Family vacations can be a lot of work. When my kids were younger, I called them family trips, because, really, traveling with toddlers is the exact opposite of a vacation. As my kids have gotten older, however, vacation has turned into an enjoyable experience.
We don’t take extravagant trips. We always drive, we usually stay with family or friends, and we mostly eat our meals out of a cooler. But we are making memories that I hope all four of us will remember for a long time.
Last summer we added something to our vacation routine – a National Parks Passport book. We purchased it when we were at Martin Luther King Jr’s birthplace, which is National Historic site. We purchased the book, and then got our first passport stamp.
Since then, we’ve been on a mission.
The passport book is filled with information about the National Parks Service, the nation’s parks and historic sites. Each region has a handy map that notes all of the historic places in the region. Most sites listed in the guide have a stamp for the passport, and as you travel, you can collect them. There’s plenty of space for cancellations as your travels take you to spots you may not have even known existed.
Our most recent explorations took us to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, We saw mountains, played in streams, and learned a lot at the Sugarland Visitors Center. We also got the stamp!
Since we got the book last summer, we’ve gotten four stamps. We’ve ventured into visitor centers we probably wouldn’t have, we’ve discovered new things about old haunts, and have added a dimension to planning future family travel (the St. Louis Arch is next).
I hope my family collects passport stamps for years to come. When we are done driving around the country in our minivan together, the passport will be a great memento.
What national parks have you visited? Which ones are on your list?