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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more ideas. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
It's all included when you check-in to this expansive resort in the Caribbean.
At the Beaches Resort, on this picturesque island, expect 12 miles of powdery white sand and turquoise seas, paired with music and dining experiences, water-based fun and kid’s clubs designed to engage every member of the family.
For each member of the clan who has ever dreamed of getting away from it all and finding a tropical hideaway, far removed from all the hustle, bustle, fuss and muss of modern life – Beaches at Turks & Caicos is that rarest of discoveries, a true island escape.
When planning a multigenerational or family vacation, we all want to make sure each member of the family feels comfortable and engaged. When everything is included, it's easy to relax and enjoy all that is possible.
Expect a 45,000 square-foot Pirate’s Island waterpark, a comprehensive scuba diving program, five magnificent villages, with multiple room and suite configurations, boasting the architecture and ambiance of Italy, France, the Caribbean and Key West, plus 21 specialty restaurants.
While parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents relax on the beach or spend time at the spa, Beaches offers kids special attention with tailor-made, age-appropriate activities. They're always supervised and it’s all-included.
Beaches Kids Camps ensure team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to all children, including those with autism and other special needs, and offer specific programs for infants, toddlers, pre-teens and teens.
For the smallest newborn to those up to 24 months, Beaches provides luxurious, climate-controlled nurseries-filled with cribs, strollers, high chairs, rocking chairs and everything a little one could need. Certified Nannies are on hand to care for your little ones.
Toddlers will have a blast with their very own set of activities, supervised by Certified Nannies. Time at the toddler pools, shell collecting, face painting, treasure hunts, puppets, costume time, magic shows, sand castle building are part of the program. Children must be potty-trained to participate in this age group.
Beaches celebrates the energy and enthusiasm of those in the pre-teen group, offering sailing, snorkeling (ages 8-10), swimming, beach volleyball, beach soccer, scavenger hunts, glass bottom boat rides, pizza making, and reggae jam sessions.
Teens can expect pizza and soda bars, their own "nightclub" with karaoke, and places to hang each evening. They will enjoy group water sports, boat cruises, pool Olympics, tennis clinics, karaoke, discos, dance parties, talent shows and more.
Long after the vacation ends, you will smile hearing the kids talk about their fun snorkeling, sailing, diving, meeting Sesame Street® characters, or meeting new friends in the Xbox Play Lounge or the teen disco. And of course, the special time shared as a family.
For more information: Beaches - Turks & Caicos
Beaches is a member of the FamilyTravel.com All Inclusive Travel Collection.
If you would like additonal assistance planning or booking a family trip, we can help.
Have you ever dreamed of a place where the whole family could enjoy the vacation? A place where all generations can relax, play, or explore?
Well, such a place exists.
Fly into the Turks and Caicos islands and stay at the Beaches Resort. It is a wonderful place to spend family time. I went with my aunt and mother when I was twelve. Though many of the activities there are child friendly (such as the pools, water park, and snorkeling,) adults will have a great time as well.
We all had such a splendid vacation, and you will too!
Here are some of the reasons it is a place for the whole family to enjoy:
+ There are 21 great restaurants to dine at for free! (Well, not really free. It’s an all-inclusive resort so meals and many activities are included in the price!)That means no cooking for an entire family every night, parents! In the photo above, you can see that the chef at the Japanese restaurant even let me help out!
+ Speaking of helping out, you can spend the morning at a nearby school and have the chance to meet some of the local kids and even read one of your favorite books to the class.
+ You can go on a boat trip for a few hours and go snorkeling and swimming, and you get a tour of Iguana Island, viewing both female and male iguanas.
+ There are huge swimming pools with swim up bars where you order a juice or smoothie.
+ A snorkeling trail loops around some buoys just outside the property. There are amazing fish like parrot fish, all with vibrant colors.
+ There are sailboats, kayaks and stand-up-paddle boards to try on your own or with family members.
And we couldn't resist taking a spin on the giant, sea-faring bike.
And, of course, the beach.
The sand is white and soft and the water is the most beautiful shade of turquoise imaginable. For those who have trouble swimming (like the youngsters) the water is salty and helps to keep you buoyant. It's a great place to learn to swim or practice your swimming skills.
So don’t delay! Book your stay at Beaches today!
I’m glad we did!
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Piper Scherr is a contributor to FamilyTravel.com. She lives in Minturn, Co. with her brother, Duncan, her parents, and a dog named Bonnie. She enjoys life in the beautiful Rocky Mountains where she likes to ski, rock climb and read in her backyard treehouse. Sometimes she daydreams about future travel adventures and the 14 months she and her family spent living in and exploring Ecuador.
Grab the sunscreen. Gather the towels and beach books. Yes, it's goodbye snow. And, hello warm, sandy beaches. As readers share their favorite beaches, get ready to choose from this list or share your own special spots.
