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Cool Pools & Waterparks You Won't Want To Miss

Diving boards and the deep end have been replaced by daredevil drops and surf zones.

Here are five places where you and the family can splash together in cool pools and waterparks.  

Royal Caribbean, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Visitors to the cruise line’s recently relaunched, 125-acre, private island, CocoCay, can choose to Thrill, Chill or both,  while the ship docks for the day at a newly built pier.  For those who opt for the Thrill Zone, the centerpiece is Daredevil Peak, a 135-foot high slide, said to be the highest in North America. A dozen other slides, a wave pool and assorted water play areas will keep youngsters and the young at heart busy for hours. Also, in the neighborhood you’ll find a helium balloon ride, a 1,600-foot long zip line and casual hang out zones from which to watch others tackle the heights.

On the Chill side, expect a long stretch of beach, options for snorkeling, wave running, paddle boarding, kayaking and simply soaking up the sun while floating on a royal blue raft.

Don't forget your sunscreen!

Contact: www.RoyalCaribbean.com 

jw Marriott familytravel.com

JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, Aventura, FL  

This South Florida resort  recently opened the Tidal Cove Waterpark, an integral part of a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project. The new five-acre fun zone includes a 60-foot tower with seven water slides, a 4,000-square-foot kids pool with an aquatic play area, and a triple Flow Rider simulation pool, the first of its kind in the country. The 42-foot wide surf simulation machine incorporates elements of surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, skimboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding. The new water features connect with current facilities that include a Lazy River, a zero entry pool and 25 luxury cabanas for privacy and relaxation.

Contact: https://www.jwturnberry.com

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, Ariz

A family stay at this Sonoran desert resort is full of fun surprises, beginning at the Kid's Check-in desk. In no time, your gang can dig your toes in the sand at the Sunset Beach pool or join the festivities at the Sonoran Splash pool where water slides, music, games and dive-in movies up the fun factor. Kids can fish in the lagoon, play golf or spend the day at the Trailblazers Kids Club where activities include ping pong, learning about desert wildlife, making s'mores in a solar oven and recreational games. The day ends with an ice cream social. Sweet treats aside, parents will appreciate the Lifestyle Cuisine menu for adults and children that focuses on providing healthy choices. 

Contact: fairmont.com/scottsdaleexperiencescottsdale.com.

Cool pools

Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, HI  

This island haven may be most famous for its beaches, but don't pass up the chance to explore what this resort has to offer. The whole family will be eager to explore the 25,700-square-foot area that includes nine free-form pools. Travel via a "river" to check out the slides, waterfalls, caves, water elevator, swim-up bar, rope swing and more that are part of this water wonderland. Adventurers will want to check out the 262-foot Lava Slide, a 14-second thrill ride that includes a 30-foot drop and speeds up to 22 miles per hour.

Contact: https://www.grandwailea.com.

Aquatica,  Orlando, FL. 

With 42 water slides, rides, rivers, and lagoons, this award-winning water park in Orlando is part of the SeaWorld family. Check out the Walhalla Wave, a family raft ride that includes more than 600 feet of drenching twists, turns, and drops into darkness. Earlier this year, Aquatica Orlando became the world’s first water park to be recognized as a certified autism center with the ability to offer resources and tools for families with members that have autism and other special needs.

Contact: www.aquaticaorlando.com.

How to Change Things Up On Your Next Vacation

Planning your next family vacation?

Turn the tables and try something new and different.

Here are five ideas to consider: 

hike into the back country of a national park

 Trade a ritzy resort for the backcountry. 

Family camping can help stir a deep and lifelong interest in the natural world.  For the purest connection to nature, make your way off the beaten path. Hike, paddle or float into a pristine location where your family can learn or hone wilderness skills. Choose a destination suitable for the ages and abilities of your crew. Encourage each person to take responsibility for the adventure, whether that be early research, carrying a small pack, collecting kindling or serving as master storyteller around the fire.

If you are concerned about the youngest members of your clan, consider a practice round in the backyard or nearby park. That way, if the weather or unforeseen forces create a kink in your plans, warm and dry shelter is nearby.

Contact: backcountry.comnps.gov

Sofitel New York

Trade the country for the city.

