What are single parents looking for when planning family travel?
Like most parents, they want minimal stress and maximum time together during their family vacation. (And maybe a little "me" time)
Here are five possibilities:
1. Consider a farm vacation.
Slow down at Feather Down Farm, one of three working farms in the United States and 50 in Europe that welcome families interested in learning about sustainable farm practices, healthy eating and life with chickens, goats and lambs. A parent might head out for a hike or settle in with a book, while the kids learn to churn butter or collect eggs for breakfast. Visit the Honesty Shop where family members can peruse local produce and other items, sign up for what looks interesting and perhaps craft a dinner from their purchases. Spacious tents, with authentic detail, offer a private room for adults as well as a cozy “cupboard bed” where kids can tuck away for the night.
2 International adventure.
Single mom Michelle Kingsley O’Neill and her triplet sons spent a month exploring Ecuador and brushing up on their Spanish skills. With a rental home on the beach in the coastal town of Olon as their home base, the family of four took language classes and enjoyed side trips to Cuenca and other sites of interest. They also sampled local cuisine and learned to surf and zip-line.
With high school on the horizon, O’Neill agreed to the boys’ request for home-schooling the following year so they could fit more travel into their education plan.
Contact: www.ecuador.travel www.theseagardenhouse.com
3 It’s all included.
Board a cruise ship or check in to an all-inclusive resort for a stress-free getaway. You’ll have a clear idea of how your travel budget will break out while knowing there will be plenty of activities and dining choices for everyone in your clan. More companies like Disney Cruise Lines and Beaches Resorts are putting extra energy toward making single parents feel welcome.
Efforts include group dining, waiving single supplements and special social events. In no time, kids will converge through sports, on the beach, and during arts and crafts, thus finding age-appropriate friends with whom they can share new experiences. The bonus: solo parents discover a window for relaxation.
Solo parents checking into the all-inclusive AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Resorts in Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit will have the single supplement fee waived when traveling with their children. In addition, one child will stay at a 50 percent discount. Expect a state of the art kids’ club and airport transfers, as well as day and evening beach, eco and sporting activities that will engage adults and children throughout their seaside vacation. Ask about current promotions and special offers.
4 Ride the rails.
Train excursions provide one parent traveling with kids a relaxed and stress-free opportunity to enjoy one another’s company. On board Via Rail, Canada’s premier passenger rail service, kids will love visiting the panoramic dome in the Skyline or Park car for a unique vista. They also can join other junior explorers for movies and games. With discounts available for children, choose from cross-country adventures or itineraries that offer some gorgeous scenery.
5 Ranch relaxation.
Adventuresome parents eager to share their passion with the next generation will welcome a stay at this secluded guest ranch in central Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. Choose from activities that include fishing in the Salmon River, an overnight pack trip, swimming in a pool fed by hot springs, cycling and river floats. Evening children’s programs enable mom or dad to carve out quiet time or join in weekly barbecues, while the kids enjoy new friendships. The ranch is open mid-June through mid-September. Visit the dude ranch site below for other ranch vacation ideas.
Contact: www.idahorocky.com; www.duderanch.org
Family ranch vacations blend outdoor fun with unplugged relaxation. Round up your clan and consider these destinations for a plum western good time:
1. Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Mont.
Spend the night in a Trapper Tent, a half-cabin, half-luxury canvas tent, nestled within 6,000 acres of rugged Montana wilderness. If you prefer four solid walls, choose the Granite Lodge or log homes on the property. Families may opt for fly-fishing on private trout ponds and Rock Creek, horseback riding, clay shooting, paintball, hiking and mountain biking. Later, sit a spell in the ranch’s Silver Dollar Saloon where karaoke, billiards, big-screen movies and bowling will entertain your crowd. Plumb tuckered out? Choose a riverside or mountain getaway spot where you’ll find a hammock, blankets, pillows, snacks and a little peace and quiet. Enjoy your nap, cowboy style.
Contact: 406-859-6027; www.theranchatrockcreek.com; www.frontierstravel.com.