1. Club Med, Punta Cana. Dominican Republic.
“There was something about relaxing on that beautiful stretch of white sand beach with the coconut palms swaying in the breeze. I think about it all the time,” muses Dayton, Ohio-based Diana Duncan. Her two children loved the children’s club that included a slew of age appropriate activities.
Diana and her husband Matt took to the trapeze, learning circus skills, when not kayaking, playing tennis or building sand castles on the beach with the kids. “My only regret,” admits Duncan, “is that I ate way too much of their famous white chocolate bread!”
Susan and Rich Andrews have been traveling to South Florida every year for decades. “Our long time family favorite is Bal Harbour because there is something for everyone.”
A luxurious seaside enclave, families take to the wide open beaches, walking paths and chic but comfortable ambience. Upscale restaurants and shopping abound. The Bal Harbour Kids Beach Camp is a collaborative partnership with the Miami Children’s Museum, and available to guests of both the Sea View Hotel and ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa, as well as village residents and their guests. Children have the opportunity to paint, learn about international cuisine, music and how to grow a garden.
3. Sag Harbor, NY.
“My favorite beach is still my home town stretch of sand here on Long Island,” explained Sharon Elizabeth. “The beaches on the east end of Long Island are some of the most magnificent in the world. My favorite is Sagg Beach, near Sagaponack.”
According to Elizabeth, Sagg Beach is pristine, wide and a great place for family picnics and relaxing days playing in the surf. Located near the historic whaling port of Sag Harbor, the area, widely known as “The Hamptons”, offers plenty of water-related recreation as well as top-notch dining, museums, parks and bike paths.
4. Destin, FL. –
When I was a child, we spent many a holiday on the white beaches of Destin and my memories are so wonderful,” explains Mary Ellis, who makes her home in Milwaukee, WI.
“As a result I was quick to take my own three children to this pristine location where there is so much for families to do! Between snorkeling, hiking, diving and just relaxing on the 24 miles of powder-soft white beaches, our family vacation never seems quite long enough,” says Ellis.
Cannon Beach, OR
Maxie Wade has long enjoyed flying kites with her kids on this wide beach on the north coast of Oregon where gulls float overhead and bon-fires melt s’mores and keep the sea breeze chill at bay. Cold water temperatures mean swimmers may only get ankle deep. Rather, families gather to collect shells, explore tide pools, watch storms roll in or stroll the day away enjoying the salt air. Just off shore and towering 235 feet over the beach, Haystack Rock is home to nesting seabirds. It is one of the largest sea stacks on America’s Pacific Coast.
Our table in the cocktail lounge is conveniently situated with a clear view of the promenade. Offering more promise than the yellow brick road, the wide, tiled pathway leads from the nearby hotel towers to the main lobby, then beyond to restaurants, shops and casinos. People watching has rarely been so compelling.
Thigh high leather, flowing caftans, plunging necklines, sparkling jewels and hair piled high; the women, from teens to aging beauties, have clearly taken their time to prepare for the evening ahead. Smiling, and exuberant, they chat enthusiastically, clicking by in Sarah Jessica Parker inspired footwear.
And the men.
They too have taken time to style. Strolling tall in designer duds, tan and bright eyed, they are eager to enjoy all this glittering resort has to offer.
It brings out the peacock in all of us. Whether you choose to strut your stuff in the celebrity infused restaurants and casinos or on the beach with the kids, you’ll find plenty of bright spots to color your stay.
Created by hotel luminary Sol Kerzner and designed after the mythical lost Continent of Atlantis, this is where tropical chill meets Vegas vim and vigor. You’re on Paradise Island, a glistening gem in the Bahamas, that sun-drenched archipelago known for both palm-strewn island getaways and cruise ship landing zones.
Making a plan.
Given the Atlantis resort’s grand scale, you will want to do some pre-trip research. Gather notes from friends who’ve been there and peruse the web site to determine the home away from home that will best suit you and your fellow travelers. Choices range from the relaxed ambience of the Beach and Coral Towers, to the iconic Royal Towers and the condo-style accommodations offered at The Reef.
You’ll want to consider the chic luxury and contemporary vibe enjoyed by those who check into the suites at The Cove. The 600 room, adult’s only digs are located on the north end of the property, directly on Paradise Beach. Guests get comfortable at the Blackjack tables on the pool deck and enjoy music crafted by a live DJ. For an extra special treat, reserve a cabana that offers flat screen TVs, couches and a bar plus breezy access to the pool and the ocean.
With the kids.
