and his recordings from his earlier band, Pure Heart.  While you are in the Islands, be sure to find some live local music! There are often free performances in shopping centers, parks, and local events.

If you are inspired, I also recommend trying the ukulele yourself. I love to play and have two ukuleles, this is my favorite. It is very forgiving and a great choice for beginners on a stringed instrument, so you can be playing a simple tune your first afternoon.  But, as you have seen in this documentary, the ukulele can play transformative music in the hands of a master.

The Endless Summer

1966 | 11+

Endless Summer is very much what the title says, a trip around the world by two surfers in search of the world’s best surfing and endless sun. Naturally, Hawaii fits them perfectly, being famous for its huge waves for surfing and sunny weather.

Although the movie is not entirely about Hawaii, the segment about it shows the surf scene in Hawaii during the 1960s, which was partially instrumental in the surge of tourism that followed afterwards. Indeed, much of the appeal of visiting Hawaii came about from the images of a relaxed beach vibe and epic waves that purveyed in the surf scene there.

The surfing culture in Hawaii is the most famous in the world due to its ancient surfing traditions among the inhabitants of the area that surfed the waves on longboards going back 1500 years, long before ‘westerners’ discovered it.

The Endless Summer is one of the best travel movies that you can watch, especially if you have an interest in surf, sun, and adventure. Great for watching before any trip to Hawaii.

Contributed by Johnny at Backpackingman

Wayfinders: A Pacific Odessey

1999 | NR

If you have always wondered how the early Polyneisians discovered Hawaii in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, this documentary is for you! It is a PBS special revealing the rare art of wayfinding, the art of navigating the sea using only nature as one’s guide: the stars, sun, weather, sea, and animals. Historically many anthropologists and historians did not think early Polyneisians could have intentionally navigated the massive Pacific to populate the many islands throughout the ocean. However, work by The Polynesian Voyaging Society, Maiden Voyage Productions (who created the film), and many others has proven that wayfinding was an important skill throughout ancient Polynesia.

In the film we are introduced to one of the few remaining wayfinders in the world, Mau Pialug from the island of Satawal. He teaches Nainoa Thompson, a Native Hawaiian navigator, and in turn, a whole new generation of nature based navigators. Herb Kane designed the famous Hawaian sailing vessel, Hokule’a, after a lifetime of studying ancient Hawaiian canoes. It was eventually built in a mostly traditional way, in large part by volunteers in Hawaii. 

We follow along as a new generation from many islands around Polynesia learn wayfinding skills and boat building techniques, while also coming to a greater understanding of their cultural heritage. Patrick Stewart narrates the role of Captain Cook, the famous British navigator and cartographer. The nearly extinct art of wayfinding is put to the test as these modern sailors set out on a 2000 mile journey, with nature, their knowledge, and their history to guide them.

Hawaiian Islands | Filmed in 1906

1906 | NR

This unique footage is a fascinating window into life in Hawaii in 1906. The inventor Thomas Edison also had a film studio and he sent Robert Bonine in the early 1900’s to gather footage of the islands. There are over 30 clips, all of them silent. A few of them include what is thought to be the oldest film clips of surfing in the world. 

This is not your typical documentary, but it is a rare and unique view of many places and cultural touchstones. The youtube description includes the titles of each clip so you can watch just the places you plan to visit– but you will likely be hooked and want to watch a lot more!

Hawaii Documentaries: Nature

Hawaii's Mauna Loa: The World's Largest Volcano

Hawaii's Kīlauea Volcano

When we are on the islands we are constantly aware that we are actually on volcanoes: active, dormant, or extinct. Each island arose from the bottom of the ocean floor as it was formed over the hotspot that is currently under the Big Island. Weather erodes them and plate tectonics carry the volcanoes northwest. These exposed peaks form the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain, the youngest of which are the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Curious travelers can experience the vastness of geologic forces in real time by visiting an older island, like Kawaii, and comparing the island to what they see on the youngest, the Big Island. 

The Big Island is a dream destination for anyone fascinated by volcanoes and geology. If you are unfamiliar with the subject, a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will likely make you a lifelong admirer. Much of the park, and over half of the island, is on the volcano Mauna Loa. The rest of HVNP includes the youngest above-water Hawaiian volcano, Kilauea. 

These two documentaries bring the viewer up close to learn about the incredible power and beauty of the volcanoes and they are valuable viewing before a trip to the islands. Even if you are not planning to visit the Big Island on your next trip, understanding more about how the islands are formed will enhance your time anywhere in the state. They were both made before the most recent eruptions so that information isn’t included. The films incorporate a lot of interviews with, and footage of, scientists at work in the park. They also include a strong focus on learning from Native Hawaiians about the geologic history held in songs and legends.

Another fascinating Hawaii documentary is Sharks of Hawaii.

Hawaiian History Movies

Princess Kaiulani

2009 | PG

The drama-based movie Princess Kaiulani documents the events that led up to the dissolution of the Hawaiian monarchy. It’s a history lesson for some, a painful event for others. While the movie gained mixed reviews because of its original title of ‘Barbarian Princess,’ it adds excellent incite into the Hawaiian royal family.

Iolani Palace in Oahu sets the stage for the opening of the film. Electricity has arrived in Hawaii, but the upheaval from the King’s advisors has overshadowed the momentous event. With uncertainty in the homeland, Princess Kaiulani, who’s in line for the throne, travels to Scotland for an education and to avoid the tensions.

During her absence, the King’s death and Queen Liliuokalani’s imprisonment bring her back to her homeland to fight for the monarchy. ‘Princess Kaiulani’ allows the watcher to delve into the lives of the people that made Hawaii so special. While the film may be part fiction, it embodies the spirit of her Polynesian heritage. Before traveling to Hawaii, visitors will better understand the history of royal residences such as Iolani Palace and Queen Emma Summer Palace on Oahu, and Hulihe’e Palace on Hawaii.

Contributed by Karen of Forever Karen

Pearl Harbor

2001 | PG-13

Pearl Harbor is a great movie because it takes a moment in American history and brings it to life with intense dramatic performances.  

 Directed by Michael Bay, and starring Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsdale, Pearl Harbor is a beautiful love story set during World War II. 

 Pearl Harbor is a fantastic movie to watch before your first trip to Hawaii beause it humanizes an important moment in Hawaii’s history. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, has been immortalized by the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Oahu. Watching this movie, in addition to visiting the famous memorial, will add a level of relatability for the real people who died and fought on that day for anyone visiting Hawaii. 

Submitted by Katie from

Hawaiian history movies about the missionary moment to add to your queue are Hawaii and Molokai: The Story of Father Damien.

Hawaii Family Movies

Finding Ohana

2021 | PG

One of the newest kids movies filmed in Hawaii is Netflix’s Finding Ohana. It’s filmed on Oahu with a lot of the adventurous scenes at Kualoa Ranch. The story is all about a mom moving back home to Hawaii from Brooklyn with her teenage kids. The main character is a girl named Pili (played by Kea Peahu) who finds an old journal that takes her on a real-life treasure hunt. 

The movie has a lot of the same vibes as the kids adventure movies from the 90s, so both parents and kids will enjoy watching it. Plus, the soundtrack is pretty fabulous.

What sets this movie apart from other kids movies filmed in Hawaii is that they focus a lot on Hawaiian culture, especially the elusive Night Marchers. This is a really cool part of Hawaiian culture that most people don’t know about before their trip. Finally, you can even do a Hawaii movie tour to see exactly where they filmed at Kualoa Ranch!

Contributed by Marcie Cheung of Hawaii Travel with Kids


1991 | PG

Peter Pan is a classic movie and often a childhood favorite. Hook is what happens after the story of Peter Pan when Peter grows up. It is fun to learn more of the Peter Pan story, and an important lesson about growing up and changing.

Hook doesn’t take place entirely in Hawaii, but the Neverland scenes were filmed in Kuaui, Hawaii. Neverland is a magical place, and of course, Hawaii is a perfect choice for imagining Neverland. We know that Neverland is close to the ocean, as that is where Captain Hook lives. Peter lives on land but visits the mermaids under the sea and flies onto Hook’s pirate ship.

Directed by Steven Speilberg, Hook is filled with well-known actors. Robin Williams played the grown-up version Peter and his sidekick Tinkerbell is played by Julia Roberts. Dustin Hoffman played the role of Peter Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook.

Hook is a great opportunity to discover that there is always more to the story. Plus, it’s fun to learn more about the characters we know and love. Hook is a kid’s movie that adults might enjoy even more than kids.

Who doesn’t want to go to Neverland, at least for a while? If we can’t get to Neverland, at least for now, we can imagine Neverland from the beautiful Kuaui, Hawaii.

Contributed by Lanie van der Horst at Make More Adventures

Hawaii Disney Movies

Lilo & Stitch

2002 | PG

Lilo & Stitch is a funny & unique Disney animated film based in Hawaii. The story is about a young girl who picks up a “dog” at a local pound – only to find out the animal is actually a scientific experiment called 626. Follow along as the girl learns the truth about 626 (Stitch), forms a friendship with him, and works together to avoid his capture by the Galactic Federation.  

The film itself is based in Hawaii. You’ll notice many iconic themes from Hawaiian tradition included in the movie like surfing, hula dancing, ukeles, and more! Writers used the town of Hanapee on the island of Kauai as inspiration. This town is often referred to as “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town” as it is truly only made up of a few streets!

