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Carnival Corporation is having a rough week, from ship fires, to armed robberies, to barred ports of call. Coupled with the Costa Concordia disaster, it’s understandable that travelers may be a bit more reluctant to book a cruise for their vacation time. But despite the bad press, and perhaps to some extent because of it, this is a great time to find cruise deals; and scores of them are available right now.
January through March is what the cruise industry refers to as “wave season” and it’s the time of the year that the most aggressive deal and advertising campaigns are launched and, consequently, when most cruise reservations are made. Even so, demand for the season isn’t down and deals abound; the industry still wants to fill its cabins. What this means for you is that your cruise deal options are wide and varied. What you want to watch out for especially are flash sales and special offers and rates.
Summer is no longer around the corner. It has noisily turned the corner. And when it rolls up on June 21st, the National Park Service will honor it by waiving admission fees at the parks that levy them.
Other immediate signs of the season? Pretty much all schools will be out for summer by June 28th, and families everywhere will be trying to get invited to Fourth of July barbecues in lieu of hosting them. And, of course, there will be an onslaught of summer camping tips, several of which will be geared toward families. Here are a few favorite nuggets of wisdom.
After more than 11 years of parenting I’m still refining my travel med kit. I usually pack a bunch of ointments, sprays, and salves, but there was definitely a time, probably very early on, when I was a lot more careful and thorough and current about what to bring on family vacations.
So I reviewed the literature, as they say, and identified some products and preventatives that we all might consider packing on our next trip.
Except for truly spectacular pictures (and I don’t take many of those), I rarely print my vacation photos. I’m generally content to post my images online, share them with friends, and relive the trip virtually – all without harming a single tree or spending too much cash.
Even so, there’s something romantic about seeing a printed, physical portrait of the places I’ve visited, which is why I love Photos to Art (www.photostoart.com), an offshoot of online home décor store Art.com that converts digital images into wall-worthy prints, canvases, and other framed pieces of art.
I tested the service earlier this month, and it’s pretty straightforward: Upload your best photos (I opted for a candid scene of a bookseller setting up shop on a Madrid side street), select the size you’d like (you can print high-resolution photos as large as 42” x 64”), and choose a frame. I went for the wood-mounted version, but canvas prints, acrylic-mounted photos, classic frames, and plain prints are also available.
If it’s cold where you live and you’re looking down the barrel of a week-long staycation with your children between Christmas and New Year’s, you have to know that your expenses are going to add up rapidly. My math is only rudimentary (my wife’s fond of saying that “Paul and finance don’t go together”) but I figure the cost of my family’s restaurant meals, hot drinks and snacks for outings lasting longer than 20 minutes, plus miscellaneous “I feel guilty for not taking you all somewhere warm” treats will set me back about $125 daily. If this budget seems indulgently high, perhaps that validates my wife’s comment. But I suspect many of you will end up confronting similar costs if you remain home in the cold next week. So here’s an idea. Find a nearby Marriott with an indoor pool that’s participating in the chain’s Escape! Family Time package.
If your kids are pretty healthy throughout the year but always manage to get sick immediately before a holiday vacation, I probably won’t be able to stop you from getting aggravated or invoking Murphy’s Law. But I can assure that you’re not alone and that your child’s ill-timed illness has little to do with Murphy.
“Holiday colds and flus just in time for the holidays may be due in part to depleted immune systems,” says registered nurse and author Anya Clowers (www.jetwithkids.com). “Eating junk food, drinking festive drinks, crazy busy schedules, and cold weather combined with shared space indoors and on airplanes creates the perfect environment for viruses to take over,” she says, adding that ensuring that your family’s getting ample sleep, hydrating, and observing “good hand washing do make a difference” during your trip. Read more
A few weeks ago while at a martial arts tournament where my daughter was competing, I was chatting with another parent about how for hours on end, our kids really didn’t get a chance to go to the bathroom. The act isn’t forbidden, but if you’ve been to enough sporting-type events you know that it’s inconvenient for these kids to break away. The mom I was talking with noted that when she tried to get her son to use the bathroom before leaving home that day his reply was, “Don’t worry mom, I’ll go into school mode.”
Yes, he said. The toilets at his school are evidently so disgusting that he wills himself to hold it in all day if he has to go to the bathroom. Read more
The idea of a sleep concierge is nothing new, at least to New York City midtown hotel The Benjamin, who originated the job about a decade ago to pamper restless out-of-towners. Recognizing that one of a parent’s more irritating issues is a child who’s either fighting sleep or claims she’s too excited to attempt it, the hotel is introducing a new program geared toward getting your young ones to bed.
The program, known as the Winks’ Kidzzz Club, is geared toward kids 2-12 and makes thoughtful amenities available, such as kid-sized bathrobes, bedtime books, and pillows tricked out with lullaby-playing iPods. But perhaps the biggest club perk is knowing that Benjamin sleep concierge Anya Orlanska is on duty to dole out tips geared toward vacationing kids.
“Being in a new environment or the excitement of traveling sometimes makes it challenging for kids to fall asleep,” Orlanska suggests, which is why I have to chuckle at her tip to “stick to your bedtime and napping routine if possible,” because speaking for my own vacationing kids, it’s never possible. Read more
The ShermansTravel Deals team hand-picks the special breed of deals that promises free perks ? no strings attached. Good little boys and girls stay for free in a suite with parents (maximum of two children) at the five-star, all-inclusive, $257/night Barceló Los Cabos Palace Deluxe on the Sea of Cortez through December 23. This offer covers taxes, alcoholic beverages, daily entertainment, and entrance to their kids-only, water playground, while guests enjoy jetted tubs and furnished terraces in every room. For reservations, call 1-800-BARCELO or visit www.barceloloscabos.com.
Every year, more than 275 million people visit U.S. national parks, with the heaviest crowds descending between June and August. Which means if rafting through the Grand Canyon, hiking in Utah’s Zion National Park, or scaling the Half Dome at Yosemite are on your adventure agenda in the upcoming months, you should definitely keep reading – unless you like battling for a campsite, dodging video cameras, or sharing a trail with shrieking kids.
Still, with some savvy planning, you can still find a way to carve out a slice of solitude during your visit. Here, a few tips on how to avoid the masses at national parks this summer. You’ll leave refreshed, not rattled – just like nature intended. Read more
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