Try Some Winter Family Getaways This Season

October 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I like winter. I like the bracing cold. I like the snow, although I don’t like the ice so much. I like seeing my breath and feeling little icicles form on my mustache. I love walking outside during the first snowfall when everything is so quiet because the snow has absorbed the sound.

Of course, I don’t get that here in Central Florida. We barely cracked the low 40s this past winter, and I miss it. Mostly.

So if I want a winter getaway, I’ve got a few places I would like to go in December or even January to get my snow fix for the year. Maybe you can check one of them out this coming winter and tell me how it goes.

Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine
I once spent a couple summer days at The Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Hollow, New Hampshire. It was gorgeous, and I nearly got to spend the summer there. I also remember wishing I could come back for the winter, because they had some great winter activities as well: horseback riding, winter hikes, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, bonfires, and sitting inside by the fire with a book laughing at the weirdos out in the cold.
Read more

How to Avoid Getting Sick on Your Next Vacation

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It was certainly a honeymoon to remember, as my new bride and I both got a stomach virus three days into our Disney World trip. As we lay in bed, battling our illness, trying to salvage what was left of our honeymoon, we realized we had been contaminated by someone who attended our wedding. We hugged and kissed so many people that day though, we couldn’t be sure of the guilty party.

(First of all, if you’ve been sick, or you’re fighting an illness, don’t go to a wedding!)

But we could have just as easily gotten sick on that vacation, and as I’ve been traveling more and more, I’m realizing how lucky I’ve been to not get sicker over the years.

So as you start traveling for the fall and winter, here are a few tips for you to remember to avoid getting sick on your next vacation.
Read more

Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Families

November 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

One vacation on my wish list is one of the all-inclusive resorts I keep hearing about. To stay at a place where everything is managed for you, from the food to the activities to the entertainment. The only thing missing from my dream vacation would be my own little golf cart that I could drive everywhere, including through the buffet line at breakfast.

All-inclusive resorts cover everything while you’re there. And there’s plenty to do at most, depending on which resort you choose. They’re also more budget friendly than you might imagine: you can save as much as 25 percent on an all-inclusive resort, compared to a pay-as-you-go vacation, which may often have a few surprise charges, like an expensive meal or impulsively chosen extra activity.

The Balsams Grand Resort at Dixville Notch, NH, one of many all-inclusive resorts in the US.

The Balsams Grand Resort at Dixville Notch, NH.

All-inclusive resorts also eliminate the need for a rental car. Generally, everything is on property, so you can always get a resort shuttle, or hire a cab. Plus, they usually have airport shuttles to pick you up and take you there.

If you are interested in an all-inclusive resorts vacation, you don’t have to leave the country to do so. There are several located within the United States that are also exceptionally family friendly.

If you like Vermont, you may like the Tyler Place Family Resort on Lake Champlain, featuring 165 acres and a mile of private shore on the lake. There are craft classes you can take, sail boarding, paddle boarding, bicycling, swimming, canoeing, and plenty of places to sit on Adirondack chairs and hammocks and just relax. They have activities for the kids throughout the day, and you can even turn them loose for a kids’ dinner, while you and your spouse relax in a quiet dining room.
Read more

How to Introduce Your Non-Disney Friends to Disney World

October 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

When we moved to Florida a year ago, I wasn’t too keen on the idea, unless we moved to Orlando. If we didn’t pick Orlando, I wasn’t going.

“Why?” my wife asked.

“Because it’s the most magical place on Earth,” I said. “I want to be near Disney World.”

So, yes, we absolutely moved to Orlando because of Disney World.

One of my favorite sights at Disney World is Spaceship Earth at Epcot

One of my favorite sights at Disney World is Spaceship Earth at Epcot.

It’s my wife’s fault, really. She was the one who got me hooked on our honeymoon. I was all in after half a day at Magic Kingdom. And now, we’re annual pass holders, and we’ll visit one of the parks for a few hours every couple of weeks, or hit the Food and Wine Festival and Flower and Garden Festival several times each.

But we also have a lot of out-of-town friends who want to visit Disney World for the first time, and there are a few things we recommend so they can have the biggest amount of fun in a short time. These are our top four Disney World tips for new Disney families.
Read more

Change Up Your Roles on Vacation

July 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If your family is like mine, everyone has specific roles. Someone does the dishes, someone mows the lawn, someone cooks dinner, and still others go to work at a 9-to-5 job.

And yet, when we go on vacation, it seems like the only person to get a break is the person who has the actual job. Everyone else is still in their same roles as at home. (Well, the person mowing the lawn gets a break too.)

Coleman stove

My dad used to cook on a stove like this when we camped on our vacations.

When you’re a family traveling on a budget, one of the best ways to save money is to rent a house and cook meals in it, reducing the number of times you eat in a restaurant. In my family of five, we can spend $100 at a casual diner without putting much effort into it. But when we make our meals in a vacation house, we can stretch $100 over a week of dinners.
Read more

The 9-Step Hotel Safety Checklist Used by Some CIA Operatives

July 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You know how, when you’re on a mission, and you reach your hotel, you check for surveillance equipment, and secure the door against counter-intelligence operatives?

Not so much? Me neither.

Holiday Inn Express Daytona Beach ShoresDrew Dwyer does. He’s a Marine veteran and former CIA operative who shared his hotel check-in safety checklist with Entrepreneur.com. He’s been on countless missions in other countries, and developed a habit of making sure his hotel room was as safe as he could make it.

Our vacations may not be as danger-filled and exciting as Dwyer’s, but there are still a few things we can do to be safe while staying in a hotel. Here are a few of the items from Dwyer’s list.
Read more

Top Resorts/Hotel Brands for Families

March 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

As a family of five, hotel stays can be a little tricky. They’re cramped, crowded, and can make vacations pricey. So we’re always careful about where we stay when we hit the road. We’ll try to book ahead of time, but there are times we have to rely on Travelocity or remembering previous stays to find a hotel that meets our standards.

Holiday Inn Express Daytona Beach ShoresWhen we’re on the road, we have three criteria:

  1. The place has to be clean, or have a reputation for being clean. This is one time I favor chains over local options, because those chains have corporate standards to meet.
  2. We prefer a continental breakfast. It’s actually cheaper in the long run.
  3. We want a pet friendly hotel. It varies from hotel to hotel, depending on ownership, but you can find them with some research.

Last year, Parents Magazine picked their own choices for Top Family Friendly Hotels, naming as their top five budget hotels, the Residence Inn, Hyatt Place, Springhill Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, and Wingate by Wyndham.
Read more

Last updated by at .