2. Flying E Dude Ranch, Wickenburg, AZ.
With 20,000 acres to ride and roam there is seldom a day without sunshine. The Flying E Dude Ranch is a working cattle ranch and the ideal place to take a step back in time.Enjoy delicious home cooked meals, great horses and a comfortable place to relax at the end of the day. Open Nov 1 to April 30.
3. Hacienda Santa Ines. Cartago, Costa Rica.
The children can feed the lambs and piglets before a family breakfast of fresh farm eggs and other culinary delights plucked from the organic garden and greenhouse. Here, in the Tres Rios mountains, your family will enjoy the essence of rustic farm life in a luxurious environment amidst flower-laden lawns, lagoons and stables. Ride Fresian horses, swim in the pool, and ride ATVs throughout the 300- acre working ranch and farm. Play paintball, help milk the cows or enjoy the spa. With only 11 guest rooms, you’ll enjoy a peaceful holiday or perhaps your own family reunion.
4.Three Bars Cattle & Guest Ranch, Cranbrook, BC, Canada.
Visit the Three Bars GuestRanch, The Adventure Ranch of the Canadian Rockies, where you will experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers diverse activities program, providing something for everyone. Voted Canada’s #1 Dude Ranch 2011. www.ThreeBarsRanch.com 877-426-5230.
5. Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch, Quincy, CA.
A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, this ranch is the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Serving up true western hospitality. www.greenhornranch.com 800-334-6939
7. Hideaway Ranch and Retreat, Bluff Dale, Texas.
Kids can help crack the case of the Buffalo Gulch Bank Robbery by finding clue boxes around the 155-acre ranch. The reigning super sleuth will earn an honorary sheriff’s badge. More fun can be had in this Erath County location by swimming in the big stock tank, fishing, enjoying family picnics and wagon pulls, horseback riding and learning archery. Choose from rustic or more modern cabins in the woods throughout the ranch.
Contact: 1-866-609-4433; www.thehideawayranch.com.
8. Creek Ranch, Lake Hatchineha, Fla.
This family-owned ranch is one of the few of its size that remain in the bustling state of Florida. Just an hour from Orlando yet a world away, you’ll find wetlands-style bird-watching and the chance to ride horses across the ranchland as well as an airboat across Lake Hatchineha. Families ride bikes, hop aboard jeep tours, play boccie ball, learn skeet shooting or to explore the chain of lakes that begins just beyond your cabin door.
Contact: 863-307-9627; www.creekranch.net.
9. Hunewill Circle “H” Guest Ranch, Bridgeport, CA.
Hunewill Ranch is a family owned and operated cattle and guest ranch located near Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley. Horseback riding and cattle work are featured attractions for a vacation experience suited to families, singles, or couples. www.hunewillranch.com 760-932-7710
How about turning your next time away from work into a travel sabbatical – a real break from work?
With a one or even a two-week vacation we barely get relaxed and stop looking at emails before it's time to go home and back to work. A longer break allows you time to reflect, to get to know yourself, to reconnect with family and friends and your dreams.
While you are away on your next vacation, spend some time dreaming about a longer one. Assume there are no boundaries. You have the time, the money to do anything or go anywhere. Answer the question “if you had two or more months off, how would you ideally like to spend that time?” That’s the beginning of your plan. You will have to shape it, but start with what you really want to do.
According to the 2011 Fortune Magazine survey, 21 of the best companies to work for offer formal, paid for sabbatical programs. Even if your company doesn’t offer one, you too can do it. I have taken four “Reboot Breaks,” as I call them, and I have interviewed over 200 men and women of all ages and from many different types of careers who have had the courage to request time off from their work. Each person said they came back better professionally and personally.
Start by giving yourself permission.
Did you recharge your cell phone yesterday? What about your laptop? Have you taken your car in for a check up lately? When was the last time you took time to recharge your battery? Not just for a day, a week or even a month - when was the last time you took at least two months for yourself? Think of this not as ‘time off’ but as ‘time on’…investing in one of your companies most important assets – you!
