Wishing you could get out and travel…but can’t? Looking to introduce travel to your littles or classroom? Find our favorite around the world activities and travel theme preschool crafts to spark wanderlust from home.
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As much as I’d love to travel all the time, I can’t.
We have jobs. Travel isn’t cheap. My kids are a handful to deal with. Sometimes things just happen and you’re stuck at home!
But who says you need to put the travel bug on the shelf?
Travel, adventure, and having some sort of understanding of the vastness of the world is part of our everyday lives, too. We continue to teach about and introduce travel and culture, even from home.
From reading books, to doing map puzzles, to learning languages, our hearts and minds are often immersed in worlds way beyond our living room windows.
Whether you’re looking to fill the days stuck at home or simply wanting to introduce new places and cultures for later, you’ll love the suggestions below.
I’m sharing my favorite theme activities, preschool crafts, and DIY adventures so you can travel around the world without leaving your home.
After reaching out, five travel and family bloggers submitted their favorite travel activities for kids. You’ll find their incredible suggestions, as well.
So, go beat the boredom and start sparking that wanderlust with your kids.
Adventure Around the World with these Travel Theme Preschool Activities
Read Some Travel Books
My librarian years haven’t failed me yet.
I may be home with my kids now, but in a past life, I planned hundreds, if not thousands, of children’s storytimes. I adored taking kids around the world through stories, and then following it up with preschool crafts and on theme activities.
With library books, digital resources, and even materials you may have at home, you can easily recreate a travel themed book-venture.
If you need book suggestions, try Ready to Read’s Living in . . . Series or stand alone titles like A Ticket Around the World and This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World.
Atlas and map style books are also great visuals. We love the Atlas Obscura Explorers Guide and the National Geographic Kids Beginner’s United States Atlas.
Reading books about and set around the world is great for prepping your kids – whether they’re in preschool or high school – for an upcoming trip. Even with no travel plans, though, introducing a lesson on a specific country, keeps their views of the world vast!
Teach Kids to Navigate With Analog Wayfinding
Are you dreaming of fun family hikes? Exploring forested trails, splashing through creek…wait, the phone with the trails map just fell in that stream!
Did this dream hike just turn into a nightmare? In a GPS world, adventurous families still go off-grid (sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident).
Kids of all ages can navigate without digital devices—it’s a life skill best learned before getting lost on a trail. Here are three ways to begin wayfinding:
- Look for Landmarks: In the car or on bike rides, even preschoolers can navigate the way home. Asking “Which way should we go from here? How do you know?” trains them to pay attention to landmarks. Older kids can take on trail-boss responsibilities, in charge of the rout out and back.
- Get Comfortable with Paper Maps: Drawing maps is more than a fun art project—it helps kids internalize spaces. Start small, drawing the neighborhood. Include favorite places—even the dog’s! Work up to reading printed maps symbols and identifying hills and valleys by topo lines.
- Compass Games in the Backyard Develop Orienteering Skills: Start with basic skills like holding the compass flat so the needle floats freely. To find magnetic north, hold the compass straight and turn until the needle points to N (red goes in the shed!) Low-tech geocaches and treasure hunts are a fun way to grow orienteering skills. Most importantly, stash a compass in each backpack, ready for the next real adventure!
Go on a Home Safari
Our DIY home safari adventure was one of my finer ideas as a parent. You know you’re winning when something keeps your kids engaged for more than 20 minutes.
The best part about this adventure, was that I didn’t really need to do much. My son has a safari play set, so we simply pulled it out and highlighted the safari theme with other books and activities.
Some of his favorite add-ons were putting animal stickers on his map and watching a virtual safari on our TV.
Even if you don’t own a safari play set, this is easy to recreate with a few stuffed animals and books or DIY flashcards.
Create a Travel Vision Board
Kids can get excited about travel without ever leaving home by designing a travel vision board. Vision boards are a crafty and creative way to spark kids’ dreams about future fun trips and adventures.
Creating a travel vision board simply consists of cutting out inspiring words and pictures of places you’d like to visit from magazines – or printing some off the internet – and pasting them on to poster board.
My daughter likes to customize her visual creations using crayons, markers or colored pencils, decorating with stickers and glitter, designing borders around each picture and including fun quotes.
Young children may need a little help getting their imagination rolling. You can ask questions like “if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you do while there?”
Let children run wild with their ideas. Are they dreaming of an Arctic dogsledding adventure in their future? A visit to a theme park or waterpark? Or maybe a trip to Italy for pizza and gelato?
Whether children tailor their board for ultimate bucket-list destinations or for upcoming family trips, designing a travel vision board helps kids visualize and look forward to future exciting experiences.
*Submitted by Deanne from Scenic and Savvy.
Play Travel Related Board Games
One of my favorite indoor activities for young children is to play board games.
A travel-themed board game young children particularly like is Ticket To Ride First Journey. It is suitable for ages 6 and up. You can either purchase the Europe or United States of America map. The goal of the game is to be the first player to complete six Tickets. You complete a Ticket when you have built a continuous line of trains between the two cities printed on your Ticket. The map, pieces and cards are all bright and colorful, which will appeal to young children. It inspires children to travel to and visit different cities in Europe or the United States of America, depending on which version you purchase.
