Specials and News

Around the World with The Family Traveler

US/Canada Travel Ideas

Reconnect with Wyndham

Wyndham Grand is challenging your family to put your cell phones away!  They started a new program called Reconnected, a Wyndham Grand Family Experience.  It offers an opportunity for your family to do fun activities together and to enjoy imaginative play time together. Upon check-in, your family receives a timed lock box for your mobile devices.  Take the distractions away and create true memories, instead of fleeting Instagram stories.  Wyndham gathered experts in their field to create a series of activities including blanket forts, reading and shadow puppets, s’mores making and taking instant photos.  Pilot hotels include family-centric destinations such as Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach; Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek; Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront; and The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel in Charleston.  Because family time is priceless, Reconnected is available at a 5 percent discount off the best available rate through September 3, based on availability.

Amelia Family Villa

We are excited to announce that the Amelia Island Plantation can now accommodate multi-generational families, golf/tennis groups, etc. all under one roof in their brand new 8 bedroom/8.5 bath house located just a 5-minute walk to the beach!  Villa guests enjoy all of the amenities and have the same access to the resort as hotel guests including golf, tennis, spa, gym, nature center, bike rentals and more.  This 8-bedroom house is absolutely stunning featuring top-of-the-line appliances and amenities. It is a spacious 5,600 sq. ft. two-story home with 4 large rooms that each have one king bed and 4 rooms that each have two queen beds. The living room, dining room, and kitchen are an open floor plan perfect for entertaining a large group. There is also a gorgeous back patio featuring a private pool and spa.  The resort is giving us the added benefit of a free golf cart for the duration of your stay as well as a $100/day resort credit!


Harry Potter River Cruise

There’s a new river cruise in England for Harry Potter fans. With sailings from August 5-11 and August 19-25 aboard the Magna Carta luxury river cruise ship, the two six-day trips will sail down the River Thames in England.  The voyages will take your family to several of the most memorable locations from the Harry Potter movies, including Virginia Water Lake, the house where Harry lived with Uncle Vernon and Petunia Dursley, and Warner Brothers Studios, where you will take part in the official Harry Potter tour. Other locations on the trip include Oxford University’s Christ Church College and its Great Hall, which were the inspiration behind the sets of multiple Harry Potter films. The Magna Carta accommodates eight passengers in four rooms on two decks. In addition, the vessel also includes a living area, dining room, a hot tub and Wi-Fi. Each of the sailings will be manned by a crew of six people, including a gourmet chef that will prepare Hogwarts-inspired meals. Each voyage must be booked by parties of eight passengers who split the total cost of $36,000. While the price may be steep, this is a dream vacation for any Harry Potter fan!

Disney Events at Sea

Disney Cruise Line said it will again feature two special itineraries, Star Wars Day at Sea and Marvel Day at Sea, on select Caribbean and Bahamas sailings from January to March 2019. Seven-night Disney Fantasy sailings will transport your family to the Caribbean and then to another universe based on Star Wars. The cruise features a full day of Star Wars activities, including a deck party spectacular with fireworks display, encounters with the galaxy’s formidable and heroic characters, Star Wars-themed family and youth activities, special food and beverage offerings and special merchandise.  Five-night Disney Magic sailings will take guests to the Caribbean and Bahamas, along with a day-long celebration of the Marvel Universe. Occurring on one day during each of the select Disney Magic sailings, Marvel Day at Sea offers guests the largest collection of Marvel super heroes and villains assembled on a cruise ship. The event features all-day entertainment, including interactions with some of the mightiest Marvel super heroes and the foes who oppose them in an on-deck show spectacular, as well as Marvel-themed youth activities, special merchandise and unique food and beverage offerings.  Book early for the best availability!

Tropical Fun

New Resorts for the Riviera Maya

Karisma Hotels and Resorts recently revealed several new resort concepts:

Karisma will be opening its first Margaritaville hotel in the Riviera Maya region in 2019; the 355-suite all-inclusive beach resort will embody the laid-back brand’s style. Designed with a casual luxury concept in mind, Margaritaville Riviera Maya will feature swim-up options, several new dining option concepts and a new market called Joe’s Merchant, which will give you the ability to stock your own minibars with drinks and snacks.

A new all-suite Nickelodeon resort will be constructed next to Generations Riviera Maya in 2019, along with the largest waterpark in the region, which will have nine waterslides. In addition to offering all guests butler service and ocean views, every suite will also have either a swim-up or infinity pool configuration. Families will appreciate that each of the resort’s 272 suites will also be connecting rooms accommodating up to two adults and three children. Four villas, including two Pineapple Villas, will also be on property, and in response to the popularity of the Ninja Turtles brand, one will be in the shape of a turtle shell. You will also have a pick of eight restaurants.

St. Lucia Family Getaway

Your entire family eats and drinks for free through September 4 at Windjammer Landing in St. Lucia with their Family Getaway Package!  It includes a 5-night stay in a spacious Two-Bedroom Villa with private plunge pool and full kitchen, premium all-inclusive access with unlimited dining and premium drinks, sunset cruise for four and free nanny services from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Windjammer Landing’s Mediterranean-style villas are built into a hillside offering gorgeous ocean views.  The resort showcases a secluded beach with extensive water sports program, children and teen activities, plenty of pools and restaurants, spa and gym.  The lush island is ripe for outdoor adventures such as exploring the rainforest, the sulphur baths at the Twin Pitons and more.

