Where have you travelled this summer? Have you taken your kids? Have you enriched them by exposing them to a landscape, culture, music, or food other than your own? Let me know in your comments.
Travel has always been an important of exposing our boys to the diversity of our country and world. I know budgets are tight and it is tough to travel with kids, but really you should try go at least one place in the summer and take in something that is not “the norm” for your family. It can be free. It doesn’t have to cost money to experience a different place or culture.
We have always travelled with our boys. They have been able to see some great sights. Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) was a favorite. This was their first exposure to “real” mountains. Our love for hiking might have started there. Hiking is free, you can do it anywhere. What a great take away from a vacation experience!
Gettysburg National Battleground was another favorite, as was our trip to Philadelphia the same year. What a contrast between history and modernization! Philly is a great city. I worked there for a short time, near Fairmount Park, and have fond memories of it. The history is rich and exciting when children are able to see things they learned about in school, such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The Battlefield can be unnerving when you take the time to read the signage and understand how many lives were lost on our own country’s soil because of its philosophical divisions. It’s best we expose our children to this history in an effort not to have it repeat in some awful fashion.
Culturally, we stayed in downtown Philadelphia, amidst the great sky scrapers with all the noise, smells, and activity a city has to offer. For three days, we walked – everywhere. We did not touch the car once in was parked in the hotel’s underground garage. We ate at the Reading Terminal Market, walked to the Franklin Institute, strolled to the Independence Mall area and exposed our boys to life in a city. One of the things we saw was a man on a street corner, across from our hotel with a huge albino snake wrapped around his neck, charging five dollars for a photo. It was an experience that is memorable. And, no, we did not even get a photo.
We have been able to take wonderful beach vacations, too, in the U.S. and abroad. Carlsbad California has a wonderful, wide beach that is empty in December, as were the beaches in La Jolla and Coronado. The beaches on Sanibel and Amelia Islands have been long remembered for shelling. The beaches on Maui and Kauai are loved for the awesome views and power of their waters that instill respect and cautiousness, while still being able to be enjoyed.
Sometimes, a skill learned on one vacation gives way to being able to enjoy it on another. This was the case with hiking. Since we learned to enjoy hiking at RMNP, when we went to Kauai five years later, hiking through the rainforest to reach a beach (the only known way in and out – other than by boat), was something we just had to do!
By now you are thinking, that is great but it did cost money to get to those places. True. But, you can scope out local historical places where you live and learn from just taking a day trip with a picnic lunch. We live close to the Mighty Mississippi, history surrounds us, as it does almost anywhere you live in the United States. Take a trip down the Great River Road and visit the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. Go to some lookouts up river near, Pepin, Minnesota and look for Bald Eagles. Speaking of Pepin, take a ride to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood cabin. Imagine your family living in that tiny cabin and surviving the long, cold Minnesota winters. Incredible!
There are many enriching and exciting travel experiences you can provide your family that do not cost a lot, or even anything at all. Take a drive off the beaten path, you will be glad you did!