Boomerang! A Feast for Curious Minds.

How about an audio gift for the whole family? If you have children or grandchildren between the ages of six and 14 obtaining a subscription to Boomerang! is a sneaky way to have more fun with your kids. Imaginative, fast-paced and timely, each Boomerang! episode provides an audio treat for families with curious minds who want to know more about our world, past, present and future.

Boomkids Episode 33

Boomkids report on big ideas in a unique kid-style in a no nonsense way that is informative and entertaining for all ages.

The mix of topics and liveliness of the reporters is what appeals most to the kids. Hearing facts and listening to opinions presented by other kids makes all the difference. The bonus for adults is that the episodes provide platforms for fascinating family discussions. For years our kids spoke of Dave Shmave – the Elevator Man as if he were a long lost uncle.

The innovative series introduces kids to the world of big ideas and makes useful connections to science, current events, economics, history, poetry and geography, jokes, mysteries, music and interviews – think NPR by kids and for kids. Classic episodes, all still available for download, include “Thomas Jefferson and Greed,” “Michelangelo and Dinosaurs,” and “Nikola Tesla and Globalization” and of course Dave Shmave stories which often leave listeners, no matter what age, speechless.

On road trips and plane trips, as well as carpooling to swim practice, Boomerang entertained and informed all of us. In addition to the timely topics, I appreciate the sense of community engendered with each episode.

Whether you download each episode to your I-Phone or listen (old style) from a CD it will be an audio feast which includes dessert.  Boomerang! is engaging, inspirational, screen-free fun for the whole family.

Are you listening?

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files

Kinsa – Cooler Than Ice Cubes at 98.6.

No one plans to become ill while on vacation, but air travel, climate adjustments, food allergies, cruise ship activities, jet lag, and public restrooms all provide the potential to wear down resistance and to allow unwanted germs to wreak havoc. Becoming sick is not an automatic result but as a mom and grand mom, I think being prepared offers peace of mind.

Kinsa is the world’s first smart thermometer.

Kinsa, the world’s first smart thermometer, measures, tracks, and stores temperatures using a user friendly app.

A couple of weeks ago I used Kinsa, the world’s first smart thermometer. I am not the most tech savvy individual but the app enabled device which connects to the headphone jack of a smart phone is easy to install, easy to understand, and though I did not test it on a feverish tyke, it worked like a charm on my 20-something daughter.

If you have ever been away from home at a resort or in a hotel room with a sick child and needed a thermometer, you will agree with me that this item is cooler than ice cubes.

Kinsa is the world’s first smart thermometer.

Knowledge is power and Kinsa provides guidance about symptoms so action may be taken.

The thermometer stick is lightweight and flexible so it will fit in a carry-on, purse, backpack or even a jacket pocket. It makes tracking a family member’s symptoms and temperatures easy. Kinsa’s new version has the ability to give guidance about what to do when a fever is detected. Stored on your phone, the information is ready to share with your doctor if need be.

Practical, affordable and essential when traveling with kids, I just ordered a second one in the hopes that by having it with us during the holidays we will not have the need for one.

Happy travels,

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

Cyber Monday Vacation Deals – Ready, Set, Go.

It’s Black Friday and rather than participating in the shopping frenzy at the mall I am sipping herbal tea and browsing for family vacation deals and extra savings which are available now or will be available on Cyber Monday. I have discovered some which may serve as inspiration to make plans for spring break or next summer’s family vacation.  The savings are real but the booking window is limited and as always with deals there limited rooms and blackout dates.

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort Phoenix, Arizona waterpark.

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort Phoenix, Arizona cyber deal includes a four-acre water park open and heated year-round.

The ones I like best are great destinations for families even without the super savings. And I always like to see deals that actually span the typical family vacation time frame which includes the summer months. For example:  Grand Lucayan in the Bahamas is offering 55 percent off rates (starting at $99) for travel November 27, 2015 through September 1, 2016.

The Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix, Arizona is offering 30 percent off best available rate during the 72-hour booking window November 30 through December 2, 2015s is good through August 31, 2016.  Also in Phoenix, the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort has a similar all-suite deal for families valid from December 20, 2015-August 31, 2016.

One of my favorite spots in Costa Rica, Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort is offering 50% off on Cyber Monday with rates beginning at $150/night. The resort has large suites and the concierge will happily arrange babysitting for a day, a night, or for your entire stay. The deal is valid for stays August 21 – December 17, 2016.

Family vacation deals

Family vacation deals and more fun for less.

We also keep and active folder populated with family vacation deals and ways to save. One of my favorites is Coupons for Fun a location with hundreds of deals available added weekly. It’s best to browse at your leisure, select, download and print.

Happy hunting on Cyber Monday.

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files.

 

Currier and Ives Family Christmas for 21st Century Families.

The classic Currier and Ives scene looks a bit more chaotic when populated with 21st century families but the idea is timeless – sharing time together. I have searched for and found Christmas holiday escapes which include festively decorated cabins and cozy lodges ideal for sharing adventures, making discoveries, and creating a few classic memories.