International Exploration

Single Parent Travel

Intrepid Travel, a well-priced adventure travel company, has developed six new tours specifically designed for solo parents and their children. These dedicated solo parent itineraries allow children to bond and form friendships with other children in the group, while giving a single parent (or a parent traveling without their spouse) the opportunity to travel with adults in similar family dynamics.  New trips specifically for single parent families include adventure tours in Costa Rica, Thailand, Northern India, Egypt, Vietnam and Morocco. These destinations were intentionally chosen to make it easier for solo parents as they could otherwise feel intimidated to travel to these destinations alone with their children. Trips range from 8-15 days and from only $555-3,185 per person with 10 percent off for children 17 and under.

Life is Good

Austin Adventures, a leader in active multi-sport adventure vacations for families and adults, is joining with Life is Good, a Boston-based apparel brand dedicated to spreading the power of optimism, to launch Life is Good Vacations.  This new trip series has been designed to align adventure with a journey of self-discovery, allowing your family to connect with others and the outdoors through a refreshed, positive outlook. Life is Good Vacations are available to book now for travel dates starting in June 2018. This season, Life is Good Vacations will include both family and adult-only trips in groups of 12 or less to: Montana (Big Sky, Yellowstone & Paradise Valley) and Utah (Bryce Canyon & Zion), the Canadian Rockies (Banff to Jasper) and Costa Rica (Manuel Antonio to Punta Islita).


Trip Review: A Custom Israel Adventure

The Spizer/Costa/Carpiniello Family with six adults and four children (ranging from 8-13) traveled to Israel over the winter break to celebrate a B’nai Mitzvah.  The family described the experience as the most amazing trip of a lifetime!  Jen created a completely custom trip for this multi-generational family from the Philadelphia area.  The trip began with a VIP airport arrival and some time to unwind in Tel Aviv where they toured on their own with a visit to the beach and Old Jaffa and stayed at the apartment hotel, Alexander All-Suites for two nights.  On their third day, their guide and driver picked them up in a spacious bus (with wifi) for an exciting day trip to the Ayalon Institute (known as the bullet factory), to Beit Guvrin for a hands-on archeological dig and then onto Neot Kedumin for tree planting and a lesson from a local scribe.  The next day the group headed north to visit the Roman ruins in Caesarea which now offers a cinematic exhibition and audiovisual experience.  From there they continued onto the once Crusader capital of Akko where they walked on the city walls.  The charming Hotel Hagroshim, their favorite accommodations of the trip, became their Galilee home for the next two nights.  The following day they explored the Dan Nature Reserve with a nature hike and took a jeep tour through the Golan Heights.  They also visited a kibbutz to learn about this communal lifestyle unique to Israel including a meeting with local members.  The day ended with a visit to the Agamon HaHula Nature reserve; a popular resting place for birds migrating from Europe to Africa.  The following day the family headed to the mystical city of Safed and the Biblical-style camp of Kfar Kedem where they tried on traditional Israelite dress and took a donkey ride through the countryside.  Other biblical related activities included fresh pita bread and cheese making.  They also visited Nazareth before heading to Jerusalem with a visit to the Western Wall as the sabbath began.  Their three-night Jerusalem hotel stay was at the Dan Panorama.  The family explored Jerusalem on their own on the sabbath by walking over to the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls.  They found the museum fascinating and also got to see the Knesset.  Their guide picked them up the following day with a tour of the Old City.  The day started with a panoramic view from the Mount of Olives and then to the City of David where an audiovisual 3D movie brought the city’s history to life.  They also saw new discoveries from recent excavations in the area, visited a Canaanite dry tunnel as well as the Western Wall Tunnels.  A visit to the Christian Quarter and its holy sites was followed by a visit to the Jewish Quarter.   The next day the group made a day trip to Masada where they took the cable car to the top and then to a nearby hotel’s private beach for a Dead Sea swim.  Their final day began with a somber visit to Yad Vashem with a private curator. The older children were “twinned” with children who perished in the war and did not have a chance to mark their own Bat Mitzvah.  Their regular guide took the youngest child to the Biblical Zoo as he was too young for the Holocaust experience.  The family really appreciated the forethought in arranging for this; so that everyone could have a special last day in the Holyland.

The family let us know that they were very happy with a mix of interactive experiences combined with the more traditional sight-seeing although their amazing guide still found ways to entertain the children with engaging activities everywhere they went like a race in the hippodrome at Ceasarea and an aluminum foil sword fight as crusaders in Akko! They found their guide to be energetic and knowledgeable and she accommodated each generation so well.  They loved her so much that they all got teary when it was time for good-bye.  Happy tears after a special trip to Israel.


Travel Tip: Back Up Your Documents

Before your next international trip, make sure to back up your documents.  Just in case.  Having a copy of your passport is the most obvious necessity; if you lose it, you lose your proof of entry. In some countries, that can be a huge roadblock to getting help. Scan and print a copy of your passport, or digitally save the images somewhere secure that you’ll have access to while you’re on the road.  Other documents that should be backed up include proof of travel insurance, health insurance, any relevant visas, and student or teacher IDs are crucial. It’s also a good idea to keep your credit card and banking information handy–and, of course, as secure and inconspicuous as possible.  Keep a hard copy of some of this information somewhere organized and accessible, in the off chance that you’ll need it.