You’ll recognize scenes from the animated movie that mimic the town’s vibe with charming plantation-style buildings. You can walk in and out of many stores and restaurants here in town along the main street. You’ll even find a few murals that locals have painted in honor of the adorable animated film! Missing this small town would be one of the biggest mistakes to make when visiting Hawaii as it truly transports you into the movie Lilo & Stitch! 

Contributed by Lisa Shehan at wanderlustwithlisa


2016 | PG

Moana is set on a fictional island in Ancient Polynesia. The fictional story is based loosely on several stories from Polynesian mythology. The catchy music and powerful female lead in Moana make it a favorite. It comes complete with funny characters and jokes that Disney animated films are known for. In the movie, Moana is the daughter of the chief on a Polynesian island. Her people are struggling and she learns that Maui the demi-god has stolen the heart of Te Fiti. She takes off on open water to find Maui, restore the ocean, and heal her island. 

Moana is a great movie to watch with kids to kick start a conversation about Polynesian culture and history before your trip. Hawai’i marks one corner of the Polynesian triangle and the story of Maui is a common one in all of the Polynesian Islands. The demi-god is known for being mischievous and for using his powers to help humans. As in Moana, Maui is known for his magic fish hook in Hawaii but in other parts of Polynesia, he is known differently. The story in the movie is fictional but with some quick research you can find the different cultures associated with each story about Maui mentioned in the song “You’re Welcome”.  The Polynesian Islands share many parts of their culture but are each unique as well. Watching the fictional story in Moana can open a conversation about Polynesia. The Hawaiians make a great effort to revive, maintain, and showcase their culture; Use Moana to start the conversation before you leave. 

Contributed by Jami at Celiac Travel Pack

Adventure Movies in Hawaii

Kong: Skull Island

2017 | PG:13 

The movie ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a fun action / monster movie in the newly rebooted King Kong series, starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and others. In the movie, a group of soldiers and explorers has to go on an expedition to Skull Island to find the giant King Kong and other mysterious creatures.

The movie was filmed in Vietnam and Hawaii, and places where they did filming in Oahu include Kualoa Ranch, Honolulu’s Chinatown, and the Waikane Valley. A visit to Kualoa Ranch in particular is one of the best things to do in Oahu Hawaii since so many movies have been filmed there — more than 80 movies in total!

Even though the plot of Kong may not win any big awards, it’s still a great movie to watch before your trip to Hawaii. It’s loaded with nice tropical scenery and intense action sequences to pump you up for your travels, and if you’re lucky you may get to visit some of the filming locations while you’re in Oahu!

 Contributed by David & Intan at The World Travel Guy

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2017 | PG-13

For an exciting adventure film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, watch “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” A sequel to the 1995 film “Jumanji,” this reboot is a great comedy-action film that showcases some stunning Hawaiian scenery.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle tells the story of four high school students getting sucked into a video game set in the jungle. To return home, they have to beat the video game by returning a magical jewel to its shrine.

This is a great family-friendly film with tons of action, humor, and character-growth. A lot of the movie scenes were shot on the island of Oahu, and in particular, the Kualoa Ranch. And while there are many incredible Oahu waterfalls, the set of falls shown in the film are located in Papaikou on the Big Island.

Needless to say, watching “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” before a trip to Hawai’i would greatly enhance your vacation! Filled with spectacular tropical landscapes, lush jungles, and soaring hills, watching the film will truly get you pumped to visit Hawai’i. It’ll also provide you with some incredible ideas on what to do in Hawai’i, from touring the Kualoa Ranch to admiring Kawainui Falls.

Contributed by Mia at Walk a While with Me

Another classic Adventure movie to include in your watchlist is Jurassic Park.

Comedy Movies About Hawaii

The Descendants

2011 | R

Starring George Clooney, The Descendants follows Matt King, whose life is turned upside down when his wife is left in a coma after a tragic accident. Not only is Matt struggling with the consequences of the accident, but he’s also been named the trustee of an enormous plot of untouched land in Kauai and is being pressured by his family to sell this incredibly valuable asset to developers. While grappling with these issues, Matt, a busy attorney in Honolulu, attempts to figure out how to be more present for his two daughters while they navigate their mom’s possible death. 

The film is visually stunning and highlights some of Hawaii’s most beautiful landscapes, from the beaches of Oahu to the lush greenery of Kauai. But visitors should watch The Descendants for more than just its imagery- the film highlights the commoditization of Hawaiian land and the pressures locals face to exploit its natural beauty for tourism and other development. The United States’ complex- and often problematic- treatment of Hawaiian land and resources is important context for any visitor to the islands to understand and perhaps Matt’s struggles relating to his duty to protect his ancestors’ land will offer you a unique perspective before your trip.

Contributed by Jessica Schmit of Uprooted Traveler


Forgetting Sarah Marshall

2008 | R

One of the funniest comedies of the 2000s, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a great movie to watch before a trip to Oahu, especially if your trip involves the North Shore! 

The movie features Jason Segel as the forlorn, newly-dumped boyfriend of a famous TV actress, Sarah Marshall. He goes to Oahu to try to find himself and relax — but ends up finding out that she and her new boyfriend, played by Russell Brand, are staying at the same resort he is! Luckily, he unexpectedly makes friends with a bunch of workers at the resort, and they help to save his trip.

The movie is filmed mostly at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu, and it has scenes from different places along the North Shore, including the famous ‘cliff jumping’ scene which takes place at Laie Point, and the surfing scenes filmed on the beaches near Haleiwa. The beautiful shots of these North Shore locales will have you adding it to your Oahu itinerary!

This funny movie is also poignant, and it’ll be especially resonant for solo travelers or people who are taking a trip in order to forget or get over a recent bad event like a breakup or loss. The movie addresses how we can feel lost and look to travel to try to save us, but ultimately, our connections with the people we meet while traveling are what impact our experience the most. For travelers feeling a bit lost, this is a really powerful message to take with you both on your travels to Hawaii and when you return home. 

Contributed by Allison Green of Eternal Arrival

50 First Dates

2004 | PG13

The film, 50 First Dates takes place on the mesmerizing island of Oahu and is charming because of it’s message of true love despite the odds. The movie follows the daily interactions between the main character, Henry who is set on winning over Lucy, a joyful woman who unfortunately forgets what happens every day due to short-term memory loss. 

Fifty First Dates follows the interactions and budding love Henry develops for Lucy as he continues his battle every day to win her over, while also trying to convince her close friends and family that he can make her happy. In the movie, you taste Hawaiian culture in the attire as well as the cuisine, like at Hukilau cafe, where Lucy eats every morning. 

You also get to see some popular historic locations in the movie, like where Lucy and Henry kiss at the famous Makapuu lighthouse, which is a popular hiking destination in Oahu. Lucy lives on the ranch at Kualoa Ranch, a substantial 4000-acre private nature reserve. Another famous Hawaiian location, as seen in the movie, is where Henry works, the real-life Sea Life Park. This renowned park allows visitors to meet the animals up close but still works towards preserving nature and conserving wildlife. The concept of the preservation and conservation of nature is an important focus in Hawaii. All in all, 50 First Dates is not only a cute and funny movie but shows us a glimpse of Hawaii and it’s culture. 

Contributed by Sierra and Yesenia, The Sisters Who Voyage

Hawaii Surfing Movies

Soul Surfer

2011 | PG

The movie Soul Surfer is set on the island of Kaui and follows the story of Bethany Hamilton, an upcoming teenage surfing star who was attacked by a shark one day on the water. The shark bit off her arm but luckily, Bethany survived the attack. The movie focuses on her journey to figure out how to cope with the loss of her arm and also how she overcame that setback in her surfing career. 

It’s a heartwarming and incredibly inspiring film that is perfect for families and anyone who loves a movie about overcoming the odds. Sean McNamara was the director, and Anna Sophia Robb starred in the film. 

The movie showcases the beauty of Hawaiian water and beaches and the strength of the local communities. There are also many scenes of surfing competitions and surfing practice in Hawaii, which is an aspect of a Hawaiian vacation that many visitors are interested in. 

Contributed by Stephanie Rytting of The Unknown Enthusiast

Gidget Goes Hawaiian

1961 | NR

One of the cutest movies that is set in Hawaii is a 1960’s surfer chick-flick called Gidget Goes Hawaiian. The Gidget series follows the story of a small, teenage girl named Francine. Francine longs for a life that is more than just sitting at home, and finds her passion in the waves. In the first Gidget movie, Francine learns how to surf with the help of Moondoggie and his surfer bros. She receives the nickname “Gidget” from them – girl + midget. She falls in love with Moondoggie and surfing and the rest is history.

In Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Francine has the opportunity to go to Hawaii and surf some pretty big waves. Just before the adventure, she and Moondoggie break up, making her Hawaiian adventure now fueled with “post-breakup” vibes. This movie is super cute and shows off multiple Hawaiian hotels and beaches. It will make you want to go to Hawaii, learn to surf, and fall in love. From the beautiful beaches to the cute Luaus, Gidget Goes Hawaiian is the perfect movie to watch before going to Hawaii because it will inspire you to get out there and enjoy everything the Hawaiian islands have to offer.

Contributed by Shannon at Adventuring With Shannon

Other surfing movies to enjoy are the documentaries Endless Summer and Hawaii 1906 shared earlier in this article.

Films About Hawaii

Watching films from this collection is sure to give you a deeper understanding of Hawaii: it’s natural beauty, fascinating culture, and rich history. Hopefully you’ve found some great Hawaii movies to add to your queue!

