The New Year is here and you now have a new set of 365 days to wow your kids with adventures across the globe. What will it be? Hunting for the northern lights, hiking through one of America's most spectacular parks, riding through the history of four of the original 13 colonies, petting a grey whale, or planting trees in Costa Rica? The sky really is the limit when it comes to traveling with your kids. We have a few ideas to get you motivated as you explore your possibilities.
October through March (and sometimes April) you have the chance to see the Northern Lights with your kids in Iceland. If you are coming from the U.S. this trip couldn't be easier. There are direct flights from many major cities across the country. Book a hotel that has a northern lights wake-up call so you don't have to sit in the cold on a boat or with a bus full of people. Make sure you take the Golden Circle tour during the day to see Gulfoss (waterfall), Geysir, and Thingvellir (original seat of Parliament from Viking times).
Head to Northern California anytime of the year to do some hiking with your kids, gaze up at majestic granite mountains, and bike around the valley floor. Your kids can earn another Junior Ranger badge through the National Park program, participate in ranger led activities, and grab books from the bookshop to learn more about this World Heritage site. Don't forget to get your National Park passport book stamped while you are there too.
If you weren't raised on the east coast (and even if you were) it is hard to remember just how much history happened between Boston and Washington, DC. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. will fill up your educational experiences quota for the summer. Learn about the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, immigrants coming to America through Ellis Island and catching their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, and when and why the government moved to Washington, D.C. way back when. Just remember to let the kids have some fun too. In each of these cities there are fantastic children's museums and science museums with a few amusements parks on the roads in between.
Sometimes you just have to slow down and watch the whales. On the Pacific Coast of Baja, Mexico you can meet up with a few mama and baby whales as they play in the warm waters off the coast and in the deep-water lagoons. There are plenty of tour groups ready to bring you out from Loreto, La Paz, and Cabo. Make sure your tour company uses smaller boats, as the large boats can disturb the animals.
Unfortunately, Mexico is not as strict about keeping your distance from the whales and letting them come to you, but the boat operators are helping to make sure these whales stick around. They want the whales coming back so they can stay in business.
Costa Rica has fast become a model for sustainable tourism, and it shows in their volunteer opportunities for tourists. Many hotels have partnered with NGOs to teach visitors about reforestation and reclaiming land from over-development. Families can help plant native trees and speak directly with those running these organizations that help conserve the countries natural resources. Other volunteer opportunities include turtle releases, taking care of injured reptiles, building structures for local families, and teaching English in local schools. Many of the volunteer organizations do understand that your family is coming down for a vacation, but that you also want to give back. Often times you can volunteer for a day or two, or just in the afternoons, so you still have time for surf lessons and swimming during your hours off.
Where will you go in 2015?
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Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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