The simple pleasures of family life can be found at lakeside retreats.

Here are five places to enjoy gentle breezes and a book on the porch:

Published in Adventure
Are you among the nearly 21 million people who took a multigenerational trip in the last year?

Here are five reasons why gathering the clan matters and how you can make it happen sooner rather than later:

1 Today’s families are spread far and wide.

That means more effort is required to maintain and nurture family bonds. Spending relaxed, quality time with your extended family enables the generations to gain important insights into family history. Traveling off-season can provide savings.

During the summer, consider a family friendly beach resort in the Caribbean or in Hawaii where everyone can meet on the sand or by the pool for stories and water sports.

Contact: www.cheapcaribbean.com; www.GoHawaii.com

2 Sharing resources has rewards.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles and godparents have the opportunity to bond with the next generation while giving weary parents a break and a chance to rekindle their relationship.

More hotel companies are reaching out to families of all compositions to help them plan a meaningful holiday. Preferred Hotels launched a website to help families find the right destination and activities.

Contact: 1-866-990-9491; www.preferredfamily.com

3 The natural cure. Plan a multigenerational trip around camping, hiking, biking or fishing. Unplug from technology and tune in to the sounds of nature. Encourage the experienced to share outdoor skills that will serve youngsters for a lifetime. Any of nearly 400 national parks would serve as a grand classroom.

Contact: nationalparks.org; childrenandnature.org/

4 Active children can be great motivators for aging relatives.

Plan a vacation that enables young people to help their less agile relatives get moving.

Many adventure-travel companies specialize in making sure every member of the family receives the right dose of adrenaline from the day’s activity.

Contact: 1-800-575-1540; www.austinlehman.com; www.TrekTravel.com

5 Show appreciation.

Did a member of your family serve in the military or provide some kind of public service? Honor their commitment by making a family visit to a memorial, battlefield, museum or other historical site that might encourage the sharing of his or her individual experience.

Exploring our nation’s capital together will provide an interesting context for any personal stories that might unfold.

Contact: 202-789-7000; washington.org

Published in Gather

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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.  www.flyingeranch.com  888-684-2650.

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. Contact: www.haciendasantaines.com.

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; 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

You'll find 52 more ranch vacation ideas here!

Published in Ranches

Gather the extended family and share a travel experience.

Here are five ideas that will appeal to multiple generations:

1.       The Family Cruise. Choosing to sail as an extended family is a great way to see the world together without decimating the family budget. Whether your idea of a good time is relaxing poolside or tackling the high suspension rope course, there are options for every energy level on board the modern cruise ship. Access water parks and kids’ camps by day. Then check out teen clubs, plus family and adult entertainment by night. Spa lovers can schedule treatments, and often casino gaming is available for adults. Gather for dinner where dining options are designed to satisfy the picky and the piggy eater in your gang. Design your time together to suit your family’s unique interests. Consider using a travel agent to help wade through deals, itineraries and cabin configurations. Contact: 1-800-764-7419; www.RoyalCaribbean.com; www.CruiseCompete.com

2.       College Bound.   Include multiple generations in the college search. If grandparents are grads, consider a visit to the town where they earned their degree. Encouraging senior family members to revisit this important time in their youth will be meaningful for all. Include elders when visiting your own college town and encourage grandparents to share memories of delivering their teen to the dorm decades ago. Make plans to take the University tour, and then explore the surrounding area. By planning this time as a multi-generational experience, a bit of family history may emerge that has long since been forgotten.  Contact: www.CollegeBoard.org

3.       Eco 3G Getaway.  Leave the wired world behind and gather your family deep in the rainforest on the banks of the Moho River in the southernmost region of Belize. Choose the solar-powered eco-lodge’s all inclusive package and enjoy birding, horseback riding, biking, kayaking and nature walks on 100 private acres. Tour nearby Mayan villages and linger to learn how chocolate is made at a cacao farm. Explore caves and waterfalls. Environmentally inquisitive family members will want to visit the organic garden and discover the local sustainability practices that include a reforestation project. Family-friendly cabanas are gathered around a central boardwalk. Contact: 866-480-4534; www.cottontreelodge.com

4.       Bike the Danube.  The active, extended family will enjoy a bike trip along the Danube River that enables speedy riders to scope out the best bakery in the town ahead while others linger along the scenic pathway. The route showcases medieval towns, castles, vineyards, cathedrals and magnificent scenery. With the cities of Passau, Germany and Vienna, Austria as bookends, the trip offers a storybook itinerary. Following an ancient towpath, there is little traffic and riders have the option to bike for as long as they wish. Once tired, they can hop on a train or boat and wait for the remaining bikers at the inn where the group will spend the night. Children’s bikes available. Contact: 1-877-462-2423; www.BikeToursDirect.com.