What are your favorites? Did we miss anything you would recommend? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!



Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or About Us page!
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Nature Journaling for Beginners

Woman nature journaling with large mountains and forest around her

Nature Journaling for Beginners:

Art on the Go Starts at Home

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Nature journaling is a great traveler’s activity that can be done anywhere, and it’s a perfect way to connect with your surroundings while exploring new places. It is a versatile hobby that helps you get in touch with your creative side, capture memories of your adventures, and carve out time to sit still and observe the world around you. These techniques can be used by both children and adults. 

This is nature journaling for beginners! Don’t worry – it’s easy, and there are plenty of ways to get started.

What is Nature Journaling?

A nature journal is simply a record of your observations about the plants, animals, weather, landscapes, and any other natural phenomena that you encounter.

The primary aim of nature journaling is to cultivate a consistent practice of connecting with nature. It can also be a great way to improve your artistic skills and learn more about the ecology of your local environment. 

A nature journal can be as simple as a sketchbook and pencils, or it can be as elaborate as a handmade book with watercolors and pressed flowers. The key is to find what works for you and to make it a regular habit.

Nature Journaling sketch of dog smelling thistles with a lake and mountains in the background
Nature journal sketch by the author, Mackenzie Bakewell.

The Benefits of Nature Journaling

Taking time each day to connect with nature is a wonderful way to relax and rejuvenate your mind and spirit. Additionally, it is a place to practice creative expression and the technical skills needed to make art, such as illustration, penmanship, or imagination. 

When you look into the benefits of journaling, spending time in nature, making art, and quiet observation, you’ll find there is a growing amount of research studies that say, “This stuff is really good for us!”

These benefits can include reducing stress and anxiety levels, improving concentration and focus, helping to reduce cortisol levels, and promoting a sense of well-being. In addition, forest bathing – or simply spending time in forests or other green spaces – has been shown to boost immune function, increase energy levels, and improve overall health.

When traveling, you can tap into these relaxation-promoting benefits simply by taking out your nature journal. For me, this has been a great tool to help prevent stress and enhance my on-the-go enjoyment. 


      Here are some of my favorite benefits of nature journaling:

  1. It connects you with nature, which can help you feel more grounded and peaceful.
  2. It helps you become more aware of your surroundings, which can increase your appreciation for nature.
  3. It encourages you to pay attention to detail, which can improve your observation skills.
  4. It helps you develop a deeper understanding of the natural world and how it works.
  5. It inspires you to take action on behalf of the environment.
  6. It provides a versatile outlet for creative expression.


From the Traveling Naturalist’s Perspective

A nature journal can also double as your travel journal. This is a great way to jot down details about places you’ve visited, your timeline of events, and other interesting tidbits that you’ll want to look back on once home again. 

Pay attention to colors you see, plants that are unique to the place you’re visiting, and of course, the animals that you meet. 

This is helpful for later identification using field guides, as well as to enhance your memory and create a personal keepsake from your journeys. Eventually, your nature notes may even grow to be a multimedia journal and a full-blown blog with photographs, audio, and video.

My Simple Nature Journaling and Field Sketching Process

This is something that I learned from my mother, who has always been my primary art teacher and nature mentor. Her background in scientific illustration mixed with her innate curiosity for the natural world are the foundation for my own perspective on the creative process. 

The beauty of a nature journal is that it can be as unique as each one of us. Yet, I find that having a flow to follow makes things easier and helps build a lifelong habit. 

Here is my simple process that you can use as a starting point:

1. Sit Down and Settle In

Take five big full belly breaths, to help ground you into the present moment. As you do, say a simple “Thank You.” Giving thanks is one of the core routines of nature connection and a wonderful way to start your journaling.

2. Start Coloring

I always keep a few coloring postcards in my journal, because coloring is an effective tool for dropping into a creative flow. Pick a color you spot, then as you begin coloring pay attention with your other senses. What (or who) do you smell or hear? What can you taste on the air? How does the day feel?

3. Quick Check-in

Now that you’ve paid attention to the natural world around you, jot down the Date, Time, Location, and Weather in your journal. Then take note of “What’s Happening” with both words and a simple field sketch to capture the key elements of your observations. 

4. Appreciate and Go On Your Way

Set down your journal and simply soak in your surroundings. Breathe slowly, really noticing the quality of the air, the sounds, and even the art you’ve just created. Feel gratitude for yourself for showing up and checking in, and then pack up your supplies so they’re ready for next time. 

Whether I’m sitting for five minutes or several hours, this is the formula I follow. The Quick Check-in can, of course, expand into a full art making experience, a longer written entry, or a detailed field sketch.

Colorful sketch in the author's nature journal of two birds
An observational nature sketch in the author's journal during a trip to Peru.


To add a set of coloring postcards to your Nature Journal and give my simple process a try, check out the Coloring Postcards from my company ZieBee Media. My family and I developed these products and tested them with all types of mediums to ensure they provided a great coloring experience.

Leather Nature Journal with wooden pen in red, gold, and brown leaves

If you’re looking to expand your ideas on what Nature Journaling is and see some real-world examples, check out Marley Peifer’s blog and Nature Journal Show. He is a nature journaler and educator who is passionate about helping people get the most out of their nature journals. 


You will want to find a sketchbook that is right for you. Consider both the size and the medium you prefer to work with. A cardboard back provides a built-in drawing board. 

The author's nature journaling essentials.

Grab a Pencil and Give It a Try

If you’re looking for a way to slow down, connect with your surroundings, and document your travels, nature journaling is the perfect solution. It can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any special skills or equipment. All you need is a notebook, something to write with, and an open mind. 

Ready to get started? Simply grab a pencil and a piece of paper then do a Quick Check-in journal entry: Write the Date, Time, Location, and Weather. 

As easy as that, you’ve embarked on your journey of nature journaling. 

Woman nature journaling next to the Nile River
The author, Mackenzie Bakewell, nature journaling along the banks of the Nile River.

This guest post was contributed by Mackenzie Bakewell

We love to learn from our guest writers and appreciate their expertise! Visit her website by clicking on the image or name below. 

Mackenzie Bakewell

Mackenzie Bakewell

Mackenzie is a multimedia artist and author and the creator of Journey of Colors, a coloring book product line designed to help people of all ages relax, get creative, and have fun making art in their everyday lives. She is the author of Coloring is Good for You: 13 Reasons to Color Daily and the publisher of the Curious Coyote Nature Education book series. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Mackenzie’s work is inspired by a lifetime of exploring nature and new places with her camera and sketchbook in hand.
You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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Yellowstone Family Vacation Planning

Yellowstone Family Vacation Planning

Yellowstone Family Vacation Planning

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

One of the great joys for many of us is experiencing national parks both as children and as adults with our families. It is remarkable to bring our kids to the same astounding places our parents shared with us when we were younger.  Or, maybe you are creating fresh new traditions for your family! Whether you are returning or visiting for the first time, your family vacation to Yellowstone will be one of your favorites!

The best way to plan Yellowstone vacations for families is to learn more about the park so you can enjoy it to its fullest. You can find all the best resources to learn more in our article, The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to Yellowstone. This article adds a few more options specific to families.

To get everyone in on planning your family trip to Yellowstone, read our article, Joyful and Educational Trip Planning for Families.  It is a guide for how to follow your children’s interests to kindle their curiosity. For your trip to Yellowstone, they may be most interested in animals, geology, or history. Here are some other recommendations specific for kids.  

The best ways for kids to learn about Yellowstone National Park from home

Yellowstone National Park Website

The site is great for educational trip research. If you are traveling with a larger group of kids, consider Yellowstone Distance Learning. These need at least 10 young people for a live class.  

They also have about 25 recorded lessons available for everyone on a wide range of topics including history, microbes, the night sky, and bison. They are 20-minute recorded ranger lessons, similar to what you can enjoy in person.   

If you are looking for something more formal, there is a collection of about 25 lessons you can enjoy from home. Curriculum ranges from activities for pre-k through 12th grade. They include both science and history projects. These are perfect for homeschooling and world schooling families, but all curious travelers can enjoy them.

Whether you take a virtual tour from home to help better plan your trip, or you want to enjoy Yellowstone tours from your couch, the park’s website also offers some free virtual tours. In addition, you can also watch the webcams in Yellowstone. The Upper Geyser Basin is live-streamed, and the other webcams are static and cover the entrances and some major sites.  

What I saw in Yellowstone

This is an excellent choice for any budding naturalist. Get it before your trip so they can learn Yellowstone facts for kids, including more about the animals, geology and history of the park from home. Then bring it along so they can track what they see and take notes about details of their finds.  Let them teach the rest of the family what they have learned while you are walking the trails and boardwalks. It includes park activities for kids. When they return home, it serves as their personal journal of your trip. 

North American Forest Animal Figurines

There is nothing like open ended exploration in play and these animals invite curiosity and discovery. They are safe for ages three and up and are a wonderful addition to many of the documentaries, activities, and books shared on this site. Bring them outside, add them to your box of blocks, or take them into the bath to invite joy and natural conversations about the animals you will be seeing on your trip. Then be sure to pack them for the road trip to add some adventure to long stretches of the drive. 

Trekking the National Parks

Trekking the National Parks is a lively and engaging game for families who enjoy visiting the national parks in the United States. Players collect stones representing different national parks and learn a little about them in the process. It is intended for ages 10+ and games usually last less than one hour. For more ideas about games to inspire travel, including a few more specific to our national parks read, Games For Globetrotters: The Best Games for People Who Love to Travel. 

