This article originally appeared in the June/July 2021 issue of Dream of Italy.
As I began planning our first family trip to Italy in 2016 (with two nine-year olds and a 13-year-old), it dawned on me that kids might not be as enchanted by Italy as adults. I wanted them to experience the magic and feel the wonder, so I came up with ways to get them super involved.
#1 Expose them to Italy before you travel
First, I needed them to understand what Italy was all about so they’d know what to expect. This way, they’d recognize the landmarks, countryside and even food, and it wouldn’t seem so different or scary. I showed them every movie I could find that was filmed in Italy. Some of our favorites are Only You, Roman Holiday, Under the Tuscan Sun and Letters to Juliet. Of course, you can also do the same with books, magazines, short YouTube videos and even the TV series Dream of Italy (my kids love it and Kathy tells me she gets lots of emails from parents whose say their children love it too).
#2 Make learning Italian a priority
In preparation for our trip, I had each of my kids download the Duolingo language app and created several contests to help them get excited about learning key Italian words and phrases. Whoever passed the most levels in the app before departure would win $100 spending money in Italy. Whoever used the words they learned most often in our daily life could also win $100. Whoever spent at least 30 minutes a day, every day, on the app could win $100. These contests were incredible motivators. I picked ones I knew each of the kids would excel at, which meant that all three won spending money, learned a language and built their confidence. To this day, we still use Italian words in our daily life.
#3 Empower them to plan the trip
Each of my children was in charge of planning for one of our three destinations; my daughter Izzy had Venice, her twin Mira planned Tuscany and my son Kanen took on Rome. Their task was to research the area by Googling the top 10 things people like to do there. Then, they went to Pinterest to look up pictures of each of those experiences and places and present it to the family. We voted on three things we all wanted to do, with the planner choosing one thing they specifically wanted. In doing these little tasks, Italy began to come alive for my children. They could imagine it, visualize it and get excited about it. Mira’s “one thing” became the highlight of our entire trip. She insisted we drive (three hours) to the hot springs in Saturnia, Tuscany, and it was an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
#4 Give them responsibility
Each of my kids printed off all the information for their portion of the trip and made a daily agenda in their travel journal. I gave them responsibilities like holding the tickets (yes, I printed a backup copy) or navigating when I drove. My son was always in charge of getting us through airports, to rental cars and around train stations. My girls checked the agenda to let us know where we were going and what we’d be doing. These tasks built their confidence and taught them how to notice things around them, pay attention to signs and know where they are—all important life skills.
#5: Document everything in a travel journal
For each of our trips, I’ve made my kids write in a travel journal. Each day we collect things to glue in the journal, such as ticket stubs or postcards, and every night we have quiet time where we update the journal with our adventures. My hope is that these journals become treasures they cherish for the rest of their lives.
My daughters and I are heading back to Italy in August 2021. Follow our adventure on Instagram @singlemomglobetrotter or @sarahcentrella
The post 5 Tips to Help You Kids Enjoy a Magical Trip to Italy (June/July 2021) appeared first on Dream of Italy.