Being an empty nester, having to figure out kid-oriented summer travel plans are no longer a part of my summer agenda. But one can’t help be affected by the throngs of kids out and about trying to figure out what to do with the long days of summer. This vision brings memories flooding back of some of my most enjoyable travel over the years with my kids. Seeing the world through their eyes was a refreshing and enlightening way to travel.
This ranged anywhere from taking our kids fishing twenty minutes away from our house to a little fishing hole known only to the locals to a major road trip through multiple states to visit Disneyland to a flight to the east coast to visit the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell and the White House. As much as my kids were into just hanging out with their friends at home, playing video games, going to the new summer movies, reading the next Harry Potter novel – they also had, and still have, an openness to a new adventure.
My husband and I came from an era where the great outdoors was our playground and we wanted our kids to be exposed to all that our natural environment has to offer. We spent a lot of time taking our kids to my Dad’s cabin in a remote part of northern Minnesota – where there is no TV hook-up. Days were spent walking the trails looking for wildlife and picking fresh berries; jumping off a pontoon and swimming with the newly hatched minnows; catching minnows for fishing off the dock; throwing the tennis ball into the lake for our labs to retrieve – over and over and over again; making bonfires to cook weenies and roast marshmallows for s’mores; nap and read in a screened in porch.
As my last post revealed, we lived in several different places during our kids developmental years. And each place offered up a plethora of day trip opportunities. We loved to pack up the picnic basket, hop in the car and in an hour be at a destination only Mother Nature could create, chockfull of opportunities for fun activities – i.e. hiking along cascading falls learning to navigate fallen trees and slippery rocks; a glass-topped lake to learn how to skip rocks; a slow meandering river to float down; climbing upwards to vistas that would take away anybody’s breath.
With longer blocks of time we hit the road and were able to expose our kids to some of man and natures most amazing masterpieces. The Mount Rushmore monument and the still in progress Crazy Horse monument are a sight to behold. Not only to see what the marriage of man and nature can create, but to realize the magnitude of such a venture, and then think about when those carvings were done – long before today’s technology was there to help ease the transformation.
The truly amazing destinations are the one’s man had nothing to do with creating: the geysers of Yellowstone National Park, with bison, elk and moose grazing along the roadsides; or the immense majestic snow-covered peaks in Glacier National Park, with mountain goats licking the salt off the roads and grizzly bears eating huckleberries along the mountain slopes; or the Badlands where centuries of wind blowing sand has created formations that no human could emulate; or the natural slide and jumping holes created by centuries of running water at Slide Rock Park outside of Sedona, Arizona.
Sports are synonymous with my family. So no summer would be complete without many sports themed outings. Whether we were teaching our kids to golf or taking them to a baseball game. Teaching them to play tennis or off to the pool to work on their swimming stroke and dives. These activities were initiated closer to home, so that when we traveled we could incorporate them into our travel activities.
A little bit of culture never hurt anybody either. There were many destination trips taken with the sole purpose of attending a play or a concert; visiting museums and historical monuments; or checking out the local zoos or botanical gardens. Education can be fun, and the more we exposed our kids to these kinds of cultural activities, the more they became part of all future travels.
As adults, our kids now partake in many similar activities they spent their youth being exposed to: my daughter would rather spend an afternoon reading in a beautiful park setting or visit a local museum vs. being cooped up in her apartment watching TV; our son would rather be out playing golf or attending a concert than sitting at home playing video games. Travel traditions were created that have stood the test of time: fishing trips to Jan Lake, Saskatchewan for my son and husband; spa days for my daughter and I; and becoming “foodies” by being open to the flavors of our travels.
So whether you have time for a day trip, a weekender, a more extensive road trip or even a flight somewhere – there are always activities to have some summer fun that will become a growing and learning experience for the kids – whether they realize it or not!