It’s what the doctor ordered
Vacationing is healthy. It’s good for the mind, body and spirit. It is also extremely healthy for the family. Bonds, connections and memories formed during vacations make for traditions and stories that will last for generations. Even though traveling with little ones can be exhausting and sometimes stressful, don’t discount the importance of quality time with those closest to you. The small amount of stress is worth the trip for quality family time — it's what the doctor ordered!
Family bonding time
Melissa Goff, employee at a health-insurance organization that cheers on outdoor lifestyle fitness plans and farm-to-table habits, is also mom to a very busy 2-year-old boy. She notes that a change of environment is good for anyone — individual or family. "Especially when you are doing something fun. When you choose an exciting new place as a family, it helps you bond and learn new things about each other that you don't get to see every day," Goff explains. Between school and work routines and the rush of activities, it's nice to take time as a family and explore new adventures together.
An excuse to try new things
Ditch the televisions, iPads, laptops and cell phones. Make your next vacation a ranch or agricultural experience — try agritourism and reap the benefits of Mother Earth in your next family adventure. Kate Matheson, guest services manager at Zapata Ranch, a Nature Conservancy–run bison ranch in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, knows all about the importance of family vacations al fresco. "A ranch vacation such as the Zapata Ranch enables the whole family to have incredible new experiences together, engaging them in the natural world and each other. Children and families can achieve things they never dreamed of: sledding down the highest sand dunes in North America, riding a horse through a 2,000-head bison herd, possibly a group experience in a traditional cattle gathering and branding, or even hiking to a high mountain waterfall or star-gazing across the night sky." When families vacation together, experiences such watching a majestic herd of bison under the sunset sky become backbones of family stories and memories passed on through generations.
Matheson also points out the cultural and learning experiences a family can embrace through vacation. "It can give you a hands-on experience in a totally different way of life. Take a ranch vacation: You can learn anything: horsemanship skills, how to work cattle from horseback, unique facts and the importance of geologic and ecological systems, bird migratory paths and so much more. Even much ranch land, such as our very own, is steeped in incredible Native American history." Parents can turn any trip into an educational opportunity in a unique environment. Comb the beaches and explore different vegetation that is common to the sea, or go on a mountain hike and look for deer tracks. The world is the classroom for your family.
Let all the stars shine
Each member of a family has some undiscovered talent. Let a vacation be the backdrop of harvesting this unknown passion. Maybe your teenager is a master scuba diver — who would have known without a trip to the Caribbean? My 4-year-old, Hank the Tank, just started hitting golf balls in Arizona with my parents last month; I had no idea he liked the sport. Grandson, dad and son hitting golf balls — it was darling and memorable. Take a cooking class with the family while traveling or go on an architecture walk. Just make sure to spread interests so each individual can shine in a different light. Include sports, arts, culinary experiences and much more whenever possible.
Take a cue from history and travel the lands with your family. Education and adventure abound with family bonding and memories for a lifetime. "Heck, even if something goes very wrong — and it does, often — you'll be able to laugh about it for years to come!" exclaims Goff, who also just survived three plane trips in the last four months, all very delayed, and all with a very tired 2-year-old!