How far in advance does your family start to get excited about upcoming travel? If you have always been on Team “It’s booked, and now we just wait to pack,” then consider this: the potential for making travel memories starts long before the actual departure date. The energy your family invests in your upcoming journey is never wasted, and contributes instead to the well-established power of anticipatory joy—put simply: the more time we spend immersing ourselves in upcoming travel, the happier we tend to be about the entire experience. So, how can your family immerse itself and boost that anticipatory joy? Do as the movie industry does, and use a preview.
Previewing is a powerful strategy in learning that improves our comprehension and helps us set a purpose and context for what we are about to encounter. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your travel-loving pants, the context and purpose inspired by a trip preview are excellent copilots on any journey. Here are seven easy ways you and your family can create an accessible, all-ages preview of your family’s upcoming journey:
Get the lay of the land. Use crowdsourced and professional footage to show before you go:
- Youtube videos, drone tours, and Google Earth and Google Maps street views give your family valuable reference points for the upcoming adventure
- For a more curated, macro review of numerous locations in the United States, look for your destination among the episodes of Aerial America on the Smithsonian Channel
Get moving to the beat. Listen to music inspired by or created in your destination:
- Putumayo CDs offer excellent regional musical selections from around the world, or check out their YouTube channel for beautiful music videos, a kids playlist, and other content
- For U.S. destinations, check out “Mapping the Songs of America,” the Library of Congress’ collection of contemporary and historical audio by state
- Offering more selection from some continents than from others, The World Music Library includes a combination of contemporary and historical music, organized geographically and by musical style
Get lost in a great story. Find stories of all kinds either set in your chosen destination, or written by authors who call it home:
- For U.S. destinations, check out the state-by-state literary recommendations for adults at Tale_Away (which also offers region-based and country-based lists) or this roundup at Best Tech
- Super helpful state-based suggestions for kids’ books are available on several sites, such as: Reading through the States; Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site; and the NEA’s 50 State Booklist
- For adult literary selections from around the world, options abound: author Ann Morgan’s project and blog, A Year of Reading the World, offers an incredibly thoughtful list of books representing 195 UN-recognized sovereign states plus Taiwan
- For globe-trotting kids, the New York Public Library’s Around the World in 80+ Children’s Books or Global Reading, from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are great places to start. On Instagram, accounts like Books for Diversity highlight some of the newest titles about cultures around the world.
Get your taste buds ready to rock. Prepare a recipe or two inspired by the food traditions and cuisine of your destination:
- For destinations in the United States, here are a sampling of state-by-state collections of signature dishes or cuisine inspired by local ingredients: Google’s 2018 Fourth of July Doodle (a roundup of the most searched-for dishes by state and territory); the Cooking Channel’s Best State Food Recipes; The Daily Meal’s slideshow of recognized state foods; Mr. Food Test Kitchen’s 50 American Food Recipes for Each State; and a PDF of the 2016 Kids’ “State Dinner” cookbook, available for free download at the now-archived site for the Let’s Move Initiative
- For destinations outside the United States, some good places to start include Epicurious' 53 Kid-Friendly Recipes from around the World, or Food in Every Country, which highlights a single ingredient or dish, along with some historical context
Get your expectations unpacked. Previewing the journey is about more than the destination—it also includes taking stock of everybody’s hopes, hesitations, and must-do’s for your travel:
- Grab the free "Great Expectations" activity on the Journey Jotter Books blog and discuss your results to make sure each person’s priorities for your travel are heard
- Encourage your child to explore the previewing activities in their Journey Jotter Book, including “The Journey Begins,” “Day by Day Play by Play,” and “I Can Predict That…”
Get talking (and listening). Start tuning your ear for new languages or speech patterns:
- If a different language than your own is primarily spoken in your destination, try a lesson in Duolingo, explore on Google Translate, or check out Little Pim videos on YouTube, on DVD in many libraries, or streaming on PrimeVideo and elsewhere
- For majority English-language destinations within the U.S., don’t forget about the accents and idioms or catchphrases you may encounter: Business Insider’s 27-map collection of American dialects gives your family a few specific things to listen for; or for a much deeper dive, the International Dialects of English Archive offers a state-by-state cache of audio samples from speakers of various ages and backgrounds
Get inspired, get curious. Dig up some new perspectives from the people who know your destination best:
- Visit the official tourism website for the state(s) you are visiting, or check the Promoting Tourism blog, which attempts to keep an updated listing of official tourism sites by country — if you have some time before your travel, you can often request printed materials to look over with your family at home
- Have a conversation with a friend, family member, or acquaintance familiar with the area, and get some recommendations. Don’t know anyone? Turn to National Geographic for kid-friendly state-by-state or country-by-country introductions, complete with photos and short videos!
So go ahead: build that anticipatory joy before your family’s next trip, and share or pin this post to help other families do the same! Connect with Journey Jotter Books on social media using the buttons below, and tell us how you preview your travel!