Yellowstone: kid friendly tips

Top things to do in Yellowstone with kids

  1. Watch the animals in Hayden Valley or Lamar Valley
  2. Visit the geyser basins
  3. Go for a hike
  4. Become a Yellowstone Junior Ranger
  5. Become a Yellowstone Young Scientist
  6. Take pictures of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  7. Eat ice cream in the historic Old Faithful Lodge
  8. Look elk for when you visit the travertine terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs
  9. Stargaze in the park and look for planets and constellations
  10. Be the lookout for your family as you drive and try to spot animals in the distance

Is visiting Yellowstone with toddlers safe?

Many people ask if visiting Yellowstone with toddlers is safe and there isn’t a universal answer. We have visited with babies, toddlers, and young children (and they all survived just fine!), but it is more relaxing to visit with older kids. The boardwalks over geothermal features don’t have safety rails and the wildlife is, indeed, wild. If your little one is in an especially independent and defiant stage, you might want to wait for a different year. But if you are carrying them in a backpack or they old enough to comfortably understand and follow safety directions, you can have an amazing time enjoying the many family things to do in Yellowstone!

The best places to stay in Yellowstone for families

Depending on your preferences, budget, and when you make your reservations, family lodging in Yellowstone can be an integral part of the trip, or simply a place you sleep each night.  

If you hope to camp in the park, make your reservations as soon as possible through two different agencies depending on the campground: and Yellowstone National Park Lodges.    

Yellowstone is also home to historic lodges and modern lodging managed through YNP Lodges.  If you are fortunate enough to stay in one of the historic lodges, your family will  enjoy reading the Yellowstone section of Great Lodges of the National Parks. 

Most in-park lodging fills many months in advance. If it is already full, or if you prefer access to more amenities, stay in one of the towns outside the park. If you are not sleeping in the park, I recommend West Yellowstone for your home base. It is a charming town with plenty of perks for families. You’ll have access to many lodging options, multiple restaurants, banks, stores, and tourist attractions. The biggest plus is the location. It is off the center of the Grand Loop Road, allowing multiple easy day trips without as much backtracking as the other towns right outside the park.  

Yellowstone family vacation tours

If you prefer not to drive and deal with parking in the park, these are some great educational tour options for ages 3 or 6 and up.

Yellowstone family vacation planning

We hope you have discovered some useful resources to help you plan your trip to  Yellowstone National Park with kids. Even though your time in the park will be brief, you can enjoy months of enjoyment before and after your trip. Be sure to read more in our full article, The Ultimate Guide to Planning  Your Trip to Yellowstone  where we have gathered the best documentaries, audio tours, games, books, websites and more to help you enjoy months of learning and entertainment before you leave.

Have you been to Yellowstone with kids or do you plan to visit in the future? What were your favorite activities that you enjoyed, both before you left and while you were in the park. Please let me know in the comments!



Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or About Us page!
You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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Best Video, Card, and Board Games- Travel the World From Home

Board game travel

The Best Video, Card, and Board Games- Travel the World from Home

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Looking for the top games for globetrotters? We have gathered the best video, card, and board games travel enthusiasts can play from home. These aren’t necessarily games you play on the road–  they are travel-themed games to inspire! 

We love taking trips, but still spend plenty of time at home (especially over this last year!). Games provide a wonderful way to learn about future destinations and reminisce about past journeys. As a former teacher, I recommend games as one of many travel related, stress-free, and fun educational resources for kids of all ages. Games also make excellent gifts for travelers.

I’ve asked fellow game loving travel writers to share their favorite games about travel. We are avid game players at our house but I learned about many new ones from our guest authors! Click through to their websites to visit their travel blogs. 

Together we have gathered board, video, word, and card games for all types of travelers. Some are free and some are the cost of a evening’s entertainment.  You’ll find choices for kids, teens, and adults.  Come find the perfect game for globetrotters! 

The best travel board games


An engaging travel-themed board game is Concordia if you are planning a trip anywhere around the Mediterranean, or even some places further afield. Dive into the history of the Roman world in this peaceful strategy game where Concordia, the Roman goddess of harmony, rewards the player who finishes with the most points by peaceful means. Players strive to earn the favor of different gods and goddesses by accumulating actions and items that each of them admire. 

Because it is made by Rio Grande Games, solid game play is assured. There are numerous strategies you can employ and many options for optimizing points. For this reason, it is a 13+ game. You aren’t interacting with the other players very much, but turns are fast and the game stays lively. 

A great feature is the additional history booklet included in the game. Cities are identified by both their modern and Roman names. A mini-history of each of the provinces is included, complete with how it differs from the fictional depiction in the game. 

Our family has enjoyed playing Concordia and remembering our past travels and the impact of Roman civilization on those places. The board is two sided, with Italy on one side (for 2-4 player games) and Imperium on the other (for 3-5 players). We are planning a trip to Italy in the next couple of years and it is a helpful way to talk about the regions and what we want to see. Playing on the Imperium side inspires interesting conversation about the broader scope of Roman history and the impact on our travel destinations. 



Let’s go to Europe tonight! A few years ago, during a rough period of my life, my best friends introduced me to the game of Eurorails. It distracts my mind to happy places, appealing both to my love of European travel and my enjoyment of building a business enterprise.

Each player must strategically build rail (costing money) to move commodities such as chocolate or sheep between cities (earning money). Event cards such as floods or snowstorms add unexpected excitement just like real life.

We find particular fun in using the washable crayons to draw track and trying to pronounce the non-anglicized names of the cities used on the geographically accurate board.

As friends, we enjoy competing over the best rail routes and biggest payloads. We share memories of our travels: paragliding in the Alps, getting lost during a dark rainstorm in Seville, and detouring to see the Bremen Rathaus. And we plot our future trips. At the end of the evening, I feel the joy and relaxation of having experienced a mini-vacation to some of my favorite destinations.

Note: Eurorails is no longer produced but the savvy shopper can still find new or used game sets on Ebay, Etsy, Poshmark or similar.

 Contributed by Julie K from Travel & Live with Texture

Monopoly (Versions from Around the World)

You may be surprised to learn that there are over 1,000 versions of the board game Monopoly. Many of these are localised versions that are specific to a particular country or city. They are all some of the best board games for travel aficionados. 

For example, Monopoly Australia is a special edition of Monopoly with properties featuring famous places from around the country. The cheapest properties in the game are Darwin and Alice Springs, while the most expensive is Sydney Harbour. This edition comes with fun Australia-themed tokens such as a kangaroo and a barbecue.

Playing Monopoly is a great way to familiarise yourself with the must-see landmarks in a destination before you travel. It can also bring back happy memories when you return home.

If your trip is to a particular city rather than a country, you’ll find a Monopoly game for that too, such as Monopoly Sydney Edition which features properties such as Taronga Zoo and The Rocks.

Of course, not all Monopoly editions are in English! However, if you have some fluency, playing games like Monopoly France could be a great way to improve your language skills.

Contributed by Jenni at Monopoly Land

Pan Am

Every month, I meet with 3 close girlfriends for a game night.  This started in the middle of the pandemic and was a great way to get out of the house and socialize in a safe environment.  We take turns hosting each month and the host picks a new theme each time, which makes it a lot of fun.  

All of us are travelers and, inevitably, our game nights turn to sharing stories about our pre-COVID travels.  Spain, Iceland, Italy, Mexico – how we all wish we could go back!

Thankfully, for our most recent game night, one friend brought exactly the right game: Pan Am.

Pan Am is a strategy game where you start off as a boutique airline and try to outbid other players to get airline routes, build up your airplane fleet, and compete against the dominant Pan Am airline to turn as much profit as possible before the game ends.  To win, you have to correctly strategize routes, landing airports, fleet size, and when the right time to sell to Pan Am is.

Pan Am is kind of like the game Risk except with a fun travel twist.  For travelers, it’s fun seeing all these major travel hubs – Paris, Rio, Madrid, New York, and more – and having a chance to talk about memories or dreams of visiting those destinations.

If you like strategy games with a travel twist, Pan Am is the game for you!

Contributed by Gabby, the Office Escape Artist


I reached across the table to draw the next card from the deck and then stared at it in dismay. “It’s an epidemic!” Groans met my words. “It looks like we have our work cut out for us.”

Pandemic has been a staple board game for my family for years at this point, but it has seen a surge of popularity due to recent events. The general idea of the game is that there are four infectious disease outbreaks spread around the world. The players take on different specialist roles and work together to try to contain, and eliminate the diseases through developing a vaccine. 

It’s a game that might hit a little close to home for some, at the moment, but there’s more than a few of us who wish we could take a more active role in fighting a pandemic. 

I love the theme, as well as the fact that it’s a cooperative game. My family is more of the ‘win together, lose together’ sort, so we love playing co-op games. And, especially with so many borders closed, it’s comforting to pretend that a problem as serious as a pandemic could be solved with the next card draw. 

Contributed by Jacob Smith at Neverending Field Trip

Passport to Culture

If you like trivia and you like to travel, Passport to Culture is a game for you. With this game, you are going to improve your Cultural Intelligence (CQ). You start on the board at one airport and roll a dice. On the colored space, you answer a question and get a stamp of that color in your passport if answered correctly. You try to collect 10 stamps from various countries/colors and answer the greatest number of cultural questions. 