For the ultimate New York experience join the Sofitel New York in their salute to Broadway and the Tony Awards. Check in to the Midtwon hotel’s  Tony Awards Suite, a luxury space with jaw-dropping views of the Manhattan skyline. You’ll be immersed in Broadway memorabilia and amenities including a Tony Awards songbook, scripts from award-winning plays, photographs, playbills, invitations and a video loop of of footage from this’s season’s most popular productions. Of course, with all that in-room inspiration you’ll want to catch a stage performance yourselves. Head to the TKTS booth in Time Square to snag last minute, discounted tickets. 

Contact: www.sofitel-new-york.comwww.TDF.org

  tennis at the resort

Put down the clubs. Pick up a racket.

Then head to the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont’s Green Mountains. Their new family programs include instruction at the Woodstock Tennis Academy where families can hone skills and strategies while participating in relaxed games and doubles matches. A team of pros will host sessions at the resort’s world-class facilities which include indoor and outdoor U.S. Open and Hard-tru courts. The program consists of four half-day sessions, Monday through Thursday. (Check the website for dates and details.) While visiting the 2,500-plus acre property, families can also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing and gardening classes. Contact: https://www.woodstockinn.com

disney cruise

Trade terra firma for a boat that floats. 

Go all in and commit to a family adventure aboard a Disney cruise ship. Choose from four vessels, Disney Wonder, Magic, Dream and Fantasy, each designed to conjure a bygone era but with plenty of modern amenities. (And, a respectful hat tip to the mouse that got the whole thing started.) Expect top notch service from smiling staff members, character meet and greets each day, movies, performances, pool time and a menu of enrichment experiences. Disney aims to offer an elegant, yet family-friendly, experience on every ship.

What you won’t find: a casino. 

Contact: https://disneycruise.disney.go.com

Beartooth highways

Don't fly over. Make it a road trip. Drive through some beautiful country and stop often. Visitors who travel this extraordinary byway, experience the visual trifecta of Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, home to the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. The Beartooth Highway, a windy, cliff-hugging 68-mile stretch introduces road explorers to one of the most diverse ecosystems accessible by auto. It’s also the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, the All-American Road showcases wide, high alpine plateaus, painted with patches of ice blue glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife. Plan for many pull overs and perhaps a picnic, so the driver can take in the long views!

Contact: http://beartoothhighway.com

Oh, Canada! You're Amazing!

Canada, America’s neighbor to the North, offers families a wide range of vacation opportunities. You'll find history, culture and extraordinary natural beauty. And polar bears. 

Here are five regions to consider: 

Visit Calgary - family travel.com

Alberta  

 Home to super star national parks Banff and Jasper and more than 600 lakes, this massive western province is an outdoor adventurer’s dream destination. As it’s flag advertises, visitors can expect snowy mountains, golden plains, evergreen forests and endless blue skies. All that, plus more than 300 days of sunshine each year, enabling great days on hiking trails and ski slopes.

Canada’s fastest growing city, Calgary, a beneficiary of a cattle and oil boom, offers visitors plenty including the famous Calgary Stampede as well as the Heritage Park Historical Village where period clad staff spin tales of frontier life on the Canadian Prairies. Further north, along the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton serves as the provincial capital and is considered the cultural soul of the region. Expect galleries, theatre, live music and shopping. 

Contact: www.TravelAlberta.com.

British Columbia 

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Inside Passage. It’s that scenic chain of channels, bays and islands that create Canada’s diverse Pacific coastline. It’s popular with kayakers, whale watchers, birders,boaters and adventurers. 

You’ll also want to put the cities of Vancouver and Victoria on your radar. Located on the edge of wilderness, both urban areas offer hip dining with fresh seafood and farm to table offerings as well as and museums of interest to every age group. Don’t miss the scenic drive from Vancouver to the mountain ski town of Whistler via the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Along what is also known as Highway 99, you’ll pass sheer rock faces, waterfalls, fjords, alpine forests and the snow-capped Coast Mountains. 

Contact: www.HelloBC.com 

Churchill Manitoba FamilyTravel.com

Manitoba 

If you yearn to see polar bears in the wild, Churchill, in northern Manitoba is the place to be. Located on the migration route between the bear dens and their feeding grounds, the town is ground zero for those who want the chance to learn about and glimpse the animals in their native environment.

