We just got back from an incredible vacation in the Pennsylvania woods in which nature was the centerpiece of basically everything we did: birdwatching, hiking, learning about medicinal plants, stand up paddle boarding, biking, kayaking, archery, nature art classes, mindful labyrinth walking, and garden tours. We even enjoyed fresh organic food grown onsite and served in the restaurant. While we can connect to nature in our own backyards, there is something extra special about traveling to discover exciting new places. Nature travel inspires and invigorates us, and provides many health benefits that help us feel happier and calmer.
Benefits of Travel
Getting out of our daily routines, experiencing new surroundings, and forming fresh perspectives reset our mind and body. Vacations give us something positive to look forward to and break from the daily hustle and bustle of our hectic routines, allowing us to relax and recharge. In fact, studies show that by just planning a vacation and getting excited about it, we can experience a boost in happiness.
Vacations can be inspiring, expand our knowledge, help us learn new skills, put us in touch with different cultures, and give us the chance to build relationships and interact with new people. As a result, we feel happier and less stressed during our time away, and often that feeling lasts even after a relaxing trip.
Of course, if we choose family travel adventures that encompass outdoor experiences, we can benefit from all that nature has to offer as well. Nature provides many opportunities to feel mindful, grateful, and in awe, which helps boost our mood and reduce stress. The great outdoors can be an especially invigorating and peaceful place to get away.
According to LoveHolidays, there are several developmental benefits of family travel for kids, which also help improve emotional well-being:
Promotes curiosity. Besides being fun, travel provides a huge educational opportunity for kids. Learning through immersion offers invaluable context only real-life experiences can bring. Researchers have found that travel is beneficial for children’s education and development.
Provides an opportunity for socialization. Travel offers opportunities not found in a classroom, exposing children to people of different ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. This can help them develop empathy, communication skills, and confidence.
Teaches flexibility. Being in new situations requires us to adapt and be flexible. This is an important skill that we all need throughout our lives in order to cope with change and stress. Travel involves getting used to different environments and cultures, so it’s a great way to teach children how to adjust. Travel can also provide an opportunity to learn patience as travel plans change and trips often involve waiting in long lines and spending a lot of time on transportation.
Leads to family bonding. Daily stress and schedules can prevent families from connecting. However, family travel provides plenty of uninterrupted time to spend together. Sharing the experiences of travel will strengthen existing bonds and create wonderful memories to enjoy for years to come. In addition, positive interactions boost healthy brain development in kids, especially when they come from important figures like parents and caregivers. This special time also allows for improved family communication, giving kids a chance to relax and open up about their feelings.
Planning Nature Adventure Travel
Depending on where you live, the amount of time you have, how far you want to travel, and your budget, there are numerous outdoor travel adventures for your family to try. Some ideas include camping, fishing, and canoeing. When we think of outdoor adventures, the term “ecotourism” often comes to mind. According to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education. Ecotourism trips can include visiting parks, boating, rafting, caving, rock climbing, hiking, zip lining, exploring a natural reserve, volunteering to help the local environment, and hundreds of other experiences your family will love.
Some of my fondest nature vacations include horseback riding along the beach in Puerto Rico, taking a helicopter tour over Hawaii, hiking to see a glacier in Alaska, and a boat ride between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts during the summer. You can choose the best excursions for your family, whether that means a day trip in your state or region or traveling halfway around the world.