Guest Post: A Real Vacation – The Call Of The Wild

Today I would like to bring you a guest post from a reader who is clearly devoted to supporting eco-tourism!


Ernie Allison is a bird watcher and nature writer, both hobbies second to his status as a grandfather. He hopes to inspire families to spend time outdoors through hiking, camping, and even watching the back yard bird feeder.

The family vacation is a tradition that is changing with the evolution of technology. Where it used to be an opportunity to get out into the world and experience new things, the temptation is now there to spend a week in a hotel glued to the same screens you have at home.

But there are a lot of great opportunities to experience a vacation that will hold unique and dear memories. If you live in the city, consider going on a wilderness adventure. Whether it is a camping or hiking trip, in your area or far away, you can make the most of your vacation so that your family gets a real break from their everyday lives.

Wildlife refuges are great for outdoor vacations. Not only do you get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but you get the chance to see some of nature’s beautiful creatures. Seeing wild animals strikes a chord with many people. Maybe it appeals to our primal instincts; we know the animals have something we have lost.

Whatever the reason, seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is much more exciting and powerful than going to a zoo. You get to experience the real order of the world, where things seem simpler, if not necessarily easier or fair.

Wildlife Refuges come in all shapes and sizes. Some are protected plots of land in the middle of nowhere. Others are surprisingly close to civilization. Wildlife refuges are categorized by what type of animals they are meant to protect: large game, small game, and waterfowl. Some refuges allow limited hunting on their grounds.

The whole point of wildlife refuges is to preserve some of the natural world. Many refuges have informational pamphlets and the like available about the wildlife that inhabits the land. You can drive around, watching for birds on your checklist or animals that your kids don’t see every day. Pack a picnic and make it a full day trip. Do some hiking, but be sure not to disturb the land.

Refuges often have organized events, whether it be tours, informational sessions, or volunteer opportunities. These are great chances to introduce children to the wonders of nature in a meaningful way.

Since refuges are meant to preserve the natural order of things, they are intentionally very different from everyday life. There are no crowds, little attention paid to the clock. It is a great opportunity to center yourself, to have a true vacation from the binds of society.

There is a reason so much great art is inspired by nature. It speaks to something within us. Even just observing empty plains or a flock of birds eating allows us to consider things that we normally wouldn’t stop to notice.

It is also worth visiting wildlife reserves because the more visitors (and donations) they get, the more successful they can be in their mission to offset humanity’s impact on the environment. Whether your motivations are educational, environmental, or personal, there are plenty of reasons to start searching for wildlife refuges to visit during your vacation.

  • Denise DeBlois

    I love this article, it s so true. I am always hiking and camping to see wildlife:)

    • Ernie Allison

      Thanks for the comment Denise! As I age, hiking has become less frequent, especially in the winter, so I’m glad that the weather’s warming up!

      • You’re never too old! I am no spring chicken myself and while I have slowed down a bit I’m still birding and traveling as much as possible! We are heading into winter now in Australia but we have a Glossy Black Cockatoo count happening this weekend in a nearby park.