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Here is a game plan to make a museum trip in the UK with the family much less stressful, and serve as preparation for possible future travel with a visa

When planning for a day out with the family, it is usually geared toward something child-friendly, such as a visit to a theme park, a zoo, or an activity centre. Many people don’t put a museum on this list because it can seem like a daunting endeavour to find something for the whole family at a museum, especially for the younger children. However, with a bit of planning, a trip to a museum can be a lovely day out with a bit of planning and some clever ideas.

This bit of planning can also come in handy for other family outings, and even longer holidays that require things like long haul travel, big itineraries, and a travel visa. An outing like this will prepare your family for eventually going on longer holidays to further parts of the UK, and maybe even heading out on a holiday out of the country. This can seem like a daunting task to parents with active toddlers or even children and teens. Making the entire family happy during these kinds of days out can lead to lots of memory making opportunities.

A good first step is to decide which kind of museum you would like to visit first, then check the website to see if the museum offers any kinds of child-friendly activities or tours. Usually the museum websites provide PDFs or other printable documents that your children can work on while at the museum, or before. Your children will feel more a part of the experience, and it will feel less like they are being dragged somewhere they do not want to be.

If you’re visiting London as a family, one great art museum that has plenty of opportunities for youngsters is the National Portrait Gallery. This museum is a must-see for any out-of-towners and rightly so, it is a treasure trove of amazing and historic portraits of important figures throughout history. The style of the portraits ranges from classic oil paintings, to sculptures, photography, pencil and ink drawings, and even miniatures. There is something for everyone at this museum, simply because of the sheer volume of portraits inside.

Luckily, the National Portrait Gallery Website offers lots of interesting activities for younger visitors that are actually quite interesting for a large range of ages. Thanks to the broad focus of the museum on all significant historical figures, there is bound to be a topic, person, or genre that your child or teenager will find compelling. 

These activities can be done beforehand, to increase interest in the visit, or during the visit, as long as you bring the printed version as well as some coloured pencils. The museum’s website has quite an array of activities that inspire young ones to make connections from famous portraits to their own daily lives. One activity is to design a piece of royal jewellery that represents the child’s own family. Afterwards, you can see if your child can pick out jewellery in other artworks that they find intriguing or pretty.

Another captivating and quite frankly charming activity offered in these activities are different scavenger hunts. The visitors can learn information about famous figures such as William Shakespeare, and then try to seek them out in different rooms in the Gallery. This sort of activity can be done in any museum. A fun idea is to see how many pictures of dogs your family can find in any art museum. Or how many sharp teeth they can find in a natural history museum. This concept can be applied to many locations and family outings.

One of the unique aspects of the National Portrait Gallery is the array of diverse portraits that can be found there. Most art museums are either contemporary or classical, or at least have a clear differentiation of modern times and history. However, here the portraits are not only of long-ago royalty, but even contemporary history makers. This is quite handy for getting your kids excited to see people that they look up to currently. There are even portraits of modern singers like Ed Sheeran that young people are bound to get excited about.

Even with a ton of planning and nifty ideas to inspire your children to have a good time, it is also important to remember not to get your hopes up too high. Depending on the age of your children, it may be completely impossible to see everything you wish to see. Going in to an experience such as this with the right mind frame can lead to less disappointment and bickering in the long run. It is helpful to remember that although you used to be able to spend an entire day in a museum, 2 hours in a museum with your young children is actually quite an achievement. It is a good strategy for yourself to put only 2 or 3 major things on your must-see list, and understand that anything extra is icing on the cake.

All of these different experiences can make a trip to any museum an enjoyable one for everyone in the family. Going on a smaller scale practice museum run is also a good idea to prepare for a much bigger outing. All of these small steps can prep you not just for a day out, but perhaps a few weeks out. These steps can be applied to a long road trip or even a long-haul flight to a different country. 

This makes the idea of travelling abroad much less scary. When applying for a visa, it is possible to do individual applications, or group ones of up to 10 people. Spending less time with the visa application process opens up a lot of time to plan your itinerary for your holiday. If a trip to the National Portrait Gallery in London inspires you, the Smithsonian National Gallery in Washington, D.C. is at your fingertips. Keep in mind that to travel to the USA, most people can simply get an ESTA instead of a visa, which would require going to an embassy. The visa process is mostly online, and makes application much easier. Being prepared and applying on time for any visa or travel document that is necessary, as well as a good game plan for the entire family, will make for an excellent holiday at home or abroad.