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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 

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.” 

Learning Vacations: It's Cool To Be Smart

Kids and their parents know it’s cool to be smart.

Here are five places that will supercharge your family’s brainpower.  

1. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL 

Encouraging curiosity and celebrating questions, this is the place to see a German submarine, understand how tornados and avalanches happen and discover the process behind Pixar’s popular films and characters. 

Explore the mathematical patterns that surround us every day in the natural world—from the delicate nested spirals of a sunflower’s seeds to the ridges of a majestic mountain range in a compelling exhibit called Numbers in Nature. Then make your way to the Whispering Gallery to understand how sound travels in different environments. A theatre and hands-on exhibits further enhance the experience.  

Contact: www.MSIChicago.org.

2. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Indianapolis, IN. 

With more than 472,900 feet of exhibit space on five floors and covering 29 acres, this extraordinary nonprofit institution has been entertaining and educating families since 1925. Considered the largest children’s museum in the world, kids can learn about the day to day duties of astronauts and discover how dinosaurs lived in the Dinosphere. Families are charmed by an historic carousel and inspired by exhibits that explain how plant science can help the world by cleaning up oil spills and cultivating healthy food. 

Contact:  www.childrensmuseum.org/

3. Exploratorium. San Francisco, CA.More than 600 exhibits encourage every member of the family to see the world differently. A scientific funhouse, the learning lab encourages creativity and “tinkering” as a means of expanding our perceptions. Young children and toddlers are engaged by shadow, light, bubbles and color as a means of exploration and discovery. Kids can create a marble machine, dance with their own shadow, study plankton populations, or check out an “upside down world”. 

Contact;  www.exploratorium.edu

4. Explora Children’s Museum.  Albuquerque, NM. 

How do you make a green chile pepper appear black? Find out during a visit to this family-friendly museum that mixes art and science to spur creativity and discovery within the worlds of physics, math, biology and beyond.  Investigate the properties of bubbles as you blow, pop and float them in a dedicated exhibit space. Kids can also use their own bodies to study the concepts of ratio and proportion in the Math Moves exhibit. 

Contact:  www.explora.us

5. National Aquarium.  Baltimore, MD.

Did you know that an octopus has a highly developed brain and is a master of camouflage? Collect the details before you check out Black Tip Reef, a coral filled exhibit replicating Indo-Pacific underwater landscapes. Learn about the wild extremes of Australia in an award-winning immersive exhibit featuring freshwater crocodiles, turtles, fishes, snakes, lizards, free-flying birds, and flying foxes.   The kids will love their visit with bottlenose dolphins where they’ll also observe training, feeding and playtime with trainers. Before days’ end discover the importance of jellyfish, observe sharks in an open tank and see more than 500 exotic species in an Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit.

Contact: www.Aqua.org.  

Six UNESCO Sites You Won't Want To Miss

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) protects and preserves significant and inspirational places around the world.  Locations carrying the important designation of World Heritage site, provide an impressive history lesson as well as a virtual tour of many of the world’s most meaningful places.

Here are six you and your family won't want to miss:

Paddling canals in Strasbourg

Strasbourg, France.

The French city’s old town is an island – the Grande Ile – circled by canals and the River Ill. Families can get a unique view of this historic enclave by paddling a canoe through the canals, including the chance to maneuver through a lock with the help of a trusted guide from Adventures by Disney and AmaWaterways. You can’t miss the city’s Gothic cathedral which rises high above Strasbourg and was said to be the world’s tallest building until 1874. Climb 320 steps to a viewing platform for a bird’s eye view. And be sure to spend time inside the cathedral, taking note of the historic stained glass windows that survived many war-torn years. Also of interest is the world’s largest astronomical clock. Considered a Renaissance masterpiece, it was assembled by a team of artists, mathematicians, and technicians,  and also shows signs of the zodiac, equinoxes, and leap years.