Now that you have given yourself permission, here are seven tips on how to fund your travel sabbatical:
1. Create a Reboot Break account.
There are several ways to do this. You can approach your company and ask them to pay you ¾ of your salary for now. They, in essence, defer paying you that money until you are on your travel break. This helps with tax flow as well.
2. Create your own savings account.
Fill it with a monthly deposit out of your paycheck. This should not strap you, but should be a commitment that you stick to over the time before your break.
3. Ask family and friends to contribute in lieu of birthday and holiday gifts and deposit that savings to the account.
4. Use a "windfall," such as a bonus, tax refund, or inheritance.
Sell assets you don’t need, such as a second home or car, and use it as a windfall.
5. Make money while on your break:
• Writing your own travel blog and getting it sponsored
• Working as a travel companion
• Being a guest lecturer aboard a ship
• Getting a grant for research while you are off
• Teaching English as a Second Language
• Offer to drive a car across the country
• Rent your home for a year
6. Cut expenses while you are on your vacation sabbatical.
• Trading your home or apartment for one in another area if you are going to be away.
• Selling your car - or park it and cancel the insurance temporarily.
• Stopping your cable service and cancel club fees temporarily.
• Exploring ways to entertain yourself that are free while you are at home or on travel.
7. Learn to live light.
Simplify your life so your load is lightened both financially and psychologically. The concept applies to packing light when traveling, to reducing the dependence on material things, to focusing on personal growth.
About the author:
Rita Foley is a co-author of Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career and Life by Taking a Break. She is a Corporate Director, retired Fortune 500 Global President, and a committed leader in numerous organizations dedicated to improving the health and lives of individuals. She has taken 4 sabbaticals and loves to travel. For additional information please visit her website: www.rebootbreak.com.
Try a Vacation "Made in Taiwan" –
Ten Family Things To Do ( Plus Three Insider Tips!)
Taiwan is a small island with large vacation potential for families that want culture and nature with all the modern comforts. Kids can be exposed to the Japanese and Chinese influences as well as Taiwanese ways.
Transportation is efficient; first-rate accommodations and food are prevalent; English is spoken most places, and the people are a pleasure.
Below are ten of the many family-friendly activities you'll find in Taiwan:
> Don a hardhat and go through the tunnels of a gold mine, then touch a real, large bar of gold in the Museum of Gold at the Gold Ecological Park, Linguashi in northern Taiwan. The views are also spectacular.
> Spend a day at the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village – home of five themed amusement parks with rides, a fun gondola ascent, and an entertainment center with indigenous dances and shows. It’s not Disneyland, but offers an intriguing combination of entertainment, supporting diverse cultures and tourism.
> Enjoy a mini-water park with slides and mineral baths in your hotel at Fleur de Chine –something fun for the kids and adults. The resort is located on the beautiful and historic Sun Moon Lake, which offers boat rides to islands and temples.
> See how traditional paper lanterns are made by three generations of a lantern-making family. You can have your name or favorite saying painted in Taiwanese script on a folk lantern you choose while you watch. Or you can place your order and enjoy other delights on Old Street in Lugang, then return for your unique souvenir or gift.
> Shoot up, up, and up to the top of Taipei 101, designed to resemble a bamboo shoot. Its Observatory is on top of one of the world's tallest buildings with one of the world’s fastest elevators. Children under 115cm (a little over 3 feet 9 inches) are free in the Observatory. The views from the top are stellar, but bring a jacket for the wind, and leave the chewing gum below. (It’s not allowed.) Find out the secrets of the “Damper Baby.”
> Visit the colorful Dragon and Tiger Pagodas set in a kind of imaginative outdoor architectural park on and around Lotus Lake in Kaochsiung, a great city for biking and a boat ride on the “Love River.”
> Explore dramatic (and photographic) rock formations at the seaside of Yeliu Geopark, a geological wonder realm with open spaces and pathways good for kids. The Queen’s Head and some abstract shapes seem to defy gravity; others look like they mushroomed from the earth.
> Join hundreds of Taiwanese school kids on their field trips at the Tainan Confucian Temple, also known as the Scholarly Temple, which was first built in 1665. Tai Chi may be underway in its courtyard with newcomers welcome, and unusual musical instruments are one of the fascinating displays in the hallways.
