So you want to dive the Great Blue Hole near Ambergris Caye, in Belize.
Scuba enthusiasts are eager to dive this large submarine sinkhole once explored by Jacques Cousteau. Located near the center of Lighthouse Reef, the Great Blue Hole is part of the large Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage site.
Experienced divers have the opportunity to see remarkable limestone formations as well as several species of shark in the crystal waters. The dive destination is 60 miles from Ambergris Caye and for those of us who get sea sick it be a treacherous crossing. But worth it.
Working with an experienced and reputable outfitter is essential. Las Terrazas Resort is a family-friendly condo-style hotel adjacent to the White Sands Dive Shop, where Professional Association of Diving Instructors-certified (PADI) owner Elbert Greer will ensure your dive experience is top-notch.
Contact: www.lasterrazasresort.com; www.whitesandsdiveshop.com; www.travelbelize.org
When I think about what makes my heart sing, it's travel.
And the best kind of travel are those trips where my loved ones are part of the journey. As a child growing up in the Midwest, our big summer vacation meant a visit to see my grandmother and other family members on the east end of Long Island. Now, I understand why we never complained. They live in what is currently referred to as The Hamptons.
We also camped, spent Spring Break in Florida and in time, began taking ski trips to the West. (I was the oldest of five, so my younger siblings probably did less camping and more skiing.) The sibs, and the next generation, still gather in places far and near and it continues to be a source of joy for all of us.
It was clear, the West was calling my name and I didn't waste any time moving to the land of big skies, deserts, mountains and rivers. My children have been raised living in Arizona, Washington DC and Montana while spending as much time as possible exploring the natural world.
And we traveled.
We skied in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. We hiked, biked, fished and rafted throughout the West. We trekked along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, explored the deep reaches of the Amazon, floated through the Grand Canyon, snorkeled in Maui and fished for bones in the Bahamas. We've spent time on golf courses, in National Parks, on horseback and in the backcountry.
We also toured the Big Apple, climbed a 14er, spent time in London, Paris and beyond and each one of us feels like we are just getting started. We've stayed in some fancy places, in resorts, ranches and on cruise ships. We've camped under the stars and spent the night in a few places we won't recommend!
All this to say, that if I can help sort through some of the many choices for you, it would be my pleasure.
Here's to happy traveling!
All the best,
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes
PS: We continue to explore the world and our tribe continues to grow. We now have two amazing daughters-in-law and three adorable grandchildren.
Multigenerational trips are now a priority!
According to U.S Travel, more than half of American workers leave unused vacation days on their company’s board room table. Meanwhile, the research shows that by planning ahead, more families will actually take much-need vacations and thus reap a multitude of personal and professional benefits.
Here are five ideas to consider:
Make planning a priority.
Whether you begin by tossing up a tent in the backyard or strategizing to experience a safari in Africa, there is no time like the present to begin planning a family vacation. As children and grandchildren get older, their schedules become more complicated by their own commitments making it more difficult than ever to plan time together. With dates on the calendar, you’ll feel less stress at work, knowing you’ve provided the boss and coworkers with plenty of notice about your plans.
According to research, 75 percent of those who plan ahead were more likely to take a full week or more of vacation in a single stretch. By crafting a strategy in advance you’ll have your pick of departures, the best cabins on a cruise ship and more options in popular resort areas. While you are at it, scan the year ahead and be the first to claim vacation days around existing holidays and school breaks, creating a longer stretch for relaxation and enjoyment. Knowing good times are on the horizon, you’ll have the added benefit of anticipating the getaway.
Taking time to create a thoughtful bucket list can make it easier to plan for meaningful vacations, those that are a deliberate reflection of your values, hopes and dreams. So before you begin listing desired destinations, ask yourself what aspects of the world - geographically, spiritually and culturally - you want to share with your children, grandchildren and perhaps other friends and family members. As your ideas take shape, know your list will evolve over the years. Therefore, think about which destinations you hope to visit while your children are in the nest and which might best be saved for later. And, when it comes time to involve the children in creating the bucket list, remember that kids don’t know what they don’t know. Certain theme parks and resorts will likely be on their radar screens. But they may not be aware of the glories of Yellowstone or Yosemite or the historical significance of Gettysburg or Montpelier.
