Christians travel for reasons that are almost as varied as the denominations that exist. Here are a few reasons I love, and need, to travel, along with some ideas for where to g o:
Monks understand the value of solitude, to the extreme. There are proven medical benefits to having quiet time. For me, time alone and meditation are much-needed opportunities to turn off the noise all around me and in my own head, get away from the clutter of everyday life, and draw closer to God. Long walks, prayer time, and Bible study are excellent pastimes on this type of vacation.
One of my favorite places to go for solitude is the beach. A couple of nights in a condominium at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, or a Mermaid Cottage on Tybee Island, Georgia, fits the bill. The Mermaid Cottages are located close to the beach for long walks, bicycle rentals are available, and the whimsical décor of each one lifts my spirits. The price is right, too. Check ou t the one owned by Paula Deen, the “Y’all Come Inn.” Don’t forget to take your journal, a good book, and your Bible!
Retreats are a wonderful way to take time to rejuvenate your body, mind, and spirit. There are many different retreat centers all over the world, with specific purposes, such as spiritual growth, recovery, couples retreats, family adventure, and more.
Christians often refer to an amazing “mountaintop experience” they have had. That’s a reference to the Biblical account of Moses, when he went to the mountaintop to spend time with the Lord and receive the 10 Commandments. It’s an opportunity to experience God “up-close,” without distractions, and oftentimes in a place that seems to be “holy ground.” This could mean getting back to nature, or visiting a place that is set apart, or significant to you in some special way.
A couple of my favorite Christian retreats centers include Billy Graham’s “The Cove” near Asheville, North Carolina, and Doe River Gorge, a Christian Camp and Retreat Center in the beautiful mountains of Northeast Tennessee, near Hampton. Both offer opportunities to experience God within beautiful surroundings, and to attend classes, conferences, and worship with others. Doe River Gorge also offers adventure camps for children and youth throughout the summer.
As Christians, we are called by Christ to fulfill the “Great Commission,” as instructed in Matthew 28: 19-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”
Serving others is a wonderful way to reach out to our fellow man, helping those in need and sharing the love of Christ by spreading the Good News of the Gospel. It is also an excellent way to broaden our horizons and bring greater understanding of the diversity of the people and cultures of this world into our lives. This is an amazing way to teach your children to love others as they love themselves, and that though we are all different, we are all created and loved by God, equally. “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).
Many opportunities for mission/service projects are available through local churches, Christian colleges, and non-profit organizations. Or, you and your family may find yourselves drawn to an underserved community or an area that has been devastated by natural disaster. It’s a great experience to travel with others in an organized group, but that isn’t necessary. Your family can plan or even happen upon opportunities to serve pretty much wherever you roam. We have given out gift cards with Bibles as we drive through fast food car lines, handed out free bottled water to people waiting to watch parades along a hot and crowded route, and even invited friends we’ve made on the beach to eat and have devotions with our family. We always make a point to let people know that whatever we do in service is done out of love and respect for others and for Christ, because Christ first loved us. The possibilities are endless, so just pray and go where the Lord leads you.
“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” (Acts 2:42).
Spending time with other Christians is essential for me to re-charge my batteries. We encourage one another, growing as disciples of Christ.
We’ve been on these types of vacations with our own extended family, other families, other couples, youth groups, girlfriends, guy friends, and children’s camps. We’ve enjoyed trips to Walt Disney World with our families, beach house and mountain cabin rentals with friends and church members, spas with the girlfriends, and my husband has been on golf trips with the guys. Often these travel opportunities include a service project of some type and time to study the Bible together or attend worship services at a local church. And they always include opportunities for fun, exploration, adventure, and building relationships at every turn! “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Even though the kids are out of school and enjoying their mental break, we look for sneaky ways to continue their education during the summer and teach important things about the world in which we live.
No matter where we go, we look for historical landmarks or national parks to visit. For instance, we recently visited the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It is so important that we understand our history, and learn from our past, those involved in forming our government and the roles that various religions played in its formation.
A trip to Rome, Italy to visit historical Christian sites is in the works for our family, and if there is time we would love to visit the Holy Land Experience, a Christian theme park in Orlando, Florida. Finally, we also hope to visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky this summer.
No matter what your reasons are for travel this summer, I encourage you to take a few minutes to consider the reasons why you are traveling, and what you would like to accomplish through your travels. It will enhance the experience and broaden your horizons!
Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida