Fun Family Vacations: Practical Preparation Pointers for Parents – Optimistic Mommy

Source: Fun Family Vacations: Practical Preparation Pointers for Parents – Optimistic Mommy

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A Family Road Trip

Deciding on a family road trip can be a daunting challenge, not to mention an exercise in patience.  However if you prepare ahead of time, the trip can be one of the most memorable experiences of your family’s life.

Here are some quick and easy tips for making your family road trip a fun and safe one.

First, prepare a checklist of items you will need.  This will include first aid kit, food, snacks, drinks, and lots of toys, coloring books, paper and crayons, a portable DVD player so your kids can watch their favorite movies; and a cooler.  A good idea is to ask the kids what games they would like to take, within limits of course.

Ensure that the snacks are healthy in nature.  Too many sugar snacks can have the kids bouncing off the car seats.  Remember, this is a relaxing family vacation and you want to avoid the kids getting bored or repeatedly asking you when you are going to arrive.

Check online to print out games for the road that you and the kids can play along the way.  There are an assortment of puzzles and riddles as well.

In addition, if you have very young children you will need to take the diaper bag and wipes for the occasional spills, blankets and pillows if applicable and a favourite item or stuffed animal for the young ones is a good idea as well.

Second, decide on the destination and then contact AAA for a trip ticket.  Ask for the scenic route, one that is much more calming and pleasing to the eye, especially the driver!

Third, as you check out the planned route you may want to check online to find gas stations along the way that offer the cheapest gas.  Also if there are any points of interest along the route mark them on the map and plan to stop at these sites.

Fourth, while on the road ensure that you make pit stops regularly.  This will allow the kids to run around and let off some steam, while allowing the adults to stretch and reenergize.  Bring along a football or soccer ball so that the entire family can have some fun while exercising at the same time.

Finally, it is very important that safety concerns are met.  This includes having the car checked at your local mechanic or gas station.  Ensure that the oil and filter are changed; the tires are well inflated (don’t forget the spare tire, too); the windshield wipers are replaced (if needed); and the car is in great condition before you head out.

In addition, you may want to place the following items in your trunk: a lawn chair, extra blanket, emergency road kit, umbrellas, water, flashlight and batteries, a battery-powered radio, and windshield wiper cleaner.  In the glove compartment include a first aid kit and cell phone charger.  Keep all medications in a Ziploc bag in the glove compartment as well.

Another good idea is to take a list of telephone numbers including the hotel or motel where you are staying as well as those of family and friends you may need to contact.

If you enjoy scrapbooking, this road trip may be a perfect opportunity to add new treasures to the book.  As you make stops at some scenic sites, ask the kids to find an item they would like to include in the scrapbook.  Or if the kids point out something along the way that they find fascinating, take a picture of it to include in the scrapbook as well.

Engage the kids in the decision making, age appropriate, and allow them to decide what they would like to bring.  Have them pack their clothes (check the suitcases afterwards) so they feel part of the overall experience. Planning ahead of time for a family road trip will save you time, stress, and money.  And the kids will enjoy this adventure, too!

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Romantic Weekend Getaways

Some of the most romantic weekend getaways exist in the most populated destinations in the US.  Here are a few to consider.

I’ll Take Manhattan.  You can spend a fabulous weekend in New York City and stay either at the Marriott Hotel on Broadway, for example, which is right near the Theatre District; or you can book a weekend at the Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park. Perhaps you would like to stay at the Mandarin Koo Hotel and Spa where you can both be pampered for the weekend. No matter what your budget is; Manhattan is more than accommodating.

Needless to say, Manhattan is considered one of the most romantic spots in the U.S.  Whether you enjoy dinner in your hotel suite or dine at any one of the five star restaurants, the night is always young for lovers who seek solitude in a city that hosts millions of tourists each year.  Whether you take a carriage ride through Central Park, enjoy an opera or symphonic performance at Lincoln Center, or walk along Fifth Avenue during the evening hours; the city offers something for everyone.

