Not sure how to make vacations and school breaks count with your family?
Discover your own backyard with a family road trip, advises veteran traveler and mother of three Alisa Abecassis.
“With busy lives and, perhaps, lingering anxiety about job security, a family vacation may not be parents’ top priority, but if they can pull it off, even if only for a few days, it can be a truly rich experience for both parents and children,” says Abecassis, who recently launched ExploreAll50.com, a website filled with resources for travel in the United States.
A modest investment of time and money creates a lifelong return for each family member, says Abecassis, who began traveling with her three children as a way of forging new bonds with them.
“I’ve picked up a lot of great tips not only for families, but also for any group or individual who are hungry to eat, drink, sleep and breathe more of what our country has to offer,” she says.
Abecassis gives four reasons why parents should take their kids on a road trip:
• Memories: Visiting the same amusement park over and over again isn’t the stuff of lasting memories. Experiencing some of North America’s greatest natural wonders is! A few years back, Abecassis began planning themed trips to specific regions of the country. She started in the Pacific Northwest, including Washington and Oregon, which featured dramatic coastal views of waves and sand dunes; farther inland included stops at volcanoes. But the themes can be anything. Most recently, her July 4 theme was “Rebels and Revolutionary Ideas,” and others have included “Pioneers in the Heartland” and “Lewis & Clark and the New Frontier.” The themed trips will continue for the Abecassis clan until they’ve visited each state.
• Bonding: With three teenage children, Abecassis recognized a need for new collective experiences as a family. “Perhaps the most common experience all parents share is how quickly children grow up,” she says. “It won’t be long before they’re out of the house and having their own families.” This is especially true for a family, or an individual member, who has experienced a rough patch. “After a death in the family, divorce, or some other painful life event, every day is an opportunity for setting a new tone,” she says.
• Tangible history lessons: Ignorance of U.S. history by the native population is a problem recognized by many historians and new citizens alike. “For understanding how and why our country works, it is necessary to grasp how it came to be – from the ideas driving our founding fathers to bringing law and order to the Wild West,” she says. Physically being at historical sites – smelling the grass at Gettysburg or seeing the living conditions at the Alamo – breathes life into the past.
• Feeding the domestic economy: Many Americans set their sights on exotic and, sometimes, less-than-safe destinations overseas. Confusing roads to nowhere, foreign diseases and cultural missteps are all potential pitfalls in foreign travel. Why not stay in the states, which are safe and family-friendly, and help out an economy that could use your dollars? “America is arguably the most diverse place on the planet; why not witness firsthand what makes us who we are?”
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