Tundra buggies transport visitors into the vast landscape outside of town  to photograph and observe the seal hunters. Helicopter tours are also possible. Slot the destination onto your list for viewing the northern lights and  Beluga whale watching in the summer months. 

 Contact: www.TravelManitoba.com 

PEI family travel.com

Prince Edward Island  

Published in 1908, the novel Anne of Green Gables, has played a major role in drawing tourists to Canada’s smallest province.

Today, literary fans make their way to P.E.I to see the sites portrayed in the book and to learn more about is author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Visit the old farmhouse, where much of the famous novel was set and take part in activities at the Green Gables Heritage Place that include ice-cream making demonstrations, safe races, hiking on nature trails, carriage rides and tours offered by rangers dressed as characters from the book. 

Contact: www.TourismPEI.com

Yukon

Yukon  

This fabled territory, wild, mountainous and sparsely populated, attracts adventuresome souls eager for wide open spaces, outdoor adventure and quirky bits of history.

Make your way to Dawson City, at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, to learn about the gold rush days and the great stampede of treasure seekers who hastened north in search of fortune. Visit the Dawson City Museum and stop by the Robert Service Cabin during the summer months for daily poetry readings. Hiking, fishing, cycling, canoeing and dog sledding are among the popular activities in the region. Contact: www.TravelYukon.com

Up Next: Vacation Ideas

It’s time to put a family vacation on the calendar.

Here are five ideas to consider: 

1. Moab, Utah. 

Sample the wonders of red rock country during a four day, multi-sport trip that includes an off-road Hummer Safari through a fantasyland of slick rock and a two day, river rafting adventure with an overnight of pampered beach camping on the banks of the Colorado River. Other nature based itineraries include longer rafting components, jet boating, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking, hot air ballooning. rock climbing, canyoneering and horseback riding amid jaw dropping scenery. Many outings are suitable for adventurers as young as five.

Contact: www.MoabAdventurecenter.com.

2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

 Visit the all-inclusive Grand Sirenis Punta Cana Resort for bronze colored beaches amid a beautiful coconut grove. Families will appreciate child-focused pools, and a kids club as well as plenty of non-motorized water sporting fun. The whole family will want to explore the onsite ancient Mayan ruin, the nearby nature trails and to discover the wonder of the world’s second largest coral reef system. Book now through May 2 for up to a  20 percent discount on getaways that take place through October 2019.

Contact: 

www.sirenishotels.com

3. American Prairie Reserve, Montana. 

Using an innovative model, The American Prairie Reserve, a Montana-based non-profit, is in the midst  of stitching together a 3.5 million-acre nature reserve on the plains of Montana. Once completed, the Reserve 

will provide a continuous land area, collaboratively managed for wildlife and recreation. It will be the largest of its kind in the Lower 48 states. 

Meanwhile, a campground and cabins, opening in late spring 2019, provide access to hiking, mountain biking, fishing, wildlife watching and night-sky viewing far from city lights. Prices start at $15 for tent camping per night.  Contact: www.AmericanPrairie.org.

4. Denver, CO. 

If your kids love drawing on your driveway or sidewalk at home you wont want to miss Denver’s 17th Annual Chalk Art Festival. Be there for the free, two-day painting extravaganza during which hundreds of artists contribute their talent to turn the streets of Larimer Square, the Mile High City’s oldest and most historic block, into a colorful outdoor museum. 

The festival takes its inspiration from street painting traditions that originated in 16th century Renaissance Italy when artists began transforming asphalt into canvas. June 1-2, 2019. 

Contact: www.larimerarts.orgwww.Denver.org.  

5. Galapagos Islands.  

Cruise through this legendary archipelago aboard a  Smart-Voyager-certified catamaran.

Visit Santa Cruz, Santiago, Isabela, Rabida, and San Cristobal islands while on the lookout for blue footed boobies and   the other unique species of wildlife that inspired Darwin and contributed to science’s understanding of life. 

Explore moon-like lava terrain, walk through lush forests teeming with birdlife, and snorkel in crystal waters where sea lions frolic . Contact: www.Surtrek.com

 

Kind Travel: Showcase an Attitude of Gratitude

 In today’s world, a little kindness goes a long way. And research shows that teaching kids to be kind has a positive influence on a slew of academic, health and social outcomes including increased self-esteem, motivation to learn and resilience. 