Contact: www.AmaWaterways.comwww.AdventuresbyDisney.com 

angkor wat heritage sites familytravel.com 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Family members who have seen the Tomb Raider films will particularly enjoy exploring the Angkor Archeological Park, unfolding deep within the Siem Reap province.  While hundreds of archeological and artistic temples and ancient structures remain, the most familiar (it’s on the Cambodian flag) is Angkor Wat. Built in the 12thcentury to honor Vishnu, a Hindu God, the temple's bas relief galleries inform modern visitors of life in ancient times.  Also of note is the remarkable water system, including moats, canals and reservoirs, that once provided water and crop assistance for the thriving communities. Visitors arrive via river cruises on the Mekong or a stop in Siem Riep where lodging and tours are plentiful. Contact: VikingCruises.com; TourismCambodia.com.

Amalfi Coast. Italy.  

Nirvana for artists, photographers and foodies, the picturesque coastal area offers a sensual mix of cultural, natural and historic wonders. While the small communities were once only accessible by mule, modern day train travel makes it easy to visit the enchanting towns that spill toward the sea from their steep and craggy origins. During the warmer months, sail boats dot the watery landscape and boat taxis provide additional access. Contact: RailEurope.com; AmalfiCoast.com.

Angkor wat heritage sites familytravel.com

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia.

This iconic structure, comprised of interlocking concrete shells, anchors one of the world’s most famous harbors. Visually stimulating and home to a menu of family-friendly performances and programs, the architectural trendsetter debuted in 1973. Whether you take in a walking tour and observe the opera house glinting in the sunlight or aglow after nightfall, you’ll appreciate its artistic vibe and global significance. Contact:  SydneyOperaHouse.com.

Austin Adventures Macchu Picchu

Machu Picchu. Peru.

Make your way to this extraordinary archeological site just as the Incas did. Choose from two or four day treks along the Inca Trail that culminate in stunning views of the “lost city” where palaces, terraces, walls and plazas cling to the mountainside. It was not until 1911, that a Peruvian guide led Yale Professor Hiram Bingham to the ancient site on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Mysteries remain as to how the Incas were able to construct the complex more than 500 years ago and why it was abandoned not long after. Train trips are also available from Cusco. Contact: www.AustinAdventures.comwww.FamilyAdventures.com

Taos Pueblo. Taos, NM.

Continuously inhabited for more than 1000 years, this remarkable community remains a pristine example of Native American culture, tradition and architecture. UNESCO makes note of the Pueblo Indians’ ability to retain meaningful and long held traditions despite pressure from the outside world.  Close to 1900 Pueblo Indians still live, full or part time within the community, in homes made of adobe bricks, vigas and latillas. Take a walking tour of the area and uncover a rich history, view native arts and crafts and observe a way of life rarely glimpsed in our otherwise high-tech world. Contact: (505 )758-1028; www.TaosPueblo.com; http://www.nps.gov/history/worldheritage/taos.htm

How To Take Family Vacations During the School Year

When the school bell rings, must family travel plans come to end?  

Here are five ways to keep your family vacation dreams on track while school is in session. 

know your options

Know your options.  

Scan the school, sports and activity calendars to assess windows of opportunity. Will your children participate in multiple sports, school theatre productions or volunteer activities? Pair those results with your work and personal calendars for the best picture possible.

If you have multiple children in different schools, do their holiday and other school vacation times match up?  Do any family members have milestone birthdays, reunions or anniversary celebrations in the works that you won’t want to miss?

Once you’ve reviewed commitments and calendars you are ready to plan.

Plan a family vacation Familytravel.com

Advance planning.-

Research reveals that by planning ahead, more families will actually take much-needed and longer vacations and thus reap a multitude of personal and professional benefits.

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 family.

By crafting a strategy in advance and executing early, you’ll have more flight options, your pick of tour departures, the best cabins on a cruise ship and more options in popular resort areas.

Busy families have a hard time planning a family vacation.

A day here. A week there?