San Francisco. With its rolling hills, fantastic cuisine, and friendly people; San Francisco offers hotel stays that are sure to enhance your romantic side.  Among the most notable hotels are the Fairmont hotel, located in the Nob Hill area; the Mandarin Oriental, which is known for its best views of the Bay and the city; or the downtown W San Francisco hotel that is close to cable cars, shopping, restaurants, and theatres.

Stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf and stop by Ghirardelli Square where you can pick up some of their famous chocolate before having dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants there such as McCormick and Kuleto’s, where the panoramic view of the Bay, as well as Alcatraz island; both of which are a stunning backdrop.  You may also wish to stop by O’Neill’s Irish Pub for an after-dinner drink. You may leave your heart here after departing this great city by the Bay.

Las Vegas. Time will stand still at this resort destination.  With a myriad of hotels to choose from you can enjoy your time here without having to worry about time, because there are no clocks in the casinos.

With great weather year round (hot, but always dry), you can wile away the early morning hours at the hotel’s pool and enjoy the evening attending a fabulous show or visit lady luck at the casino.

Whether you take a stay at the Venetian Hotel and enjoy a romantic ride on a gondola; enjoy the Spa and Salon at the Hotel Bellagio; or marvel at the lush indoor gardens, aquarium, and the Secret Garden at the Mirage; Las Vegas is both affordable for any budget and is the perfect weekend romantic getaway.

Lake Placid.  Far away from the maddening crowd, you will find comfort and romance at the Mirror Lake Inn.  With gorgeous mountain and lake views, fireplace, and very large tubs, you will find the accommodations more than satisfactory.  In fact, they are quite conducive to a romantic weekend.

Among the many things you might like to do is to take a walk to the neighboring town of Lake Placid, only two miles away. Here you will find shops along Main Street and you can stop at the Cottage for lunch.  Swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are some of the activities available at Mirror Lake Inn.

The calm and quiet ambience of this Inn is the perfect weekend getaway destination for couples.

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5 Kid Friendly US Destinations

Although there are a multitude of destinations considered kid-friendly, here are  5 you may want to consider on your next family vacation.

 

1. Disney World

This ultimate family vacation has been the source of great joy for adults and kids alike.  Whether you stay several miles from the theme park or enjoy the onsite amenities, this vacation affords you an endless array of activities designed for the entire family.  From Epcot Center to Sea World; from Disney Village to Universal Studios; Water parks to Wildlife parks; no time is wasted at this world-famous resort.

 

Moreover, many online travel sites are offering special packages to Disney World as well as Southwest Airlines and others.  In addition, you can save quite a bit of money by selecting hotels that offer free stays for children, as well as free meals for the little ones. This is one destination where you can easily book a trip based on your budget and stick to it.

 

2. Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

From Alaska to Wyoming, there are a multitude of dude ranches perfect for a family vacation.  But, one of the most notable is the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado, approximately 20 miles from Rock Mountain National Park.  Here, your family can engage in an array of activities including: horseback riding, hayrides, nature walks, and a host of amenities provided by the ranch.

 

This dude ranch is perfect for families who love the outdoors as well as enjoy visiting such historic sites as Fort Collins, Old West Museums, and Cheyenne (where you can buy tickets to the world’s largest rodeo held from July 17 to the 26th).

 

3. Hawaii

While Oahu has always been a popular destination, it is Maui that attracts family vacationers more than any of its islands.  The reason is that it offers a wide variety of activities such as whale watching (seasonal); Lahaina, a famous whaling village; and Maui Ocean Center, home to the largest aquarium in Hawaii.

 

Your family can also take a ride on the Sugar Cane Train, circa 1890; visit Oheo Gulch to marvel at the spectacular waterfalls; spend a day at Iao Valley and view the Iao Needle; or visit the black-sand beaches at Waianapanapa in East Maui.

 

For fabulous weather, magnificent sunsets, and beautiful beaches; Maui is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy spending quality family time.

 

4. New York

Probably the most exciting vacation spot for families is New York.  The “Big Apple” has something for everyone; from Broadway to Rockefeller Center, you will never run out of things to do here.  Among the many sites to visit is Radio City Music Hall where you can take in a show; Madison Square Garden; the Empire State Building; the Village; 42nd Street, the Theatre District; museums; shopping, fabulous cuisine; the list is endless.