Questions have multiple choice answers like which continent has most countries that speak Portuguese (A-Europe, B-South America, C-Africa)? The correct answer is C because of the former Portuguese colonies.

By learning about different cultural norms, languages, geography, and history you will become more open-minded, tolerant, and accepting. It will also bring back memories about places you already visited and maybe one of those moments, “If I knew this fact before, I would  have saved myself from embarrassment”.

Contributed by Džangir Kolar from  Dr. Jam Travels

Seven Wonders

Take control of the development of an ancient civilization as you compete with up to six other players to advance art, science, industry, and culture in this card-based city-building game. Each turn, players simultaneously choose a structure or technology to build from a hand of cards, before passing that hand along to the next player. As you progress, make progress toward completing one of the titular Seven Wonders of the ancient world. They are each well illustrated and brought to life through the thematic abilities they grant.

The game’s fast pace and accessible mechanics make it a great option for introducing players to the hobby, while also having the depth to be enjoyed by more experienced players.

While most of the wonders described by Antipater of Sidon no longer stand, the civilizations that constructed them left other traces. Visiting archaeological and historical sites and museums can give the modern-day traveler a taste of what once was. This makes it one of the best travel board games for curious explorers. 

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Ticket to Ride

One of the best board games travel lovers will enjoy is Ticket to Ride. Ticket to Ride is a board game in which players must travel by train from one destination to another, creating train journeys that pass through different places and cities as you make your way from your departure point to your final destination.

There are journey cards which each player chooses from. They can be short or long journeys, and players must try to complete each journey card they have to gain points to win the game.

I was first introduced to Ticket to Ride by a friend and it quickly became one of my favourite games. We’ve played the North America board, the Europe board, and the Asia board, and each one is as good as the next. The game is really fun because as you ‘travel by train’ across the continents you need to try and keep your journey details secret so your opponents don’t take the routes you need!

I love Ticket to Ride as it has reminded us of places we’ve visited, brought back memories and also helped us plan future trips. It is also very educational as it can help you learn where certain places and cities are located in relation to one another. 

There are a huge range of Ticket to Ride boards that you can play, so wherever you want to travel, there’s a board just for you. 

Contributed by Cath from Travel Around Ireland


Tokaido is one of the most beautiful travel themed board games for anyone planning a trip to Japan.  Players move from Kyoto to Tokyo collecting experiences, meals, panoramic views, and items along the way. The goal is to discover the most. There are a variety of strategies that can be used to maximize points, but there are also mechanics built into the game to keep everyone moving at a similar pace. There are no intense interactions with other players, the most you can do is stop someone from taking an action. 

We are planning to visit Japan in the future and enjoy playing Tokaido. It is enjoyable to imagine the different encounters, bath houses, and meals as we dream of our future journey.

Trekking the National Parks

Trekking the National Parks is one of the best board games travel enthusiasts and National Park lovers will enjoy! The game is fun for adults but easy enough that school-aged kids can catch on and play too! The game features a map of the US with all of the National Parks represented.  

Your goal is to “claim” as many of America’s National Parks as you can.  It’s a game of a bit of luck, and also some strategy too! Each park is represented by a colored rock. To win the game, you try to claim the most parks and win points with the most colored rocks. The game comes with cards representing each park.  They have beautiful photos and interesting facts on the featured park.

We love to play and talk about the parks that we’ve been to and get excited for the parks that are next on our list. The game is educational, but not to the point where it’s no longer fun.  It is just a fun way to “travel the parks” from your living room, and pick up some fun facts along the way.

Contributed by Chantelle from Flannels or Flip Flops

Trekking the World

In Trekking The World, you’re racing against other players to visit world-renowned locations and collect rare souvenirs during your journey. You get to build your bucket list of destinations and take a real whirlwind tour to visit them.

The world is full of many wonders and Trekking The World is both great inspiration to plan future adventures, and a great way to relive memories that you have experienced at these locations. The game often sparks some great conversations about travel dreams. It is wonderful to hear the adventures of others as you play, with some great laughter and smiles along the way.

We really enjoy the variety the game provides. Though the premise is the same each time, the game changes every round. With so many different strategies to use to work your way to a win, it keeps the game fresh for multiple plays.

The rules are straightforward enough for the kids to be able to join in (suggested 10+ years) and have fun, yet is still challenging enough for adults.

The game features 48 real-world destinations, all with gorgeous illustrations and educational passages. You’re sure to finish this game having learned something that you didn’t know!

Trekking The World is especially helpful right now as we are spending more time closer to home. The game really helps with wanderlust and keeps you dreaming during times that you cannot travel! It is a great way to expand your knowledge of the world, and have fun doing it!

Contributed by Debbie Fettback from


Do you love the thrill of waking up to new birdsong on your trips? Bird loving travelers will delight in Wingspan! This is another beautiful board game with gorgeous pictures and game pieces. You play as a bird enthusiast and get to learn about the birds living in your travel destinations. You collect birds of North America in the original game and can purchase the European and Oceania expansions.

Gameplay is slightly complicated but worth learning. It is a medium-weight, card driven engine builder for ages 10+. There isn’t direct competition with other players and points are not counted until the end of the game. This is an award winning game for good reason and is a perfect choice for birding travelers. 

The World According to Ubi

The World According to Ubi is THE GAME for travelers who are serious geography enthusiasts! It is no longer in print, but available both used and as a tabletop simulator on STEAM. Some consider this the most challenging trivia game ever created!

It is a geography game where riddles are asked starting with “Ubi,” Latin for where. Answers aren’t given as a traditional statement, but instead as coordinates on a map. Enhancing the complexity  are red herrings mixed into the deck, where you need to have enough geographical and historical knowledge to know it is a trick question and not something that actually happened. 

If you love geography and traveling, this game will keep you challenged and engaged as you dream of future trips! 

Game suggested by J. T.

The Best Video Games about Travel

Assassin's Creed

The Assassin’s Creed video game series from Ubisoft has always captured the imagination of our family with its well-researched historical fiction settings. Some of the game locations are Israel, Turkey, Spain, Boston & New York (in the United States),Egypt, Greece, France, England, the Caribbean, Italy, China, Libya, and Russia. There is a version for travelers to many destinations! 

One of the games in the series, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, portrays ancient Egypt with the geography, people, and culture in a virtual playground.  While many might be put off by the action and violence of the series, the game developers actually included Discovery Tour as a game mode that turns off the usual game play and allows the player to take a virtual tour of the whole interactive world: exploring the Pyramids, visiting the towns, and seeing the people of ancient Egypt.  There is even a timeline to learn about the historical periods of the era.

There are twelve games in the series covering different travel destinations and historical time periods. Some have more fictional portrayals than others. Unity, set during the French Revolution and Odyssey, set in Classical Greece have been fun games to play and remember our own past trips. We are looking forward to playing Valhalla as we plan our future trip to Scandinavia and the UK. The games are rated M, but some of them have nonviolent discovery options that are enjoyable for a wider range of players. If you have older video game players in your travel group, these games could be a great choice!

Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour is a free-to-play racing game on iOS and Android devices. What makes Tour special from the other games in the Mario Kart series is the rotation of tracks in real-world cities, including Paris, New York City, Tokyo, Vancouver, Berlin, Los Angeles, and London.

When driving through cities I’ve already visited in real life, I feel nostalgic recognizing landmarks. When I hit the Vancouver track, I adore getting to “visit” the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Gastown’s iconic Steam Clock again.

Contributed by Meggie at Mindful Meggie


Photo by Champagne on Deck
Photo by Champagne on Deck

Where in the World Am I? That’s the premise of the game GeoGuesser.  In this digital geography game, players are presented with a 360 degree panoramic image of mystery location. By scrolling around and zooming in on the photo, players look for clues to help them figure out the location such as street signs, clothings, architecture, vegetation, and automobiles. The closer in distance to the correct location, the more points earned. There is a web version of the game and an iOS app. My family prefers the app because you can earn coins to unlock more game varieties like famous places, specific countries, and cities. 

Analyzing the clues creates opportunities for my family to talk about the characteristics and cultures of different places around the world. Making our guesses on the world map sharpens our geography skills. We often travel, but rarely outside of the U.S. The game gives us a glimpse into other parts of the world that we could only dream to visit. 

World travelers may enjoy this game even more than we do! Not only would they have a leg up, but I’m sure it would resurrect memories of previous adventures or spark interest for new destinations.

Contributed by Monica Champagne from Champagne On Deck

The Best Card Games About Travel


Backpacker does exactly what it says on the tin…or box. This fun card game takes travellers on an adventure through some of the world’s classic backpacking destinations. It takes a while to learn, a long trip to master, but only a second to fall in love with. 

After requesting it for Christmas, I finally got my hands on Backpacker and immediately began playing. Backpacker is a card game played with destination cards, events cards, advice cards and cards that throw a spanner in your “backpacking trip”. The idea of the game is to get home with the most photos and to do so requires some skill, some luck, and being a little mean to your fellow players. Play is with 2 to 6 players so great for a couple and better for a small group. 

I learnt the gameplay at home, with my travel buddy and it was such fun to reminisce about our adventures through the countries listed, whilst also beating him every.single.time! Having become slightly addicted, we took the game on a group trip to Borneo, creating another three Backpacker addicts within our friendship group. Now when we play, we get to remember the hours we spent in airports, on buses, and in hostel rooms with them too!

