How to do Patagonia with Kids
Traveling with children can be demanding, but with the right amount of preparation, it is enjoyable and can build lifelong family memories. The most important decision when planning a vacation with your children is picking the right destination. If you actually want to bond as a family, don't leave your kids with babysitters or in a resort club. There's no better place to share quality time together, while learning and getting fresh air, than Patagonia. During hikes and walks in the great outdoors, parents and children can spot wildlife while being active and surrounded by unrivaled mountainous beauty.
Patagonia covers a vast amount of land in South America and is approximately the size of France and Spain combined. It is important to pick a destination with lots of highlights to prevent your kids from getting bored. Two of the best options for family vacations to Patagonia are Torres del Paine National Park and Los Glaciares National Park.
Torres del Paine National Park is in southern Chile, with Los Glaciares National Park just across the border in Argentina—both parks boast mountains, lakes, forests, and glaciers. A few of the highlights include Glacier Perito Moreno and Monte Fitz Roy, as well as small, charming Patagonian towns like Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas, El Calafate, and El Chaltén. Within the towns are monuments and museums, plazas, good restaurants, and beautiful viewpoints. If that's not enough to get your children excited about a Patagonia vacation, tell them about the options to explore ranches, to go horseback riding and fishing, and to see wildlife while romping around mountain ranges on the tip of the earth. For older children, mountaineering is also an option, with comfortable refuges located conveniently inside the parks.
There are so many possibilities for incredible sights and activities in Patagonia. Before you go, watch Ice Age as a family to get excited about seeing the fjords and glaciers come to life. In addition to learning about science through hands-on-activities, children can spot wildlife they have probably never seen before. This area is rich in guanaco, cougar, gray fox, condors, and eagles. Hiking provides an excellent opportunity to learn about flora, fauna, and other natural beauty.
Certainly, not everything goes to plan when traveling with kids. It is advisable not to commit to a rigid schedule when traveling with young ones. It's better to have a loose program with clear day-to-day activities, but with enough flexibility to adapt to the mood of your family on a given day. There is plenty to do in Patagonia so families can easily develop a schedule that works for them.
Another important consideration when traveling with kids is the choice of family-friendly accommodations. The place where you choose to stay should have communal areas where families are welcome to relax and play a game after a long day in the wilderness. It doesn't have to be Disneyland or Sandals, but try to avoid places with candlelit tables for two in the hotel restaurant. It will make you and the kids more comfortable.
Patagonia is truly magical and unlike anywhere else in the world. Don't miss out—or let your kids miss out—on the family adventure of a lifetime. With a little foresight, Patagonia is an enjoyable destination for adults and children alike.
This article was written by Melissa Reichwage, who currently lives in Colombia and has traveled extensively throughout North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia. With a Master's in Public Health, focusing on Global Health and Development, she continues to explore and learn about solutions available to overcome the pressing issues of our time. She wrote this article on behalf of South American Vacations, specialists in travel throughout the continent.
6 Tips for Traveling With Toddlers
This article was written by Shelby Jackson of LiveOutNanny.net. A road trip can be one of the most exciting adventures a family will embark on together and will help create memories that will last a lifetime.Traveling with young ones, though, can be a challenge. Even if you have the most well-behaved toddler, expecting your child to sit still and occupy himself for the duration of a road trip is unrealistic. To avoid chaos and a drive filled with whining, crying, and full-blown temper tantrums, prepare for a long road trip by planning quiet activities, games, and frequent snacks to satisfy and entertain your little one. Gearing up for a holiday road trip with your little one? Stick to these tips for a smoother ride. Set Clear ExpectationsBefore venturing out on the road, start small and positive by setting guidelines, says Carrie Krawiec, Michigan-based family therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic. "Parents can set their children up for success by creating easy-to-remember expectations before leaving home," she says. Create a list of five car behaviors to follow, such as keeping your hands to yourself and your bottom in the seat, using an inside voice, and avoiding putting your feet on chair in front of you, suggests Krawiec. Encourage