Celebrate milestone events.
Geographic spread, busy careers and school and sports schedules make it more difficult than ever to spend time together. Therefore, planning ahead to celebrate birthdays, graduations and anniversaries can be an important touchstone and meaningful part of a family’s legacy. With plenty of advance notice, you’ll increase the odds that more family members will be able to take part in the fun. Ask your clan to save a date and then get to work creating a gathering that will be a lasting memory for all.
Reap the benefits.
In-depth research indicates that Americans who take time to plan their vacation time in the year ahead are happier than their come-what-may counterparts. Planners are happier with their health and well-being, their financial picture, their personal relationships and even their overall mood, according to the research. Further, an overwhelming majority of American workers report that time off helps them relax and recharge, and offers the opportunity to pursue personal interests Nearly two-thirds of employees say their concentration and productivity at work improves with time off. Business leaders echo this sentiment. Of those surveyed, 91 percent believe employees return from vacation recharged and renewed—and ready to work more effectively.
Ready to make a plan? Find out how we can help or check in with our FamilyTravel.com Vacation Planner!
Take advantage of National Plan For Vacation Day. #TakeFamilyTime
It took Sally Black a while to figure out exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. In the meantime, she's been a single mom to three kids, a Pediatric Nurse who delivered babies, an internet pioneer and all while circling the globe while knitting. After all this hard work she finally settled on the idea that vacations are something she does best.
Island Lovers, take note!
Let the trade winds sweep your cares away when you explore the islands of French Polynesia aboard a four-masted sailing yacht. A great getaway to experience with your teens, adult children or extended family, Windstar sailing ships deliver explorers to an island paradise where blue lagoons and pristine coral reefs provide epic snorkeling, scuba diving and Jet Ski options.
Kayak and paddleboard off the back of the ship’s sports deck. Learn about local cultures during hiking, kayaking and museum-centric shore excursions. Later, relax on a small island (motu) where you can sip coconut drinks, listen to the nimble sounds of a ukulele drifting in the distance and cool off in the sapphire-colored sea.
Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate.
You can read more about him on his personal website or check out Away is Home, where he chronicles his family’s open-ended, around-the-world adventure.
A unique resource for this rapidly growing sector of the Family Travel market, the Grandparent Travel Collection provides grandparents and parents a trusted one-stop shop for discovering experiences and adventures ideally suited for grandparents eager to make memories with the younger members of their family.
While the trend toward multi-generational vacations (creating legacy moments) continues to increase, a subset of that phenomenon is also on the rise.
Expect “skip-gen” vacations, when grandparents leave their own grown children behind and embark on an adventure with the youngest members of the clan, to increase in the months and years ahead.
We are ready to help you take full advantage of this trend!
We think you'll be excited about our new and growing Collection of resorts, experiences and trips that you'll find here! Check them out now!
Beaches Resort & Spa, Turks & Caicos
Family Dive Adventures - Kids Sea Camp
Troutstalkers - Montana Outfitter & Fly Shop
Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, WIlliams Arizona
Travel and vacation planning can be overwhelming.
Whether you are considering a Spring Break getaway, a first time cruise or a grand multigenerational gathering, we want to help make your family travel dreams a reality.
Certainly, there are plenty of trip ideas and experiences to consider within FamilyTravel.com. But if you are ready to take the next step, we offer the following options:
Consult with me, Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, the editor and owner of FamilyTravel.com. After traveling to more than 100 countries, and 48 of our 50 states, often with my own kids and other family members in tow, I have a few ideas to offer.
More about that here.
Consult Sally Black and her team of travel agent pros at VacationKids. Since 2000, Vacationkids has created extraordinary, customized family vacation experiences worldwide. From Disney adventures and island cruises to off the beaten path exploration, handcrafted family and multi-generational vacations (with unexpected delights) is what they do best. As Sally likes to say, “happiness is always included!"
