12 Ways to Give the Gift of Travel & Experience
Every kid loves getting toys for Christmas, I know mine do! I have been going through my son’s seemingly endless Christmas Wish List of toys and things, as I look around and I am surrounded by piles of toys that we have received in years past. The excitement of these toys is immense on Christmas morning but that excitement wears off soon after and the clutter remains.
I have been thinking of how to make the joys of Christmas last all year long and how to make each gift under the tree a memory that will last. I have come up with 12 ways to give the gift of travel and experiences that will last the year around! This year instead of the 12 Days of Christmas I plan to do the 12 Months of Christmas filled with travel and experiences that the whole family can enjoy!
One: Take a Backyard Road Trip
A family road trip does not always require hotel stays, packed luggage, or a full tank of gas. Some family road trips can be less than an hour away and right in your backyard. I love the idea of a backyard road trip because they don’t require much planning and can be done on any budget. Make them as elaborate as you want or as simple, find a new nearby city, drive in the opposite direction from the norm, or close your eyes and pick a place on the map.
These are a few of our recent Backyard Road Trips. These nearby day trips have lead us to the nearby forgotten coast, we found a farm fresh craft creamery in a small historic town, we made the most of our time in Colorado with 5 Day Trips from Denver, and we toured a 1920’s lodge with an alligator in the lobby.
It would be really fun to let the kids “plan” this trip, put away the phones, and use a paper map to find your next destination!
Two: Use an Alternate Means of Transportation
Planes, trains, and automobiles…take this experience to-go! Whether it has wings, wheels, a caboose, or it floats I task you to find an alternate way to get from point A to B and then maybe to C. Grab a ticket a jump aboard.
This past year we took a train to feed some Bison, a boat to see some Manatees, and traveled on an open-air train car in the Royal Gorge. My wheels are already turning on how we’ll get moving next year.
Three: Go somewhere Free
The best things in life are free! Keeping the Christmas spirit going year around is about making memories and memories are free. This experience is about using your imagination and creating something out of nothing (or almost nothing).
My personal favorite free activity is to take a long stroll and soak in the local architecture. The kids (and my husband for that matter) may not be thrilled about seeing architecture, but the best way to really know a city is to walk its streets, and find the hidden gems.
Getting outside and enjoying nature is the ultimate free activity. Find a new playground, take a hike, and pack lunch for a family picnic.
Create your own custom Scavenger Hunt for your family to follow on your next adventure!
Four: Go to a Sporting Event
We are a sports family. Many of our past travel memories revolve around sporting events. We have made it a bit of a challenge for ourselves to visit all the major league baseball stadiums in the United States and we are pretty far down the list!
Attending a sporting event is fun, engaging, and something that the whole family can enjoy. You can find a sporting event all year round and the events vary in price point depending if it is an amature game, collegiate event, or professional. If your team isn’t in town, don’t fret, see if they have a stadium tour!
Going to a professional sports stadium often comes with often comes with a hefty price point but we tend to make those extra special trips. We always make sure to look for special events like “Kids Run the Bases” day or a kids only freebie. Make sure to also check out the stadiums history, see if they have a kids play area, and don’t forget to try the local ballpark cuisine, like the Chicago Dog at the Wrigley Stadium.
Five: Visit a State or National Park
Some of the most majestic places to visit in the United States are our State and National Parks. Each state has dedicated State Parks and some states are very fortunate have National Parks.
Take your family to see the great outdoors and breathe in the fresh air! Whether you visit the parks in your state or take an adventure across the country. Make this experience noteworthy! I mean it, make a notebook of all of the parks that you travel to. Take notes about your adventure, buy stickers to add in your book, add photos, little momentos, leaves, dry flowers, and look back at these memories for years to come.
Join the Junior Ranger program to participate in additional activities at each Park and earn badges along the way!
Six: A Special Event
A special event…aren’t these all special events? Well, yes they are, but these events only come around once or only happen at a certain time of the year. This experience can revolve around a holiday, a cultural event, or a theatrical performance.
This year we surprised the boys with a little bit of Pre-Christmas magic at Enchant Christmas in St. Pete Florida.
Seven: Visit a Museum
You can find a museum in almost every city. Museums come in every shape, size, they cover a myriad of topics, and span many age groups. For example, our city has a living history museum, The Sharing Tree is a hands-on creative childrens play lab, we have a free to the public Florida History Museum, the historic Florida Capitol Museum, and I am sure many more that we have yet to visit. We try to visit a different museum in the places we visit as well.
Many museums have year long memberships that are perfect for families that want to make multiple visits and have exclusive member benefits.
If you are in the Atlanta area, my good friend at That Playground Life has created a fabulous list of Atlanta area family-friendly museums, and gives a wonderful breakdown of family memberships.
Eight: Use an Alternate Means of Lodging
Think way outside the 4-walled box on this one. I’m talking glamping, staying in a yurt, finding a unique Airbnb (think tree house), stay somewhere historic, and say no to a standard roadside motel (unless it’s one of those cool retro motels that you only see in movies with the cool vintage neon signs).
Look for cool amenities too. Does this stay include an indoor waterpark? Can you roast marshmallows on an open fire? Does it have a very evident theme? Why make your lodging boring when it can be the adventure?
Nine: Go to an Amusement Park
This is a special occasion and one that may require some additional planning, but it’s so worth it! We are lucky to have some of the world’s best amusement parks in our backyard.
We often think of Disney World as the ultimate amusement park, but don’t forget to look for smaller scale parks.
Ten: Take a Class
Taking a class isn’t quite travel related but it can definitely be a fun experience! I’m always looking to learn something new for myself or to teach my family. Attending a class can help expand your imagination, it can increase your ability to problem solve, teaches us a new craft, and can teach us about different cultures.
Check out your local museums for classes or your local art studio and maybe a restaurant for cooking class. Taking a class can be fun for you as an individual, for you as a family, as a date night or a fun time with a lot of friends!
Eleven: Go to a Zoo, Aquarium, or Animal Park
Most kids love animals. My son is hesitant at first and then opens up. We love to be hands on, the more in your face the better! From bison to manatees, gulf specimens, and everything in between!
Twelve: Take a Staycation
And on the twelfth day of Christmas…stay home with your family.
This list embodies all of my favorite experiences that we love to do as a family. We love to travel, we love to experience new things, I love to see the joy and wonder on my children’s faces, but there is nothing better than being home.
Snuggle up on the couch, tell stories about your experiences, watch home movies, and look through phots of your past year.
May this year bring you and your family memories to last a lifetime!