 

Spend a day walking along Fifth Avenue and stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; take a tour of NBC Studios; spend an afternoon in Central Park and visit the zoo there; go to the South Street Seaport or take in a matinee performance on a Wednesday afternoon.

 

Whether you stay uptown or downtown, you will always be in close proximity to the many historic sites and sounds that comprise Manhattan.  Moreover, your kids will enjoy all this city has to offer.

 

5. Las Vegas

The city that never sleeps offers a wide range of attractions for kids.  This is why it is among the top family destinations in the US today.  Moreover, it is an affordable vacation because the hotel packages and meals will fit any budget.

 

Among the many attractions offered for families include: M&M’s World, the Lion Habitat at MGM, Adventure Canyon, Game Works (a video game-playing wonderland), Sports Park, Circus Circus rides; Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage hotel; Shark Reef; New York, New York’s roller coaster; Madame Tussaud’s; Lake Mead; Children’s Museum (the largest of its kind); and Adventuresdome, the largest theme park in the U.S.

 

Many of these attractions are free and are well worth visiting.  Don’t forget the Flamingo Habitat at the Flamingo hotel or the spectacular water fountain show across the way at Caesars Palace.

 

For great fun and awesome rides and venues, Las Vegas is a wonderful choice for your next family vacation.

 

10 Tips For Traveling With Toddlers

Traveling with toddlers can be torture.

New sights and sounds can be overwhelming to a young child and vacation excitement can quickly turn into temper tantrums if you’re not prepared.

Here are 10 parent-practiced tips to help make traveling with toddlers fun.

1. Choose a family-friendly destination. Skip the crowded tourist destinations and opt instead for a locale that is accustomed to having kids around.

2. Safety first! Always make sure your child’s car seat is properly secured. Also, use a removable window shade to help block the sun.

3. Pack entertainment. “Best bets for entertaining your child in the car and hotel room include favorite books, games and toys,” says Nancy Wolpert of Nickelodeon Home Entertainment. For all-inclusive entertainment, she recommends two new DVDs that feature a collection of kids’ favorite TV shows. “The Nick Picks and Nick Jr. Favorites DVDs will keep them entertained for hours,” Wolpert promises.

4. Plan rest stops. If you’re driving, break up the monotony by stopping every couple of hours (or more frequently if necessary). Kids need to stretch out after being cooped up in a car for a while. Consider bringing along a ball to kick or throw around during these breaks.

5. Be flexible. Set realistic expectations and let your child soak up the experience at his or her own pace. You might want to limit your activities to one a day. Otherwise, you could wind up with an over-stimulated toddler.

6. Bring water and plenty of snacks. Fruit, granola bars, mini juice cartons and small boxes of cereal make for great, healthy snacks.

7. Bring a beloved item. A blankie or cuddly toy will help your toddler feel safe and secure. Be sure to have a replacement on hand, too. It will save you some heartache should the original get lost.

8. Start and end your day early. Kids are at their best in the morning, so plan accordingly.

9. Stick to your routine. Eating, napping and playing at the same time each day may be all your child needs to feel comfortable in a new environment.

10. Take lots of pictures. They’re only young once, so enjoy every moment!

Disney Vacation With Kids

The one dream that parents in America have, is to take their children for a trip to the Disney World in Florida. The vacation at times proves very difficult on the parents as they need to save through the year to be able to spend on the trip to the resort and then there are the expenses during the stay that need to be calculated as well. But they are willing to go to any lengths, so they can show their children the joys offered within the walls of the Castle like Disney World.

The cheapest Disney World vacations are about cutting corners and pinching pennies, which is what parents become experts in by the time they are ready to pack and leave for the fun rides. There are some points to be kept in mind so one can make the most of their cheapest Disney World vacations and yet have a good time.

Decide on what your budget is – It is important to plan ahead of time as to how much money you can afford to spend on your holiday and work towards it. Once you have determined this figure, you can plan your trip around the same. It does not make sense to go over board during your trip using your credit card and then come back to a pile of debt. Allocate funds to different aspects of the trip, so you can cover all the basics and use the leftover for the occasional splurging.