Contributed by Rosie at Flying Fluskey


Planning a trip to France and looking for a revolutionary game to play? Despite the gruesome title, Guillotine is a fun, fast paced card game set during the French Revolution. 

We played it a lot before our own trip to France and it inspired some easier conversations about the history behind the game. For example, Marie Antiontte is shown with a cake on her playing card. Did she really say the famous line? Guillotines were originally invented as a more humane form of execution. Where were the main guillotine locations in Paris? You’ll see them when you visit and this game will provoke conversations beforehand.

Guillotine is fast (30 minute rounds), easy to learn, and recommended for ages 12 and up. The age recommendation may be because the point of the game is to collect as many high ranking noble heads as you can– ack! 

You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

The Best Free Game About Travel

City - Country - River

Photo by Matheus Ferrero
Photo by Matheus Ferrero

If I were to think of one perfect game for travel lovers it would have to be City-Country-River! Growing up in Germany, a week would rarely pass without playing this old but gold game either at home or in school. The concept behind the game is simple: A letter of the alphabet is randomly selected and players have to find a city, a country, and a river that start with the letter. Your aim should be to come up with those things quickly and ideally find places that other players didn’t think of. 

Of course, being a travel lover gives you a clear advantage in this game because you get to recall all the cities, countries, or rivers you have ever visited or dreamed of visiting, even the ones the other players might not have heard about. It also helps travelers bring back memories from trips to these destinations and deepen their understanding of world geography, making it an excellent game for travel lovers.

Contributed by Arabela at The Spicy Travel Girl 

The Best Escape Rooms Games About Travel

Finders-Seekers Escape Room Game

Finders-Seekers Escape Room  game is a family friendly way to explore a new world destination without ever leaving your house.  This is part of a monthly subscription box club that will have you and your family enjoying a unique game night every month.   

My family loves traveling and during the pandemic we were having travel withdrawals.  The Finders-Seekers Escape Room was a great way for us to continue to explore the world right from our home.  Our family consists of young kids and adults that are young at heart.  We love that this game allowed everyone in the family to contribute and have fun.  

Each month we get to discover new cities and cultures through play.  We love deciphering the clues through the puzzles, fun souvenirs, and pictures.  Our family is really good at working together and we like to take our time to enjoy fun activities.  Normally each box takes us about 2 hours to complete.  

Contributed by Tiffany from Mommy And Me Travels

Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is the ultimate game for anyone who loves London. Working together with your friends, you’re trying to solve a case faster than Sherlock Holmes. Although it isn’t the easiest game, it is very satisfying when you figure out the answer.

It’s important to note that each case can only be played once (when you know the answer you can’t really replay it). But each box gives you 7 to 10 cases to work on. Plus, it often takes us two to three nights of playing to solve one mystery. That’s a lot of game play!

The best part is that it takes me back to London every time I play. You’re running around the city to find clues and they even give you a map of London to look at! It’s fun to see places you visited like the Thames River, Covent Garden Market, and Westminster Abbey.

Of course this isn’t the London you know as it’s set in the 1800s, but knowing the city does have it’s advantages at times! Plus it’s always fun to compare modern day London to Sherlock’s 1800s London. “

Contributed by Meghan Emcee at Afternoon Tea Reads

Concordia Best game for travel lovers

Enjoying the Best Games for Travel Lovers

Have you played any of these games? Did they inspire your own future travels or memories of past journeys? If you have other travel focused game recommendations, please share them! Our library has  more travel related games and is full of hundreds of resources you can enjoy from home to be a more thoughtful traveler, check it out!

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You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.


Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or About Us page!

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Ideas for Timelines

Ideas for Timelines for History Travel Planning

Ideas for Timelines

Organize Your History Travel Studies

Photo by Tripscholars

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Planning a big trip and excited to dive into learning about your destination but confused about where to start? How about a fun and easy-to-use method to enjoy history travel? Timelines! We will share the best ideas for timelines to help you organize your history travel studies. 

This article will be helpful to those looking for ideas for timelines outside of trip planning too! You can skip straight to: Examples of Timelines. 

Whether you are creating a plan to learn more about your local area before you try out different campgrounds this summer, or are planning big international trip in the future, deeper study will enhance both the trip itself and your quality of life before travel. Organizing your study chronologically provides structure and simplifies your approach. Read on to discover how using a timeline can help you! 

Although this approach may seem a bit academic for trip planning (except to fellow nerds!), it is a popular study technique because it is so effectiveI have used timelines both as a professional teacher and as a homeschool parent helping our family prepare for trips, and am excited to share some of the best techniques with you. 

Table of Contents

Organize your history travel studies before departure

When planning our own travel through history with a trip to Greece and France a few years ago, we used the year before departure to study both countries. In our family, we had different ages, levels of understanding, and interests— where to even start with such a daunting plan? We used a timeline! 

And timelines aren’t just for kids! If you are like me and have a tough time holding onto dates and factoids, try using timelines to flesh out details in the broader themes and sweeps of history. Timelines provide the structure to see relationships between events and people in unique ways. 

What do you want to include in your timeline?

Start by sketching out your timeline. You do not need to add many details at this early stage. Instead, you are getting the broad strokes and confirming the key interestshighlights you don’t want to miss, and learning goals you’d like to meet 

From the beginning of our travel planning, we had a general idea of where we were going and some of the main sights we wanted to see. I created a rough outline of the major historical periods in Greece and France. If you already have kids’ history books at home, they are useful at this stage since you are only looking for major themes. The internet is another obvious choice, and Wikipedia offers a historical timeline of most locations: cities, regions, states, and countries 

The next step is to be sure that top interests and learning goals are included. If traveling as a family, check out our article, Family Travel Education: 11 Inspiring Ways to Plan a Trip With Your Kids. and include your kid’s interests in your timeline. Also include what other members of your party are most curious about. Are you especially interested in art history, mythology, religion, natural history, military battles, architecture, or food? Whatever excites you, you can discover more about it from a historical perspective. 

Create a Calendar

Study guide

Once you have your thorough list, highlight the areas you really want to focus on—you won’t have time to learn about everything! Then, break out your pencil (you’ll be making edits) and your calendar. Don’t skip this step, or you might be boarding the plane before covering the last few hundred years of your destination’s historyIt is important to see our destinations in a modern, realistic context, so be sure to have time at the end (or preferably, throughoutto study current events 

Separate your major periods by weeks or months of study, and you are ready to go with the main headings in the outline of your timeline. For example, as we planned our trip, I broke part of it out as: Week 2– Minoans, Week 3- Mycenaeans, Week 4- Homer, etc. 

Create an online document to organize your plan. At this point, you only need to find resources to learn about things at the beginning of your timeline. You do not need a plan for everything. Trust that you will flesh this out as the weeks pass.  

Use your travel timeline to inspire activities

Travel timeline dad and kids cooking historical food

Now the fun really begins! For each historical period, you and your travel companions can find books, movies, documentaries, podcasts, activities, recipes, music, games and more to understand the periodYou can enjoy them together and individually, but with everyone exploring the same historical period at the same time together, you will create a multifaceted understanding.  

From our personal example above, when we explored the French Revolution and Classical Greece together over many weeks and from multiple perspectives it helped us all have a richer understanding. Plus we had lots of fun and many interesting conversations. It also led to infinitely richer travel experiences because we understood so much more about our destinations. 

As you find valuable resources, add them to your plan. Use the Tripscholars Travel Library to find resources to flesh out your studies, this is why we are here!

What comes first in the timeline for any location? Geology! Starting with the natural history of a location is a great first step for any timeline. Depending on your interests, it might be where you devote much of your study efforts! Whether it is a quick overview or a deep dive, understanding the geology, geography, flora, and fauna of your destination is sure to add a level of fascination and wonder to your trip.
Ideas for Timelines for History Travel Planning
Timeline Tip

Examples of Timelines

While it isn’t necessary to add a visual timeline to this process, it can definitely help with understanding and rememberingPlus, creating timelines for travel can be fun and creative endeavor. Here are some examples of timelines you can incorporate into your travel planning 

Creative Ways to Make a Timeline

The Growing Timeline

Ideas for Timelines for History Travel Planning

As you move through your studies, you can create a visual timeline in your house. Some people make or buy a drawn-out timeline with pre-populated increments on a page. While this can be useful for a limited project, it is not a recommended approach because it doesn’t allow for adding in new informationAnd there will always be new information you want to add! 

To solve this problem, we want creative timelines that can grow with us. Another timeline example is this one that our family is currently usingThese are the tags, twine, and the mini clothespins we used. The whole project was about $15 and has provided years of engagement. There are obviously countless creative alternatives to this, so find one that works for you and your aesthetic. 

As you move through the outline of the timeline you make, you can add tags with dates, major events, and peopleEach week you can clip these on in chronological order.  

Let the fun timeline grow with you over the years. When you plan new trip or add other fresh information, you can move them around as neededWhatever you choose, consider adding images, either hand drawn or graphics from the internet. 

Project Based Timelines

The history timeline for kids that we used was project based and much more visually engaging. (Unfortunately, we don’t have a photo!) A part of each major period of study included an art project that was added to the timeline. The first of these was inspired by paleolithic cave art. It was a painting done on a crumpled grocery bag with natural pigments.

As studies progressed, more art was added to the fishing line that was strung around the roomEventually, after more than a year, there was meaningful handmade art surrounding us that could really be understood in context. There is much more room for creativity with this approach, but it is also a lot more time consuming. If you or your companions are visual learners who love to create things, this could be a fun timeline! 

