First, I will make some assumptions. It is not a trip to Genting that we are talking about so the children won’t be left with the accompanying house help while the adults try their luck at the slot machines. But seriously, with parents seemingly ready to pay for enrichment courses for their children, your next trip overseas can be, dare I say, an enrichment programme in itself.
1) Make the trip about acquiring knowledge, and not just things. So if it is say, Vietnam, invest in a good history guide who can tell the family about what they call the American War (and not the Vietnam War as the international media is likely to call it).
2) Luxury accommodation is a treat but perhaps not as rich in terms of cultural engagement; that conversation with a friendly Bed and Breakfast owner which your child overhears can turn out to be quite invaluable.
3) Be a trip reviewer. Get the family a TripAdvisor account or an app sharing holiday reviews so you can assign your child the job of writing a review of the experience. There is the excitement when a review is read by genuine travellers and he/she will be practising judgement and evaluation, all critical thinking skills valued in school.
4) Pick a museum rather than a mall. If you are not that inclined but willing to go along, best to hold back on your personal negative views about the exhibits or the display; it will form your child’s opinion and you might regret later when he/she also harbours the same impatience with any attempt at analysis, be it for history, literature or geography.
5) It is useful to engage in conversations comparing cultural differences between the different countries but it is also important not to make predictably First World observations. A trip abroad offers an opportunity to question long-held habits and practices and not simply conclude one’s own country’s way is the best.
6) Note distinguishing aspects of the local language and share it with your child - is there a distinct way of thanking a woman, as opposed to showing appreciation to a man? How do they address people or name buildings?
7) Bring up socio-political issues, like how the government is elected in Thailand, or how the Bangkok elite might vote in a different way from the rural folks.
8) By all means, do the regular Singaporean thing and join a queue. But which queue? Join the line for things you will never get to see back home, like the artworks at Musee D’ Orsay rather than the designer bags in shops along the Champs Elysees.
9) Book ahead for the experience of a lifetime and secure that opportunity to catch a performance or simply hold your breath before a painting. Get your kids to Wikipedia the history of the performing group or the work of art.
10) Thrills are popular additions to the travel experience, but they tend to be added on, and not always native to the landscape. While you are on the go, try to locate that travel blog that will describe your experience and direct your child to it. That reading of the about-to-be experienced ride - that will make it even more memorable.
So draw up your own itinerary and give your family a holiday to remember!
For information on Mrs D's English Enrichment Programmes for 2019, please visit my website, or get in touch at +65 81386011.