Spanish Version

Armchair Travelers

Social Studies Activity

For many of us, there's always some place that attracts us and fills us with the hope of visiting it. It might be a historical site, somewhere in the wilderness or the mountains, a desert, a big city, or a rural countryside. The question is, "What do we do when we get there?" In this activity, students answer this question by planning and taking a five-day virtual trip to any place they wish in the United States.


  • Travel brochures, reference books, maps of the United States. (Students can write to chambers of commerce in the United States for information about their travel destinations. Also, material may be obtained from some travel agents.)
  • Travel videos of locations in the United States (optional)
  • Software, such as Children's Atlas of the United States by Rand McNally, Where in the U.S. Is Carmen San Diego by Broderbund, and America Alive by Media Alive (optional)
  • Internet links to virtual tours (ex. City Link)
    City.Net is a comprehensive collection of links to information on cities, regions, and countries around the globe. It includes many links to maps, language resources, elementary and secondary school listings, community networks, entries from the CIA World Factbook, travel information, and other community resources created by thousands of enthusiasts, small businesses, and governments. The entries are uneven in quality -- some contain great guides, interesting photos, and virtual tours, while other are more bare bones. Nevertheless, the site provides a neat way to see the world. City.Net is a service of CityNet Express.
    Go to City.Net at
  • Travel Treasures (print and copy)


  1. Discuss with students their past travels and any hopes they have for future excursions.

  2. Explain that for this activity they will be armchair travelers, that is, people who learn about another place and pretend to visit there, or what is sometimes called taking a "virtual" trip. The goal for the armchair travelers is to learn as much as they can about one place, use the information to plan a five-day visit there, and then create materials from their virtual trip.

  3. Divide the class into three or four groups. If possible, organize the groups according to similar interests. Encourage students to study the travel brochures, reference books, travel videos, Internet sites, and software to help them choose a destination. Encourage each group to choose a different place.

  4. Set aside enough time for students to gather and record information about their destinations. General information would include such things as the climate (at the time of year they want to visit), geography, cultural resources, and special attractions for visitors. Students should also keep track of information that reflects specific interests, such as good sites for swimming or fishing, mountains with hiking trails, amusement parks, and so forth.

  5. Distribute copies of Travel Treasures to each group. Have the groups discuss among themselves how they will present their travel plans and which travel treasures they will create. Have students choose as many travel treasures as they can complete in the allotted time. Suggest that they divide responsibilities among themselves, with one member in each group acting as coordinator.

  6. Set up a timetable for groups to present their travel plans, and arrange a display area for the travel treasures.


  • Encourage students, as part of their presentation, to create anecdotes about people and places they experienced along the way. Visually gifted students may choose to do so graphically.
  • After the presentations, have students evaluate their travel experiences, explaining why they chose the sites they did, what they learned about the area as they "visited" it, and what they would do differently if they could make the trip again.

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