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Archive for the 'Family Travel' Category

The Intrepid Highams: A Globetrotting Family

"360 Degrees Longitude" Last year, we spent some time chatting with the Higham family – a rocket scientist, his wife and their two kids, who spent a year traveling around the world. Now they’ve got a book out about their wild adventures and lovely experiences – “360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World” – and a web site filled with advice, in case you’re contemplating an extended trip with your kids. And they’re doing talks at various Bay Area REI stores over the coming weeks:

  • Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at the San Carlos REI

  • Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Saratoga REI
  • Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Marina REI
  • Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley REI

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
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THE Very Best Zoos

Giraffes at a German Zoo (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) When it comes to zoos, everyone has opinions. Some prefer grandiose spectacles. Others seek out the toddler-friendly attractions of a small, low key, zoological park. And for still others, it’s the panda allure or gorilla glory. So when we asked you guys to name your faves, the results were very fun indeed. Here’s your top five list. Now click “comments” and add your nominees.

1. The St. Louis Zoo, Missouri

2. The Oakland Zoo, California

3. The Bergen County Zoo, New Jersey

4. The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Washington

5. The Houston Zoo, Texas

Related family travel posts:

Posted on Friday, June 5th, 2009
Under: Family Travel | 1 Comment »

HAPPY Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss characters (Courtesy Universal Studios)By now, you’ve probably downed your green eggs and ham, read “The Cat in the Hat” a few times, and admired Google’s particularly darling logo today. Can we interest you in a Pink Yink Ink Drink as a little afternoon pick me up? It tastes more like a strawberry-yogurt smoothie, but we find the Pink Yinkiness of it particularly apt for Theodor Geisel’s birthday. We’ll have to be content with Seuss-inspired cuisine, but if you’re really lucky, you can spend the day with the Cat in the Hat at one of these Seuss hot spots:

If you’re in Florida, you can do your Seuss celebration in style – Universal Studios has an actual theme park section, Seuss Landing, devoted to all things Loraxian, from a Cat in the Hat ride to a Red Fish, Blue Fish challenge and an “If I Ran the Zoo” interactive play area. Naturally, the cat himself makes appearances (see photo, above).
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Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2009
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FAMILY TRAVEL: Equatorial Adventures

The Baquerizo Family at the equatorInterested in a tropical vacation with a little educational value thrown in? The Baquerizo family gives us the scoop…

THE TRAVELERS: Ed Baquerizo, Virginia Kosydar and their 8-year-old twins, Laura and Thomas, from San Rafael.

THE TREK: The Baquerizos’ 3-week trip to Ecuador included visits with family in the coastal city of Guayaquil, a cruise in the Galapagos Islands, and trips to Cuenca — a World Heritage Site in the Andes — and the capitol city of Quito.

COOL SIGHTSEEING: “Ecuador is a very, very beautiful country with a widely diverse geography. We spent time on the beaches in Salinas near Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands, visited the Andean highlands along the north-south line of volcanoes that separates the coast from the Amazon jungle, and hiked in a spectacular nature preserve. We visited the historical monument that marks the equator, north of the capital city of Quito. Afterward, we traveled a few hundred meters to the actual equator line, determined recently by GPS survey. Both monuments were great to see, and there are many science experiments at the ‘new’ equator line to entertain the family.”
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Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009
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FAMILY TRAVEL: Roller Coasters & Halls of Fame

The Maxwells at the Football Hall of Fame
Think a road trip with kids can’t be fun? Think again. The Maxwells of Danville, CA, spent six days scooting through Ohio, Michigan and Indiana last summer. Here are their discoveries:

THE TRAVELERS: The travelers: Shari Maxwell, Senior Auditor for AAA, her husband Mike, VP of Sales for TaylorMade Water Systems, and her son Danny Olson, 13.

THE TREK: “We were told by many people, ‘No one goes to Ohio for vacation!’ We did, and had a wonderful vacation! Stops included the University of Michigan, Cedar Point (Roller Coaster Heaven), NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.”
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Posted on Sunday, January 25th, 2009
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TRAVEL: Family Adventures on the Amalfi Coast

The Hallers on the Amalfi Coast
Looking for travel inspiration? Italy is a perfect destination for families, says the Haller family, but “while Rome, Florence, and Venice are wonderful stops on any Italian vacation, don’t miss the stunning beauty of the Amalfi coast and the rich history of Pompeii.” Here’s the scoop on where to go, where to stay and what to do:

THE TRAVELERS: Chemical engineer Doug Haller, physician Christine Haller and their children Timothy, 17, Jameson, 14, and Madelyn, 11, of San Rafael.

