I’m obsessed with travelling. I’ve been to over 40 countries and I’ve been a travel writer and editor for over 10 years. I’m constantly reading and learning about awesome places all over the world, and adding them to my personal travel list.
While it’s true that it’s not hard to love travelling — Amazing new foods! Interesting new places to explore! — it can be difficult to get kids out of their comfort zone and interested in experiencing new places and things.
When I was 10, my parents took me and my siblings to London, our first trip to Europe.
Before the trip, my mum wanted to get us excited about going and prepare us for what we would see. So she made us watch Rick Steves’ London and other educational videos she borrowed from the library. They were boring. She tried reading us books about London, which helped give some context, but the trip still felt abstract. She told us stories about London and its history. They were just stories.
Nothing really stuck.
So my mum came up with a horrifically creative way to get us interested in the destination: She assigned us homework.
Each of us had to research one landmark in London, write a report, and submit it to my parents.
After crying and yelling about how unfair this was, I eventually chose the Tower of London. This was back in the days before the Internet was ubiquitous, so I sat down with an Encyclopedia (remember those?) and opened up the entry to the Tower of London.
As I read, I got more and more interested in its history.
I learned about the crazy drama behind some of England’s most notorious monarchs: how Henry VIII beheaded several of his wives and how their ghosts supposedly haunted the tower. And I couldn’t wait to see the crown jewels, which are now housed in the tower.
I actually got excited to put the report together. I typed up what I had learned, decided to add some creative flourishes like drawings and collages, and put it all together in a nicely laminated case for extra points.
But it wasn’t until we got to London and visited the Tower that the assignment really paid off.
I led my family around, telling them everything I learned in my research. OK, I was only a kid and didn’t really know anything, but I was excited to share what I had learned. It gave me a new understanding of and appreciation for this place.
Now that I have children of my own, I plan to use this same tactic as soon as they’re old enough. Even if they rebel, I know they will thank me later.
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