Do something unexpected and different with your family this year. Many parents feel the counting down of time with their kids (I know I am...2.5 years left with my oldest). Create memories and a family bonding experience they will never forget. If you are looking for alternatives to the beach, consider these options.
1) THE COAST OF CALIFORNIA
A family trip to California offers it all...great weather year round, sight seeing in San Fran, LA and in between along the Pacific Coast Hwy. You can still squeeze in some beach time on this trip!
2) THE FLORIDA KEYS
If you can't go without the beach, this is the trip for you. Fantastic snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, fishing and the different keys are within easy driving distance from each other. TIP: pick a more family oriented key for your base, otherwise, you may be hanging out with the spring breakers!
3) SKI TRIP
This is one of my favorite family bonding trips! There's nothing like skiing the slopes together. Given the amount of snow the west is getting this year, this is a great option (especially if your spring break is in March but early April may still be great).
4) NEW YORK CITY
One of my favorite cities! There are endless things to do here for the family...sight seeing, history and just watching them take in this amazing city. Spring is a great time to visit this expensive city...flights and accommodations will be more affordable than visiting during the Fall and holidays.
If you want to take your family to Europe, the spring is a great time. Most families take this trip during the summer when it is peak. The spring will be more affordable and way less crowded. Italy is a great option for families...the coast, the countryside, fascinating cities, food and unbelievable Gelato!
**2 bonus options, but pricey during spring break: Hawaii and Turks and Caicos. Both are great family trips to put on your list!
5) FESTIVALS...the Fall is the most popular season for festivals. Everything from music, food, beer/wine or local crafts. Another fun activity to add to your itinerary!
4) WEATHER...the summer heat is gone, but the need for a heavy coat is typically not necessary. The perfect temps for travel and ideal for sight seeing!
3) COLORS...the Fall season is full of changing colors everywhere from the NYC to California in the US and Tuscany, Italy to the English countryside in Europe. TIP: For visiting Canada in the Fall, the colors peak earlier than most places in late Sept/early Oct.
2) LESS CROWDED...sight seeing is SO much more enjoyable with less people! The lines are shorter and the most popular attractions are not as crowded = a more pleasant experience!
1) AND THE #1 REASON (NO SURPRISE) IS LESS MONEY! The Fall is called the "Shoulder Season" and comes with a savings for you! Everything from airlines running deals, hotels running promotions and B&Bs are more negotiable.
Pictures from L to R: NYC, Napa Valley, Umbria region in Italy
1) Check-in later (at least after 2:00). The closer to the evening the better chance the front desk will know which rooms are available/booked.
2) Make sure to mention special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.). Call ahead to make this request.
3) Become a regular...if you travel to the same place often, stay in the same hotel. You will become known and they will want to reward your loyalty.
4) Do not ask with other guests around...the front desk will not want to start a chain reaction.
5) Join a hotel rewards program. There are many perks, including a possible upgrade.
6) Be nice! Front desk clerks are used to rude and demanding customers. Your chances are much greater if you ask with a smile!
7) If you really want to secure your upgrade chances, TIP. No more than $20 is necessary. Yes...money talks!
Traveling with your kids when they are young is very doable, but know yourself and what you can handle. For me, the magic number was 4 yrs old. I was not willing to travel beyond a beach trip with a baby/toddler. But, many parents do! The key is your attitude and expectations...remember, traveling with your kids is not a leisurely vacation, it's an adventure! BELOW are 7 reasons you should consider traveling with your kids....
1) CREATING EXPERIENCES: You are not just creating memories, you are creating experiences and life experiences are what shape us into who we are as individuals.
2) A NEW PERSPECTIVE: Many kids, including mine, live in a bubble that includes their friends, school and community. Getting them out of this bubble to see other cultures, how other people live or trying new food is good for them.
3) EXPAND THEIR MINDS: When kids stretch themselves outside of their comfort zones, they will ultimately feed their confidence for their everyday life.
4) HELP YOUR KIDS ADJUST TO CHANGE: Lots of kids dislike change. Traveling with your kids is a natural way to help them learn to deal with change and the unexpected.
5) CREATING LIFELONG MEMORIES: It's funny how some of my best memories come from when we were the most stressed. Like the time my 3 kids were crammed in the backseat of a teeny, tiny European rental car arguing over their legs/arms touching each other. Meanwhile, my husband was trying to drive into Paris!! I think they were grounded from gelato for the rest of the day. We laugh about it now (but not then!!).
6) FAMILY BONDING TIME: In our culture, we are all so busy and many people do not make enough time for uninterrupted quality family time. A scheduled trip is a great way to make this happen.
7) FOSTER A LOVE FOR TRAVEL: All 3 of my kids now have a love for travel and exploring new places due to our travels together. They will one day create their own adventures, and eventually with their own children!