Here are five ways to incorporate random acts of kindness into your next family vacation. 

thank you note

1. Pack an attitude of gratitude.

Leave impatience and judgment behind and showcase an attitude of gratitude. Lead with a smile and offer thanks to those you meet along the way. From harried flight attendants, pilots, TSA agents and front desk personnel to tour guides, bus drivers, restaurant servers and room attendants, encourage the kids to say thank you whenever appropriate. Consider leaving a handwritten note or crayon drawing along with your tip, an extra effort sure to garner a smile from the recipient. If you loved your hotel stay or cruise ship experience, leave a note congratulating the whole crew for a job well done. 

Kindness

2. Be aware of your surroundings. 

Encourage the kids to take note of the pregnant woman, the elderly or handicapped who might be standing in a crowded bus, airline terminal or hotel lobby while the young and able lounge in chairs. Discuss (and model) how offering a seat, a hand or opening a door can be helpful. Encourage the heavily laden or parents managing a cranky child to go ahead in line. Perhaps a strong teen can assist a frail adult with removing a heavy piece of luggage from the overhead compartment.

In the queue for a soda or coffee? Quietly pay for someone in uniform or an elderly person behind you in line. By simply taking notice, opportunities for extending kindness will multiply.

Pack for a purpose

3. Pack for a purpose.

Reserve a little space in your luggage for books, clothing or school supplies that will make a difference in the lives of others in your destination. The non-profit organization, Pack For A Purpose,  works with hundreds of hotels and tour operators in 60 countries to help travelers contribute to those in need. Whether you stow pencils, a deflated soccer ball, a stethoscope or pet supplies in your bags, you and your family will return home knowing you’ve helped spread kindness beyond your own backyard. 

Contact: www.Packforapurpose.org.

kids run for charity

4. Walk, run or bike for charity. 

Research your destination to determine if there is an opportunity to combine healthy exercise with the chance to give back in your getaway spot. Ask your hotel about opportunities or connect with the local tourism organization for ideas. The Humane Society may be able to suggest events that will help homeless animals. If there is a charity you support or have interest in at home, give them a call to see if they can provide a contact in your intended destination. LiveStrong has combined a list of nationwide events on their website. Peruse the options for a match. Contact: 

https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1011211-10-races-can-run-cause/#slide=1

Sandals Foundation

5. Take a volunteer vacation. 

Whether you offer an hour, a day or a week, giving back of your time and resources makes for a meaningful holiday. Spend time reading to kids at a nearby school, help save sharks or turtles, share the gift of language or scoop ice cream and assist with pony rides for kids with life-threatening illnesses staying at a non-profit resort. 

Contact: beaches.com; www.Projects-Abroad.orgwww.gktw.org

Resource:

Contact the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more ideas. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

Experts Offer Tips For Great Trips

When it comes to making travel plans, the options can be overwhelming. 

Five intrepid family travel experts add to the mix with their top picks for a memorable winter season adventure. 

White Key Villas FamilyTravel.com

Go for a Greek Getaway. 

"People tend to stay close to home with kids. But, I firmly believe in opening their hearts and minds early with further flung travel,” explained Becca Hensley, an Austin-based parent and travel and lifestyle writer.  “That doesn't mean you shouldn't have support though. You'll manage to relax, spoil yourself and hang with the family in style if you book a villa with Greek-owned, White Key Villas.”

“They're congenial and involved--and they love kids and catering to families,” adds Hensley.  “With more than 200 handpicked villas to choose from,  in destinations from Paros to Patmos, the homes are all privately owned, and vary in size and orientation. Costing the same as villas in Hawaii or the Caribbean, the Greek villas come with outstanding staff support, VIP experiences, and special treats for children.” Contact: www.whitekeyvillas.com; www.BeccaHensley.com

 Quebec City

Chill in Quebec City, Canada

“Unlike many Americans, most Canadians seem to enjoy winter — even celebrate it, “observes Rainer Jenss, founder and CEO of the Family Travel Association, an organization that advocates for 

  travel as an important part of every child’s education.“That’s why I have often packed up the car and driven north of the border with my kids — to take advantage of all the festivities in a frigid, but fun wintertime destination,” explained Runs, father of two and a New York resident.  “Winter Carnival, held every year in early February, has what every kid loves: parades, snow sculptures, shows, skating. and plenty of hot chocolate. It’s also culturally rich, since French is the predominant language, adding another dimension to the getaway for Americans .” 

