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Avoid Summer Brain Drain with Fun Family Learning Vacations

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Research shows that children's educational development slumps during the inactive summer vacation months -- a phenomenon known as "summer learning loss." In fact, students score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do at the beginning of summer.

washington monument

However, according a recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey, the overwhelming majority of parents believe that learning should continue far after the last school bell has rung:

  • Nearly 88 percent of those surveyed with children under the age of 18 said they believe it is important to take an educational vacation in which learning is the main focus.
  • Forty-five percent of parents say their summer vacation plans this year will in fact include an educational component. Specifically, 30 percent will head to a destination to explore its history and culture, 27 percent will explore wildlife and 8 percent will travel to a destination focused on culinary arts.

Whether you're traveling with a 3-year-old or a 13-year-old, American Express has resources that will help you take your lesson plan on the road with you this summer.

American Express has family travel specialists who can help parents design or find a learning vacation tailored to their interests. They'll also help parents maximize their travel dollars by ensuring that they're taking advantage of all the value-added benefits available by booking through American Express. Whether they choose a prearranged "brain-boosting" package or design their own learning vacation, families who book through American Express Travel online or over the phone will receive perks that will make their summer vacation more enjoyable and hassle-free.

One such prearranged "brain-boosting" package is Patriots of America, which takes families through Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. They'll get a close-up look at the first government seat of the United States during a time when electric lights and motorcars were a thing of the future. They'll visit Amish country and the battlefields of Gettysburg; the U.S. Marine Corps, Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon and all the great monuments of Washington, DC. The package typically includes 14 meals, a $200 discount for children under 12, and all gratuities. Additionally, American Express cardmembers also receive a $250 discount per child under 18.

Alternately, families can plan their own vacation without the service of an American Express travel specialist, but still take advantage of hotel perks available in historic cities through the Destination Family program. For example, families visiting Chicago can explore the Chicago Children's Museum, visit the Hancock Observatory and discover the wonders of Shedd Aquarium in Grant Park. When they take advantage of the Destination Family program, they can also enjoy perks at the Park Hyatt Chicago, Hyatt Regency Chicago or Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, such as:

  • Free full breakfast (up to two adults and four kids)
  • 15 percent savings on Hyatt Pure Spa services
  • 15 percent savings on dining
  • 1/2 day kids' program at Camp Hyatt for one child per stay
  • Locally inspired in-room kids' snack amenity
  • One complimentary in-room movie per stay
  • Guaranteed late checkout (2 PM)

Do you try to make your family vacations educational as well? Comment below.

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Becky July 5, 2010, 9:09 PM

Sounds like some great vacations! Wish my parents had thought of these instead of just hitting the beach when we were kids. Here are some more ideas if you’re not up for a big trip

calimommi July 6, 2010, 8:42 AM

Although I do think there is merit to intentially education trips, I think it is more important for parents to create an atmosphere of learning within a family. Listen to books on tape as you travel, as mentioned in the articla - visit destination museums and festivals, and a trip to the beach can be very educational!

Steph July 6, 2010, 11:59 AM

Oh good, one more way for parents to feel inadequate. I’m all for learning, but “taking a lesson plan on the road?”

So no, I don’t try to make our family vacation educational. Getting away from the usual schedule and grind, and creating some fun family memories is my goal.

Fun Family Field Trip August 22, 2010, 11:35 AM


We, too, are huge fans of educational family travel which is the reason why we started With the budgets of many of our public schools being cut and kids spending more time online or otherwise in front of screens, we decided to build a website dedicated to families getting out and exploring together. Whether it’s an afternoon outing or vacation, you all can have fun learning something new together. Fun Family Field Trip is geared toward families with children ages 5 -13, but much of the information is also useful for families with older children. The website is comprehensive providing detailed itineraries, resources, fun facts, travel tips and more, and the information is free.

Please check out and have a great fun family learning vacation!


Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 11:47 AM

Nice post! Good and fun reading. I’ve just got one opinion to make about funny t-shirts.

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