positive behavior with travel rewards. "Parents can gauge their child's level of attention by saying 'I am going to watch these things and every five minutes if you have done this, you will earn a point for a sticker or silly band,'" says Krawiec. "This will make travel more cooperative." Charge ElectronicsEven though you may limit your toddler's time with tablets and electronic games at home, an iPad or Gameboy may be just what your child needs while traveling on long road trips. "With the age of technology, we have a big bonus," says Christine Gutierrez, New York-based psychotherapist. Many vehicles come equipped with DVD players and outlets for charging electronics to ease the challenge of traveling with young children. Pop in your child's favorite movie or host a family sing-along with his favorite CD. Make the trip educational, too. Download educational games and applications on a tablet to entertain your child or pick up a book or CD before taking off on your road trip. "Compromise is key here," says Gutierrez. "Make baby happy and the rest of you shall be happy in the car as well." Chomp Down on SnacksOften, hunger cravings can cause a toddler to act out or misbehave. Prepare for a long road trip by packing a cooler of snacks and drinks to satisfy his hunger. Non-messy items, such as grapes, carrots or fruit gummies, will keep your toddler and your vehicle clean during snack time. Juice packs or milk in a Sippy cup can also comfort a sleepy toddler while traveling. Break Out Goodie BagsThe idea of being locked inside a vehicle for hours on end doesn't necessarily sound appealing to a young child; however, if the trip includes goodie bags filled with games and activities, she may be more than eager to jump into that car seat. Keep the bag in the front seat with you and break out games and activities along the way as your toddler gets antsy, such as a coloring book and crayons, an etch-a-sketch or even bubbles to blow out the window. Make the trip educational by purchasing a map and asking your toddler to point out states you drive through or license plates from each state. When your toddler is tired of one game or activity, take out another to keep her occupied. Parents can include any of the following in a "goodie" bag for a long road trip with toddlers: • Dry erase board with markers• Stickers• Small Cars• New Books• Paper for Drawing• Travel Versions of Favorite Games• Dollar Store Finds Keep It SimpleYou can make activities much simpler by bringing along a lap desk or a cookie sheet your child can place on her lap. As a bonus, using magnets on the cookie sheet creates a game of its own, and the raised edges will prevent crayons or cars from landing on the floor of the car. Plan Ahead and Keep It Interesting"Planning ahead is the key to preventing restless, unhappy children (and parents) during a car trip," says Richard Peterson, vice president of education at Kiddie Academy. "In fact, you can even sneak in a little education along the way by playing classic car games, adjusted to fit your child's age." Peterson suggests asking toddlers to search for shapes, colors or specific objects along the way. "The games will serve as a distraction, but also help to hone observation skills," he says. If all else fails, crank up the tunes or make a pit stop at a park along the way to deter boredom for your little one. "Boredom is probably the biggest difficulty your child will encounter during a long car trip," says Peterson. "Toddlers live in the here and now and do not have the life experience to understand that the destination will be worth the time in the car seat."
Great Family Vacations: Peru
Article by James Bridgeford II, an avid photographer and travel writer, originally from Kansas City, who has spent the last five years living in South America. He loves finding places off the beaten path and living among the locals. James wrote this article for Peru for Less, experts on developing custom family tours to Peru and elsewhere in South America. If you are planning your next family vacation and want to visit an exciting destination with rich culture and an assortment of family oriented activities, Peru is the perfect place, a safe country with a wide variety of experiences for travelers of any age. The best times to travel:Peru is a year-round destination, however it is important to note that there are two primary seasons in the Andes Mountains: dry season (from May to November) and wet season (from December to April). If you are planning a family adventure that involves hiking to Machu Picchu, you should avoid hiking late December through mid-March. The best places to visit: Lima, The Magic Water Circuit (Parque de La Reserva) Open Wednesdays thru Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Parque de La Reserva is an exciting spectacle that features gushing fountains perfectly choreographed with dynamic lighting displays and music. Stop by after sunset when you can really experience the park at its best. It will take you about an hour and a half to explore the park in its entirety and admission is only 4 soles (about $1.50). Paracas & Islas BallestasThe