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

Published in Top Stories

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

Published in Family Travel Blog

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)

Published in Resorts

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. 

Published in Top Stories

Tap into the family-friendly experiences recently launched within the 83 JW Marriott hotels around the world. 

Crafted for children ages 5 to 12, Family by JW centers around three kid-friendly themes – creativity, activeness, and culture. These pillars infuse orginal programming created in partnership with cultural icons like the Guggenheim Museum and The Joffrey Ballet as well as resources within each local community. 

 

Expect family vacations with interactive cooking classes led by culinary experts during which budding foodies will help prepare and sample nutritious cuisine reflecting the culture of the destination.  In New York and beyond, the JW Marriott has teamed with the Guggenheim to engage young guests with activity guides and experiences that explore art, architecture and culture.

Piper at the Guggenheim

 

The Joffrey Ballet collaborated on suggested in-room exercises and stretches to help families wake up in the morning  and wind down each evening during their stay. A new in-room dining menu features  healthy, family-style dining options to share at meal time. Contact: 

www.jwmarriott.com/family.

Published in Family Travel Blog

We may have this in common.

Sometimes I long for a peaceful place to relax.

Like this beach on Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica. Don't get me wrong. I like being active: hiking, biking, paddleboarding and pilates. (That last one is new) Here, you can ramble through the jungle and spot howler or white-faced monkeys cavorting in the trees. And the birds. The country is home to some 800 species. 

But there are times when just feeling the warm breeze in your hair is just what the doctor ordered. I was fortunate to spend a few days sleeping within steps of this beautiful beach not long ago.  Even after returning home, I can always access the peaceful vibe in my memory bank.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Family Travel Blog

It’s easy to allow financial stress, busy schedules and a hectic lifestyle to get in the way of putting dates on the calendar.

Here are seven reasons to flag a family vacation as a top priority.

Published in Travel Tips