While booking flights, check for those offers and don’t wait for the last minute to book your tickets. Or if Orlando is only a couple of hours away, see if you can take your SUV and drive it down, this way you save flight tickets and have a vehicle to go around Disney World.

Accommodation and food – A major part of our cheapest Disney World vacations is where to stay and how much the various options cost. If you are not very particular about the place, you can stay at a private home or cottage, which is very comfortable and cozy. This way, you can save money but keep in mind the cost incurred going to and from to the Disney World theme parks. Book your stay well in advance to get the early bird offers and various discounts that come up.

Since most of those who want an affordable and stress free Walt Disney World vacation and a visit to the various theme parks, especially to Magic Kingdom and The Tree Of Life, you need to allot at least 4 days. This means, that much more expenditure on your place of stay and food, and requires immense amount of self control to not give into those temptations at the park. Make sure to have food brought in from home or cooked at the cottage you are staying in to save money. If by taking a bit of extra effort, you can provide your children with a chance to enjoy the rides and the adventures, then why not?

Best Family Beach Vacations

The best beaches can be found along the Atlantic and Pacific Coast.  Here are a few ideas you may wish to consider for your next family beach vacation.

Florida.  From Ft. Lauderdale to Miami Beach, Florida is a prime resort area for family vacations.  With perfect weather and miles and miles of beaches, this area is affordable, diverse, and has a wide variety of water-sports, restaurants, and a myriad of activities for children. Cocoa Beach is only an hour away from the Kennedy Space Center and Disney World.  In addition, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is considered one of the best in Florida.

Myrtle Beach.  Among the many favourite activities for children include: Ripley’s Aquarium, Le Grande Cirque, a show quite famous for its acrobatics and other circus performers; and Myrtle Waves Water Park.  For older children, a definite must-see is the NASCAR Speedpark.

With a myriad of dining options, shopping, and other historic sites; Myrtle Beach has been named the number one choice for beach family vacations in the U.S.

Hamptons.  One of the most affordable vacations for beach-loving families is East Hampton, New York.  The best place to stay is at the East Hampton House.  The rooms are available in one and two bedroom units that contain fully-equipped kitchens and/or kitchenettes.  Moreover, you have guest privileges at the nearby beach.

Although this vacation spot does not offer food, it does have an indoor gym and offers morning coffee there as well.  But, across the street is a deli that has an array of items on their breakfast menu and is very affordable.  In addition, there is a Chinese restaurant across the street as well as a take-out barbeque, and deli.

The grounds are impeccable and there is a very large pool (one for the kiddies, too) where you can lounge in the sun.  A tennis court is also on the premises.  Every room has its own balcony with lounge chairs and a table.

If you live in the New York area, it is a 90-minute trip by car.  The East Hampton Inn is centrally located – five minutes from town, restaurants, shopping, and a movie house.  You can even take a short trip to Montauk and visit the historic lighthouse or spend time at the beach there.

Hawaii.  Of course, nothing can compare to the beaches that are in Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.  No matter what island you choose, Hawaii has the most pristine beaches anywhere in the U.S.  Moreover, there are black-sand beaches on the island of Maui as well as a myriad of activities for the entire family.

San Diego.  Shifting to the west Coast, your family might enjoy a stay at the Beach Cottages.  This site offers numerous amenities such as water sports, biking, as well as an amusement park.  For the kids, San Diego Zoo and Sea World are not far from the Beach Cottages.

Centrally located to restaurants and shopping, Beach Cottages is an affordable vacation spot where the family can enjoy the sun, the surf, and other amenities available.  In fact, you can book a studio that offers a fully equipped kitchen.

Redondo Beach.  Located on Santa Monica Bay, this report haven is perfect for family beach vacations.  Here you can enjoy water sports, fishing bicycling, kayaking, as well as fine restaurants shops located not far from the Santa Monica Pier.  There are many hotels that are situated across the street from the beach or within walking distance.  Each has its own set of amenities that are geared towards families.