Specials and News

Around the World with The Family Traveler

US/Canada Travel Ideas

Paws Up Christmas

Situated on an authentic working cattle ranch in western Montana, The Resort at Paws Up brings refined Christmas flair to the countryside each December with its Storybook Christmas. The luxury resort’s comprehensive Christmas Package offers your family five nights of accommodations in one of their private luxury lodges; all meals, snacks and nonalcoholic drinks and a personal visit from Santa. Plus get a fine-dining experience on Christmas Eve (with a special children’s party) and Christmas night, a custom-decorated Christmas tree in your lodge and gingerbread house building.  Also take advantage of the horse-drawn sleigh ride to explore the snowy countryside as you sip eggnog under the clear Montana skies.  The comprehensive package also includes a choice on half-day activity per person per day (such as dog sledding, cross country skiing, snow mobiles, tubing, indoor horseback riding lessons and more), holiday DVDs and transfers from the Missoula airport.

Hershey Holidays

Let Hersheypark get you into a festive mood this winter.  Their annual holiday event, Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, features more than two million twinkling lights, 30 family and kiddie rides along with Santa and his nine, live reindeer.  Additional holiday events abound and the Hotel Hershey brings it all together for your family with a special holiday package It includes: deluxe accommodations milk and cookies for four on your arrival night, one-day admission to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane per person, admission for one vehicle to Hershey Sweet Lights (a holiday drive-through spectacular), seasonal admission to Hershey Gardens, and admission to The Hershey Story’s Museum where the Little Elves Workshop includes hands-on ornament making.  Breakfast or lunch with Santa can also be arranged at Hersheypark and live shows will also be on the bill.  The package is available from November 10-December 30.

Cruises

The New Symphony in Town

This April, Royal Caribbean will reveal their newest ship, Symphony of the Seas. The Oasis class ship will be the largest at sea with a capacity of 5,535 passengers (higher when cabins have more than two passengers)!  After a summer in the western Mediterranean, she will move in November to Miami.  The ship will feature the most awesome family accommodation at sea with their Ultimate Family Suite.  This two-level suite with over 1,300 sq. ft. uses a slide to get down from the top level loft bedroom, a private cinema with popcorn maker, air hockey table, floor to ceiling Lego wall and a balcony bumper pool table.  It will sleep up to 8. Several new dining venues, entertainment and recreation will be showcased.  Symphony of the Seas also will debut a new check-in process Royal Caribbean calls Frictionless Arrival.  You will download an app to your smartphone before departure and use it to skip through check-in!

St. Jude Artwork at Sea

Carnival Cruise Line said the computer-controlled Dreamscape art installation in the atrium of the upcoming Carnival Horizon will use images created by patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.  The Dreamscape, a three-deck centerpiece in the Horizon’s atrium, will feature 33 artistic creations from patients of St. Jude, one of Carnival’s largest charitable partners. The 24-foot funnel-shaped centerpiece that debuted on Carnival Vista is comprised of more than 2,000 flexible LED tiles that have been customized for the shipboard environment. Each day, technicians program the rotating artwork based on the time of day, port or occasion.  For Carnival Horizon, the young artists were asked to create fun pieces with bright, bold colors showcasing their personalities. The Horizon’s maiden cruise departs April 2.  Founded by entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude’s opened in 1962 with a mission to find cures for childhood cancer, sickle cell and other deadly diseases.

Tropical Fun

Kids Sea Camp

Kids Sea Camp, specializing in family diving vacations for families with children as young as 5, has just announced new 2018 itineraries.  Led by experienced PADI divers and founded by Margot Peyton, a Women Diver’s Hall of Famer, this unique program has offered family dive trips for 18 years, with more than 7,000 children becoming certified. Ocean-oriented scuba programs are specially designed for adults with children from age 5 to 17, catering to beginners, divehards, handicapped and even non-divers. Offering small group departures, the programs include land-based activities such as yoga, culinary classes, paddle boarding, art classes, hiking, jungle biking, kayaking and more. Destinations include Belize, Indonesia, Palau and the Galapagos.  We recently met Margo at The Family Travel Association Summit and her dedication and passion for teaching families to dive is infectious.   As well as her dedication to safety.

Next Year in Bermuda

The Fairmont Southampton has released their 2018 Family Getaway Package.  Stay next year between May 1 and August 31 and receive a guaranteed connecting room for half off for children age 18 and under or get a free second room when traveling between January 1 to April 30 and again from September 1 to December 31!  Also included in your package is a welcome amenity gift for children and free access to the resort’s kids club.  Save on meals too. Children under 5 eat free from the children’s menu and children under 12 eat for half off the adult menu.  A 3-night minimum stay is needed.  The family-friendly resort showcases great golf, spa, kids club, beach club with watersports, plenty of dining options and summer ferry service to downtown Hamilton.

International Exploration

New at A&K

For 2018, luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent has crafted 13 small-group Luxury Travel Journeys just for families.  Brand new itineraries include Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and London & Paris.  Each journey features exclusive, locally-inspired moments and unexpected amenities designed just for A&K guests.  These include new-for-2018 Family Foodie Experiences, which offers an authentic taste of local cuisine, often with a playful twist. Children will also connect with nature, culture and local children as part of the Family Discoveries with hands-on workshops with artists, learning a bit of the local language, and the chance to Ride Like a Local, by pedicab or on camel back.  By limiting group size to no more than 24 guests, A&K opens up a world of insider-access opportunities.  This includes visits with locals in their own homes and crowd-free sightseeing with private museum openings.  You will also stay at the best hotels, boutique lodges and ships that combine superior service and luxuries with family-friendly amenities such as connecting rooms, complimentary Internet access and swimming pools, where available. Airport transfers and complimentary laundry are also included.

