Growing up, my greatest memories are of my family and I piling in the car taking road trips during spring break and track season exploring the city of Chicago for new and exciting things. We took more fishing trips than I can count (I even out fished my stepdad from time to time), traveled the city attending music and art festivals, cheered on The Bulls as champions and not champions, traversed our way through Illinois for track meets galore.
Those experiences shaped me and instilled the desire to constantly explore. It comes as no surprise that with the help of my husband; I’ve turned my kids into the ultimate adventurers. While we enjoy taking trips out of the state, we’ve come to get just as much pleasure out of exploring right here where we are.
Importance of Traveling Locally
When kids are taught to seek new things where they live, I believe it helps create a greater since of hometown pride. They grow up knowing and understanding that fun and exploration doesn’t have to only take place on special occasions and big trips. It also instills appreciation and gratefulness.
Oftentimes you’re able to find inexpensive, if not free activities that the entire family can enjoy right in your own backyard. One of our favorite big bang/low cost hometown activities is finding new green spaces to enjoy a picnic and simply play.
We recently packed a picnic and headed to the beautiful and gigantic John Hunt Park. The park is over 400 acres, boasts several small lakes and is absolutely gorgeous; but most importantly, our kids felt like they went somewhere. They found several types of trees to practice their climbing skills, rolled down hills and raced until their little legs burned! We easily spent 2 hours playing and exploring and could’ve stayed all day.
Picnics are the perfect way to travel your city and learn about new parks. This can easily extend to the entire state. The uniqueness that parks and green spaces offer is endless and it’s almost always free!
Explore the Outdoors
Although we choose to remain local more often than not, we love that we’re still able to expose our kids to a wide variety of experiences. Alabama is home to many beautiful waterfalls and creeks and we love venturing out to discover them.
This love has influenced my one year old so much, that he turns on the faucet and calls it a “waterfall”! I for sure didn’t know what a waterfall was at one, but I love that he’s picking up on and enjoying our adventures as much as his big brothers. Because waterfalls have been a regular part of his life, he has an appreciation for them already!
Experience History in a New Way
State and city travel are also great for teaching kids local history. Not all kids enjoy learning history when it’s presented formally, but when you tie it into a family day trip and experience it together; it becomes a lot more fun! Through exploring science centers and museums in Alabama, we have learned more about our kids’ interests and have had the chance to take them to visit the hometown of Olympian Jesse Owens.
My husband and I have a background in Track & Field so the kids were familiar with his name; visiting the museum brought his story to life. Owens took on a completely different meaning when they learned his story and experienced his childhood up close and personal. We could’ve read about him all day but his life and contribution to the sport resonated much more after our trip. Not only did the experience sink in, it helped us bond with our kids over something we both deeply love.
Travel has the power to help develop, shape and build character in kids. When paired with thoughtful experiences, they’ll grow into well-rounded adults. Whether you mainly travel domestically or internationally, I hope you find time for local exploration. There’s an adventure waiting right around the corner!
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