It’s no secret that holiday weeks and Spring Break in popular destinations can be pricier than at other times of the year. So does it make sense to snag a few days from the school calendar to learn and experience the world outside the walls of the classroom?

That’s a decision only parents can make given the requirements of individual schools, the temperaments and needs of each child and the cost benefit analysis of each opportunity. If you do decide to travel while school is in session, you’ll find fewer crowds, better prices and expanded options. 

Get outdoors with the kids

The vacation mindset.

The true value of a family vacation has less to do with boarding a snazzy cruise ship or checking in to a faraway resort. It’s more about the quality of a shared experience. So when time is short, make the most of the hours you do have available and put your plan on the calendar.

Go fishing, hiking or horseback riding for a day. Visit a water or theme park.   Spend the night at a nearby hotel. Camp in a state park or even your own backyard and enjoy the mini- getaway. 

family sabbatical 

A family sabbatical.

For those who would like to travel deeper, learn a new language, immerse in a culture or simply see the world with the kids while they can, a longer adventure may fit the bill. Consider spending the months ahead planning a lengthy holiday – weeks, months or even a year - with the kids. Consider an adventure that may involve road schooling, financial reconfiguration, the disposition of some belongings and some rigorous map study. Many who have chosen this path, report that the transformative experience was well worth upsetting the family apple cart. 

How To Nurture Outdoor Kids

A longtime backpacker, climber, and skier, author Michael Lanza, along with his nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter, embarked on a year-long trip through our National Parks.

It was an ambitious adventure, designed to immerse them in the natural world and to learn more about the effects climate change was having on these important landscapes.

He chronicled the journey in his book Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks.

Here, he shares five ways to encourage the next generation of outdoor adventurers.  

The Big Outside

1. Encourage outside play.

A slew of experts agree that regular, unstructured outside play is critical for a child’s healthy development.

To that end, “Kick them out of the house,” advises Lanza. “Kids today often want to play indoors where the electronics are. Insist they play outside—but also, give them the freedom to roam within boundaries appropriate for their ages. That way, they can explore and not get bored.”

It also helps to plan regular activity as a family: cross-country or downhill skiing, hiking on local trails, biking, even walking around your neighborhood or local community, Lanza advises.

The Big Outside

2. Start slow.

When the time is right for adventure, take baby steps. “Begin with short hikes and gradually work up to longer outings,” advises Lanza, who gathered personal experience as a field editor with Backpacker magazine. “Evaluate your child’s readiness for something new based not just on its physical difficulty, but how well your child handled previous experiences that presented comparable stress.”

Lanza’s year–long trip included sea kayaking and wilderness camping in Glacier Bay, Alaska. He determined they were ready for such an outing because they had previously backpacked, rock climbed, floated and camped on a wilderness river, and cross-country skied through snowstorms.

“They had managed stressful situations well and understood the need to follow instructions and that trips have uncomfortable moments,” explained Lanza. “Despite how wet and raw it was, they loved Glacier Bay.”

Contact: www.NPS.gov/glba

The Big Outside

3. Communicate.

Lanza believes in one important rule: no whining. “Tell your children they can talk about any situation they’re not happy with, but draw the line at complaining just to complain. Everyone will be happier.”

At the same time, he advises including them in the decision-making process, so they have a sense of control over their own fate, which, he says, goes a long way toward relieving stress, no matter what our age.

“Welcome their questions and address their concerns,” Lanza says. “Make sure they know that you won’t ask them to do anything they are not comfortable with, and that you will provide whatever help they need.”

According to Lanza, Grand Teton National Park, Yosemite, Zion, Glacier, and Rocky Mountain National Park all offer hiking and backpacking options that are ideal for beginners and families, with easy to moderately difficult days and simple logistics.

Contact: www.NPS.gov; www.VisitUtah.com; www.Colorado.com; www.ExploreWhitefish.com.

The Big Outside

4. Be flexible.

Whether rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone or canoeing in the Everglades with his kids, Lanza made a point to be flexible.