An approach combining the Growing Timeline and Project Timeline can meet the needs and learning styles of multiple travel companions. 

Digital Timeline

For those who are looking for digital timeline options to create their travelinspired timelines, there are many good choices. Microsoft subscribers can use a timeline template using Power Point or Excel to make an easy to use and beautiful timeline.  

If you are looking for a free version, consider using TimelineJS. It is an opensource tool that lets users create attractive interactive timelines. For extensive study, multiple timelines would likely be needed. 

A much more demanding, but for some, inspiring, way to make a timeline is as a digital content creatorCreating your own video, video game, or animation can be a fun (but exceptionally large!) project. After all your challenging work, consider sharing it on YouTube, STEAM, or other platform. In the Tripscholars Travel Library, you’ll find some professional versions of this in videos such as Crash Course.  

The obvious distinction with a digital timeline is that it isn’t out in the living space to interact with. But some will prefer to look when desired, instead of having it visible all the time. 

Timeline Poster Ideas

Although there is excellent value in creating our own timelines, purchased timelines are useful supplements or alternativesThey often include much more information and professional graphics.  

One of our favorites is the Hisotmap of World CivilizationsUnfortunately, it is now quite expensive, and in my opinion, not worth the price. If you find it at a lower lower cost, it is a worthwhile buy because of the visual representation of which civilizations were most prominent. It does an excellent job of keeping things in perspective.  

Other top picks we have used are the timelines from Useful Charts. In addition to their timelines, they also offer posters about mythology and the family trees of royals and Roman emperors. If you or your historyloving travel companions are visual learners, these can be an excellent choice for you 

There are many other printed timelines available, some that are specific to distinct locations. Additionally, there are timelines of musical composers, authors, religions, and more. When buying a timeline, confirm that it reflects the history you are looking for. They are all limited in scope and will omit a lot of information. Some are biblical and some are not. If you are buying online, Etsy generally has a bigger and more interesting selection than Amazon. Be sure and check the details so you order what you want!

Natural History and Geology Timelines

Making a geology timeline

Another useful way to use timelines in relation to travel is to help with a deeper understanding of the natural history of the area. This can be a great supplement to any historic timeline of human history and pre-history. It is especially useful for visiting geologic sites.  

There isn’t much that’s more grounding than seeing all human history represented on a geologic (or astronomic!) timelineCreating a geologic timeline on adding machine tape can be genuinely mind-blowing for anyone learning about deep time. Here are a couple of lesson plans, with this one specific to understanding the Grand Canyon. If this type of project is new to you, I promise it is worth your time! 

Fun Timeline Games

There are also some fun timeline games that allow you and your traveling companions to understand your destination on a world-wide historical scale, using formats similar to what you have been using. 

Timeline games for purchase

Here are two you can buy that are enjoyable complements to preparing for trips

Timeline Game

The card game Timeline has changed over the years, but it is a perennial favorite. This is a short game (15-minute rounds) that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. You can even disregard the rules and play solitaire for fun! You can add expansion decks as your knowledge growsThe original version had some incorrect dates, but those have been fixed in the current iteration. Game play consists of placing cards with events, inventionsand historic figures in correct chronological order.

Chronology Game

Another popular timeline game is ChronologyIt is similar to Timeline with slightly different gameplay. For example, you are placing the cards in your own timeline rather than the shared one. Chronology also has a larger font and no illustrations. Chronology is intended for players 14+, while Timeline is for 8+, but both games are a lot of fun for older kids, teens, and adults who love history. 

Creative Timeline Game to Create and Use as a Review

If you have been making a Growing Timeline, you already have a game you can play with your travel companions as a review before you embarkSimply remove all the cards you have created over the preceding months and create a deck. Deal out five cards to each player, place one faceup on the tableand the rest of the deck nearbyWith the youngest person going first, the player makes up clues about the card in their hand to get other players to guess what is on the card. The first player to guess correctly gets to place the card in the timeline, and then offer clues for a card in their hand. The play continues until the whole timeline is recreated on the table. 

Although this is a non-competitive review game, we used it as a playful opportunity to celebrate all the learning that everyone had enjoyed! It was also a fun way to give some travel items to the family before we left. When the correct answer was given (or clever clues offered), the winner got to choose from a basket of small prizes. These included gum, headphones, Velcro cord-wraps, travel rain parkas, plug adapters, and travel sized toiletries. These were things that, for the most part, we were bringing anyways, but it made it a festive event that brought closure to our year of study 

How using a timeline to organize our studies enhances travel and improves travel planning

While there are definite drawbacks to a linear interpretation of time, there is a reason most history books are laid out this way. Putting this chronological approach to use for our family with different timelines over the years has allowed kids, teens, and adults to better understand specific events and people within historical context.  

On the trip to Greece and France that I mentioned at the beginning, using this technique allowed us to have profound experiences on an almost daily basis. Some examples were our visits to the Acropolis, Agora, and other sites from Classical GreeceWe understood the overlapping lifespans and significance of the individuals who changed the way we see the worldPythagoras, Socrates, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Pericles, and HippocratesStep by step, we had studied the architectural, political, philosophical, engineering, militaryand theatrical history that brought Classical Greece into being. Walking those hallowed pathways and visiting the actual buildings where they gathered brought some of us to tears, and made the experiences incredibly vivid and profound.  

History Travel: Use These Ideas for Timelines to Prepare for Your Travels

If you are planning a trip to a place that you are especially curious about, I recommend using a timeline and a chronological approach to your trip preparations. It will help you pace your learning and will give invaluable context to all that you discover.  

Use the Tripscholars Travel Library to find resources for each of the time periods you study. 

Have you used timelines to prepare for travel? What kind did you use and how did it enhance your trip? Do you plan to use one for an upcoming trip? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

 Happy travel planning!



Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or About Us page!
You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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Family Travel Education: 11 Inspiring Ways to Plan a Trip with Your Kids

Travel Education for a family in Bryce Canyon National Park

Family Travel Education: 11 Inspiring Ways to Plan a Trip With Your Kids

Photo by Vanessa Loring

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Travel planning as a family provides an opportunity for nurturing the hopes and dreams of the good times you’ll share together in the future. It is also an excellent opportunity for fostering child-led learning. When young people help direct their studies you will often find that there are fewer battles — a welcome addition to these tumultuous times. As kids and teens answer questions and work on projects that they are genuinely curious about, they are usually more self motivated and inspired.

Why Use Travel Planning as a Family

Thoughtful travel planning opens up countless opportunities to engage your children and teens.  It can be used to enhance traditional education and you may happily notice that your kids are inspired by the travel plans. They may choose to focus on the destination in relation to their regularly assigned curriculum too!

I have spent my adult life as a teacher; school administrator; volunteer working with children, teens, and families; and the last 13 years, as a homeschool parent. We travel as often as we can and we get some of our best ideas from other travelers and educators. I’ve learned lots of tips and techniques along the way and I am excited to share them with you!

11 Top Tips to Inspire Learning Through Travel Planning

We will be diving deeper into most of these topics in later articles, but here are a few ideas you can start to use today. They can help reduce tensions and bring more joy and curiosity to schooling from home. Read on to find a couple of gems that might resonate with your kids. Then use them as a jumping off point for your family to school from home through travel planning. 

1. Explore Future Travel Destinations as a Family

Start by dreaming of where you would like to visit in the future. You can imagine bucket list destinations or actual places your family hopes to visit when quarantine restrictions allow. If it is an expected trip in 2021 or 2022, a thoughtful assessment of finances and vacation time comes early in the planning to help narrow down locations. Maybe it is a camping trip to a nearby national park, visiting relatives in another state, or a big international trip. If finances or health restrictions prevent travel, plan a virtual vacation! There are so many activities you can enjoy from home while learning about your destinations.

History timelines for kids Family in bed

2. Organize Your Year

Now that you have narrowed in on a dream vacation, there are multiple ways you can organize your time before departure. Some families schedule activities into the school day, others set aside one evening a week to share what they have learned. However you choose to incorporate it, you will likely be enjoying conversations around the dinner table about your dream destination soon! Here are some examples of how to organize your learning:


A location with a rich history can be explored chronologically. This is an orderly approach and can provide context as you learn together. As a parent, you can take a little time to familiarize yourself with the major historical events and periods of the destination. Create a rough outline and then break your upcoming months/year up accordingly. This will give you a rough guide to work with and prevent you from missing out on your destination’s last couple hundred years of history! You can dive more deeply into each time period as the year unfolds. An interesting and useful activity can be to create and hang an actual timeline to add to as you learn.

We have many more ideas for using timelines in our article, Enlightening Timelines: Ideas to Organize Your Travel Studies.

Ideas for Timelines for History Travel Planning


Another enjoyable way to explore is to use a project based approach. Start by reading a book or watching a travel show, documentary, or movie as a family to familiarize yourselves with the destination. Ask your kids open ended questions to discover what they want to learn more about. Listen to what your kids find interesting and what they are curious about.

These are the gems to nurture that can become rich learning opportunities. You can each choose one topic to start with and add more as you learn together. Your child’s interests and questions can be explored casually at dinner, once a week, or more formally each month. Invite each family member to share with the others what they have learned.

Child painting

Take a Deeper Dive Based On Interests

Now the fun really begins! Whether moving chronologically or jumping around based on projects, if you let your child’s interests steer the direction this can be a joyful (and often mutual) discovery. From my experience, whatever their interest, just about any activity leads to learning in multiple areas. This happens because it is often necessary to learn new skills in order to reach their self-directed goals. 

