To many people the idea of a family vacation seems more like a not-so-funny version of a comedy flick than it does an experience to look forward to. Many people dread traveling with kids, and some refuse to do it. Summer vacations don’t have to be such a dreaded experience. In a matter of fact, done correctly, a summer vacation can become one of the most positive experiences you can create.
Summer vacations for the family are unquestionably a great way to offer your children new experiences and expose them to new cultures. It’s a great way for parents to spend time and bond with their kids while they are still young. When you are planning for a trip for your family, you should consider an outdoor vacation. There are numerous reasons why you should consider an outdoor vacation.
Nowadays kids are deprived of nature. A growing movement called “No Child Left Inside” has been pushing and promoting initiatives to increase children’s connection to nature. Author Richard Louv coined the phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder” to explain how children’s disconnection with nature contributes to disturbing child hood trends. Some of these trends are obesity, attention disorders and depression.
A study by Kaiser Permanente of over 700,000 young children and teens found that extreme obesity has become a large problem. Almost 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese. A lack of outdoors is only one of many things that contribute to obesity. However, spending time outside is a great solution to the problem. Developing a desire for outdoor recreation at a young age is one of the best gifts you can give your children. A well-planned family vacation, with lots of outdoor experiences, can help put your children on this path.
As of 2011, 11% of the children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADD. In 2003 only 7.8% of the children had ADD. Parents with children who have ADD have reported almost 3 times as many peer problems as those without and are 10 times as likely to have difficulties that interfere with friendships. International studies show that these children are at a greater risk for major injuries and legal troubles. A study by the University of Illinois shows that interaction with nature reduces the symptoms of ADD in children.
Depression in children is also a rising trend: 1 in 33 children have depression; in teens that number swells to 1 in 8. Long term depression leads to social issues, legal trouble and of course suicide. Even though it’s perfectly normal during the high school years, if outdoor interaction can treat it or ease it, why shouldn’t your kids have the ability to self medicate?
In today’s society children do not spend enough time outdoors. Researchers discovered that children devote less than 30 minutes to the outdoors per day, but devote more than 2 hours to the TV or computer. Due to crime, traffic and lack of appropriate places to play, parents are more likely to encourage children not to play outdoors. However, it should also be the parent’s responsibility to influence and enable children to become unplugged.
A single outdoor family vacation is not going to solve these problems. However, an outdoor family vacation may reveal new hobbies. It will definitely bring the family closer together and build confidence. It will get them away the TV and in touch with an old friend- their sense of adventure. The last thing you need on summer vacation is access to media devices that you use every day.
Even planning the vacation can be a fun, bonding experience. Have a yard sale before hand to get rid of things you don’t want and raise money for a vacation. Everyone in the family can be involved and feel like they have done some part to help raise money for it. Divide all the days up among family members and let them plan something for the family to do. Each member of your family is bound to choose something different.
There is nothing comedy like about your families health and there is nothing funny about the excuses we make. As parents we can only use the excuse of crime, traffic and lack of appropriate places for so long. The family vacation shouldn’t be one of them. There are several resources and travel guides online that will help the family find someplace close by. Invest in your families health, turn your vacation into a family activity.