Sunday, April 19, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg and Your Family

In 1781, George Washington came to Williamsburg as Commander-in-Chief of the American army. As a student at the College of William and Mary, Thomas Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia. Patrick Henry delivered his infamous line, “Give me liberty or give me death,” speech and was also Governor of Virginia.

On May 11 to May 13, 2007, Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown celebrated the 400th Anniversary of America. Since all three cities in Virginia claimed they were the original birthplace of our great nation, it seemed only fair that all three celebrated this momentous occasion.

As visitors to Colonial Williamsburg, your family will become immersed in the rich heritage and historical significance of this city. You will explore the many sites and sounds associated with Yorktown, were the last battle of the revolution took place; discover how the Indians, Europeans, and African Americans came together to form the US; and truly understand the words and ideas that embedded three unique and distinct words in the Constitution of the United States – freedom, equality, and independence.

Your family will learn about the revolution that spawned a free republic under the leadership of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Visit the College of William and Mary, which was attended by Thomas Jefferson. In addition, you can take a local tour of the three cities: Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg where you will be transported back to the beginning of our country’s history and how the fight for freedom and equality led to where we are today.

Your kids will be enthralled by the Fifers and Drummers as they perform their unique skills. More importantly, your kids will learn that only boys were allowed to become part of this regiment. Today, however, both girls and boys are able to participate and continue the tradition of military music. Equality rules!

In Colonial Williamsburg, your family will learn about life as it was over 400 years ago. You will be able to meet people who lived during the revolution by participating in an interactive program. This program includes people of historic towns who dress in costume and re-enact life as it was then. You can visit the sites which have become treasure troves of historical and cultural data studied by history buffs and by those who wish to become American citizens.

In addition, there are some very special theme parks you can visit as well, including: Busch Gardens and Water County, where you can take park in the variety of water adventures available to your family.

Understanding the history of our country is as important as embarking on your family tree. Colonial Williamsburg offers a glimpse into the past, and is not only a fun place to visit, but offers a unique educational experience your family will never forget.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Finding the Best “Kids Stay Free” Deals

One of the most affordable vacations for families encompasses packages wherein kids stay free. The good news is that there is a mountain of online sites which offer such package deals for families. Let’s take a look at a few vacation spots that are all inclusive.

* Holiday Inn in Aruba
* Kaanapali Shores in Maui, Hawaii
* Barcelo Beach Resort in Ixtapa, Mexico
* Melia Cabo Real Beach & Golf Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico
* Sunset Beach Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica
* Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas
* Crown Paradise in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
* Riu Bambu in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

In addition, you can also find kids fly and stay free in most of the Orlando packages as well. If you are thinking about traveling to Europe, the Novotel chain is offering free stay for kids ages 16 and under. With a few hours time, you can find virtually any travel destination that accommodates kids for free and offers inclusive air and hotel packages as well.

Also, you can also check with the airlines, such as Delta, who is also offering kids stay free packages to destinations including: Hawaii, Las Vegas, Orlando, Florida, Cancun, Cozumel, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.

Other online sites offer kids stay and eat free to places in Mexico, including: Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Hualtulco, Ixtapa, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.

If you prefer a cruise, many of the top cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line offer kids stay free packages to many Caribbean destinations.

For more information on kids stay free deals, check your local papers every week and on Sunday. They offer travel packages designed for families and/or highlight resorts, cruises, and other packages along with the price, including air fare.

Since the rise of online travel sites, more and more families have the opportunity to find the best deals on packages around the world. Furthermore, whether the packages include airfare or not, you can certainly find just as many sites which offer great savings on flights as well.

Take the time to research the many sites available online and you will be sure to find destinations that offer kids stay free deals. Also, you may also find destinations that are a bit off the beaten path. Whether you are traveling during the summer months or off season, there is a package out there for your family.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Adding Activity and Involvement to your Vacation

When deciding upon a destination for a family vacation, it is important to choose places which are conducive to kids and adults as well. Including a mixture of fun, learning, and
adventures are prerequisites for any great family vacation.