5.       Explore Colorado Springs. Visit a high mountain zoo, the Garden of the Gods Park or tour the US Air Force Academy together. In the weeks ahead, this sunny Colorado city and the surrounding Pikes Peak region make it easy for your whole family to explore the area with their “Tank Full of Summer Savings” promotion. Travel industry partners, including tour guides, lodging establishments, restaurants and attractions, have extended discounts and offers designed to take the pain out of the higher gas prices at the pump.Contact: 800-888-4748; www.visitcos.com/fuel

 

Multigenerational travel is more important than ever.

Families are living geographically farther from each other than at any time in history.

A multigenerational trip is often the only option for today’s modern and mobile family to gather in one place.

 

The hyper-fast pace of life in the 21st century means evenings and weekends are no longer untouchable family time, creating a greater need for the escape that only travel can provide.

 

Baby boomers are trading in their briefcases for a roller bag.

Boomers now have the time, health and disposable income to make travel with their families a top priority.

Do you have your trip planned?

Published in Cruise

Intergenerational travel is on the rise.

Busy family schedules and geographic distance sometimes prevent regular gatherings. Thus, “grand travel”, as one aspect of this growing trend is known, provides an opportunity for two generations to get to know each, and the world, a little better.

By spending time away, with parents out of the picture, grandchildren and their grandparents can forge their own special bond. Grand travel need not include a fancy holiday in a luxury resort or a visit to a trendy theme park. There are other options.

rafting with grandkids

Here are a hand full:  

Over the river and through the woods. Invite the grandkids to your place and then paint the town. They’ll love getting comfortable in your home and seeing your local sites. Check in with your Chamber of Commerce orgrandparents Convention and Visitors Bureau for an update on great options for kids. Consult parents from your neighborhood or church for family-tested ideas. See your home town through the fresh eyes of youth. 

Share your passions. Do you love to ski, play golf, camp or scuba dive? A trip with the grandkids to indulge in your favorite activity will give them the chance to know a special part of you.

Share a bit of your past. Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic neighborhood of your youth greatly influence the person you are today? Visit a war memorial, take in a concert or music festival or visit the old stomping grounds. Take the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with the kids. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there. And, remember, you are part of their history.

Learn a new skill together.  You’re never too old to learn a new trick! And the grandchildren will be impressed with your sense of adventure and curiosity. Learn to kayak, snorkel or spot rare birds in nature. Go
snow shoeing, ice fishing or cross country touring. Find something that’s new to all of you and share the joy of learning together.

Consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort. With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit the pickiest eater and itineraries to please the most well-traveled, such an option eliminates the daily decision making that can cause conflict.

Consult an expert. For many, developing the plan is the hard part. There are travel consultants who specialize in helping families create intergenerational travel memories. They’ll serve up options ranging from cruises in the Galapagos Islands to train trips through the American West. However you choose to share time with your grandchildren, you’ll create treasured memories to deposit in your family’s history bank.

 

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Published in Gather

Intergenerational travel is on the rise. Busy family schedules and geographic distance sometimes prevent regular gatherings. Thus, “grand travel”, as one aspect of this growing trend is known, provides an opportunity for two generations to get to know each, and the world, a little better.

Published in Travel Tips

 I had the good fortune to join the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Magic, a vessel spawned by industry giant Carnival Cruise Lines.

Venice..............

Yes, that mesmerizing Italian city was the launching point for the freshly-minted, 3,690 passenger Carnival Magic.

And, no surprise, there was plenty of magic from the start. The nine- night cruise got underway with a traditional and enthusiastic naming ceremony during which Lindsey Wilkerson, a childhood cancer survivor, was bestowed the title of “godmother”. The champagne-filled event highlighted Carnival’s commitment to St. Jude’s Research Hospital.

With such formalities handled, it was time to explore the ship and find out for myself why sailing the open seas has become an increasingly popular option for travelers of all ages.

Given that I was new to this cruise ship game, I brought along a trusty companion. Colleen Horan, my long time friend and college roommate, was on board to help me solve this maritime mystery. Sure, there were plenty of family members, friends and relatives who were eager for the assignment. But in the end, I thought I would share at least eleven reasons why collecting cruise vacation intel with your college roommate is a grand strategy:

1. Sharing is simple. Checking into our cabin, we already knew that sharing the smaller-than-our-bedrooms-at- home space would not be a problem. Back in those college days, we shared far less fancy digs and managed just fine. And whatever we were lacking in our new sea-faring space, was more than compensated for by the cheery folks who came knocking at our door to deliver morning coffee, croissants, fresh towels, or whatever our hearts desired at any time of the day.