 

Scottish Holiday

Looking to spend winter break in Europe?  Edinburgh, Scotland provides a magical backdrop for a family Christmas or winter getaway. You will find holiday related fairground rides, shows, Christmas markets and a Christmas tree maze in Princes Street Gardens.  Stay at the iconic Balmoral Hotel with their Family Suite package that includes a suite plus complimentary room for your children with the convenience of in-suite check-in.  You also get breakfast daily for the whole family, a 50% discount on meals and beverages for 4-12 year-olds (free for 3 and under), complimentary Wi-Fi and in-house movies, Teddy Bear Turn-Down and a wide variety of child-friendly and age-appropriate amenities and benefits from this Rocco Forte hotel.  Other city highlights include the Edinburgh Castle, Royal Yacht Britannia, great museums and more in this birthplace city of Harry Potter!

News

Trip Review: The Family Travel Association Summit

Lauren just returned from The Family Travel Association’s annual Summit.  The gathering of family travel agents, family travel media/bloggers, family friendly suppliers, researchers as well as Royal Caribbean and association staff took place aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas which sailed out of Port Canaveral.  The Family Traveler was also the selected agency to book the cabins for the meeting (as we were the first agency to join) which allowed us the chance to better get to know all of the attendees.  A pre-cruise night stay at the Marriott Courtyard in Cocoa Beach included an informative dinner with local suppliers including hotels, activities and the port.  Then the 4-night cruise sailed to Nassau, but was unable to send tender boats to the private island of Cocoa Cay due to weather.  This gave us more opportunities to network and learn through keynote speakers, small group discussions and one-on-one meetings.  There were many highlights of the Summit including a discussion with Sven-Olaf Lindblad of Lindblad Expeditions about how to provide diverse aspiration for all ages while traveling, a variety of research to show the growth and direction of family travel, learning about and understanding the diversity of travelers and hearing about the Red Trunk Project which is a cultural initiative to spark global dialogue for a more inclusive future for children.  We met with suppliers as diverse as Kids Sea Camp (see above) to Martinhal Hotels and Resorts which are specifically designed for families and located in Portugal.  In Nassau, the show took place at the historical British Colonial Hilton.  Afterward, Lauren ventured to the Junkanoo World Museum with other agents to learn about this colorful festival, amazing costumes and history.  It proved to be a worthwhile experience despite its location outside of the downtown area.  The family-friendly experience includes hands on drumming or an art project based on Junkanoo costume techniques. The Family Traveler Association’s mission is to inspire family to travel – and travel more – while advocating for travel as an essential part of every child’s education.  This is a practice we greatly value in our agency and through the trips we book for you each and every day.  Check out http://familytravel.org for more details and to see their diverse membership.

Travel Tip: Travel Apps

Travel Tip: Travel Apps

Thanks to Travel Weekly magazine for this extensive list of a variety of travel apps and their functions:

Duolingo: This app is designed to teach the basics of a wide variety of languages in the format of a computer game. You must answer questions correctly before proceeding to the next step. This is a perfect download for first-time visitors to virtually anywhere on our planet.

EatSmartGuides: This app for travelers helps you identify local foods and beverages so you can decipher menus like a local. Akin to having your own menu translator sharing your chopsticks.

Eventseeker: Shows you key art exhibits, foodie events and festivals happening in the cities you visit.

TheFork: Another valuable app for Europe-bound travelers. TheFork points out the best restaurants and offers maps, reviews, sample menu items and even discount coupons for many featured restaurants.

Foursquare: Download this one just to see what all the buzz is about. Just tell the app what your family’s favorite foods are and it will show you only places that meet your profile. You can choose to follow those with similar tastes worldwide.

GateGuru: While not quite as good as having your travel personally monitored by one of the better flight tracking services, Gateguru is a great guide to local airport food along your route, amenities in your terminal, weather and the latest gate and departure information. It also shows you nearest alternate airports, just in case.

Google Translate: This is a rather obvious inclusion. The app enables you to simply speak into your phone and have their words instantly translated to the local language. But what is really cool is that this app no longer requires phone service.

ICE (In Case of Emergency): ICE records details about your personal medical conditions along with your doctor’s contact and insurance information, which it stores for translation in 10 languages. Best of all, it can be accessed in an emergency even if your phone is locked.

LiveTrekker: Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but this app can create an entire digital journal of one’s travels using a red line to trace the exact route. It monitors speed and altitude, and users can add photos, videos and audio en route, returning home with a multimedia journal that can be shared with friends.

Seat Alerts: This valuable app monitors the available seats on a flight up until its departure from the gate. It is particularly valuable for last-minute cancellations or when no-shows open up better seat availability.

Spotted by Locals: This site offers guides to 55 European cities and 11 in North America curated by locals with the latest information on what is cool and trendy. The best spots for music, shopping, coffee and bars are included. The price of the app includes free updates for life.

TimeOut: Insanely popular with those under 40, TimeOut is a comprehensive repository of things to do and see in cities around the world. It features everything from restaurants and bars to major attractions and events, Travelers to any city will be able to monitor everything going on around them. The app can even book restaurants and concerts.

Wolframsunexposure: You enter your skin type, and the app tells you how long you can safely stay in the sun before getting burned. It is based on where you are and the time of day, even taking into account the type of skin cream you are using.