Family travel five: Expanding horizons by expanding awareness

Image by esudroff from Pixabay
Testing Article Top Adspace

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (TNS)

Travel, around the block or to places we dream about, offers the prospect of a sensory feast.

On your next trip, whether it be close to home or beyond, encourage family members to be aware of their senses. Here are five ways to deepen the day’s experience and expand awareness:


1. What do you smell?

Campfires, coffee brewing, freshly cut grass, a pine forest and fragrant rose gardens all offer an opportunity to sniff something special. Talk with the kids about which aromas make them want to linger and which they are eager to pass by. Do certain scents evoke a memory from a previous experience? Notice how different members of your family respond.


2. What do you hear?

While out and about, encourage the kids to close their eyes and tune in. Is that the whistle of a train in the distance? Do you hear a horse clip-clopping down the trail or the hoot of an owl? Listen intently to the traffic noise in the city, waves crashing on a rocky shoreline or an unfamiliar bird chirping in the trees.


3. How does it feel?

Particularly in these changing times, leaving the comfort of home can evoke a range of emotions, spanning from excitement and anticipation to anxiety and uncertainty. When the time comes to venture further from our own front steps and perhaps into an unfamiliar landscape, each member of your family is bound to feel something new. How might your crew react to the humidity of a coastal town or the dry air of the Sonoran Desert? Who feels tired? Or hungry? Or even homesick? Talk about it.


4. May I touch?

From petting zoos and tide pools to horse farms and turtle sanctuaries, travel has historically offered families the opportunity to reach for the unexpected. Today, many of those rules have changed. Before you head out, discuss your safety protocols. COVID concerns aside, spiny cactus, colorful coral and certain green, leafy plants might look interesting, but close contact isn’t advised.


5. Can I taste it?

While we’ve been staying home, many families have used the time to encourage kids to expand their culinary range. While we can’t visit far-off lands at the moment, it’s a good time to talk about the origins of different ingredients and why many are unique to specific regions of the world. Seek out the websites of cities, countries or resorts you might like to visit. Many are offering recipes that will enable you to explore the food and drink of destinations around the world. From curry and coconut to bok choy and barbecue sauce, there is a story to accompany every flavor you’ll sample.

(Lynn O’Rourke Hayes ( is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via
©2020 Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.