8 Best Family Travel Shows To Stream When You Can’t Take A Vacation (Yet)
Ready to travel the globe, right from home? Here are 8 of the best family travel shows streaming right now.
Erica Silverstein · about 1 year ago
How do you get your entire family excited about world cultures, fascinating cities, natural explorations, and new experiences? Whet their appetite with kid-friendly travel shows. A whole host of cartoon characters are jetting about the globe – some, in fact, are literally jets – to take young viewers on thrilling adventures with a splash of cultural education on the side. Other family travel shows feature real kids narrating their adventures Anthony Bourdain-style (but with more giggles and fewer cuss words).
If you’re ready to travel the globe virtually, here are eight of the best family travel shows to stream online right now.
1. Carmen Sandiego
Netflix / Harcourt
Parents like me fondly remember Carmen Sandiego as the arch-villain of the 1980s computer game bearing her name, or from the 1990s TV game show with its unforgettable theme song by Rockapella. Netflix continues the tradition of taking kids around the world with the scarlet criminal, but this time with a twist. In its original “Carmen Sandiego” series, Carmen paints the world red as a master thief who only steals back precious items to return to their original owners. Her heists – and the search for her identity – take Sandiego and her friends from France to Morocco to Indonesia and beyond, giving kids a cartoon introduction to a variety of international destinations.
Available on Netflix.
2. Super Wings
Little Airplane Productions
If your airplane-obsessed preschoolers can rattle off the differences between a DC-3 and a 747, they might also be curious about where planes can actually go. Enter “Super Wings,” a cartoon about Jett and other sentient planes who fly around the world to deliver packages. After Jett and his buddies (and your family!) get schooled on some key facts about their destinations by overly enthusiastic humans, the planes make door-to-door deliveries, befriend the package recipients, and help them solve problems.
3. Little Einsteins
You can’t feel guilty about too much screen time when your family is watching “Little Einsteins,” because each episode is chock full of cultural education. A diverse group of kids and their sidekick vehicle Rocket travel the world to learn about music, art, and the places they’re visiting. The background music is classical, and the animation interweaves cartoons and real video footage. A Brahms melody accompanies their trip to learn about hieroglyphics in Egypt, while Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is the soundtrack for a trip to China to learn about Chinese landscape painting.
4. Wild Kratts
Animal lovers may prefer to virtually travel “Wild Kratts” style – focusing on animal habitats rather than human culture. If your family spends their days pretending to be kangaroos and snow leopards (or is that just mine?), they’ll be wowed when animated versions of the real-live Kratt brothers put on special suits to become the featured animal of each episode, getting chased around the world by predators and villains.
5. Search and Explore
My daughter has started spouting facts about the Galapagos and the Appalachian Trail, and it’s all thanks to a handful of mice she watches online. No, not those mice. The “Search and Explore” show stars three animated rodents who magically jump to different locations – like Stirling Castle in Scotland, the Statue of Liberty, the Amazon River – and make friends with locals to learn more about each destination. The shows don’t try to hide their educational intent, but kids – at least mine – don’t seem to mind.
6. Are We There Yet?
National Geographic Kids
In this junior version of a travel show, National Geographic highlights kids exploring new countries and places, as only children can. The 7-minute “Are We There Yet?” videos start with a pair of siblings drawing pictures of the day’s experiences, and usually involve them meeting a friendly grownup who introduces them to an aspect of the local landscape or culture – Maori traditions in New Zealand, garden mazes in England, pink dolphins in Brazil. Your family will giggle over typical kid behavior, including plenty of swimming pool antics and mugging for the character from each episode’s kid narrators. The racial diversity of each episode’s chosen family is an extra bonus.
Available on National Geographic Kids.
7. Justin Time
In animated kid adventure show “Justin Time,” Justin and his floating, yellow, Olaf-esque sidekick, Squidgy, get transported to new countries and time periods, where they solve a problem or learn a lesson related to their at-home play. Imaginary friend Olive is always on hand to be their guide to foreign lands. The travel content is minimal, but it’s enough to expose young kids to different-looking people and places in a fun way.
8. Let’s Go Luna
The trippy, colorful characters in “Let’s Go Luna” belong to a traveling circus that tours the world. (Yeah, the one that looks like a dog is actually a wombat and what I thought were anthropomorphic French noses are apparently mandrills.) The daytime tour guide for the three main characters is Luna the Moon, but don’t think too hard about whether she’s the actual moon and why she’s nearly the same size as the butterfly character, just wider and rounder. The key here is that cultural anthropologists on the production team ensure that the cartoon portrayals of the international destinations are accurate, down to the foreign language songs and local stories that are incorporated into each episode.
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