Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Managing young children in small spaces can be a challenge. Take that effort to 30,000 feet and, well, doing a little research before embarking on an air travel adventure is advised. 

According to a recent report, Best Airlines for Family Travel, issued by The Points Guy (TPG), some airlines are inherently more family friendly than others. 

Here are five factors to consider. 

Top Honors. 

TPG examined the ten largest US airlines, looking at ten different, equally weighted criteria relevant for traveling families. Southwest Airlines came out on top. 

Its coveted Southwest Companion Pass, no extra fees and family boarding policy nudged the airline to the top of TPG's picks for family travel. Its extensive – and expanding – domestic route and award program are an added bonus.

A Close Second. 

When considering seat comfort, snacks and entertainment, JetBlue offers a better onboard experience than Southwest and is consistently a top pick for families, the report determined. Its less than stellar on-time arrival ranking, important when traveling with youngsters,  bumped it down just shy of the top spot. Hawaiian Airlines received the best on-time score.

Early Boarding Matters 

 “While there's some logic to boarding young children on the aircraft at the absolute last second to minimize time on the plane, the reality is that if you need to install a car seat or ensure space for your carry-on bags, being onboard early is crucial, “ explains Summer Hull, the TPG family travel expert. United and JetBlue take TPGs top spot for early boarding, as they allow young families onboard early in the process. In fact, United enables families with children two and under to board even ahead of first class.

Seat Assignments are Key

Have you ever negotiated a seat trade with a perfect stranger so you could sit with your child? Securing seats together is a top priority and families don’t want to  pay extra for the privilege. According to the report, the top airlines in this category are JetBlue, Hawaiian and Alaska, which all include complimentary seat assignments for all tickets. 

Southwest's open seating policy is also a way to ensure prime seating, as children ages six and under can board after Group A.

Airline Loyalty Program for Families

Making the most of travel dollars and creative resources is key for families. Airline loyalty programs can make a difference. JetBlue offers the most family-friendly policies due to its "free family pooling of miles" option for all members.

For this report, TPG focused on the ten largest U.S. airlines — Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, Hawaiian, Alaska, United, American, Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant — as measured by their total number of domestic passengers.

For more information: www.ThePointsGuy.com

As the summer gets underway, look to the starry sky for inspiration.

Oasis at Death Valley

In Death Valley National Park, a 3.4 million-acre expanse and the region’s clean, dry air combine to provide an ideal vantage point for observing shooting stars, meteor showers and constellations galore.

The conditions have earned the park the prestigious Gold-Tier Dark Sky status. The area shares a strong commitment to avoid light pollution and keep the night sky visible. Stay at the Oasis at Death Valley (choose from the Inn or the Ranch) and join the Las Vegas Astronomical Society for Star Parties on selected evenings or enjoy the gem-studded sky on your own. 

Find other star-filled destinations to consider here.

 

Now anyone can learn from the best adventure photographer in the world.  Professional climber, and Free Solo co-director, Jimmy Chin, now offers online classes through the Masterclass platform.

In his class, Chin will teach the essential photography skills he used to capture breathtaking images from the harrowing peaks of Tibet to the unforgiving Antarctic tundra. 

As one of the world's most prolific adventure photographers, Jimmy Chin demonstrates an unparalleled mastery of both extreme exploration and visual storytelling. His success is defined by his ability to fold this natural passion into his art, with photos from his harrowing expeditions worldwide appearing on the cover of National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine, and featured in Adventure, Outside, Men's Journal, ESPN Magazine, as well as The North Face and Patagonia catalogues. Chin's work has earned him awards from Photo District News (PDN), Communication Arts, and the American Society of Magazine Editors.

In 2015, Chin took his career to the next level by producing his first feature-length documentary, Meru, which won the coveted Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was on the 2016 Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary. He built on that momentum with his second film, Free Solo, which critics hailed as one of 2018's best documentaries. 

Jimmy Chin

"Throughout my life, I've been fortunate enough to see and experience a world that most people believe is out of grasp," says Chin. "My hope is to prove to students that they, too, can marry a passion for adventure with their professional pursuits. I want to bring people into my world of photography and inspire them to overcome their greatest challenges, regardless of their level of experience."

In his MasterClass, Chin takes a holistic approach to teaching his style of photography, walking students through the full creative process from finding inspiration to post-production. Employing the help of his friend and mentor, Conrad Anker, Chin takes students on location for a photoshoot in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. He also shares exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and strategies from past shoots to remote locations across the globe, demonstrating the real-world challenges and solutions associated with capturing unforgettable shots in nature.