tranquil village of Paracas is about a three-hour drive down the coast from Lima. From the bay of Paracas, you have the option to embark on a half-day adventure of Islas Ballestas, home to an assortment of marine life and bird species, including everything from sea lion colonies to endangered penguins. The Islas Ballestas has been nicknamed the "Galapagos of Peru" due to the abundance of wildlife. Ica and Nazca plus HuacachinaA three-hour drive from Paracas will take you to the city of Ica. It is from here that you can catch the hour and a half flight over the Nazca lines. The flight departing from Ica is longer than the one that departs directly from Nazca. Flying from Ica allows travelers more airtime and less road time, by avoiding the additional six-hour road trip from Ica to the city of Nazca. For a young adventurer, flying in a small plane over the Peruvian desert and seeing iconic images such as The Spider, The Monkey, and The Astronaut, which are only visible from the sky and have been etched in the land for more than 2,000 years, will definitely be a memorable life experience. I recommend flying in the morning as visibility tends to be clearer then. For an afternoon activity, visit the nearby oasis of Huacachina, located 15 minutes outside of Ica. Here, you can take a dune buggy ride into the desert and also go sand boarding down some of the most impressive sand dunes in South America. Be sure to do the dune buggy adventure just before sunset, as watching the sun set from the top of the dunes is an absolutely amazing experience. Amazon - Puerto MaldonadoIf you want to introduce your child to one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, a trip to the Amazon Rainforest is a must. In the Amazon, you'll encounter an abundant variety of unique wildlife ranging from colorful birds like Parrots and Macaws to exotic animals like the pink Amazon River Dolphin. The pristine nature of the Peruvian Amazon in the Puerto Maldonado region offers visitors a glimpse into an extravagant world of extreme diversity in nature. How to travel:Whether you want to play it safe or be adventurous and get off the beaten path, it is in your family's best interest to book with a reputable tour operator. This will allow you to maximize your travel experience using expert advice to make sure you get to the right places at the right time, and most of all, minimize the risk of any complications. Hotels recommended for families:When traveling with more than one young child, finding a hotel with reasonable rates can sometimes be a challenge. One hotel that has a really good room policy is Novotel Hotel in Lima and Cusco. Some other good family oriented hotels include the Hilton Doubletree in Paracas, Las Dunas Hotel in Ica and Rainforest Expeditions in the Tambopata Reserve (Amazon), where they specialize in activities for children.
It's never too early to start planning your next cruise, and Disney Cruise Line has sweetened the 2014 pot by rolling out expanded European cruises and adding two new knockout homeports—Venice, Italy, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Some highlights of the family-friendly cruise line's 2014 offerings include: New Mediterranean cruises. Ah, Venice! It often tops favorite-city lists, and will serve as the homeport for the Disney Magic when it returns to the Mediterranean from May through August next year. That means that before embarking you can take a gondola ride on one of the city's canals, see iconic St. Mark's Square, and check out one of the world's best collections of modern art at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. While Disney cruises have always featured encounters with fairy tale characters for little ones, its new Mediterranean cruises will now offer Percy Jackson-crazed tweens the chance to step into the land of Greek mythology with stops in the Greek Isles, Crete, and Sicily. (And, of course, the gods of sun, sights, and shopping will smile down on you, too.) San Juan and the Caribbean. The Disney Magic will also be exploring the southern Caribbean from its new homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. With more U.S. carriers than ever, including JetBlue, making San Juan a destination, it's a convenient embarkation port—not to mention an intoxicating place to explore hundreds of years of Caribbean history, winding old-world streets, and shopping deals. Seven-night cruises in September and October will visit Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, and a new port-of-call for Disney: Grenada, known for its snorkeling, waterfall-laced mountains, and Creole cuisine. Alaska. The Disney Wonder will depart from Vancouver to explore such Alaska ports as Sitka, Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan, featuring Disney's Port Adventures programs created in partnership with local tour operators who are experts on Alaska's natural history and environment. Seven-day cruises will run from June through early September. For more information on these and other Disney cruises for 2014 (including sails to the Bahamas and western Caribbean), visit disneycruise.disney.go.com.
