One of the top reasons families travel internationally is the chance to immerse themselves in another culture. Those opportunities are particularly impactful for children, who may not yet have the firsthand experience necessary to understand the full spectrum of the world around them. Over and over again, parents find that travel is one of the best ways to build empathy, understanding and generosity in their kids. And unlike lecturing them, it’s fun for everyone!
Cultural immersion travel can occur through a variety of avenues; unique lodging options like monastery stays or an overnight in an animal sanctuary are one example. Special activities like dancing with a Maasai tribe in Tanzania, designing a tartan in Scotland or a day spent in a Central American school are memorable and impactful. Even the various modes of transportation that exist around the world can be a cultural lesson, such as a tuk-tuk ride in Thailand or a gondola rowing lesson in Venice. Dining presents a delicious opportunity for cultural immersion — picture your family breaking fast during Ramadan with a local family in Morocco or being served tea by a geisha in Japan.
All destinations can have unique cultural experiences incorporated into a visit, but some places truly shine for their immersiveness in a way of life so different from traditional Western culture. We love these destinations for families seeking that type of experience.
While Tokyo has a reputation for being a bit cartoonish and over the top (think Hello Kitty cafes), its modern and high-tech neighborhoods butt right up against ancient temples. Hop on a bullet train to Kyoto, where you can stay in traditional ryokans and wander the ancient streets. Families love Japanese cooking classes like sushi preparation or noodle making.
Travel restrictions have limited tourism here, but more and more families are discovering that a trip to Cuba is incredibly meaningful for children. Salsa dancing lessons, rides in vintage cars and pickup soccer games with local children offset the more serious moments.
With a population well over 1 billion, Chinese culture is incredibly important around the world. Mandarin language lessons, hiking the Great Wall and wandering the night markets are all fun for families. Consider traveling to more remote regions in addition to the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
Families feel like true global explorers on a trip to Peru. Sipping mate de coca will not only help with altitude sickness, but also will immerse you in the cuisine. We encourage clients to do easy hikes through farm fields so as to experience the communal farming practices that are the foundation of the indigenous peoples.
With its melting pot of African, European and Middle Eastern influences, a trip to Morocco is like checking off three regions in one. Culinary experiences are key here, with market food tasting tours and dining in local homes high on most families’ wish lists.
This southeast Asian country holds a lot of intrigue for Westerners, but it is important to get away from the typical tourist paths for true Vietnamese cultural immersion. Instead of visiting the water puppet shows that teem with foreigners, go to a traditional water puppet artist’s home and get a hands-on lesson. Lunch in Buddhist convents, day trips to rural villages and paddling the sleepy back canals of the Mekong Delta are also quite memorable.
As the birthplace of three major world religions, Israel ranks high for cultural and historical significance. Families can tour temples, mosques and cathedrals, as well as ancient Roman ruins and Arabian fortresses. Indulging in robust Israeli breakfasts and hummus tasting experiences keep everyone energized for full days of sightseeing.
Note that immersive vacations in exotic cultures can be very intimidating to plan. For example, parents need to assess safety, determine whether an experience or hotel is truly kid-friendly and figure out how to accommodate picky eaters.
This is when Ciao Bambino’s well-traveled advisors prove invaluable. Planning culturally enriching trips for families is our specialty. We take all the headaches out of the planning process by offering our firsthand knowledge and pro travel tips. We handle basics, like suggesting what to pack, and take care of considerations like finding the private guides who’ll be most engaging with children.
Cultural immersion does not have to mean roughing it, either; families appreciate touches of luxury perhaps more than usual when traveling to remote parts of the world. Our Virtuoso accreditation means we have access to experiences not available to the general public. This high level of care makes everyone feel more relaxed and confident, especially when traveling far out of your comfort zone, and leaves you to fully appreciate the culture you came all this way to witness and enjoy.
Our expert Family Travel Advisors are passionate about exploring the world with children — and empowering you to do the same. From handpicked accommodations to insider experiences, we can craft a custom vacation that’s uniquely suited to your family’s needs. Click to get started!Get Started
–Tullo Family Japan and China Trip
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.