When I became a mom, I never dreamed of creating travel traditions. I believed it was too expensive, the kids were too young, and taking time off was too difficult. Our annual trip to Florida was amazing and I convinced myself it was enough. Then one cold winter day, we decided it was time to take a risk and moved abroad for a year. This move led to a lot of travel. While we are happily settled back in the states, we learned to embrace travel and found traditions that have been incredible bonding experiences as a family. Here are our top five travel traditions. I hope you can adopt some or find inspiration to create your own. Either way, they will make you feel like mom of the year.
Scavenger Hunt Your Way Through a City
If you like to explore while the little ones get antsy then make it a game. In London, we bought a scavenger hunt book where they could collect points finding different landmarks throughout the city. During the trip to Nicaragua, we helped the homeless with our extra change. In Panama, we tried to see how many parks we could stop at along the path to our destinations. In Costa Rica, we collected different shells at each beach. Anytime we went on a hike, we let the kids lead and try to find the markings on the trees. If they were interested in photography, we let them take pictures in churches or other stops less exciting to them. The tradition of making it fun allowed us all to relax.
Christmas Ornaments: The Gift That Keeps Giving
Decorating the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving has always been a favorite tradition. It was natural to want to collect an ornament from every destination no matter how small the trip. We put a lot of thought into our choice. As a family, we all try to agree on the ornament we choose. Every Christmas we get to relive all the stories. Everyone smiles as we share what we loved about the trip. We all look at the tree and see our family story staring back at us.
Take School on the Road
When we first moved to Costa Rica, we loved the value of travel as education. Our daughter was turning seven and wanted to go to Panama for her birthday since she had learned about the Panama Canal in class that month. Her teacher decided she could take pictures of the canal to share with her friends. We set out with the intention to learn about the history and create a presentation for the class. Reading about the destination and relating back to what they’ve learned in school can make a trip extra special. Finding local events is another great learning experience. In Costa Rica, my daughter completed her first kid’s triathlon and in Colombia, we went to the San Pedro festival parade.
Fill Your Home With Art Memories
We didn’t want our home filled with stuff that had no meaning. We wanted it filled with things we loved that had meaning to us. My husband likes to explore local artists in cities we visit. Sometimes we buy special pieces that are rare. Often we buy something local that we all love and feel excited to display. If we don’t find any art, we create it. Some of my favorite art to hang is a beautiful picture taken by my husband that we make into canvas art.
Family Raffle Travel Traditions
Our new travel tradition is entering a destination of choice into a raffle on New Year’s Eve. Each person gets to explore the big map hanging in our living room and pick a place they want to visit. At midnight we pick a paper out of the hat. Whichever place we pick, we visit as a family that year. In 2018, we are doing Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. It warmed my heart to see them excited about another adventure.