Another favourite travel-themed board game for young children is My First Carcassonne, which is suitable for ages 4 and up. The first player to place all their meeples down wins the game. The game consists of placing a tile down to build the medieval city of Carcassonne in France. You can place a meeple down when you close a street. The tiles and meeples are also bright and colourful like Ticket to Ride First Journey. The tiles fit together no matter the placement, which makes it easy for little ones.
Playing board games is a fantastic travel activity to do at home with young children.
*Submitted by Clara of Petite Capsule. Check out her roundup of indoor activities for babies for more at home ideas.
Learn a New Language
Learning a new language has never been as popular as it is right now! Experts all agree that the younger children learn a new language, the more easily they will learn it fluently and remember it throughout their lives.
Not only will it strengthen their brains, but it will also help them to understand other cultures. If your family can’t travel, you might as well learn.
Fortunately, there are several ways to help your children learn a language – even if you don’t know the language yourself. There are tons of apps out there for a variety of age groups.
My personal favorite is Mondly Kids. It covers a multitude of languages and uses sounds and pictures (in addition to words) so children who can’t read can still learn. This would be good for children about 4 to 10, but I have known 2-year-olds who could have figured it out. If you help them learn how to use the app for a few levels, most kids will pick it up pretty quickly.
Different apps have different features, so be sure to explore your options. Any type of helpful app will have music, stories, or videos in another language. YouTube has tons of options, but there may be better apps for specific languages.
While immersing your child in the language (without any English words during learning), bilingual videos also have their perks. Since children under 3 are still learning English, it doesn’t hurt to sing songs that teach them words for both languages.
*Submitted by Raquel of Meals and Mile Markers. Check out more of her recommendations to feed your wanderlust from home.
Camp in Your Living Room
Did you not grow up setting up a living room tent and begging your parents to let you sleep in it?
Why not set up a simple home tent (use a sheet if you don’t have a play tent) and transport your family to the mountains? Maybe your kids prefer the National Parks? Or the Grand Canyon.
We’ll pack some “camping” snacks, roll out our sleeping bags, read books and listen for animal sounds. Set your TV for theme-appropriate background noise!
Take a Virtual Theme Park Ride or Tour
Theme parks are a special place, especially for kids! No other destination combines so many varieties of fun – thrill rides and rollercoasters, playgrounds, candy, shows and live entertainment, animals, and the chance to meet your favorite characters in person. When we aren’t able to visit our favorite theme parks, we can experience some from the comfort of our own couch.
Make sure nobody suffers from motion sickness before proceeding.
To watch as a family, access YouTube through your smart TV, or project your laptop screen to your TV. Google has plenty of tips on how to do this if you have any trouble.
If you have a VR headset, there are many options to install virtual rollercoaster apps, which are heaps of fun, but only one person can use these at a time. If you don’t have one, there are plenty of options to play along with just your TV or computer.
Disney teamed up with Google to create a street-view virtual visit of their parks, allowing you to walk through. You can choose which direction you want to go, look from side-to-side, and, just like always, there are crowds. You may even spot some of your favorite characters around the park! Start here and just use your mouse to click through!
If you want something slightly more thrilling, there are rollercoasters you can virtually ride! To make it as realistic as possible, try clearing some space in front of the T.V, and put some chairs in front, side-by-side.
Here are a few YouTube options to get you started:
Best of all, there are no crowds, and lunch won’t cost a fortune! Until we can go back, enjoy these virtual theme park experiences.
*Submitted by Jenna of I Know The Pilot.
Cook an Ethnic Recipe
Sometimes I serve Ikea Swedish meatballs from a bag and call it a Scandinavian delicacy. Other times, we make curry from scratch.
My kids love ethnic food, because they’re exposed to it frequently. It’s one of my favorite family travel benefits. Recently, I’ve started trying to teach about the places certain foods come from.
This doesn’t work for boxed mac and cheese, though. Sorry.
We’ll talk about where a certain food comes from and if we’ve been there or are planning on it soon. Sometimes we read stories from that area and look at maps.
Personally, cooking is one of my favorite activities and I love being able to transport my family anywhere around the world right from my kitchen.
It makes trying new food fun and gets them excited to travel. My toddler also loves helping me in the kitchen…then eating his creations!
If you’re enjoying these at home travel activities, check out our Travel Gifts for Kids. Many gift suggestions are geared towards preschool kids, and are ideal for venturing around the world when you can’t travel!
Around the World Theme Preschool Crafts
Anytime my kids have a chance to create something or get a little messy, their day is made!
With simple craft supplies, household products, and recyclables we’ve created instruments from around the world, masks, toy airplanes, nature mandalas, binoculars, and many more preschool theme crafts!
A quick online search will yield more global crafts and activities like printable passports and flags, along with an endless supply of free coloring pages.
Typically, when we spend some time learning, reading, or planning an at home adventure, I’ll search for related crafts and activities to keep my toddler engaged and busy!
We have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to learning about and introducing travel at home. You can find our favorite travel theme crafts, preschool books, and other fun activities to take you and your kids around the world.
What activities and adventures take you around the world? How do you keep the wanderlust alive for your kids when you’re stuck at home. How do you prep them for an upcoming trip, whether it’s tomorrow or in ten months? I’d love to hear your favorite at home travel ideas.