The class is designed for photographers at every level, blending lessons in creative decision-making and leadership with more technical processes such as selecting photos and post-processing. Chin's students will walk away with a deeper understanding of shooting outdoors, ultimately taking their photos to new heights – both literally and figuratively.

What better skill to add to your family travel toolbox?

Chin's class is available at www.masterclass.com/jch. Enrollment for the class is $90 for lifetime access, or $180 per year for the All-Access Pass, which grants unlimited access to all new and existing classes.

Heading into the holiday season, Trafalgar, a leading global guided travel company surveyed 2,500+ parents across the U.S. to discover just how stressful, costly and time-consuming the holidays are for them.

 

The results?  Many American parents admit they would rather cancel Christmas this year… and travel instead:

  • Over half of parents (66%) say they would cancel Christmas this year to travel instead, with majority (78%) noting they would rather spend their money on a vacation instead of holiday gifts
  • According to the findings, parents’ stress doubles during the holidays and they can nearly eliminate that stress by traveling instead. Trafalgar’s guided trips remove the stress from family vacations, view the itineraries here.
  • Spending the holidays at home can actually be more expensive than a week-long family vacation in Europe with Trafalgar, with 56% of parents planning to spend $5,000+ on the holidays this year
  • Parents spend 1-2 months prepping for the holidays, and 1 in 3 parents have had to take a day off from work to prep for the holidays

Are you crafting a travel plan?

Reviewing your bucket list for new family vacation ideas?

Consider this collection of epic adventures to put your family travel plan in motion!

 

There are family vacations. And, then there are epic adventures that may qualify as the experience of a lifetime.

Here are five to consider now. 

Resized guide photo

Plan a family safari.

Visit northern Tanzania’s Serengeti for a wildlife viewing and cultural extravaganza. Home to more than 3,000 lions and1000 leopards as well as zebras, wildebeests, warthogs and waterbuck, it’s a magical sanctuary best known for the great migration.

With the Four Seasons Serengeti as your basecamp, choose to explore via half and full day jeep tours, walking safaris, or from the basket of a high-flying, hot air balloon. The excitement doesn’t end when you return to the Lodge, where a watering hole, just beyond the Infiniti pool, serves up hydrating sustenance to elephant families on a daily basis.

Dine on the veranda, with sweeping views of the plains, where giraffe, eland and topi graze in the distance. Kids can visit the on-site discovery center to learn about Maasai history and culture, the significance of the Serengeti Cheetah Project and life in the bush. Relax at the spa, take a family cooking class and be amazed by a live performance of tribal dance and song offered by local Maasai.

Contact: https://www.fourseasons.com/serengeti/

https://www.tanzaniatourism.go.tz/destination/serengeti-national-park

 Adventures by Disney through the heart of Europe

Revel in a river cruise.

Unpack. Settle in and let the adventure begin.

Explore the Rhine, Danube or Seine river valleys with your family or multigenerational group from aboard a luxury AmaWaterways ship. With itineraries crafted to your family’s preferences, each day you’ll take part in active adventures or culturally immersive experiences in compelling destinations.

Well-trained and knowledgable Disney adventure guides, paired with local storytellers, combine talents to insure each member of the family gets maximum enjoyment from the trip. Wander through medieval castles, sample local cuisine, pedal along the river bank and enjoy private tours and  insider access to popular attractions. Adventure guides are at the ready to engage youngsters in evening activities so the adults may opt for a fine dining experience or a musical performance. (Food and wine trips are also possible when it's time to leave the youngest travelers at home.)

Expect an all-inclusive, backstage pass-style adventure through the heart of Europe. 

Contact: www.adventuresbydisney.com/europe/danube-river-cruise/

 Alaska

Explore Alaska.

Our sparsely populated and endlessly captivating 49th state lures those who yearn for epic scenery, spouting whales and glaciers the size of small countries. Experience family travel in rugged Alaska via boutique yachts and expedition ships that set sail for adventure beginning each Spring.

Aboard smaller vessels you’ll have meaningful cultural experiences, find your way to natural nooks and crannies, opt for hiking and kayaking and discover rarely visited wilderness areas, increasing the chance for up-close wildlife viewing. Those who venture to America’s last frontier will be rewarded with Mother Nature in all her glory.

 

Contact: www.Uncruise.com ; www.WindstarCruises.com

Discover Minnesota’s Boundary Waters.

