Finding Where To Go, What To Do: Family Travel Resources
Since long before I became a mother, I imagined (a dare say dreamed) of traveling to lots of far away places with my family. Friends who travel with their little ones and the examples of long-term family travel we've featured here in our blog have inspired me to no end. Certainly, I've started a bit on the right foot by starting my family abroad, but really that's just made the departure location different, right? Both long-term or short-term travel appeals to me and I'm starting to crave arrival gates far far away. I've got some favorite destination spots in mind; India, Ireland and Bali head up the list, but what are the best ways to get there, are they family friendly, and what sorts of things can we enjoy with our baby girl once we arrive? Babywearing, there seem few things we can't do with our child travel-wise, but thinking about these questions led me to start digging up some family-related travel resources. I've compiled some of them with notes here to help other parents like me get a little closer to the international travel we crave! Enjoy and I'd love to hear your own tips and experience if you'd like to share in the comments! The Usual Contenders Lonely Planet Who of us with stamped passports haven't loved and messed up well at least one Lonely Planet guide? Those books are pretty good if purchased recent to our trips. They have a Travel with Children Guide that I'm considering buying, as in one review that I read, it includes destination ideas all over the world and lots of how-to tips for packing, keeping everyone healthy, and "special" family circumstances like single-parent traveling, traveling with teens, children with special needs, etc. Reportedly, it's pretty broad as far as destinations go, so you'd still want to do more specific research and probably get the Lonely Planet Guide for that local, but sounds like an especially good primer for parents taking the international travel plunge for the first time. All that aside, the Lonely Planet website is pretty helpful, too. The blog offers a lot of direct experience and has a nice forum where you can join groups like World Family Travel to swap stories, get ideas and the like. Because the site is destination-based, it doesn't have the usual family travel section other travel sites have, so you'll want to dig right into their Thorn Tree travel forum and head to The Lobby where you'll find the forum Kids To Go, get ideas, then head back to the site to explore the destinations and armchair travel a bit while you dream of your little wearing a sari or swimming in the Adriatic, or something else muy deliciosa!Frommers Like every major travel site, they've got a section for family travel ideas and tips. There's a decent blog on Frommers, too that includes some family-oriented material (though it is definitely weighted on the commercial end with nods to places like Disney and Club Med, lol) and you can always use their forum to get advice from other travelers (though admittedly it doesn't seem highly-trafficked). All-in-all Frommer's isn't really my kind of travel site, but it might be yours! Easy and clear, albeit mainstream all the way. TripAdvisorKeeps the recommendations light and general, with links to lists of activities in major destination cities geared towards young children. You won't find many personalized tips here, but will get a basic sense of attractions for young families. Again, a typical mainstream travel site that gets you in and out and may open doors into your own more targeted research. Some Lesser KnownsBabble International Family Travel Guide Tucked into this popular parenting site is an extensive guide to international travel as in what to bring, where to stay, documents and medications, etc. specifically for families. I like... Kids Can TravelJust like the site title indicates, this one is all about the kids! It is definitely one of the best family travel resources I found online. They have destination guides, a section to help with the basics of traveling with children, uploaded family travel slideshows, an educational section for kids, and more. Family Vacation Critic This site, just as it sounds, offers tons of direct insight into popular and unusual destinations from a family point-of-view. It's chocked full of destination info and lots of searching categories. Family Travel AlternativesDigsville.com This housing swap club helps you coordinate a housing swap so you can delete the accommodation cost from your travel budget. Digsville has a popular forum with listings for housing available as well as a useful tips and testimonials forum. VolunteerFamily.org Why not go somewhere to make a difference in the world while you're seeing it together? While this seems best for families with older children, there are some great ideas and opportunities to check out on this alternative family getaway site. Farm Stays I've heard this is popular in Europe, especially Italy, but I just learned recently that there is a growing trend of farms in North America opening their doors to vacationers who want a dose of life in the country - and who of us wouldn't love to let our little milk a cow? This blog post from FamilyEducation.com is an overview of the idea and has a few farms listed to get you started. National Park CampingWell, any camping is a great family idea really, right (and not all that alternative)? This post from Travel Channels reviews top U.S. National Parks, not really from a family perspective, but a good way to familiarize yourself with more than Yellowstone, and you can dig in from there. Camping and RV Clubs We've probably all seen these make-shift seasonal communities featured in movies (I recall Into the Wild gave a glimpse into a surreal RV Club world complete with campsite talent show). Why not check out the idea of hitting the road with other families in your pop-up or Airstream? I use to dream of owning a truck, a little airstream and a dog and traveling all over the U.S. I can easily see adding the man and baby to the vision. The link above is a RV Club Directory a mile long. Worth a look-see, I think! I want to give a special nod to and recommend Finding Dulcinea for the great post on Alternative Family Travel I found will digging up links. Check it out!