Why Awe Should Be on Your Summer Vacation Checklist

Blond brother and sister looking up smiling, amazed and delighted

Why do you go on family vacations? Bringing the kids along isn’t exactly relaxing. Sometimes I feel like it’s actually more stressful to make all the plans, pack all the bags, and drag the whole family to a destination so we can all live on top of each other in a small hotel room for a week. Why on earth would we want to put ourselves through this trouble anyway?

Taking a family trip is really about giving our children new experiences so they can learn and grow as individuals. By forcing our kids out of familiar territory, we help them make new discoveries, meet new types of people, observe other cultures, and appreciate the expansive world around them. The most powerful way that our children can be transformed by a trip is if they feel a sense of awe during this time.

What exactly is awe, anyway? Awe is that overwhelming feeling filled with wonder, joy, and sometimes even fear. These instances can be so exhilarating that we get goosebumps on our arms, feel tingling up and down our spine, tears flood our eyes, and our jaw drops. Our kids may feel awe when they see something gorgeous in nature like a rainbow, witness an incredible science experiment or magic trick, or be in a place where they realize the vastness of the world like on a boat ride in the ocean.

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Awe is not just about having a brief thrill. Experiencing awe is scientifically proven to give us a whole host of benefits, such as stimulating curiosity, reducing stress and anxiety, improving our interpersonal relationships, changing our perception of time, making us feel grateful, and boosting our physical health.

A family vacation, whether it is an hour away from our home or halfway across the world, can involve awe-inspiring moments for our kids. By planning creative trips with awe in mind, we can help make these powerful moments part of our family vacations that our children will never forget. The world is literally your oyster when it comes to incorporating awe into your travel plans. From museums to music and theater performances to nature landmarks, you can give your children so many opportunities to get chills up and down their spines (in a good way).

My family recently traveled to the Pacific Northwest for a week-long vacation. It’s truly astonishing how many awe-filled moments we remember. The plane ride itself is ripe with potential for our kids to wonder. Encouraging them to look out the window and talking to them about what it looks and feels like to be flying high up in the sky amongst the clouds is one such opportunity. It’s such a special moment when a child realizes how massive the world around her is and that there is much more beyond her house, neighborhood, and school. I…

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