Ease your canoes into the pristine water near Ely, MN and look forward to peaceful days of paddling amid a sparsely populated, one million-plus acre expanse of wilderness. Listen to the waves lapping against the shoreline and the haunting lullaby offered by local loons as you drift to sleep in one of 2,000 secluded campsites that dot the lake region. Wake to the sounds of birds chirping in the birch trees and enjoy breakfast over a campfire. Then set out to explore more of the 1,500 miles of canoe routes that crisscross the waterways.

Contact: www.boundarywatersoutfitters.com; www.ExploreMinnesota.com 

 Austin Adventures in Galapagos

Immerse in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.

Given the island’s location on the equator, air and water temperatures remain relatively stable, making the Galapagos Islands a desirable destination any time of the year. Within this pristine and diverse eco-system, your family will thrill to the site of cliff-diving blue-footed boobies and the waved albatross known for an elaborate courtship dance that can include 20 minutes of bowing, honking, whistling and bill clacking. You’ll want to know about Darwin’s 13 finches, creatures that were central to the scientist’s evolutionary theories. Learn more about the volcanic island’s winged population as well as the abundance of sharks, sea lions, mantas and iguanas via a live aboard vessel (popular with scuba divers), a cruise or a hotel-based tour.

Contact: www.Expeditions.com ; www.AustinAdventures.

Did you know that one of Santa’s favorite pastimes is actually surfing? 

Floridian’s were the first to uncover St. Nick’s secret, which is why, each Christmas Eve, Cocoa Beach (the Surfing Capital of the East Coast) hosts its annual Surfing Santas event.

This fun and free event has proven to be a big attraction (and photo opp!), pulling in more than 800 Santas and 10,000 spectators annually. It gets better though - Surfing Santas has also raised more than $60K for local charities, most notably The Florida Surf Museum and Grind for Life.

Check it out!

While students find intellectual challenge in the formal classroom, here are five places where families can expand their knowledge through experience:

Denver Museum of Science & Nature. Denver, CO.

Through film, lectures, demonstrations and hands-on activity, your family will learn about ancient Egyptian civilization through clues scientists share from their mummy research. Tap into the latest information about our universe and our place in it through a Space Odyssey exhibit. Gain a greater understanding of Native American cultures. Plus, discover how precious gems are recovered from mines and the role they play in various cultures. All this, plus a permanent discovery zone where hands -on fun provides interactive educational opportunities for the youngest explorers. Contact: 303-322-7009; www.dmns.org.

Musical Instrument Museum. Phoenix, AZ.

This unique museum enables families to see and experience more than 3000 instruments and artifacts from around the world. Live performances, family-friendly festivals and a wide array of lectures and classes are available. Check out the Steinway piano on which John Lennon composed “Imagine” as well as the instruments of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and George Benson. Wireless head-sets allow guests to see and hear exhibits throughout the museum. Kids will enjoy the Experience Gallery where they can touch, play and hear instruments from far away cultures. Contact: (480) 478-6000; www.TheMim.org. 

The Alamo. San Antonio, TX.

Located in downtown San Antonio, more than 2.5 million people visit each year to learn why it was suggested we “Remember the Alamo!”. Representing three centuries of history, families can learn the roles played by David Crockett, Sam Houston and James Bowie as they tour the 4.2 acre complex where beautiful gardens provide a backdrop for the old mission and exhibits detailing the Texas revolution and the state’s colorful history. Admission is free. Contact: 1-866-769-8419; www.thealamo.org

Glaciers and Climate Change.

Trek to Alaska, our largest state, but at number 49 among the last to join the union. Here you can team up with one of many companies that will introduce you to the mysteries of glaciers and how our changing climate is affecting them and the surrounding areas. Tours offer the opportunity to dog sled, hike, and ice climb all while learning about regional geology and geography and its importance to the rest of the world. Contact: www.flyk2.com; www.travelAlaska.com.

Monterey Bay Aquarium. Monterey, CA.

Founded in 1984, this world-renowned organization’s mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s oceans. Through a variety of interactive activities and exhibits designed for young children and families, your crew will learn about the delicate balance that exists in our seas today. The youngest visitors will be drawn to the 40-foot-long touch pool for an up close look at curious creatures like sea stars, urchins, kelp crabs and abalones. Contact: (831) 648-4800; www.MonterayBayAquarium.org

There's nothing like a family getaway packed with fun, laughter, and experiences of a lifetime. It's always sad when these times come to an end, and you often times will find yourself wishing you could go back the following year and relive it. Fortunately, there is a way that you can vacation affordably with your family year after year when you purchase a timeshare! Timeshares allow you to travel annually for less, especially when you shop timeshares for-sale-by-owner. Reputable independent timeshare resale websites like VacationOwnership.com offer a wide inventory of timeshares advertised by private owners for thousands of dollars in savings. 