> Sip “Bubble Tea,” a fad in parts of the United States, after being invented in creative Taiwan. You can create your own flavor combos at corner stands and restaurants, then sip the bubbles and textures through a straw – which may conjure giggles.
For “small eats” in a friendly place and some of the best dumplings on earth, you can take your family to Din Tai Fung in Taipei.
Three Insider Tips for Traveling to Taiwan with your kids:
>Bring a blank book to collect imprinted stamps. Throughout Taiwan, major sites have machines that press in inked images of the site to create a tourist's passport of memories. While you are enjoying the incredible pieces in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, your children can see who can collect the most images.
>Bring shoes that are easy to slip on and off and sturdy socks for the kids if you plan to visit some of Taiwan’s outstanding temples. You can also brief the children in advance of about temple manners and respect for other people’s religions.
>In our quickly changing world, it’s good to check in advance with any trip overseas about possible health and safety issues in the country. Here’s a link to a convenient universal list of pre-trip resources provided by http://www.WorldTouristBureau.com/resources.html
How to get there:
*Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei – great location, food and staff, ask for views of Taipei 101 http://www.taipei.grand.hyatt.com
The Fleur de Chine on Sun Moon Lake had Japanese baths in the rooms, balconies above the lake and the water-theme park with mineral baths in the hotel. http://www.fleurdechinehotel.com
Ambassador Hotel is on the Love River in Kaohsiung, a bustling exciting port city bigger than Seattle and San Francisco. http://www.ambassadorhotel.com.tw/
Links to help:
For more information to plan a Taiwan trip: http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/pda/m1.aspx
Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village: http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/pda/m1.aspx?sNo=0011367&id=R2&jid=138
Taipei 101 Observatory & “Damper Baby” games:
Gold Ecological Park: http://www.gep
National Palace Museum: http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/home.htm
It’s a must see: stunning vistas, more than 200 lakes, 175 named mountains and 40 glaciers, tucked within one million acres of natural beauty. That’s Glacier National Park.
Established in 1910, by an act of Congress, this extraordinary recreational playground is also home to more than 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With so much to see, if you go, it is important to plan in advance. Here are a few suggestions to help plan your visit:
Explore on foot.
With more than 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities for families to learn about the flora and fauna. A favorite among families, we enjoyed the beauty of the Avalanche Lake trail. Within four miles round trip, and a gain of just 500 feet in elevation, trekkers will enjoy a rich forest environment, tumbling waterfalls and a majestic lake with more waterfalls at the turnaround point. Take a picnic and enjoy. Easily accessible, the trailhead is five miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge.
Ride the Red Bus.
The historic red buses are a symbol of another age, providing a commanding overview of the park’s magnificent history and scenery. The vintage vehicle carries 17 passengers. Tours range from three hours to a full day. Children under 12 are half price. Contact: Glacier Park, Inc. ; www.GlacierParkInc.com; 406.892.2525.
Scenic Boat Tours.
Step aboard historic boats and glide across the pristine alpine lakes nestled amid majestic peaks. Enjoy the colorful commentary provided by the skilled crew. Available from four locations. Fares under $20. Children under four are free. Children 4-12 are half price. Contact: www.GlacierParkBoats.com; (406) 257-2426.
Float the River.
Venture down the wild and scenic middle and north forks of the Flathead River with professional guides who will share their knowledge of the river. Half and full day scenic floats or whitewater adventures. Paddle a raft or an inflatable kayak. Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1 (800) 235-6781.
Glacier Outdoor Center’s log cabins provide a comfortable and well-located retreat just outside the gates at West Glacier. A great option for family reunions, one and two bedroom cabins sleep from six to fourteen people. Enjoy full kitchens, covered decks, a gas grill and full guide services on site. Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1(800) 235-6781. For reservations inside the park contact: www.GlacierParkInc.com; (406) 892-2525.
For additional information about Glacier National Park contact: www.nps.gov/Glac; 1 (406) 888-7800.