Taking children on an outdoor adventure, especially younger ones, does not always go according to plan. Young kids want to throw rocks in a creek and play in the mud.

Lanza’s advice: “Let them. But, explain that there will be time for playing, but also a time for hiking.”

Meanwhile, parents should “focus on the journey rather than the destination,” advises Lanza. “And have Plan B at the ready.”

Contact: www.NPS.gov ; www.VisitCalifornia.com; www.VisitMT.com; www.VisitFlorida.com

The Big Outside

5. On the trail with teens.

No matter what kind of trip is planned, allowing a teenage son or daughter to invite a friend along is often a good strategy. It can be a little trickier when planning an outdoor adventure. “You want to make sure he or she is up to the challenges the trip may present,” explained Lanza. “It’s a good idea to talk with the parents ahead of time and perhaps plan a practice outing.”

Whether it’s a mountain climb or rafting a river, finding a shared goal that will challenge and excite your teen is a great way to open new doors within your relationship and to the natural world, offers Lanza.

Michael Lanza also offers outdoor adventure tips and strategies on his website The Big Outside.

Explore Wild & Scenic Rivers With Your Family

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which protects more than 12,000 miles of pristine waterways.

Here are five places where you and your family can relish the natural beauty of our nation’s rivers.  

Middle Fork of the Salmon, Idaho.

Find your way to Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness and commit to an unplugged week on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. As you float, fish, and splash through 100 miles of spectacular scenery you’ll be treated to unexpected luxuries along the way. Relish the fresh air of morning as your crew delivers hot coffee or cocoa to your luxury tent. Later, warm up in a hot spring, dine on organic, seasonal specialties and plan for the next day’s adventure under a starry sky. Contact:

www.far-away.com.   

rio grande

Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park, Texas.

This Wild and Scenic River forms the southern boundary of this 800,000-acre playground. It’s the only Park in the United States that hosts a complete mountain range – the Chisos. With older children in tow, soak in the Park’s scenery as well as the warm water offered by a resident hot spring. On the northern riverbank, steamy water fills the foundation of an old bathhouse, creating a popular natural hot tub. Nearby, look for painted pictographs on the cliff walls as you enjoy a one-mile loop hike past historic buildings and the area where various Indian groups lived and traveled.

Contact: www.VisitBigBend.com.

oars

The Rogue RIver, Oregon.

Float through 40 miles of scenic Southwestern Oregon and you’ll explore the same rugged country that drew Native Americans, trappers and prospectors for centuries. Stay in the raft or up the adrenalin ante by running the rapids in an inflatable kayak. Designated a “Wild & Scenic” wilderness area, you and your family will paddle through the Siskiyou Mountains and the Rogue River National Forest. Also possible are adventures that include hiking and gourmet dining options.

Contact: www.Oars.com.

 

Au Sable, Wellston, MI. Introduce your family to the joys of fly-fishing in the north woods of Michigan. The scenic and diverse Au Sable River originates north of Grayling and winds for more than 100 miles before meeting Lake Huron

A fly-fishing only section of the river flows past Burton’s Landing and is known as the “Holy Water” for its productive riffles and trout filled pools. Team up with a local outfitter for instruction designed for young anglers.

Contact: PureMichigan.com; https://www.dloopoutfitters.com

Cache la Poudre, Colorado.


Located in the northern Front Range and dubbed thePoudre” by local residents and longtime visitors, the main and south forks of the Cache la Poudre River, originate in Rocky Mountain National Park and flow north and east through the Roosevelt National Forest before eventually passing through Fort Collins.

You can explore the region via the Cache la Poudre – North Park Scenic Byway. Beginning in Fort Collins, it follows the river and the route used by settlers to connect Colorado’s northern plains to the Green River settlement in Utah.

http://www.colorado.com; www.dloopoutfitters.com

Resource: www.Rivers.gov.

