- Off-beat holidays can be life-changing.
- Become a person of culture while culturing your children.
- Annual family trips become "happiness anchors" for children.
What's the first place you think of when you think "family holiday"? Probably Disneyland, right? While the Mouse House certainly has its perks, a Disney holiday is the kind of holiday you take when you need to let loose, play some games, and get away from life for a while.
If, instead, you would rather take your children on a life-changing holiday this year, one that stays with them for the rest of their lives and may even fundamentally shape the people they eventually become, then read on.
The Grand Canyon
Traveling the world is a wonderful way to humble ourselves. It can be truly awe-inspiring for children to visit places they have only read about in books. To see the way the light bounces off of the Mississippi river, or to smell the grass and flowers of a California valley, does not compare to seeing these locations on a map, or reading about them in a book.
And few sights can humble you more than staring out over the gaping void and layers of carved rock that make up the Grand Canyon. This popular landmark is famous for helping people realize just how vast our world truly is. Especially when you consider that this is only one small part of it…
When you and your children gaze upon the canyon's many layers, you will be humbled by the heart of the Earth. If your children are older, consider taking them on a hike so that you can all see the nature and wildlife up close. A hike can add a unique spin to what may otherwise be considered a typical trip.
Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
If your children are passionate about marine life, Chesapeake Bay is a great place to take them. And if they're not passionate about marine life, a trip to the Bay may change that. The Bay is comprised of 64,000 square miles of rivers, bays, marshes – all the aquatic destinations you could possibly want to hit in one trip.
Here, you can look for tadpoles, pull up crab pots, and observe with delight the daily habits of the crabs, fish, and oysters that live in these waters. This is a great destination for a quieter vacation, one where reflection and bonding are valued over parks and water rides.
The first thing you should know about traveling to the Galapagos Islands is that it is not cheap. There are tours specifically designed for people to take, and that must be approved beforehand, so that the island's fragile environment may be preserved. This is a great way to teach children that if you cherish something, you must do everything you can to protect it.
Another thing you need to know before planning your trip is that the islands are far from PG. The animals here are unabashed. They do not fear humans, which can make for some great fun, like swimming with the dolphins and turtles. However, they don't hold back from violence either.
Survival of the fittest is the name of the game here, and injured or dead animals may be prominently on display for your child to see. If your child is too young to be exposed to this kind of raw nature, then you may want to save this trip for when he or she gets a little older.
Something pretty interesting about the islands, though, is that two animals may look alike but sound completely different. This traces back to Charles' Darwin's theory of evolution, which he developed while visiting these islands. The animals here have learned to adapt to their various environments, which means two birds may look alike, but sound completely different! ## Library of Congress
Where better to learn new things than at a library? The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. is the biggest library in the world, with nearly 4,000 staff members, 500 miles of shelves, and 128 million items for the borrowing and viewing, with an additional 10,000 items added daily to its catalog! This is a great place to bring a bookworm. Also a potentially interesting tidbit for the kids is that the Nicolas Cage film, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, was filmed here. You can even incorporate watching the film into your trip. Watch it after you come back, and you can say, "Hey, we've been there!" The library also has an itinerary of sorts called the "Passport to Knowledge," which they can use to look up some of the library's most popular items. There are also "Knowledge Quest" kiosks located throughout the library, where they can input places of interest that they can then refer to later on a customized mini-site. ## London, England London is a great place to start if you want to take the family on your first international trip together, but you're afraid you won't know the language or want to eat the food. Though, London is not so familiar that your children won't be able to learn anything new. From fish and chips to PG Tips, your children will come back having learned and tried a variety of foods they never heard of before.
Plus, bonus: what kid (and maybe adult) wouldn't want to visit the birthplace of Harry Potter? You can even take a Harry Potter-themed tour. Stop by Warner Bros. Studios London (which actually hosts its own Harry-Potter themed tour, making it a tour-within-a-tour), or visit the Reptile House at the ZSL London Zoo, where Harry first conversed with a snake, thus beginning his epic journey.
Older children, especially history enthusiasts, will thrill at the historical aspects of London, from Henry VIII to the Beatles, and the eerie, true stories surrounding the Tower of London. They can visit such historical landmarks as Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral in the South Bank, and Tower Bridge (mistakenly and commonly referred to as "London Bridge") over the River Thames.