Family vacations: Tips for maximizing the fun

After handling the logistical hurdles of flying with children, perfecting your family packing system and searching out the best bargains available, the main objective is

Rafts piloted by guides from Far Flung Outdoor

Rafts piloted by guides from Far Flung Outdoor Center emerge from Heath Canyon, carved by the Rio Grande through Big Bend National Park in Texas. (March 25, 2011) (Credit: AP)

After handling the logistical hurdles of flying with children, perfecting your family packing system and searching out the best bargains available, the main objective is to start having fun once you get where you're going. These tips represent some of my favorite ways to maximize family vacation getaways.


If you haven't experienced the national parks lately, you may want to give them a second look. Typical offerings include ranger-led hikes, educational wildlife experiences and, in many cases, phenomenal food. That's right, fine dining is an option when visiting a number of national parks, including gourmet rafting trips at Big Bend and lodge dining at Shenandoah with wild mushroom ravioli and blackberry cobbler.


These days, family resorts face steep competition for your travel dollars, resulting in fab perks that ease your bottom line. For example, at the Isla Verde Beach Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico, room rates can drop as low as $129 a night.

This price includes the resort's complimentary children's programming, which features chef-led cooking lessons, salsa dancing classes, movie nights and more. For parents trying to successfully implement a working vacation, the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa offers discounted pool cabana rentals for hotel guests.


Many hotels include passes to on-site or nearby theme and water parks to sweeten the family travel deal. At Wisconsin's Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, for example, off-peak travel rates are as low as $99 a night, and include guest passes to the four indoor water parks and a four-story dry play area. Add-on tickets for access to the resorts' other activities, including laser tag, a ropes course and bumper boats, are only $19.


The type of transportation you choose between daily activities can add a significant amount of "Wow!" factor for your kids. Teens, for example, tend to tune in for a Segway ride much more than a standard walking tour. Hiking through the jungle mud in Thailand forecasts a high likelihood of tears. Riding the same trail on an elephant instead? Huge hit. Ditto with camel riding versus walking in Petra, Jordan.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

Islip Town officials updated residents on the future 1 Town gives update on Roberto Clemente Park reopening
2 SBU lax player on pace to break NCAA scoring record
The Patchogue-Medford School District has set up an 3 LI school district asks for homework opinions
A Lynbrook village police officer suffered broken bones 4 Lynbrook officer hurt responding to bank call; 2 arrested
News 12 Interactive 5 News 12 Varsity Report for March 29

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Related Travel Stories

#n12travel headed to vermont Your Travel Photos

Whether you took a one-day getaway or a two-week tour of Europe, News 12 wants

Things to know before hitting the road with your pet

Traveling with pets is just like traveling with children in that it requires a little

A tour helicopter lifts off inside the Grand The great American vacation destination

With airfares to Europe on the rise, it looks as if Americans are planning to

Leaves begin to change color along the Swift Free things to do in New Hampshire

For a small state, New Hampshire offers a variety of free experiences in the fall,

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.