You can take the first step in the planning process here or give her a call at 610-681-7360.
We have more ideas in the works.
But for now, we hope this moves you a little closer to a great vacation with the kids, grandkids and those you love!
Thanks for stopping by!
Holidays are a time of tradition.
Customs like family get-togethers (think road trips and crazy airports), gift-giving, and special meals can be the source of joy, goodwill—and stress.
Despite what holiday movies and myths promise, the season brings with it a variety of experiences and feelings—some wonderful and some not-so-wonderful. But while stress is a common problem during the holidays, you can take steps to make sure that it doesn't ruin the season for you.
The untold story
Greeting cards depict a certain scenario—a blissful, heartwarming snapshot. They leave out the less-than-picturesque aspects of the season, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), such as:
+ Budgeting for gifts—especially for kids who may not understand how much things cost.
+ Stress about taking time off from work.
+ Balancing social commitments.
+ Tension between family members.
+ Long-distance traveling—and travel problems.
+ Sadness, loneliness or grief.
Although these sentiments may not make it into your annual holiday letter, they are a normal part of the season.
Bring back the good cheer
Here are some tips from the APA for healthful ways to cope with the stress of the season:
Have reasonable expectations. Unreasonable expectations for the season can lead to disappointment if your holiday dreams don't come true. It can also lead to a kind of post-holiday let-down, according to Mental Health America (MHA).This year, instead of buying into all of the holiday hype, expect things to be both enjoyable and hectic—and know that you can't control it all.
Plan around stress. If you know that certain people or situations tend to stress you out, it's OK to avoid them. You don't have to grit your teeth and fake it, and you don't have to make a scene, either.
Instead, focus on planning things that you find fun and relaxing with people you want to spend time with.
Focus on what's really important. Keep sight of why you're celebrating in the first place. If you can't afford fancy gifts or gourmet meals, that's OK.
Help kids keep perspective, too. Let them know what to expect in terms of gifts and activities, and help them shift their focus to what's truly valuable. Consider volunteering at a local charity to help reinforce that message.
Take care of yourself. Good physical health can help you have energy when you need it. Start by eating well. It's OK to indulge in small servings of special foods, but don't use the holidays as an excuse to binge. Also, try to get some exercise every day—it's a great stress-buster. And make sure to get enough sleep.
Share the burden. Accept help from friends and family when you have taken on too many tasks. If you're feeling stressed, talk about it with people who care about you. The holidays are a great time to strengthen relationships with those you're closest to.
When you're busy with seasonal tasks you may not notice that you feel stressed until you're overwhelmed.
According to MHA, possible signs of too much stress include:
Having trouble sleeping.
Feeling angry, irritable or easily frustrated.
Feeling overwhelmed or burned out.
Having problems concentrating or remembering things.
Feeling nervous or anxious.
Feeling helpless or hopeless.
Too much stress isn't good for your body, so it's important to pay attention to these signs. If you have coping strategies that are good for you, now's the time to use them. But be wary of unhealthful responses—such as drinking too much alcohol or overeating—and try to replace them with healthier ones.
If you're still feeling overwhelmed, talk with a doctor.
Eager to ski, board or simply enjoy a little high altitude R&R as part of your family travel plan?
Getting to the slopes of Colorado is easier with new rail and flight offerings to get travelers straight to the slopes, skipping pesky traffic, rental car headaches and more.
The Winter Park Express Train, which reopened in January 2017, has expanded service to select “First Fridays” of every month. In 2019, the train will run every weekend from January 4 through March 31, 2019.
With the revival of the Winter Park Express Ski Train and the new commuter rail line from Denver International Airport to Denver's Union Station, visitors from throughout the country and across the globe can use train travel for the entire trip from flight to Winter Park.
Discounted tickets are sold on a first come first served basis.
With one-way tickets and service on Saturday and Sunday make it a day trip, a weekend-long trip or an extended vacation. Customize your length of stay at Winter Park Resort and get as much skiing/riding in as you'd like.
Here's a look at the Winter Park Express schedule:
Sounds like a plan!