At-Home EPCOT: International Travel with Your Kids from the Living Room4 min read
International travel came grinding to a halt in 2020, crushing the vacation plans of people all over the world. Parents who’d been looking to experience new cultures with their kids were suddenly left marooned inside their own homes instead. With the inaccessibility of foreign soils, we’ve had to get creative with cultural immersion.
The beauty of at-home travel is that you’re not restricted to one particular place. Just like a visit to EPCOT, at-home travel allows you to hop from Europe to Asia to Africa in the blink of an eye.
Ready to create your own EPCOT at home? Here’s how to bring the world into your living room by hosting theme nights for different countries around the world. Celebrate a different culture every night for a whole week, pick a designated day each week (Travel Tuesdays!) or have an epic EPCOT night by celebrating multiple cultures all at once.
Cook international foods
The best part of international travel is trying the delicious local foods. Italy wouldn’t be Italy without pasta and gelato.
Start by talking with your kids about the different foods that play a role in the culture you choose for that theme night. Then, decide as a family which dishes you want to recreate. Whether you attempt homemade Polish pierogies or build-your-own tacos to celebrate Mexico, food is one of the best (and yummiest) portals into different cultures.
Watch country-specific movies
There are so many multicultural and bilingual children’s movies that exist today.
Learn about Day of the Dead and Mexican culture with Coco. Immerse yourself in the Chinese warrior culture with Mulan. Ratatouille does an incredible job of capturing French culture through its music and animated Parisian neighborhoods.
While everyone loves Disney movies, depending on the age of your kids, you can also consider watching culturally representative movies (like Roma or Invictus) or documentaries that discuss a country’s history and cultural heritage.
Learn the language
Bonjour! Como estas? Arrigato. Ciao!
Kids are language sponges. Even if you don’t speak a second language in your home, occasionally discussing other languages can help prime their brain for future language learning—and also improve their English literacy. Take the primary language of your nightly theme country and learn how to say the basics with your kids. Hello, goodbye, please and thank you are a good place to start.
To help everyone remember, try turning it into a fun memory competition between theme nights.
Use Google Earth
Google Earth is a fascinating tool that allows you to immediately travel via the internet to different locations on Earth with street view images of different cities. Try to find similarities and differences between your home and the destination on Google Earth.
Do a virtual museum tour
With stay-at-home restrictions in place, many of the most famous museums around the world have begun to offer virtual tours. Depending on the country you’re looking to explore, do some research into the most well-known museums at that location and whether they’re offering travel-from-home experiences.
The Louvre (France), The Van Gogh Museum (Netherlands), The Vatican Museum (Italy) and The British Museum (England) are just a few museums offering virtual visits.
Explore Cultural Art with Crafts
For craft time on your country night, come up with a fun art project or activity based on the culture. Have everyone draw the country’s flag or other images that represent the place.
Get creative. For Greek night, turn bedsheets into togas. For Chinese night, make Chinese fans out of construction paper. To celebrate South Africa or Madagascar, gather up all your stuffed animals and set up an in-home safari.