Contact: https://www.quebecregion.com/en/www.FamilyTravel.org.

 duderanch.org vista verde familytravel.com

Winter on the Ranch 

Vista Verde, a Colorado guest ranch,  is a winter wonderland for families with kids of all ages, advises Nancy Schretter,  the Founder & Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network. “There are so many fun things to do there - from snow tubing and cross-country skiing to snowmobiling, snowshoeing and fat tire biking in the snow. They also have a great kids program.” 

“We went horseback riding along snow-packed trails and riding in a one-horse open sleigh ... something I always wanted to do,” added Schretter, who writes about travel from her home in Virginia. 

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are available at nearby Steamboat Ski Resort and one of the ranch's vehicles will take families there, notes Schretter. 

 Contact: www.VistaVerde.com ; www.DudeRanch.org 

 Costa Rica cloud forest

Consider Costa Rica 

“it’s my favorite destination for families who love nature and wildlife,” explains LiLing Pang the Co-founder and CEO of Trekaroo.com, an independent family travel community.

“This Central American country is safe and easy to negotiate even for those who do not speak Spanish. In a week, you could be bird watching and zip-lining in the Monte Verde cloud forest, surfing and boogie boarding along the white sand beaches of the Guanacaste region, and watching playful monkeys and sloths in the rainforest,” offers the California-based mom and entrepreneur. December through May is the dry season in Costa Rica, adds Pang, which makes exploring that much easier. 

Contact: www.VisitCostaRica.com ; www.trekaroo.com 

Susan Pohlman. FamilyTravel.com

Always Italy 

“Italy is a great family destination any time of the year,” suggests Susan Pohlman, a mother of two, who’s award-winning book 

'Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home, chronicles her family’s adventures during an unexpected sabbatical in the small town of Nervi, near Genoa, Italy. 

“Italians are all about family, so we felt welcomed at every turn,” explains Pohlman. “The food, the rich culture and history and the extraordinary landscape make for a great family experience in every season.” 

Contact: www.Italia.it;  www.SusanPohlman.com 

Five Great Family Vacation Destinations

Make family travel memories in the year ahead.

Here are five great family vacation destinations to consider: 

Grand Canyon Lodges El Tovar

Northern Arizona. 

The Grand Canyon National Park is celebrating a big birthday in 2019.  So why not join the in the centennial celebration? Millions visit this wonder of the world each year to marvel at  the mile-deep gorge, exploring by foot, on a mule, or capturing the vast beauty with a camera or the mind’s eye. Stay on the South Rim where year round access is possible and you’ll have access to ranger programs, dining options and stunning views. Explore other regions in northern Arizona for hiking, biking and a history lesson along Route 66. Take in the stunning beauty of Monument Valley, the Petrified National Forest and the picturesque red rocks of Sedona. Pose for a photo while standing on a corner in Winslow, ride horseback at a guest ranch or rent a houseboat on Lake Powell. 

Contact: www.VisitArizona.com; www.NPS.gov/GCNP ; www.GrandCanyonLodges.com.

 Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, NY. 

Hear it roar. And feel the mist. But, don’t worry.  Ponchos are provided when you board the iconic tour boat, the Maid of the Mist, to feel the power of the historic falls. Formed some 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls, straddling the US border with Canada,  has long been a magnet for explorers and adventurers, as well as honeymooners travelers. By day, explore the area from multiple angles, via lush nature trails, a water-skimming jet boat or high-flying helicopter. 

Inside the Niagara Falls State Park, visit the Observation Tower for a panoramic view of the three main falls - American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe Falls. Each night, the park offers an illumination of the Falls, along with seasonal fireworks. 

Contact: www.NiagaraFallsUSA.com

Bahamas

The Bahamas. 

You’ll find lavish resorts in a bustling enclave or quiet getaways on tiny spits of sand, all just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. Choose your preferred sun-drenched environment from among 700 islands, embraced by crystal clear water and the world’s third largest barrier reef. Visions of snorkeling, diving, salt water fly fishing, ecotours, horseback riding, kayaking or just relaxing on soft sandy beaches will provide plenty to compel your family to plan a visit to this breathtaking archipelago. Contact: www.Bahamas.com.

