Your family is already stir-crazy this winter, and by spring break you’ll all be ready for a change of scenery. But typical travel is off the table due to COVID-19. 

How can you get your child excited for something different… without leaving home? Try a virtual vacation.

Connecticut Children’s developmental pediatrician Robert D. Keder, MD, explains how.

Step 1: Pick a destination for your family’s virtual vacation.

Let your child pick! If you have more than one child, you could let each pick a spot and lead the planning. This is a great way to build imagination, planning skills… and hype.

  • Talk about your child’s travel wish list. Ask where they’d like to go on a future trip. Could your virtual vacation be a “pre-travel” trip?
  • Ask about activities or things they’d like to learn about. Need help narrowing things down? Maybe your child is interested in learning to surf or riding a rollercoaster. Maybe they’re fascinated by the birds of Central America or think it would be fun to go on a safari.
  • Don’t forget about historical or fictional destinations! Because this vacation is virtual, there are no limits. If your child loves history, visit an ancient culture. If they’re into Harry Potter, visit Hogwarts.
  • Need some inspiration? Pick a location that relates to a favorite book or animal. If you are still coming up blank and want to travel virtually, you can play one of my favorite games, Geoguessr, at, and instead try to figure out where in the world you are!

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Step 2: Research your virtual travel destination.

Check out books and movies from the library (many offer curbside pick-up during the COVID-19 pandemic), search online with your child, and watch free videos and documentaries about where your family has decided to “go.”

> Related: How to Keep Kids Entertained on Winter Break During COVID-19

Step 3: Make an agenda for what you’ll do, see and eat on your virtual trip.

  • Natural landmarks and historic sites: You could pull up Google Maps and do a 3D walk-through of different places. Google Earth makes it possible to “visit” historic locations, like taking a trip to the pyramids. You might even be able to connect your laptop to your television and make the maps larger than life.
  • Museums and attractions: Many different museums and theaters have online accessibility and performances. You can do virtual tours of different art galleries.
  • Architecture: As a fun activity, you can use LEGOs or other building supplies to build out some of the famous architecture in a place. Or help your child create a shoebox diorama of a scene, and have fun taking (small-scale) vacation photos with toys.
  • Art and culture: Maybe you’re visiting Buenos Aires, and look up a YouTube tutorial for the tango. Maybe you’re visiting China, and find the perfect film on Netflix. Or you can find your destination’s traditional music online (or often, from the library) to listen to during meals or other activities.
  • Food: Trying new dishes can be one of the best parts of travel, and the same can be true on your virtual vacation. If you’re taking a virtual trip to the Middle East, you could try making falafel. If you’re going to Spain, you could figure out simple tapas for dinner. (There are even recipes online for ancient and imaginary destinations.) Get your child involved in planning the menu and preparing simple dishes, or order takeout from a local restaurant.
Dr. Keder

Step 4: Take lots of vacation photos.

  • Virtual backdrops: Always wanted a family photo in front of the Eiffel tower? Find a Zoom or video chat background from your destination, and take a family photo – well, screenshot – in front of it.
  • Decorate your house: Get out a big sheet of paper and markers, and create your own photo backdrops, and decorate other parts of the house with the flag, landmarks or signature visuals from your destination – palm trees if you’re headed to the beach, icebergs if you’re headed to Antarctica.
  • Document activities: Don’t forget to take photos of your other virtual vacation activities too. You’ll definitely want a photo of your family trying out an Irish step dance.
  • Make a memory book: After your virtual vacation has concluded, invite your child to make a scrapbook or online album – a creative activity that will keep them busy for awhile, and help cement the great memories from your trip.

Keep in mind: Virtual vacations can take place over a single day, a whole week (like spring break), or be spaced out into a series that lasts the whole season!

Happy travels.