Family Travel Guides
Before signing up for a tour with the grandkids, check out the following:
Family Travel Guides Catalog (Carousel Press, P.O. Box 6038, Berkeley, CA 94706- 0038; 510-527-5849; email@example.com, www.carousel-press.com).
Take Your Kids to Europe by Cynthia Harriman. This immensely popular book, gives practical and sensible advice on travel with all ages.
Just about every tour company now offers some opportunity to take the kids along. Children can easily get bored hanging around with adults, so try to find just the right balance of education, interaction with people and cultures, recreation, and fun. Here are some of my favorites:
Special Expeditions (www.expeditions.com) offers a selection of trips that include learning combined with scavenger hunts and educational puzzles for kids. Small company-owned ships go to remote island locations where all generations can study wildlife and nature.
Earthwatch Institute, www.earthwatch.org. Join dozens of scientific field research expeditions
worldwide for 2-3 week long teams, helping university professors in
disciplines from archaeology to zoology, share field costs, field training
provided. No special skills required, but any are welcome.
Global Volunteers (www.globalvolunteers.org) encourages families to join together in short-term tax-deductible volunteer programs worldwide. Work includes healthcare, teaching, construction, and natural resource preservation. No special skills or foreign language required.
The Parker Company (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.theparkercompany.com). In addition to finding rental properties for travelers, the Parker Company arranges homestays combined with wine tours, cooking and painting classes, and creative writing programs, all in Italy. This is one of the best agencies for finding villas, cottages, castles, farmhouses, and apartments.
Property Rentals Holiday Home Pages (email@example.com, www.holiday-home-pages.co.uk) is an international Internet directory of hundreds of rental property suppliers, organized by country and region.
Idyll, Ltd. (www.untours.com) arranges apartment rentals for families and provides local contacts for orientation.
British Travel Int’l. (www.britishtravel.com) lists city apartments in Paris and London as well as country cottages in the rest of Europe. Send for their catalogs.
Rentals in Italy (www.rentvillas.com) lists hundreds of properties in Tuscany alone.
Tuscany Now, www.tuscanynow.com, lists over 60 private villas and apartments in Tuscany, all with swimming pool.
Home Exchange (admin@HomeExchange.com, www.HomeExchange.com). The largest open system Internet exchange program has no catalog, just web sites.
Today virtually every ship includes special facilities for all ages. Investigate before you sign on, though, and be aware that on a few sailings children under a certain age may be excluded. Contacts: www.familycruises.com, 301-980-1111; www.atlastravelweb.com, 800-444-2175; www.quinwell.com, 800-339-8892.
Carnival Cruise Line (800-CARNIVAL, www.carnival.com). Ten “Fun Ships” offer a children’s program divided into four age categories. A trained staff oversees pool and playroom events and takes care of babysitting.
Celebrity Cruise Line (800-242-6374, www.celebrity-cruises.com). Children’s programs are not available on all sailings and there are no shore excursions specifically for children. Trained counselors take care of 3- to 17-year-olds in four age categories.
Disney Cruise Line (407-566-7000, www.disney.com). Probably the most child-focused sailing line around, Disney offers programs for five age groups and even a separate deck for kids.
Holland America Line (800-426-0327, www.hollandamerica.com). New this year are kids-only shore excursions in Ketchikan, Juno, and Sitka, Alaska that include canoe rides, treasure hunts, and craft sessions.
Norwegian Cruise Line (800-327-7030, www.ncl.com). Programs geared to four age groups are led by highly trained counselors. Special kids’ menus are available at every meal.
Princess Cruises (800-774-6237, www.princesscruises.com). Activities and facilities vary with each Love Boat, depending on the numbers and ages of participants on board. One of the most popular on-board programs, called “Save our Seas,” is designed to help children understand about the oceans and marine life.