Cabins for You Christmas in Gatlinburg

At Cabins for You in Gatlinburg no need to decorate just show up and begin to vacation.

Even though November is almost here, it is not too late to book a vacation cabin for the holidays. This week I have spoken with more than a dozen locations each with options for the upcoming Christmas holiday break. True the choices have diminished since August but great places for fireside chats, stargazing, and holiday festivities still may be snagged.

I have a list of seven locations, each well-suited for a family winter holiday break some in cozy cabins with fireplaces and others in tents with fire rings and one in an awesome winter lodge. My three favorites:

  1. Eagles Ridge Mountain Side Cabins in Pigeon Forge. Appalachian retreats for families.
  2. Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Nashville – Extra magic of holiday lights and music.
  3. Stone Mountain Georgia – Christmas cabins plus extreme snow tubing.

More Christmas vacation ideas may be found in our vacation planning folder “Away for the Holidays.”

It’s not too late to plan an escape, really.

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files

A Harvest Time Farm Stay Is the Remedy for Nature Deficiency Disorder.

An escape to rural America is an easy way to create your own free range agri-adventure enjoying the simple pleasures of a lifestyle enjoyed by a select few. The great thing about a farm stay getaway is that it will be beautifully screen free and most likely can also be labeled  free range.

Farm Stay Pumpkins and Kids

Pumpkins and kids make any farm stay extra special.

An authentic farm stay is not is a bed & breakfast in an old farm house no longer part of a working farm but instead it is an immersive experience and a tonic for those suffering from  “Nature Deficiency Disorder.”

Through hands-on experiences children have to possibility to learn the values of conscious, responsible living. What a great way for kids to learn that milk comes from cows and not cartons in the supermarket and that goats are not just curios and gregarious, they are a source of scrumptious cheese.

Farm Stay Egg Collecting.

During a farm stay nothing creates more excitement for tykes than collecting fresh eggs.

No two locations are the same and each experience is unique not just to the farm or ranch but also to the season of the year. There will always be daily livestock chores (optional), and often times harvesting, and maybe even wrangling. Little urban bunnies may participate in animal grooming, apple picking, pumpkin hunting, hayrides, campfire stories, and stargazing without the intrusion of city lights.

Western Pleasure Ranch in Idaho Horseback Rides

Experiencing autumn from horseback at Western Pleasure Ranch in Idaho is the stuff from which family memories are made.

The perfect resource for planning a farm or ranch stay in North America is Farm Stays US – a site offering oodles of un-hotel vacation experiences. Their rich menu of listings spans coast to coast including all 50 states. A useful guestbook tab features comments from guests who often times are parents or grandparents..

Some farms host guests in the farmhouse while others provide separate spaces including converted farm buildings, cabins, floored safari tents, or campsites. No two locations are the same and each offers unique benefits – the most obvious advantage – a chance to unplug, disconnect and discover the gift of time.

Who doesn’t need more time to enjoy life?

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff  for www.thefamilytravelfiles.com  and a lover of pumpkins, horses, and goat cheese.

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.

Ciao!

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

Save on Family Fun

I have just discovered a most useful website which offers real savings on a wide variety of adventures, attractions and museums. Coupons for Fun features real time savings in more than 20 states. The selection is targeted making it easy to browse, select and download coupons to save on family vacation activities. The only catch is that one must download and print ahead of time to receive the savings benefits.

Butterfly Garden at MOSI in Tampa

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa offers families access to more than 450 hands-on activities, a new inventor’s lab, planetarium, IMAX, and a butterfly encounter.

If you are looking for spring break deals on fun you will find oodles of possibilities. The site features savings for theme parks, whitewater rafting and whale watching experiences as well as caving adventures, swamp safaris and zipline thrills. The rich menu of savings also includes cultural experiences including gardens, historic homes, performing arts, fine arts museums, children’s museums, science museums, and some delightfully quirky museums.

To prove my point I have selected seven of my favorite places from the menu of discount coupon offerings.

The spunky Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier: One free daily admission with one paid admission http://www.ChicagoChildrensMuseum.org

Energetic Wild Horse Adventure Tours (W.H.A.T.) in the Outer Banks of North Carolina: Download savings of $10 per person for parties of six or more adults.

The slightly quirky Madame Tussaud’s in Washington DC:  Enjoy a truly interactive experience for 25% off admission.

Lively excursions at Roaring Camp Railroads near Santa Cruz, California: 2$ off each general admission ticket for 19th-century steam train or beach train.

The inspiring Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa: A coupon for $3 off general admission.

The engaging LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Atlanta: A coupon for $5 off general admission.

The intriguing Dinosaur World in Glen Rose, Texas: Download $2 off adult general admission.

There are hundreds of deals available with more added weekly so it’s best to browse at your leisure, select, download and print. www.couponsforfun.com

Enjoy your next outing for less.

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files.