When you buy a timeshare, you aren't buying a physical property, but rather you are purchasing a slot of time at a resort. There are different timeshare ownership types you can choose from when shopping for a by-owner advertised timeshare. Consider all the options and determine what will work best for your family's needs.  

Marriott Vacation Club

The different vacation ownership types include: 

  • Fixed week - This is when you purchase a set week at a particular resort. For example, if you want to travel during a certain holiday or school vacation week annually, this allows you to own that slot of time for your vacation.
  • Floating week - Purchasing a floating week lets you buy during a specific season. Whether this "season" is determined by an actual yearly season or a color, you can reserve your vacation week anywhere within your season of ownership.
  • Points - Points-based timeshares have become more and more popular as many travelers crave flexibility. Utilize your annual allotted points like currency to determine when, where, and how long you wish to vacation.
  • Fractional ownership - Buying a fractional timeshare, you will actually own a piece of equity in the property. Not only that, but fractionals are usually sold at higher end resorts and allow you to visit the property multiple weeks during the year.

Disney Vacation Club

Why Choose Ownership? 

Timeshares are great for families for a variety of reasons, including: 

* The accommodations offered are large and homey. With a timeshare, you can enjoy a multi-bedroom suite equipped with a full kitchen, living room, dining area, multiple full bathrooms, TVs, and WiFi access.Timeshare resorts have an incredible number of on-site amenities and services to enhance the value of your vacation.

* Typical on-site features include swimming pools, restaurants, sports courts, fitness centers, scheduled activities, spa services, and more.

* Additionally, many families choose to buy timeshares at resorts closer to home, so they can enjoy all the benefits of resort living, without having to purchase plane tickets!Another perk to vacation ownership is the ability to exchange your timeshare week or weeks for a vacation elsewhere. This is done through vacation club internal exchange, or leading external exchange companies like RCI and Interval International. Both these companies feature thousands of affiliated timeshare resorts in destinations across the globe.

* The best part about owning a timeshare is the lifetime of memories you'll make with your family. For an extra special family experience, a Disney Vacation Club resale can give you access to the magic of the Disney parks and attractions while also providing plenty of special, family-friendly amenities on-site. 

Make the most of your family time together by considering a timeshare ownership. Visit VacationOwnership.com and browse their extensive inventory of by-owner timeshares located at great brand names such as Marriott, Hilton, Westgate, and more.

(Featured post)

Are you looking for an alternative to traveling over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving

Here are five ideas to consider:

Kingsmill Resort. Williamsburg, VA.

Leave the holiday bird preparation to the pros at this Virginia resort where you and your family will enjoy all the seasonal trimmings. Get settled in one of 425 recently updated guest rooms or stretch out with the clan in a three-bedroom suite. Either way you’ll enjoy views of the James River landscape and access to championship golf, tennis and world-class spa facilities.  When you’re ready to expand your holiday horizons, hop aboard free shuttles to both Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.

Contact:   www.Kingsmill.com. 

Macy’s Parade, New York Hilton, NY, NY.

Have you always dreamed of capturing a bird’s eye view of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? More than three million people gather to see the iconic floats, bands and entertainment each year.

Choose from one of several parade packages that will provide you and your clan the opportunity to enjoy the seasonal show from the comfort of you room.

Contact: http://newyorkhiltonhotel.com 

Snow Mountain Ranch, Winter Park, CO.

Plan an active holiday weekend that begins with a pre-feast Turkey Trot to get your clan warmed up. Other options include taking part in the Turkey Olympics, Noodle Jousting, Flag Football and even a pie-throwing contest (the staff has volunteered to serve as targets). Wind down the night with a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving moviefest.

There are plenty of snow-centric activities as well including dog-sledding, snow tubing and Nordic skiing.

Contact:  http://snowmountainranch.org 

Thanksgiving at Sea.  

Give thanks for sunny days and adventures at sea when you set sail during the Thanksgiving holiday. Expect live entertainment, a kid-friendly Thanksgiving cooking class, holiday focused scavenger hunts, talent shows and costume parades as well as the traditional dinner you won’t want to miss. 

For some, the holiday is not complete without a healthy serving of gridiron action. Catch your favorite football match ups on large screens throughout the ship.

Contact: http://www.msccruisesusa.com 

Visit a Dude Ranch

Round up your family and friends and saddle up for some fun at a ranch where there will be plenty of fixins' and a large helping of outdoor  activity. There will be no shortage of memories to be made for every member of the family no matter how young or young at heart. Contact: www.DudeRanch.org 

 

 

Page 7 of 42