5 Great Ski Resorts For Families
We've already shared where to go this season whether you're a ski-lover or still a little hesitant to hit the slopes. But what about a good old fashioned family ski adventure? We've got five family-friendly resorts around the U.S. and one in eastern Canada where there are plenty of snow activities to keep everyone busy. Okemo Mountain Resort, Ludlow, VermontOkemo hosts a wide range of family-friendly fun, offering everything from snowcat rides and snowtubing areas to zipline tours and a roller coaster built right into the snow. Try your hand at snowshoeing at the Okemo Valley Nordic Center, take a dip at the indoor pool, do some laps around the Ice House skating rink, and warm up afterward with s'mores at the Coleman Brook Tavern. The Okemo Ski & Ride School offers seven fun programs for children ready to start out on the mountain, giving parents the chance to hit the slopes knowing their kids are in good hands for the day. Penguin Playground Day Care is available for kids as young as six months old to age four, while several skiing lessons and private workshops are based on age group—two advanced ski and snowboard classes are geared toward seven to 14-year-olds, giving them some more freedom on the mountain without being completely unsupervised. Kids' Night Out also takes place every Saturday night for children ages six months thru 12, giving parents the night off after a long day on the mountain. How to get there: Driving directions from all angles are available on the resort's website. Visitors coming from New York City can hop on Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express with service to Rutland. Both Albany and Manchester airports are about a two-hour drive from the Okemo Mountain Resort—another option is flying Cape Air (partners with JetBlue) from Boston's Logan International to Rutland Regional Airport. Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, MassachusettsAbout an hour outside Boston, Wachusett Mountain sits at 2,006 feet, taunting ski and snowboard enthusiasts to leave Bean Town behind for the day and hit the slopes. But what about the kids? A variety of children's programs are available including Polar Kids, a beginner-friendly full or half-day experience for children ages 4-12 with trained ski and snowboard instructors to show them the ropes. (90-minute classes take place twice daily for from $45 on weekdays or for from $60 on weekends; equipment rental is an extra $20). How to get there: The Wachusett Ski Train connects the Princeton ski resort with Boston's North Station on weekends with trains leaving at 8:35 a.m. and arriving at the Fitchburg commuter rail station by 10 a.m. (Ski Train tickets cost $10 per person each way). From the station, complimentary shuttles are available to take you to and from Wachusett Mountain, returning skiers to the station in time for the 5:35 p.m. train back to Boston. Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, CanadaIf you've got a valid passport and the urge to explore ski options outside the U.S. without traveling too far from home, consider visiting Mont-Tremblant, a vibrant ski town located 90 minutes outside of Montreal. Not only is it relatively accessible for skiers in the northeast (thanks to a new 90-minute direct flight from Newark on Porter Airlines), it's known for being an incredibly family-friendly ski resort. Choose from snow tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, dogsledding, snowmobiling, paintball, ice fishing, or take the family along for a sleighride. The resort offers Kidz Club Daycare for children ages one to six ($99 for a full day), where kids can do arts and crafts and play games on and off the snow. Children ages three and four can participate in Mother Nature Camp, a cross between ski school and day care that allows parents to take on the mountain between 9:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. daily (prices vary). How to get there: Direct flights are available from Newark and Toronto, with connections to Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and several other U.S. cities through Porter Airlines—shuttle service is available from Mont-Tremblant International Airport to area hotels for $35 per person round-trip. Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, CaliforniaFamilies will love the SnoVentures Activity Zone, where kids ages 6-12 can ride mini-snowmobiles around a smooth outdoor course ($25 for every 15 minutes), go snowtubing down the hill ($20 per hour, ages three and up), or try out snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, and horse-drawn carriage rides in the snow (prices vary). Off-mountain family activities include miniature golf, a 30-foot tall indoor climbing wall, and a skyjump bungee trampoline, while an aerial tram ride to High Camp el 8200 takes you to ice skating facilities and a large swimming pool and hot tub area with views of the Sierra Mountains and Lake Tahoe (re-opening in Spring 2013). Children ages 3-13 can also take group or private ski lessons (prices vary). How to get there: 72 non-stop flights are available daily from 15 U.S. cities through Reno Tahoe International Airport. Make it a familly road trip: the resort is located 42 miles from Reno, 96 miles outside of Sacramento, and 196 miles from San Francisco. The entrance is six miles north of Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe's North Shore on Highway 89. Beaver Creek Resort, Avon, ColoradoFamilies will find activities for every night of the week—everything from storytime and skiing with forest service rangers to complimentary family snowshoe tours and disco-themed ice skating nights—as well as kiddie menus, magicians, and family entertainment at the resort's restaurants. Snowtubing, ice skating, and guided tours of the mountain are also available. Half-day and full-day child care is available for $108-$135 and accommodates children ages two months to six-years-old. Sip hot cocoa for free each morning at 9:30 at the top of the Centennial Express Chairlift #6 and save room for complimentary cookie time at 3 p.m., a daily event that makes the entire resort smell like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. How to get there: American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines all fly into Eagle County Airport (30 minutes from the resort) while other airlines service Denver International Airport about 100 miles away. By car, Beaver Creek is 120 miles west of Denver and 20 miles east of Eagle on I-70. Colorado Mountain Express shuttle buses are also available from either airport to a number of area ski resorts, as well as a Ski Lift Rideshare Program geared at helping skiers and snowboarders meet up and carpool to their mountain destinations. Tell us: Where is your favorite place to ski with the whole family?