Archive for the ‘Family Travel’ Category


Things are busy this time of year as we prepare for the end of the year.   Travel specials are plentiful like the season.

This is also the time of year when the leaves are changing and the air is getting crisp.  Football is in full season.  Apples are ripe and pumpkins are ready for picking too.  This is my favorite time of year!  

Along with this season, comes Halloween and Thanksgiving before winter sets in and Christmas is here before you know it.  Whether you take a hay ride with the family at your favorite pumpkin patch or sip apple cider at a bonfire while making smores, this is the season to explore the outdoors.   Maybe take a road trip to New England or the Great Smoky mountains for leaf watching or make your favorite Halloween costumes from scratch.  Travel local or travel far and wide.  One of my favorite fall memories is a Canada/New England cruise out of Boston we took years ago.

Whatever you choose, enjoy this season as the weather cools and winter nips at your heels.  Spend time with the ones you love and be thankful for each day you have together.    Enjoy the season!

Happy Travels!


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I was thinking of these tips just the other day as I was planning a last-minute trip for a family of five including three teenagers!  

The family summer vacation has been planned, hotels picked out or maybe a family cruise, bags are being packed and anticipation of the travel is escalating.   But traveling as a teen in today’s world presents more challenges in years past.    Yet with the right guidelines in place, a fabulous vacation can still be a reality.

So here is my travel advice for teens:

  • Program into your cell phone an “In Case of Emergency” or “ICE” entry.  The entry can be your parent’s phone number or the person you are traveling with.  Apparently emergency workers such as the police are trained to check cell-phone address books for an ICE entry to find a person to contact.
  • There’s safety in numbers and no exploring should be done without a buddy. Before you take off on adventure though, also program the hotel’s number in your cell phone and make sure you have a hotel card or stationery with the address on it.
  • This is common sense but bears repeating.  Do not accept rides, drinks or food from strangers.
  • Don’t walk around listening to your iPod or chatting on your cell phone. In new surroundings, you need to be aware of what’s going on around you at all times.  Besides this way you can take in all the beautiful scenery around you as well as the local culture.
  • Be aware of the lack of privacy on most of the Wi-Fi free systems, whether in a coffee shop or in an airport.  Gmail uses a secure login page by default, which means that the username and password are encrypted. But the actual mail can easily be read by an eavesdropper. Yahoo Mail and Hotmail offer secure login as options.
  • Finally, set a protocol for the requirement of a password should a stranger say your parents have sent him or her to fetch you in an emergency.  The password remains the same for every trip and outing.

Keep these safety tips in mind, always keep the communication open with your parents, and most of all have a fun vacation.   Before long you will be off to college and these trips will be memories!

Happy Travels!

Do you have some travel tips for teens?

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I was pixie dusted at an early age and grew up near Walt Disney World.   When I was a junior in college I was accepted into the Walt Disney World College Program and my dream of becoming a Cast Member was realized.   I worked as a lifeguard during that summer and loved every minute of it!  When I graduated from college I packed my belongings and dreams and headed back to the magical place in hopes of becoming the next marketing guru for Disney.   Though I didn’t become the next guru, I had the most wonderful time working for Disney and love to share my experiences with others. 

As a Cast Member we see so many different sides of Disney and the parks than the regular guests.  I have many stories to tell but here are just a few insider tips:

  • Nothing cools a hot summer evening than eating an ice cream cookie sandwich on Main Street U.S.A. at the Main Street Bakery while watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom!  Fun fact – the windows on Main Street U.S.A. contain names of people who have contributed to Walt Disney’s dream.   Walt Disney’s name is above the Ice Cream Parlor.


  • Take naps!  I saw so many guests in the middle of a hot summer day with their children in tow who were obviously beyond tired.  Tickets are expensive and we all try to maximize our time.   However, take a break in the heat of the afternoon and take a nap – even adults too!  You will feel revitalized and ready for the evening parades and fireworks and a much a happier family.


  • Don’t forget Downtown Disney.  This is where I worked (at the time called Disney Village Marketplace).  It is home to Disney Quest as well as Cirque du Soleil but also shops, gardens and yummy eateries.  It is a great place to visit the first night you arrive in Orlando before you head to the parks for the rest of the week.  If you are staying at Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter you can take a free water taxi to the complex too.


  •  Look for Mickey!   I don’t mean just the actual Mouse but hidden Mickeys in the rides and attractions. It has been told that there is a Mickey silhouette in many of Disney the attractions.  For example, on Splash Mountain he can be found near the steamboat as an outline in the clouds.
  • When you want to meet Mickey without fighting a crowd?  A must-visit place is the Judge’s Tent at the Magic Kingdom – a designated location at Mickey’s Toontown Fair where Guests of all ages can meet the famous mouse for autographs and pictures.


  • A bit of Disney trivia.  According to legend, Walt Disney first came up with the idea of Mickey Mouse while travelling on a train from New York back to California.  He had just lost his rights to Oswald the Rabbit and he came up with the idea for the mouse.  He originally named him Mortimer but his wife Lillian convinced him to change it to Mickey Mouse because it sounded cuter.

Most importantly, I so often saw families and individuals just enjoying time together. During the holidays, it made me miss my family more!  It’s not about the souvenirs, what rides you ride or where you stay, it is the time spent together that makes the memories! At a Disney destination, those memories are certainly more magical!

I will always fondly remember my years when I worked for the Mouse.  I look forward to sharing new experiences with my family as I hope you do too! 

Happy travels!

What are your favorite Disney vacation memories?

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It feels like summer just started but the summer will be winding down before you know it!  As you look at the calendar you wish you could get away just for one last hoorah before the school year starts.  It is not too late to plan a last-minute summer getaway.  There are so many great deals out there but here are a few general ideas to get you motivated!

Take a short road trip.    I know as a kid I loved the swimming pool at whatever hotel we were staying at.  Take in some local scenery near where you live whether that is the beaches, plains or mountains.   Call the hotel directly for any last-minute inventory pricing. Order pizza and enjoy time at the pool with the kids.

A visit with the Mouse.  Walt Disney World has extended its Free Dining Plan promotion to include Quick Service Meal Plan with many packages through October.   This can be an additional savings of 30%.  Also, Orlando offers some wonderful discounts at local attractions through the visitor’s center as well at http://www.orlandoinfo.com/.

Explore the outdoors.     Cabin rentals towards the end of summer are at great rates.   Save money by cooking many of your meals and pack a picnic lunch for day hike.   Go fishing or rent a boat for the day for some family fun.   Many national parks and state parks are offering free weekends for visitors as well.  Maybe make it a family camping adventure!

Find your park here http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparksbystate.htm.   

Set sail.   There are over 45 US ports that cruise ships leave from and the deals can be found even this time of year.  Royal Caribbean for example is running a family deal with savings of over $100 per person!  Take a short weekend cruise or take the family on a 7-night cruise to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Alaska or Canada/New England.

Take a vacation in your own backyard.    Does your city have several major attractions such as an aquarium, museums, and sport venues?   Get a great weekend rate at a downtown hotel and play tourist in your own city!   Check out http://www.citypass.com/ for great savings on local attractions in your city or a city near you.  Ask for resident specials too!

It is truly not about the destination itself but the journey you take as a family that matters the most.  Try to get away even if for a long weekend and take some time before the rush of the school year to enjoy some time together.  Before you know it next summer will be here!

Happy Travels!

Do you have a favorite family getaway to share?

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