What's Your All-Time Favorite Family Vacation?
Fun family getaways were the theme for our May/June digital issue of Budget Travel magazine (now available on BudgetTravel.com, in the Apple App Store, on Google Play, and for Nook and Kindle). To get into the spirit of things, we asked several of our staff members to share their favorite places for family vacations—here's what they said:
"Learning to ski at Keystone Resort in Colorado!" —Robert Firpo-Cappiello, Editor in Chief
"A family trip to Southern California when I was 11. We had a great time visiting Disneyland, Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood, and taking on all the big roller coasters at Knott's Berry Farm." —Kaeli Conforti, Digital Editor
"My favorite family vacation was traveling with my mom, dad, and uncle to visit our Italian cousins in Southern Italy!" —Jennifer O'Brien, Marketing Manager
"Cape Cod beaches and candy shops!" —Amy Lundeen, Photo Director
"I'd love to spend a week at a ski resort with my family, preferably one in Utah!" —Whitney Tressel, Photo Editor
"Summer trips to a tiny bungalow in upstate New York." —Ruthie Kaposi, Digital Project Manager
"A tropical resort with water sports like kayaking and sailing onsite (like Montego Bay, Jamaica); it's safe, there's alcohol, and there are things to do for all ages." —Chad Harter, Lead Developer
"We love getting away to our family summer 'camp' in the Southern Adirondacks of New York State. Nothing like a cool mountain lake, a kayak, a bit of fishing, and some singing around the campfire. Cannot wait!" —Maureen Kelley Stewart, Advertising Account Manager
"We went to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and then went to Cape Canaveral, Florida, and watched a shuttle launch before relaxing in Daytona Beach for a week." —Michelle Craig, Digital Ad Sales Planning Manager
"St. Michaels, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore in July, for great crab eating, tall ships, and historic sights." —Elaine Alimonti, President, Publisher
"The white, sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama." —Dustin Gontarski, Compass Marketing
"South Padre Island, Texas: family-friendly for kids from 1 to 101. We go with up to 30 family members every year." —Jo Neese, Neese & Lee Media
"North Shore on the island of Oahu in Hawaii." —Lola Cohen, Advertising Sales Manager
"Rome! With all that history, it awes at any age!" —Jeff Greif, Advertising Sales Manager
Now it's your turn: what was your all-time favorite family vacation? Do you have a top spot you take the family every year? Tell us all about it below!
"Nothing quiets children faster than a new plaything! So before taking a trip with the kids, I spend $20 for 20 toys at the dollar store. I take out one at a time, and when the thrill is gone I take out another. The plane ride is over before they know it! The toys also come in handy for other children on the plane. A dollar is worth it to stop a crying child three rows up!" —Budget Travel reader Cheryl Dela, Buffalo, NY SHARE YOUR BEST TRAVEL TIPS! Email us at email@example.com. Your tip may appear in This Just In or in a future issue of Budget Travel. Want more great tips, news, and travel inspiration? Subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter!
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."
5 Kid-Friendly Activities in Las Vegas
Las Vegas may be famous for a certain two-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, but that doesn't mean the fun stops once you leave the Strip—beyond the busy casinos, the city is home to a beautiful performing arts center, unique museums, and beautiful parks. It's also a great jumping-off point for further adventures in the American Southwest, so why not bring the kids along? Venture off the Strip with these five things to do in Las Vegas with kids. Clark County Museum Clark County Museum: This regional museum just might be the best way to spend $2 in the greater Las Vegas area. With exhibits covering the history of Southern Nevada from pre-historic times to the present, this is a great place to discover the region's past. After you've explored the museum, step outdoors and take a stroll down "Heritage Street," to view several well-preserved historic homes. Each is decorated with historically accurate items from the era, giving visitors a vivid look at what life was like before smartphones and big-screen televisions. Smith Center for the Performing Arts Smith Center for the Performing Arts: This beautiful facility joined the Las Vegas downtown scene in 2012. Featuring a wide array of performances from Broadway musicals to comedians, the Art Deco-inspired Smith Center is a beautiful place to catch a show. Upcoming programs include Disney Princess, Carroll Burnett, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Miranda Sings Live . The center's Broadway series also includes musicals like The Band's Visit and My Fair Lady. Arrive early to explore Symphony Park, part of the Smith Center campus, which features several large-scale sculptures.Discovery Children's Museum monkeybusinessimages / Istock Discovery Children's Museum: Located on the Smith Center campus, the Discovery Children's Museum offers families three stories of interactive fun. Learn about water and physics in the Water World area. Then, climb net ladders, cruise down slides, and enjoy interactive displays in The Summit, the museum's three-story climbing structure. Imaginative kids will want to play in the museum's pirate ship or put on an impromptu performance on the theater stage in the Fantasy Festival exhibit. Red Rock Canyon and other area parks Red Rock Canyon and other area parks: A great place to experience the Mojave Desert, Red Rock Canyon offers visitors ample opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and horseback riding. Visit the LEED gold-certified visitor center and then take the 13-mile scenic drive to see park highlights and gain access to trailheads and picnic areas. Active families can go horseback riding on one of the designated equestrian trails. Down the road from the park's main entrance, travelers will find Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, which features hiking trails, picnic sites, and a historic ranch house. The nearby master-planned community of Summerlin also offers a variety of parks and walking trails, providing yet another way for the kids to expend some energy. Further afield, families seeking a day-trip from Las Vegas can find outdoor activities at Valley of Fire State Park near Overton, NV, and Death Valley National Park, located just over the border in California.Neon Museum gnagel / Istock Neon Museum: Older kids and their parents will enjoy a visit to this outdoor museum, which features examples of famous signs that once decorated the streets of Las Vegas. During a one-hour guided tour, museum-goers will take a stroll through the Neon Boneyard where you can see remnants of the Las Vegas of yesteryear. Reservations are recommended, and tickets can be purchased online. If your family isn't in the mood for a guided tour, refurbished signs have been reinstated as public art along Las Vegas Blvd. north of Fremont St. and can be viewed free of charge in this "urban gallery." Although families visiting Las Vegas will want to explore the Strip, they should be sure to add a few off-Strip activities to their itineraries. From nature to the arts, Las Vegas has a lot to offer travelers seeking off-beat adventures.