Trends That Will Help Shape Your Travel Plan

Considering an extended road trip? A global adventure? A train trip? Or an RV outing with the kids or grandkids?  There is no time like the present to explore the world with your family! 

Here are a few family travel trends to consider as you tinker with your plan:

Multigenerational travel continues to strengthen.

While technology may make it easier for modern and mobile families to stay in touch, there is no substitute for building sand castles on the beach, snuggling with the grandkids on the porch swing or giggling through game night around the table.

That’s why an increasing number of extended families choose to spend long weekends, holidays or “milestone moments” together in a vacation-style setting. Destinations, resorts, cruise ships and even theme parks continue to add programs and packages that make it easier to plan a grand getaway.

Short-term rental properties, complete with kitchens, multiple bedrooms and space for kids to play are also popular for large family groups.

Contact: Airbnb.com; www.NCL.com; www.Beaches.com;  www.Vacatia.com .

There's an emphasis on experience.

From backcountry challenges and wild river runs to history-rich walking tours and cultural immersions, the trend toward outings that deliver a meaningful and memorable experience continues. Look for travel brands to offer more personalized, transformative experiences, intended to inspire even the youngest adventurer and his or her parents. Expect more opportunities to learn from, dine with and hear songs and stories from locals in your next destination.

Contact: https://www.broadmoor.com/the-wilderness-experiences; www.Oars.com;  www. Intrepid.com; www.UrbanAdventures.com.

Digital Detox.

Whether you travel deep into a national park where the signal soon fades or simply close the lid on a technology box provided by the resort, families are voting to turn off the tech and tune in to each other. While the idea may cause short term consternation, reports from families who have gone cold turkey on tech are encouraging.

Once liberated from the lure of Insta stories and sports scores, the generations are free to converse about the adventures at hand. Whether you journey to Siberia, a nearby resort, or your favorite backcountry escape, connecting with nature and those you hold dear will provide a healthy does of energy for the year ahead.

Contact: http://travelvisionjourneys.com/tour/chile; http://www.mircorp.com/trip/siberian-winter-escapade; www.NPS.gov.

A family of foodies.

More families are making food part of the fun on family getaways. They are shopping at farmer’s markets, picking apples in the orchard, tasting local honey at the beekeeper’s shop and seeking fresh, palate-pleasing options for each meal of the day. They are introducing young explorers to distinctive local fare and encouraging the kids to sample new tastes and textures. Expect more cooking classes for every age group.

Young families will increasingly seek out cities like Tucson, recently designated North America’s first UNESCO World City of Gastronomy, where hometown resorts take pride in their on-site, organic gardens and serve up fresh and thoughtful fare at every meal.

Contact: www.HaciendadelSol.com ; www.VisitTucson.com ; www.LocalHarvest.org .

Going Solo.

More and more parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends are embarking on adventures with their favorite young people. Expect more cruise ships, tour operators, resorts and ranches to extend the welcome mat to adults traveling with kids on their own. Be on the look out for group family tables, "family cocktail parties", special departures and the waiving of single supplements.

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

Now is a good time.

Family travel is no longer relegated to a few weeks in the summer or the official Spring Break. Expect more families with pre-school age children, homeschoolers, parents with flexible and location-independent work options and those who consider a family trip the best kind of education possible, taking to the road when the timing best suits them. Off peak travel provides the modern and mobile clan the option to find better deals, fewer crowds, more availability and that most satisfying, serendipitous experience that often manifests on the road less traveled.

Our Sponsors

Our sincere thanks to these organizations that help make it possible for us to share quality family travel ideas and inspiration.

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Based in Ennis, MT, Troutstalkers offers guided day and overnight trips on the Madison, Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby, Yellowstone, Missouri, the Gallatin and beyond.

Dude Ranchers Association

Representing more than 100 of the best dude ranch and guest ranch vacation experiences. 

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Offering all-in-one vacation packages that provide the freedom of independent travel without going it alone. 

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 Photo: The Oasis at Death Valley casitas - lohayes

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