A recent blog about National Passport Day prompted a question from smartwomentrav, who asked about other travel holidays. As the comments moderator, I love to honor reader requests, so I’ve compiled this list of days guaranteed to inspire you to pack your bags and hit the road.
Maybe you’re looking for a reason to visit your favorite destination. These days are all about place, and include plenty of festivities to tempt travelers.
- Canada Day (July 1): Established in 1879 as Dominion Day, this holiday celebrates all things Canuck. If you’re inspired to head north for maple syrup and French-accented fireworks, this is the best day to go.
- Alaska Day (October 18): Not to be outdone by its neighbor, Alaska celebrates the purchase of the territory by the United States. Events range from scavenger hunts to fish pie luncheons, making this a perfect time to explore Seward’s Folly.
- Boston Tea Party (December 16): Be a part of history in Boston during the annual reenactment of the famous act of defiance. After the fun, be sure to explore the city’s Freedom Trail and other attractions.
If you don't have a specific destination in mind, there’s still plenty of inspiration to explore the great outdoors and city sidewalks.
- National Parks Week (April 17 to 25): Although it’s passed this year, be prepared for the 2011 celebration, when parks across the country—from Acadia to Yellowstone—waive entrance fees for visitors.
- International Museum Day (May 18): Museums are a great place to learn more about a destination, but why not choose your destination based on the museums? The 2010 theme, “Museums for Social Harmony,” is being celebrated with free admission and events at institutions across the globe, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
- Skyscraper Month (June): Interested in the concrete jungle? Celebrate these manmade creations in cities famous for them, such as New York City, Chicago, or Hong Kong.
- National Rivers Month (June): Participate in a volunteer vacation and help to clean up local rivers. Or, just float your boat, raft, or canoe down the mighty Mississippi or the Arkansas.
- National Trails Day (July 5): Hiking enthusiasts can travel to events near and far to celebrate trails by biking, maintaining, or walking with the American Hiking Society.
- American Adventures Month (August): Travelers are encouraged to set out and explore the many offerings of North, Central, and South America. There may not be enough time to cover it all in 31 days, but for those itching to try something daring, it’s a good time to start.
- World Rainforest Week (October 10 to 16): Find out more about this amazing ecosystem by traveling to Brazil, Indonesia, Hawaii, Zaire, or any of the other places rainforests exist.
- International Mountain Day (December 11): This holiday offers the perfect chance to reach new heights by climbing or hiking, or simply admiring a mountain from a valley below. Maybe this is the day you finally plan your Mount Everest trip!
Of course, travel can be less about the destination and more about the journey, so celebrating all the ways we move is more than appropriate.
- National Train Day (May 8): This day recognizes the first trans-continental railroad, which revolutionized travel in the United States. Take a train to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, or Los Angeles for free activities celebrating everything from engine to caboose.
- National Aviation History Month (November): Ever since the Wright Brothers took to the air, travelers have deemed airplanes a favorite way to fly. Celebrate the month at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio; the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Omaha, Nebraska; or the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Sometimes, the inspiration for travel is a simple case of wanderlust, a desire to be on the move. These holidays celebrate all the other reasons we love to travel.
- Plan a Solo Vacation Day (March 1): Solo vacations can be rewarding and exciting (despite common travel myths), so take this day to plan your next trip without a partner. You’ll be glad you did.
- National Foreign Language Week (March 1 to 7): Why waste those two years of high school Spanish? Celebrate your hard work this week by taking a trip to Latin America or Spain. Or, sign up for classes in your language of choice before spreading your wings and flying to a new destination.
- International Fanny Pack Day (March 13): They may be scoffed at by fashionistas, but on the second Saturday in March, you can break out your fanny-pack with pride. Sure, you’ll look like a tourist, so why not actually be one?
- National Postcard Week (May 2 to 8): This week was originally set aside to promote postcard collecting as a hobby, but it’s the perfect excuse to send postcards to loved ones from vacation.
- National Travel and Tourism Week (May 8 to 16): This week has been set aside every year since 1984 to celebrate the power of travel. On May 11, Travel Rally Day encourages local communities to promote tourism. Check out events in your destination, like Passports to the Past, where historic attractions are offered at a special rate, and visitors receive stamps at each site for prizes or discounts.
- National Woman Road Warrior Day (September 20): Traveling businesswomen may feel unappreciated, but this day is set aside to honor their contributions. Maybe what these experienced travelers need is a vacation!
- World Tourism Day (September 27): If the American version of this celebration is too limited, try going global. Celebrate by finding free or discounted entry to tourist attractions around the world, such as in last year’s host country, Ghana.
- National Go on a Field Trip Month (October): Who says field trips are limited to school children? Celebrate this month by visiting cultural attractions in your hometown.
- Geography Awareness Week (November 14 to 20): Why not step up your knowledge of geography by hitting the road without your GPS (well, maybe keep it in the glove box) or by traveling to a country that you couldn’t place on a map?
Have you been inspired to plan your next vacation by any of these holidays? Know any celebrations I've left out? Leave a message in the comments section below!