From the perspective of many, Atlantis is one giant theme park. Yet few resorts have a more imaginative and expansive kids and teen activity program. Daily themed adventures include discovering the mysteries of Atlantis, visiting a fish hospital and enjoying outdoor games and activities of all kinds. The newest addition to the program is AKA or Atlantis Kids Adventures, a high-style, 8,000-square-foot mecca for kids where culinary lessons, Lego –inspired crafts, a mini castle, outdoor adventures and theater play make heading back to school seem ….well, they’ll think about that later.
Teens enjoy time at Club Rush where they can surf the net, dance the night away, watch movies or play their favorites on Game Cube or X-Box. Teens also enjoy the pottery studio and climbing wall.
Parents can plan a night out while their kids, ages 3 to 12 have fun during their own” evening escape”. The program offers themed activities each night of the week including Willy Wonka Wednesday, Pajama Party Friday and Pizza and Coketails Saturdays.
With more than 141 acres of water rides and pools, you may have to schedule time to simply relax on the three miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches. From the Mayan Temple to the ominous Power Tower to fun-filled Splashers Island, water play lovers up the tempo with 18 adrenaline-pulsing slides for kids of all ages. Pop on board your own luxury inner tube or grab a partner and ride the waves and rapids in the Current.
Lounge around your choice of 11 different pools. Twist and turn through tunnels and emerge in an acrylic tube deep within a shark-filled lagoon. And don’t miss the seven-acre saltwater swimming and water-sports area known as Paradise Lagoon where you’ll find snorkeling gear, kayaks, and pedal boats available for rent.
Whether you were a Flipper fan or have more recently come to admire these playful creatures you will want to take part in what is happening within Dolphin Cay. Home to a pod of bottlenose dolphins rescued following Hurricane Katrina, this 14-acre habitat is the scene of Trainer for the Day programs, shallow and deep water encounters and the chance to experience the speed and agility of the animals up close and personal.
Because Atlantis is home to more than 50,000 marine animals representing 250 species, your opportunities continue. Get to know friendly sea lions. Later snorkel amid the sunken ruins and artifacts of the lost city of Atlantis in the Ruins Lagoon where brilliantly colored tropical fish and spotted rays will keep you company.
Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the six lighted clay and hard-surface tennis courts, a four-lane lap pool and an expansive fitness facility that includes all the bells and whistles. Check out the menu of classes that includes spinning, yoga and kickboxing. For those who enjoy time on the links, plan to tee it up on the private Tom Weiskopf-designed 18 hole championship Ocean Club Golf Course, located a complimentary shuttle ride away.
World class dining.
With 21 restaurants and 19 bars and lounges from which to choose, your options for culinary exploration are many. Grab a bite while lounging at the pool or enjoy a family-style meal with the kids.
Allow the Atlantis celebrity chefs to bestow their special brand of epicurean delight. Choose from Chef Bobby Flay’s award-winning Mesa Grill where you will thrill to the taste of his award-winning Southwestern cuisine. Unique dishes like Bahamian Spiced Chicken Skewers with Yogurt Cilantro Sauce, Crispy Squid and Cracked Conch Salad with Orange-Chipotle Vinaigrette, and Bahamian Lobster Tail with Red Chile-Coconut Sauce and Green Chile Rice will keep your mouth watering long after the last bite.
Classic gourmet French cuisine is on your menu thanks to the extraordinary experience offered by legendary Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Café Martinique, originally made famous by its appearance in the 1965 James Bond classic, Thunderball, now recreated for Atlantis guests. Expect outstanding fare amidst old world ambience.
Just off the casino floor and steps away from Aura, you’ll enjoy the fine work of famed Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s in his acclaimed restaurant, Nobu. Enjoy an unusual and delectable twist on traditional Japanese fare.
Spending the day at the beach won’t hinder your plan for finding plenty of casino time. The expansive 50,000 square foot state of the art environment includes more than 850 slot machines, 90 game tables plus baccarat, roulette, Caribbean stud poker and black jack. Wagering on major sporting events and the racetrack action plus regular special events and tournaments will keep gaming enthusiasts thrilled by the action. Guests also enjoy lively music, often provided by local calypso or salsa bands. Oddly enough, you won’t be gambling elbow to elbow with the locals. For Bahamian residents, it is illegal.
After sun down.
Look forward to an evening mesmerized by the luxury and ambience of Aura, a 9,000-square-foot Jeffrey Beers-designed nightclub, and the sister to popular Las Vegas night club PURE. As the DJs spin the latest, guests enjoy dancing the night away or watching the scene unfold from banquette seating that surrounds the illuminated glass dance floor. You’ll also find two bars, two VIP sections and a private VIP Parlor. The casino below can be accessed by a grand staircase.
Also popular is the Atlantis Theatre featuring current Hollywood feature films and the Joker’s Wild Comedy Club spotlighting stand up acts from around the world. You may want to plan your stay around the performance of popular artists including the likes of Lady Antebellum, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift.