404 X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot

If you’re doing an A-Z Challenge and your focus is family travel, it’s almost impossible to find a term more fitting for the letter “x” than “X marks the spot”.

Treasure maps and quest maps seem to be made for children and the adventurous at heart. I love them. I even made my son’s first birthday a pirate theme with a map to get to our living room to celebrate the day.

So here it is, a simple way to give your trips a little more excitement for the little ones. Turn it into a quest. How do you do it?

  1. Find an end goal (treasure) that will appeal to the whole family. Whether this is a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or a cupcake at the city’s best cupcake place is up to you.
  2. Decide if the quest is going to be for just a part of your trip (a few hours or one day) or extend longer (over the course of several days or throughout the whole trip). The rest of the instructions will be based on making the quest a part of a day, but can be used to 
  3. Plot the sites you already wanted to see on a map (google is great for this).
  4.  See if any of these spots would make a good natural progression for your treasure map. Depending on how detailed you want to be, and the time you have, you may have to get creative and zoom in really close to find the perfect arrangement.
  5. Pick a few spots, including the starting point.  When picking your stops decide if you’re going to spend time inside, or if you are just going to stay outside. How much time will you need?
    • Just stopping to look, maybe take a few photos? Allow 10-15 minutes
    • Going to stop for a snack? Allow 30 minutes to an hour
    • Spending sometime inside the attraction? You’ll likely need between 1-3 hours – this type of itinerary is better suited for an all day or several day treasure hunt
  6. List these out. What kind of treasure map do you want it to be?
    • A map only
    • Map and clues
    • Clues only
  7. I think the clues are the fun part, so I would keep that in. Now decide how you want the clues given. Go with your strengths here
    • A rhyme
    • Street signs
    • A story
  8. Write something for each spot until they’re all down, make sure they’re in the right order, and keep the answers with you so you don’t forget once your on your trip.
  9. Package up the clues with the map.
  10. Have a great trip.

As you notice, most of these steps are true for any itinerary planning. The added features are a specific map and/or clues. It’s having an end goal that is intentionally highlighted. It’s a little more work for a bigger punch.

A sample map

I wanted to try it out, so I imagined a simple walk from the Eiffel Tower’s nearest metro stop to the top of the tower. A very typical trip people will make when they visit Paris. Will it win me any writing awards? No. Was it fun and easy? Mostly. Would my kids enjoy it? I hope so!

This would be the full map with the first clue:

X Marks the Spot

And here are the subsequent clues. Simple rhymes that aren’t really clues, but fun. Not really too researched because I just wanted to get it done. You can spend as much time or as little time on something like this. I think it’s cool.


The biggest feature, we have here to see,
Is the big old fountain between the small trees,
It is named the Fountain of Warsaw – that’s true,
There’s a bunch of different fountains, putting on a show for you,
Let’s count them together, how many could there be?
Let’s walk to the end – come on follow me!

Ah the Eiffel, it’s getting close now,
There’s one little stop, a ride on a cow.
No, no, I’m kidding of course.
We’ll not ride a cow. Instead just a horse.
We’ll wait in a line, not talk on our cell.
To ride what I think’s the world’s greatest carousel.
That was fun!
We’re almost done.
But before we go up.
I want a drink in a cup.
With a side of a crepe.
Doesn’t that sound great?

We made it.
We made it.
All the way to the top!
We even managed, with more than one stop!
Let’s look out below, at the whole of the lot.
And be happy we played “X marks the spot”.

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Expat Liv writes about her life in India and is participating in this year’s A-Z Challenge. Though the challenge is almost over, you can still check out what she did and follow her as she completes the final letters.

Photo by blakespot acheter les dildos doubles en lignesunshade for car baby


  1. I went so close to doing X marks the spot. You have done a great job 🙂

  2. Ok Ann! I really love it, but OMG it looks like it takes way too much of my precious time…good job!

    • Ha ha! Can I say that it was both a really long time and really quick at the same time? The problem is, I don’t have any trip I’m currently researching, so I had to think something up and went with the Eiffel Tower. But, since I’m not really looking at things to do there, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time researching an imaginary trip. Once I figured out the wheres, though, the rest was actually really quick.


  3. Great post Ann, looks like a wonderful way to keep kids engaged in some of the more boring attractions we encounter when traveling. X was a tough one for sure – I’m just sad it’s near the end of the alphabet, I really want to go out with a bang!

    • Thank Calli. I think it’s always fun to change things up a bit. Don’t think they’d want every day of every trip to be a treasure hunt, though.

  4. I’ve been thinking about doing this for my son (age ten) and his friends. An afternoon of traveling around town, or even the immediate area, map in hand, maybe something similar to a treasure hunt. Great ideas here. Thank you.
    And a filling X post.
    Silvia @

    • Thanks! I will say that planning it out closer to home is a lot easier than using google maps to kinda figure it out. I think it would be a lot of fun for a ten year old and friends.

  5. terrific blog – the kids loved mangos and they dont grow here so we invented a trip called the great mango hunt where we took 6 weeks 2 adults 4 kids( and picked up a toddler along the way) and headed north into queensland looking for where mangos grow. found them they all had filled their bellies many times over picked up lots of other treasures and still goes down as a very memorable holiday.
    Sandra (aust) ‘”X is where the treasure is”

    • That sounds like a cool trip. And I love that you gave the trip a name. That adds to the excitement of it all. I may have to try that the next time we go on vacation.


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