How to do culture with kids when you travel

Museums and galleries aren’t just for adults. Follow these top tips for making arts and culture exciting for the little ones.

You don't have to shy away from the arts when travelling with children
  • Elissa Blake
  • June 2019

Want to check out that famous museum at your next destination but not sure how to get the kids on board? It can be tough getting little ones to appreciate cultural attractions but try these handy hacks and watch them go from being reluctant companions to enthusiastic culture seekers in a jiffy.

Don’t overload the kids

Plan to go on cultural expeditions in the morning, when everyone is fresh and well fed and you’ll get the best out of the crew. When visiting big galleries or museums, bear in mind that the scope can be overwhelming for kids. Break the experience down into manageable chunks. A good rule of thumb is 10-15 minutes of engagement for toddlers and 20-25 minutes for preschoolers, adding 10 minutes for every year over five (this is according to the experts at the world’s largest research and museum complex, The Smithsonian Institute, in the US).

Go to local hangouts

Culture isn’t just about hitting the big attractions. The unique flavours of a new city can be found right on your doorstep. Check out the local markets and seek out quirky little museums or temples showcasing the area’s culture and heritage. Why not spend some time in a park to give everyone a breather, too? Nothing demolishes language barriers and holidaymaker shyness faster than a game at the playground with local children – and it will give kids a sense of the real culture like nothing else.

Checking out the local sights is also a great way to expose kids to culture.
Checking out the local sights is also a great way to expose kids to culture.

Lead from behind

It’s tempting to turn everything into an educational experience but there’s no need to play tour guide 24/7. When you’re in an art space, let your children take the lead and come to their own conclusions about what they’re seeing and what it means. Take it for granted that learning is happening.

Use audio guides

Many museums and galleries have audio channels and labels especially for kids that explain the exhibit in simpler terms. Listening to short, informative sound bites adds an interactive element to keep youngsters interested.

Hand over the camera

A great way to focus interest on culture is to give your kids the job of recording their visit. Put them in charge of taking photos and videos. You’ll be surprised by the fresh angles and learn something about what really piques their interest.

Everyone should be involved in making the holiday photo album
Everyone should be involved in making the holiday photo album.

Opt for family events

Orchestras and theatres always program family-friendly events in school holiday periods and you can see world famous companies and ensembles for a fraction of what they would ask of a grown-up audience. Check the tourist information centres for discounts and transport deals, too. Family passes and combined attraction and transport packages can save you money.