A Family Vacation in Europe – There Is No Substitute for Being There.

If your dream is a family vacation in Europe, jump on it. The latest forecasts for the euro to dollar exchange rate (EUR-USD) confirm that the favorable exchange rate may only be half done. My economist friend and coffee buddy explained that for the first quarter of 2015 U.S. dollar performance has already achieved what might normally achieve for in an entire year. Good news for travelers with kids. My thought immediately, what are we waiting for? Where should we go in Europe?

Sienna Central Market Square Family Vacation Meeting Place

Sienna: There is no substitute for being there on a summer day.

After some research and counseling from friends in the travel industry, I see that I am not alone. In fact according to Dave Pearsall of Short Stay Apartment Rentals, their inventory for the most popular cities, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, and Rome is already tight for the sought after summer months. I spent a few minutes browsing one of my favorite economical resources, HostelWorld and found promising availability for private (family) rooms Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, and Finland. Planning a family getaway takes buy in but my vote is Cesky Krumlov although Crete still beckons.

Thomson Family Travel still has limited availability on their awesome Celtic Isles adventure and they have added additional teen savvy departures for their Southern Italy tour.

Berlin is a most remarkable city to visit during the summer months. The cafes are family-friendly, street festivities abound, and Legoland Discovery Centre is a bit of heaven for kids. For a less urban yet authentic experience there’s southwest Germany home to Mercedes-Benz Museum and the impressive Porsche-Museum in Stuttgart, Hohenzollern Castle, Black Forest, Lake Constance, and the Swabian Mountains. Or maybe Finland with never ending daylight, marvelous music festivals, and luxurious saunas.  My head is spinning with ideas.

There is no substitute for being there (somewhere in Europe) with your kids on a summer day.


Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files

Whitewater Rafting Family Adventures with Devotion to River Motion.

Whitewater family adventures begin with the perfect river, an oar-rigged raft, paddle raft or inflatable whitewater kayaks and offer the chance to paddle like crazy then share the glide with your kids.

ACE Adventure whitewater rafting for families

West Virginia’s ACE Adventure harnesses whitewater energy for families all summer long.

River rafting with kids has its benefits. Not connected to an electronic tether is the most obvious but that aside, the adrenaline infused quality family time, positive river energy and natural thrills cannot be beat to say nothing about years of bragging rights and awesome memories.

I think whitewater rafting is one of the best family adventures possible because as your kids age the whitewater only gets better. Lazy river floats with your six year-old have the potential to evolve to challenging whitewater runs with a 16 year-old. For our family, river time is still the very best time.

North American river destinations span the continent from North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee to California, Idaho, and the Rockies. ACE Adventure Resort runs the New River as well as the Gauley providing exceptional river thrills for all ages including river surfing. Eco Family Adventures runs multi-day trips on the Grand Salmon River and Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho offering rugged and wild, yet safe family adventures complete with an activity director for children to augment time off the river.

With river trips not unlike anything worth doing the sooner you decide and confirm the more likely you will get exactly what fits for your family and perhaps save money. More river possibilities may be found in the Adventure folder at the Family Travel Files

Nancy Nelson-Duac Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files

#WestVirginia : Hitting the River with @ACEAdventures

Our whitewater experience started with a group meeting under the big tent. Our excursion leader was a dynamic twenty-year veteran with a set of powerful lungs and an energizing manner. ImageShe introduced herself and gave us a brief idea of what we could expect. Since we were rafting in early May, the water was still cold, and wetsuits required – luckily, ACE has a gear rental shop, and the process was seamless. Continue reading

Vacation in a Box – Gifting Family Travel.

Each year during the holiday gifting season things get blurred by commercial nudging and obligations to “just do something” for family. And once the gift is unwrapped and the day is complete have you ever wondered – is that all there is?

The answer – there can be more if you gift an experience not a thing – a vacation in a box.

Think about giving travel to those you love. It can be sought after festival tickets, a rental car or rail pass,

CityPASS Urban Adventures for Families

CityPASS offers amazing urban adventures for families.

an invitation to a beach house for a week in the spring, or an amazing trip meant to be shared with family. Giving travel means  the recipient will reap enjoyment as memories are created and the gift lives on with photos, videos, tweets, Facebook posts and best of all family storytelling.

I do not remember what gifts I found under the tree or received on my birthday. I do remember family vacations and days spent one-on-one with my mom, dad or grandmother. I recently asked my adult kids what gifts they remember and except for matching stereos there recollection of holiday memories did not include things but it did include the time we spent as a family and the experiences we h f the Grand Canyon, sea kayaking off Baja California, whitewater rafting, ziplining, living history at Hampton Court, Amtrak to Chicago, and visiting amazing places including San Diego, Hollywood, Montreal, PEI, Costa Rica, Ireland, Scotland, and urban adventures with CityPASS.

I know from experience that giving experiences instead of things pays off with valued family memories which keep on giving. Gift a family adventure with nature at ACE Adventure Resort in Southern West Virginia; give a guided family adventure- Austin Lehman Adventures; consider an urban adventure with a CityPASS ; think about giving an apartment in London or Paris with a Eurail Pass. The possibilities endless- the memories priceless.

Happy holidays,

Nancy Nelson-Duac


Just tell me where to go.

For years I have heard this comment from parents – directly and indirectly but in my attempt to be politically correct and socially sensitive, I dodge the issue with a question, no  several questions – age of kids, family interests, and how much time and money to you want to spend? When are you going and are you flying or driving (no one ever says they are taking the train even though it may be the perfect idea).

Drawing from two decades of traveling with kids, I always have suggestions but through experience I have learned to stop providing 10 ideas. While it is just the right number for a list, it is too much for a busy parent.

This year almost everyone is looking for a more affordable getaway. Really who doesn’t want to have more fun and spend less? We have begun compiling “Free or Almost Free” lists for select family vacation destinations. Continue reading

USA: Best Vacations for Families with Teens –Try Whitewater.

USA: Best Vacations for Families with Teens –Try Whitewater. Enjoying vacation time during teenage years can be tricky. Assuming you can negotiate work schedules and assorted practice schedules to fit with social calendars, and school calendars then there is still what, where, and why. Because I know no two families are alike there is really no such thing as one-size-fits-all “best” vacation idea but I can think of several very good ideas if your vacation plans include one or more teens.

Old familiar family vacation spots may still be the perfect fit (some teens do not like surprises) or you may hear “not again” meaning it’s time for plan B. Continue reading