 Nashville

 Tennessee.

The Volunteer state is within a day's drive of 65 percent of our nation's population. There, in Tennessee, you’ll find natural beauty, great music and vibrant communities ladled with a dose of Southern hospitality. Enjoy the 800-square mile wonderland that is the Great Smokey Mountain National Park for hiking, horseback riding, and fishing. Add a musical note to your trip with a stop by Graceland to see how the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley lived and worked.

Spend time in Music City USA, otherwise known as Nashville, to discover the rich origins of country music. Visit the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to learn  how folk, gospel music and front-porch jamming evolved into the sounds we know today.

Nature-loving families may want to consider a hike on the John Muir Trail in the Cherokee National Forest. It’s a relatively crowd-free portion of the state that's said to look much the same as it did in Muir's day. 

Contact: www.TNVacation.com.  

Michigan

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  

A four-season playground for nature lovers, Michigan’s UP nudges up against three Great Lakes - Superior, Huron and Michigan. That said, water and beach activities are plentiful with kayaking, sailing and fishing as warm weather staples. Inland, visitors venture along rivers that feed the Great Lakes, explore old-growth forests and fly fish small streams. 

From the Porcupine Mountains, just a few miles from the shores of Lake Superior and considered one of Michigan’s most wild landscapes, adventurers can hike from a summit to the shore in one day. During the winter months, snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing are popular pursuits. Contact: www.Michigan.org

Tips: Kids & Planes

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

How You Can Learn Photography From Jimmy Chin

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.

Why We Should Be Grateful For Travel

The freedom to explore the world around us is something to savor.

Here are five reasons to be grateful for family travel:  

1. Travel broadens our perspective. 

Whether you travel to the next county or around the world, moving out of your comfort zone or everyday routine will enhance your family’s understanding of our world. Appreciate the language, dress, recreational and culinary differences and similarities of your fellow global citizens when you venture into new territory. Make an effort to see the view through the eyes of others. And observe how a friendly smile is welcome currency in nearly every corner of the world.

Contact: www.Intrepidtravel.com

2. Travel builds character.

Travel provides parents and grandparents the opportunity to model what matters most.  Will you exhibit patience when the line snakes around the corner, your hotel room is not ready, or the restaurant server accidentally spills a drink on your table? Delayed flights, weather changes, poor service or a rocky road help all of us learn to live in the moment, share resources, manage unexpected consequences and see the bright side of the occasional travel mishap. How the adults respond to challenging scenarios will influence the developing character of young adventurers.  

Contact: www.TSA.gov.

3. Travel serves up nature’s bounty. 

A super moon rising over the mountain tops, eagles lofting in a barren tree, the gentle mist from a nearby waterfall, the crunch of the trail under hiking boots. Awe-inspiring experiences in the natural world are nurturing to the youngest of souls. Make time to travel to nature preserves, national parks, deep canyons and shimmering lakes, where dark skies allow the starry expanse to light your world.  

Contact: www.NPS.gov;www.Wildernesstravel.comwww.DarkSkies.org.

4. Travel is inspiring and educational.  

Feed your children’s natural curiosity through travel. Do they yearn to learn more about art, history or science? Is there a burgeoning chef, musician or engineer in your midst? How about a language immersion class? Are your kids curious about other religions, cultures or lifestyles? Whether you opt for magnificent museums, nature’s classroom or immersive experiences, expand their knowledge (and your own) by exploring new ideas together.

Contact: www.RoadScholars;www.Globeaware.orgwww.nationalgeographice.com

5. Travel enhances connection.

Leave the laundry, homework and to-do lists behind and reconnect in a cozy cabin, on a blustery beach or on a small ship at sea.  Keep technology and the news of the day to a minimum and enjoy each other’s company and conversation. Take walks in the woods, listen to the birds sing, the owls hoot and the wind whistle. Remind yourselves that the best things in life are free. You’ll return home knowing your time well spent will last longer than the latest gadget or a trendy fashion item. Because time flies, be “glad you did” rather than “wishing you had.” 

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