Did you know that family vacations are important for your children’s physical and emotional health? Study after study reveals the positive impact of travel in educating and uplifting your children.

According to experts, it’s better for parents to spend their time and money on vacations than on toys or amusement park thrills.

“Family holidays are valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterward in their memory,” best-seller and psychologist Oliver James explained to The Telegraph. “It’s all about talking nonsense with your parents, sharing an ice cream and moments of time in which your interests are genuinely taken into account. So if you’re going to spend money on something, it’s pretty clear which option makes more sense.”

Although parents don’t always realize it, kids experience stress, anxiety, and other difficult emotions. They struggle to concentrate, pay attention, and learn in the classroom setting, much like adults struggle with productivity when they work too long without a vacation.

According to child psychotherapist, Dr. Margo Sunderland, traveling with kids is key to a developing brain.

“An enriched environment offers new experiences that are strong in combined social, physical, cognitive, and sensory interaction,” says Sunderland. “Think: family together in the pool, walking together through the forest, touching long tall grasses waving in the wind, toasting marshmallows on campfire, hanging out together under warm sun, feeling sand between the toes.”

Children need vacations with their families. This year, consider taking the following activities:

1. See a Volcano 

Experiencing a natural wonder can change the way kids view the world. It teaches them that their narrow worldview is only a small glimpse of what’s around them. There are 224 volcanoes in the United States and hundreds more in other countries. Even if they don’t see a volcano erupting, they can still see the geothermal activity and learn more about this phenomenon.

2. Volunteer Away from Home 

In the wake of natural disasters, thousands of people have flocked to Houston, Puerto Rico, and Florida where hurricanes and flooding have taken their toll. If you’re ready to volunteer and help in this difficult time, take your kids. They can learn a lot from these service activities, and it will be an incredible memory for the whole family.

3. Visit a National Park 

Oftentimes, you can fit seeing a volcano and a natural park into the same trip. Yellowstone National Park, for example, is built on the Yellowstone Caldera, a massive Supervolcano that creates geothermal hotspots and geysers for miles. It’s teeming with wildlife, plants, and incredible water features for kids to learn about.

4. Fly to a Foreign Country 

One of the best ways to expand your child’s worldview is to let them see a little more of the planet. In a foreign country, they’ll be exposed to new languages, unique cultures, brand new geography, and other benefits of traveling abroad. The United States is a melting pot of ethnic cultures, and allowing your children to see more of that will prepare them for accepting cultural differences now and in the future.

5. Relax on a Beach 

Sun, sand, and water are very good for children. They can explore new textures, sights, smells, and even tastes. Building sand castles and experiencing the lapping waves allows children to explore their creative sides. It’s also the perfect relaxing atmosphere for building family memories and releasing some of the tensions of everyday life.

6. Walk the Freedom Trail 

Kids should know about the defining history of their country and culture. The Freedom Trail in Boston is the birthplace of the American Revolution. With scenic walks, museums, historic houses, and other sights, you and your kids will have a blast while learning along the way.

7. Go to a Major Aquarium 

There’s really only one place kids can experience the incredible depths of the ocean: an aquarium. They’ll see plants, aquatic life, and more. There are hundreds of aquariums across the United States, but one of the best is the one at Monterey Bay. Kids can view sea turtles, sharks, bat rays, jellyfish, and much more. They can even touch stingrays and coral reefs. It’s fun and educational in all the right ways.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of travel for boosting your children’s emotional wellbeing and encouraging their educational growth. This year, instead of booking another trip to Disneyland, think of how you can enrich your child’s life with a fun and educational vacation.