Depending on the age and learning styles of your kids, you may help them find resources or actually participate side by side in the activities together. However you move forward, this is what our Resource Library is for! Put it to good use for your family.  

3. Nature Studies

Do you have a budding naturalist curious about your destination? Do a deeper dive and encourage them to do their own nature journaling at home. The journal can then be brought along on all your future travels as they contemplate the rich diversity of natural wonders on our planet.

A fantastic resource for learning about nature journaling is the John Muir Laws website and associated books. He even offers a free PDF of his How To Teach Nature Journaling book for educators or parents. 

As most parents doing laundry know, kids love to collect natural treasures!  Nurture this curiosity with age appropriate guidebooks and encourage them to make a mini museum. Carefully chosen and thoughtfully displayed collections of natural objects can be added to when they travel.

There are a wealth of options online like activities or virtual classes hosted by the destination’s natural history museums, zoos, and aquariums. Another online opportunity is the Junior Ranger Program at our National Parks (also often offered online!).

Check our Resource Library for other nature resources and add your favorites for other travelers!

4. Language Learning

There is no way around it– learning a new language takes a lot of time and dedication. But that dedication pays off when young travelers are able to understand the otherwise cryptic signs around them and, especially, when they are able to have more meaningful experiences like talking with local people.

Fortunately, there are many ways to make it enjoyable and the rewards are rich! And, the anticipation of using a foreign language can inspire learners of all ages to stick with it. 

Make a goal for how it can be used when traveling– ordering ice cream or visiting with a relative in their native language. If the whole family is learning together, there are many ways to squeeze it in throughout the day with everyday questions and greetings! 

To find the best match for your family, sort the resources in our library by Study Skills: Languages to find free language games, private tutors, the best language learning programs, and more. Read, Why Learn a Language Before You Travel and How to Go About It, for even more ideas.

Online tutor

5. Costumes and Characters

Theater loving families can dive in deep as they gain a richer appreciation of clothing and styles of their destinations. Teens talented with a sewing machine, preschoolers with a couple of yards of fabric and a few hats — and everyone in between can have a blast exploring historic forms of traditional dress.

Books like, What People Wore When are a joy to explore and can inspire creating period costumes. 

Get everyone in on the action by each choosing an important figure from history (or regional literature), and spend a month learning about them. Have a Meeting of the Minds in character, prompted by a few pre-decided topics. It will be a night you’ll never forget!

6. Fun with Fairy Tales and Literature

Bookworms of all ages can nurture their enthusiasm for exploring by reading about their future travel destinations. Teens and parents can use the unique book sorting site, Whichbook. It allows readers to sort books by unique criteria, including location by clicking on their world map. 

Many cultures highlight the contributions of writers by designating their homes as historic sites, or identifying them on maps and plaques. Your teen might find the home or favorite coffee shop of one of their favorite authors and be truly inspired by a visit.

Get lots of  tips and ideas about crafting travels inspired by literature in the article,  Plan a Literary Trip

Depending on where you are headed, a deep dive into mythology can open up an entire world of appreciation in art, architecture, literature and beyond — it is certainly worth the time. Then, when you visit museums and landmark buildings on your travels, ask your family members about the symbolism around you and learn from their studies. If you are traveling to places in (or strongly influenced by) the West, Edith Hamilton’s classic, Mythology is the perfect book for teens and adults.

For and in depth discussion of how to incorporate this valuable perspective into your trip read, Explore the Mythology of Your Destination.

If you are looking for Fairy Tales from the place you will be visiting, visit Brightly for a good list of multicultural fairy tales. Depending on your child’s interests, you can encourage their own retelling of the tale from the perspective of different characters in the story. They could tell their version verbally, in a picture, as their own new illustrated book, or acted out with stuffed animals or puppets.

Girl painting

7. Cooking

Do you have a young chef who wants to learn more about either the contemporary or historical foods of your destination? Whether recreating a Roman meal for the family, making hardtack and home-churned butter with a parent, or mastering a dish from a local chef’s cooking show, cooking can be one of life’s great joys and a great way to learn. 

Visit the website The Food Timeline to delight in the most comprehensive online collection of historical recipes. It will tantalize curious chefs of all ages! Math, history, and practical life skills are a few of the areas that will improve with time in the kitchen. 

While traveling, let your kids help choose the restaurants. They can coordinate a visit to a local market. Or, consider a cooking class at your destination (or online) as a special birthday or holiday gift. 

Teen cooking

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8. Architecture

If you have a young builder, there are many ways they can explore your future destination in advance. Young children can build large models of important buildings with refrigerator boxes and craft supplies or with a good set of wooden blocks. 

School age kids can explore Minecraft Architecture on their own or through this class on Outschool. Or invest in one of the many LEGO sets from their Architecture Collection

Older kids and teens may want to build and decorate their own to-scale model. Check these plans out for ideas about how to get started.

Similarly, ambitious teens may want to try building a model using AutoCAD and their architecture toolset. Autodesk offers a free student and educator version. Anyone new to the software will want to check out the learning section of their website or choose from a host of other online resources. 

When you are on your actual trip, and visiting the landmarks of your destination, let your kids show you around the buildings and teach you what they have learned!

9. Art History and Appreciation

If you have a visual learner, a focus on art and art history can be a delight! A fun place to start is exploring the artistic techniques of an artist from the area.

You’ll find lots of multicultural art projects for younger kids in Around the World Art & Activities. Depending on your destination, school age kids might enjoy this Art History Around the World class or Global Art Book.

Because of the visual nature of art, videos and movies are a perfect way to learn more. We are big fans of the YouTube channel, Smarthistory. They have over 3,000 videos and essays about exhibits at museums and cultural sites all around the world. They are all short, so you can take a few minutes and use the videos related to where you are going and what your kids might like. The videos are usually filmed on location in the actual museums are a great way to take a mini tour from home.

Alternatively, if your kids like a quicker pace, they might prefer the YouTube channel, The Art Assignment. It is a PBS Studios production that looks at art from modern perspectives, often tying in food and particular destinations. There are also plenty of assignments to engage in since the goal of the host  is to help her viewers know that  “you are an artist”!

While you travel ask your child open ended questions about the art you are seeing. Look for the techniques and influences that your child explored prior to departure. Delight in your child’s curiosity!

Explore our library to find many other resources for art lovers. Then share your favorites so we can learn from you!

Child in the Louvre

10. Visiting the Capitol

Older kids and teens may have an interest in political science (hooray for them!). Our youngest tries to visit the legislature/parliament buildings of many of the places that we travel to. Depending on the trip, we have admired buildings from outside, taken guided tours,  and watched (sometimes heated) legislative bodies in session. This has enabled him to understand important current events from a personal perspective since he has actually been in the chambers where these events take place. It also nurtures his innate curiosity about different ways humans govern themselves. 

If you visit the websites of legislatures, executive offices, and supreme courts of your destinations, you will usually find a lot of useful activities. You’ll likely find coloring books, virtual tours, booklets, and even ways for young people to get involved in politics or government themselves (if they are citizens). Time invested before travel can transform an otherwise dry viewing from the gallery into a rich and powerful experience of government in action. 

Do you plan to see original political documents in museums or government buildings? Again, this can be boring or transcendent depending on your understanding. A great launching point to learn about these types of documents for curious older kids, teens, and adults is the website Constitute. It was created as a collaboration between the Comparative Constitutions Project and Google Ideas. Users can read, search, and compare the constitutions of the nations of our world. A comparison between the constitution of your nation and that of your international destination is sure to spark further interest and learning. Families can even use a Google Doc to copy preferred passages and make their own constitution.  

Family at the White House
Family at the National Archives Washington DC

11. Ancestry Research

Do you have a budding genealogist? A wonderful travel related activity for older kids and teens to enjoy with their elders is ancestry research. It has inspired many transformative trips for families, whether to see living relatives or to visit the ancestral villages and cities of our predecessors.

As anyone who has done it knows, the research itself is excellent for teaching critical thinking skills and for gaining an appreciation for original source documents. This type of research is much more challenging than you might think!

You will find a complete step-by-step guide in our post, Heritage Tours, How to Plan Your Ancestry Travel.

You will also find many ancestry related resources in our library. is a good launch point. FamilyTree offers a lot of useful suggestions for getting started. 

Grandmother and grandchild with laptop

The Joy of Planning the Trip Together

Family holding hands in heart shape

As you use travel planning, you will be able to learn from your kids and get their input on crafting your travel itineraries. And, it can all lead to precious family vacations in the future! 

Many of these topics can be joyfully explored through games. We have gathered a fantastic collection in, The 20 Best Games for People Who Love to Travel, and also in the game section of our Resource Library.

These tips to learn through travel planning are jumping off points and we hope you’ve found a couple of ideas that  resonate with your family. Are your kids interested in music, dance, or sports related to your destination? We have included many of these in our Resource Library. Please any of your suggestions in the comments so others can learn from you!

Wishing you many fun days ahead sharing what you and your kids have learned! 

Let's Connect

You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.


Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers, just like you! As a professional educator with a passion for travel, I want to help you save time, learn more, and travel better. I believe that the wonder of travel can begin the moment you start to plan it. I am also a Certified Travel Education Coach and love supporting other curious travelers with transformative trip research. Learn more on my Coaching or About Us page!

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