2. Knowing nods. As we strolled from deck to deck with sun glasses firmly in place, we didn’t need full sentences to fully communicate about the people, places and events (like the hairy chest contest) we were observing. A knowing nod, or a slight giggle said it all.

3. The right answer. Each night, as we dressed for dinner in our cabin, it was dining decision time. Would it be the beautiful new Italian Cucina del Capitano, the sushi bar or the trendy Red Frog Pub? Perhaps the Prime Steak house? While we pondered those culinary options, we often traded clothes and jewelry. And when we posed that all important question: “Does this look ok?" , we always got the right answer.

4. Happy sampling. We were each happy to sample each others food or wine and innately knew the meaning of a “taste”, unlike say, a teenaged boy.

5. Spa time? YES! There was no negotiating about spending time at the onboard spa. We were definitely making that a priority.

6. Talking in circles. We could endlessly circle the deck-top jogging track, part of the ship’s uber-hip Sport Square activity area, and never run out of things to talk about.

7. Off duty. We could enjoy great meals or snacks at virtually every time of the day and neither of us had to cook…or clean up.

8. Water babes. We both looked approvingly at the bright and shiny WaterWorks, a colorful water play area overlooking the main pool deck. (Reported to be one of the largest at sea.) In our youth, we were both water-friendly, swim team members. Had it been just a little bit warmer, we would have taken on the 312-foot-long Twister or the gotta-scream-as-you-circle-your- way down DrainPipe.

9. Free birds. We could stay up late and gossip. Or sleep in. Why? No one needed a ride, extra money, an instant answer or our opinion about anything. We were free to revert to our inner teenaged selves.

10. It's all good. When headed off the ship for shore excursions, (to great places like Dubrovnik, Rome and Vatican City, Taormina, and Cinque Terra) we could shop, explore, photograph, dine, sample, chat, hike, observe or return together….or not. Because that’s what life-long friends can do.

11. Memories old and new. Throughout the adventure, from Venice to Barcelona, we could laugh heartily at each other’s jokes, remember the good ole days (when our stomachs were flatter) and be extraordinarily grateful for the amazing day before us.

For more information about planning your own cruise, visit www.Carnival.com or contact your travel agent.

Published in Cruise

Take a Road Trip.

A concept often parodied on television and in the movies, the family road trip continues to be a source of fun and happy memories for clans across the country. Play games, sing songs, tell stories along the way. Access the American Automobile Association’s plentiful and user-friendly information on road conditions, weather, deals, discounts, and gas prices. They can also help with roadside assistance, travel planning and maps.

Contact: 1 (800) 332-6119; www.AAA.com.

Make your way to the Mountains.

Fill your lungs with pine scented air. Raft the rivers, wonder at the wild life or travel by horseback into the backcountry. A visit to a mountain destination like Jackson, WY will offer you and your family the best of the great outdoors paired with a glimpse into our western heritage. Take in the rodeo, a cowboy cookout, visit the hot springs and the Grand Teton National Park. Contact: 1 (888) 838-6606; www.jacksonholewy.com.

Head to the Beach.

You may have a family favorite or build sand castles on the beach closest to home. However, if you are looking for a new sandy spot, consider the list created by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, Director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. For the last 20 years, “Dr. Beach” has used 50 criteria, including water, sand quality, safety and environmental management, to rank seaside playgrounds. The top 10 include beaches in New York, Florida, California, Hawaii and North Carolina. Contact: www.DrBeach.org.

Relax at the lake.

With more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is a family favorite. In addition to boating, swimming, fishing and a wide range of water sports, generations of lake lovers enjoy hiking in the nearby state park, biking, mini-golf and water parks as well as access to plenty of restaurants, music and other kid-friendly attractions.

Contact: 1 (800) 386-5253; www.funlake.com.

Visit a National Park.

Celebrate our freedom and the beauty of our land within one of our 392 national parks. With so many historical and natural wonders to discover, consider heading to the National Park Service’s web pages, specifically designed to help regular and first time visitors plan a meaningful trip. There you research park activities as well as camping, back country, lodging and educational options. Across America each day there are special events, institute and field schools as well as volunteer opportunities. Check for fee free days and Junior Ranger programs for the kids.

Contact: www.nps.gov/pub_aff/plan_your_visit/index.htm

Get Sporting at the Wintergreen Resort. Wintergreen, VA.

Parents can join their kids for group golf lessons and then head to the course to refine their skills. This is a family-friendly resort on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers up a range of easily accessible sporting options. With 45 holes of championship golf as a cornerstone, families can enjoy a holiday that includes a children’s program at The Treehouse, hiking, fly-fishing and an award-winning tennis program.

Contact: 800-926-3723; www.wintergreenresort.com

Published in Reunions

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