If you are booking a trip to Disney World or planning a camping adventure while the price is something to keep top of mind, science suggests we should consider these trips and their benefits. Research has shown that family vacations are essential.

They make our whole family happier and build bonds. Not to mention all the fun memories.  The gift of an experience, like a family vacation, is proven to be a more beneficial, than any material possession, according to a study out of the University of Toronto.

"An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it—like the fear and awe of a safari adventure, the excitement of a rock concert or the calmness of a spa—and is more intensely emotional than a material possession," says lead researcher Cindy Chan. “If you want to give [someone] something that will make them feel closer to you, give an experience."

Experiencing a family trip makes the family bond stronger, I know that from a personal perspective. Growing up in Brooklyn Park and Elk River, Minnesota as a kid our family always looked forward to our family vacation to Florida each year on Spring Break and then summer we always took a trip someplace different from Washington D.C., New York City, and other places like Europe. Some of the best memories in my life were on family trips and all that time spent together. When learning about things in class at school being able to say I had been there and saw it first hand was pretty neat too. I also made family trips a priority for my family as well.
Leaving the comfort of your own home isn't just fun for kids, it actually might make them more intelligent. My best friend Sarah gets out to Quarry Park with her kids and Duluth and the surrounding area to hike and explore. Finding cool rocks and seaglass along the shores of Lake Superior.

Gooseberry Falls Family Photo: Alli Mae

“An 'enriched' environment offers new experiences that are strong in combined social, physical, cognitive and sensory interaction," Dr. Margot Sunderland, a child psychotherapist and Director of Education and Training at The Centre for Child Mental Health, wrote for the Telegraph.

Vacations provide kids with all kind of enriching experiences like playing in the sand on the beach, that aid in cognitive development and helps with frontal lobe growth. “If you are choosing between buying your child a tablet or taking them on a family holiday, consider the profound effects on bonding and brain development; there is no competition," Sunderland writes.
Plus, playing on the beach or running off with the family on a hiking adventure activate systems in a child's brain (and our own) that trigger neurochemicals including oxytocin and dopamine. “They reduce stress and activate warm, generous feelings towards each other and a lovely sense that all is well in the world. With all the anti-stress aspects of these systems firing, family members get to emotionally refuel," Sunderland writes.
If a trip near or far makes for a happier, more connected family I am down. Plus, who doesn’t like time away for some family fun.