We get it: Children aren’t always that adventurous when it comes to experiencing things outside their personal norm. (And heck, sometimes adults aren’t either.) “But exposing kids to different customs and ways of life early on is the best way to nurture global citizens—people who are curious, kind, and open-minded,” says Patty Monahan, founder of travel company Our Whole Village. Vacations can be an easy way to introduce something new to children because the family vacation itself is often, well, something new. Here are some simple ideas to introduce cultural experiences into your next destination.
Few things spark curiosity about another culture like dessert. Give kids a cup of peach blossom Korean bingsu (shaved ice), lemon Italian ice, or whatever international frozen treat you can find to spark curiosity about other cultures. Then ease into the main course: dining out at ethnic restaurants. Look for small, locally owned eateries where the dishes and décor authentically reflect a culture different from your own. Bonus: You'll be strengthening the family bond with something everyone loves: food!
Make learning and speaking words from another language a family affair. Whether you’re vacationing in Mexico or eating at your neighborhood Thai restaurant, work together to figure out the meaning of words on menus and signs. When traveling abroad, teach children easy words or phrases, such as “hello” and “thank you,” in the local language.