For example, a trip to the Grand Canyon is not only fun but educational as well. Perhaps you have a teen who loves photography. This would be a perfect place for him to exercise his photographic skills. Or perhaps one of your kids is proficient in a specific second language, such as German. Traveling to Germany can afford the teen the opportunity to practice the language and engage in conversations with local people throughout the trip.

Introducing children and young adults to different cultures, whether in the US or abroad, can become an invaluable tool both educationally and socially. A trip to the Amish country can be just as rewarding as a trip to Japan. In addition, the more children and young teens travel, the better equipped they will be when heading off to college as well as gaining a better understanding of other cultures and people.

As children, we didn’t have the opportunities most kids have today. A family trip was more for enjoyment and relaxation than anything else. Today, families can venture to far off places where, for a short time, they can learn about local customs, recipes, music, and the daily lives of those living in a small town. For example, perhaps you are taking the family on a trip to Greece. One of the most magical places is Santorini, an island off Greece. All of the homes are white, and the town’s main source of food is derived from the sea. Donkeys are used to transport people up the hilly slopes to the center of town. People come from all over the world to watch the sunset in Santorini.

Kenya is another place in which a family can enjoy the activities offered and, at the same time, learn the significance and importance of wildlife conservation. Visiting a Masai village to learn how they live, work, and play is an experience no child or adult can ever forget. For example, photographs of Masai women are forbidden as they believe it steals their souls. Respecting the tradition of other cultures is just part of the learning experience when traveling to any foreign country.

Experiencing life in different countries, up close and personal, is important for our kids. Learning tolerance, respect, and preservation of our environment and wildlife are equally important. The next time you decide to take a vacation, think about the places which are not only enjoyable but offer more than just a typical vacation. Whether it’s traveling to Lancaster, Pa. to learn the customs of the Amish or taking a flight to Africa, where wildlife conservation has become more urgent than ever before; family vacations can incorporate activity, involvement, and a learning experience unlike any other.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Camping Free Style

One of the more affordable vacations your family can engage in is camping. Whether it’s choosing a location at a state park or camping grounds in national forests, you can be assured it will be a family vacation filled with memorable moments. While there are several methods one may choose when preparing for a camping trip, most people prefer the free style, that is, pitch a tent and let the good times roll.

Even though you have to purchase tents, sleeping bags, and other gear for your trip; the cost is minimal as compared to utilizing an RV or staying at a camp site that offers plenty of amenities, which tend to minimize the true camping experience.

Camping free style affords you the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, have conversations around the campfire, live off the land, and become one with nature. Camping combines adventure, excitement, fun, and a rare opportunity to discover just how rich an experience this type of family vacation can be.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to purchase the basic camp equipment such as a tent,
preferably one that will house the entire family, food, a cooler, ice, sleeping bags, camping stove, as well as the following items: pillows, cleaning supplies, folding table, cookware, utensils, cups, and toilet paper (especially if there are no restrooms around), first aid kit, and board games, fishing gear, flashlights, and extra batteries.

Expert campers recommend purchasing a tarp to place under the tent, especially in inclement weather, to prevent water from seeping into the tent. It will also serve as a tent floor as well. Also recommended is a battery lamp. These items can be purchased at any of your local department stores.

In addition, now that you have the basic supplies, you can always supplement your gear with additional items you need the next time you go camping. You can easily check online to find a campsite in your state, as well as the low cost for staying in a national park or forest reserve.

Spending quality time with family has become the exception these days. Camping gives a family the opportunity to come together, without any distractions, and bond in a unique setting. Whether dad takes the kids fishing, while mom has some leisure time; or mom takes the kids hiking while dad enjoys some quiet time – or whether the entire family engages in both activities – camping reunites the family unit in a way no other type of vacation can.

If you are looking for an affordable vacation, camping is the way to go. Think of all the laughs and memories you’ll be able to share with each other in years to come!