While the school year may have come to an end, we missed a lot of the endings that come with it: field day, graduation and end of year picnics, to name a few. The result is that the arrival of summer vacation may not seem like much of an arrival, but instead more of the same: socially distanced walks, more screen time than we would like and rising temperatures. Since many of us have postponed vacations, our family has found a way to make our own vacation at home – less of a staycation and more of what my son has deemed an “in-cation.”
The inspiration for this event came from a favorite book in my house. Maps of the World: An Illustrated Atlas of Adventure, Culture and Discovery by Enrico Lavagno and illustrator Sacco and Vallarino is an amazing resource to help kids across multiple ages visualize different countries and where they’re located. Each country is illustrated with various images that, on the next page, describe a famous citizen, site or cultural tradition.
Our family chose Spain for our in-cation, and we decided to spend a week exploring the various regions and trying the different cuisines. My son went as far to set up a fake airplane in our living room out of folding chairs, and our passports and suitcases got pulled out for the trip.
Over the course of our week, we explored via the internet the diverse culture and geography of Spain, which was one of the hardest hit European countries by COVID-19. However, following the pandemic, most museums have been posting online exhibitions and virtual tours. We scoured YouTube and found a virtual tour of the Alhambra palace for both adults and kids, and we explored the online collections of both the Prado and Reina Sofia museums. Most major tourist destinations have informative websites for places to visit, and these virtual tours, not to mention beautiful Instagram posts, are only a Google away. While not exactly the same, also absent were tired, hot kids that don’t want to wait in line and complain loudly about having to do so.
While we focused our “visits” on museums and major sites, we also made sure every evening represented a different region, and, once again, the internet proved a valuable resource. We made tapas one evening and then followed up by their northern counterpart, Basque pintxos, the next. We even sprung for a paella-making kit. An added bonus to this event was that, by being on in-cation, our son was actually far more adventurous that he normally would have been, and getting to choose recipes and get involved in the cooking (inspired by the map book) made him eager to get involved.
I would be lying if I said our in-cation was like going to Spain or that it felt like a real vacation. However, after almost two months at home, a shift in mindset was a much-needed break from working and schooling in place. While we’re likely going back to the same existence before our virtual jaunt to Spain (which is true after a real vacation, honestly), our household needed a change of pace. We needed to see screens that did not have Zoom boxes, Google Classroom streams and more Netflix. We needed something “new,” and a book of maps of the big, wide world was just what the doctor ordered while we stay at home.
Just the Facts:
Maps of the World: An Illustrated Atlas of Adventure, Culture and Discovery by Enrico Lavagno and illustrator Sacco and Vallarino