I know that taking a map on a trip is not a novel thing. It’s pretty much a requirement. But these days, when you have GPS and Google maps readily available at every crossroads, you may think twice about taking a paper map. You shouldn’t.
I say: when traveling with kids, taking paper maps should still be a requirement. Why pass up a chance to give your kids a real-life geography lesson?
I have written about my kid’s map obsession before. Whether we’re visiting Sea World or New York, my kid is going to want to see the map. He just has to know where we are and were we’re going. It may have to do with the fact that on every one of our trips, it’s inevitable that we will get lost. Now that’s a post for a later date, but the point is that he wants to be part of the lively-”Where are we?”-discussions that take place in the middle of busy intersections.
So we make him part of the discussion, by giving him a chance to study the maps right along with us. You can’t do that with the map on your cell phone, it’s just too hard for more than one head at a time to study it. Paper maps are just more communal that way. They also give your family the advantage of looking like flustered tourists.
We love to take out our Pop-Out city maps while deliberating our next move on a street corner. These foldable maps are tiny, but pack a lot of information. They’re also very kid-friendly. The landmarks are easy to find, the streets are all delineated clearly enough for younger kids to be able to read them, and they’re easy for little hands to hold. We take these maps with us, even to cities we visit often. So when I hear the little voice from the back seat ask, “Where are we?”, I just toss him the map and answer (in my calm, maternal voice), “You can help us find out”.
This summer we’re visiting cities we don’t yet have Pop-Out maps for and I was contemplating whether to buy them or not. After writing this very persuasive post, I’ve decided to buy them. I know my kid is going to want to get his hands on one, the minute we hit those city streets.
I have to keep my little Marco Polo happy, after all.
Today’s tip was inspired by a post written by Tech Savvy Mama blogger Leticia Barr, where she writes about all the geographic teachable moments that came from her family walking around NYC with a laminated fold-out map. I couldn’t agree more.