THE TREK: “Our first trip for Tim’s graduation was to Paris and London, which was fabulous,” says Christine, “so we were eager to go abroad again when Jameson graduated from eighth grade last year. For this trip we chose two weeks in Italy. A highlight of this vacation was our time spent in Southern Italy along the Amalfi Coast. Jameson was interested in volcanoes as a young child, so a visit to Pompeii prompted this itinerary.”
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Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008
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TRAVEL Q&A: 2009

touristDonna Airoldi from Travel Muse weighs in on the 2009 family travel outlook. Here’s her answer to a Walnut Creek mom’s question about traveling to Hawaii, without going broke.

Q: When is the best time to plan holiday travel for 2009? We always try to fly home to Hawaii to see the in-laws, but with the recent folding of Aloha and ATA, the cost has become outrageous. Any advice for getting there without exhausting all our money? — Walnut Creek mom

A: There have been major fare sales to Hawaii the past month, with round-trips from San Francisco to Honolulu starting at $391 before Dec. 18 and $504 after at You can sign up on the site for alerts on price drops to your preferred destinations/routes too. As for 2009 fares, current estimated fares are $696 for the week before Christmas and $724 the week of. Best advice is to monitor your preferred airline and discount sites for sales, and sign up for sale alerts where possible. Book for the next holiday season when you see a price you know is a bargain.

Posted on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
Under: Family Travel | 3 Comments »


Airline gameTraveling for the holidays? We’ve got great advice for you from Donna Airoldi at TravelMuse, in answer to questions you guys sent in.

Q: When are the best dates to fly around the holidays, especially with younger children? And what are some tricks for maintaining sanity if you are delayed? Does SFO or Oakland airport offer something to keep the little ones occupied?
— Walnut Creek mom of triplets

A: The holidays are always busy times, with the day before any holiday usually being the busiest—although this year the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was surprisingly easygoing for most travelers. If you can fly a couple days before the majority of holiday fliers take off, that would be ideal. Next best is the day of the holiday, such as the morning of Dec. 25, if being somewhere for Christmas Eve isn’t that important.
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Posted on Saturday, December 13th, 2008
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FAMILY TRAVEL: Croatian Adventures

The Pollaks in Croatia
Forget Hawaii. Put Croatia on your must-see, family vacation destination list, says the Pollak family. This Mediterranean country has something for everyone – gorgeous sights, wonderful food and friendly people. “We had drinks on top of a castle turret under a full moon, and stood on the streets of Marco Polo’s hometown,” they said. “It was a few weeks filled with culture but also relaxation, awe and comfort. Families with kids of any age could really love this place. We did!”

THE TRAVELERS: Novato residents Randy and Cristy Pollak and their daughters Erin, age 22, and Dana, age 18 and a freshman at Cal State Northridge.

THE TREK: “We traveled from Zagreb to Dubrovnik and saw highlights of Croatia over three weeks — day trips to the Pula Coliseum, hilltop towns, lakes and the Dalmatian islands of Hvar and Korcula. It was a spectacular paradise at every turn! History, art, natural beauty, friendly English speaking people, and a good safe feeling everywhere.”
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Posted on Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
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TRAVEL Q&A: Olympic Travel

And we’re baaaack with travel guru Donna Airoldi of TravelMuse, to answer your family travel questions.

Baby blocks (Stock.Xchng Photos)Dear Donna: Our children were so fired up by the Olympics this year that we made a commitment to take them in 8 years. Their ages for the 2016 Olympics will be 8, 10, 13 and 15, which we thought would be good.

How far ahead should a family of 6 start planning/booking an Olympic vacation, and what resources are there to assist us with the planning? – The Gebhardts, Lafayette

Hot type A (Stock.Xchng Photos)Donna says:The International Olympic Committee (IOC) won’t announce which city will be awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, until Oct. 2, 2009. But the four destination finalists are Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. Without knowing where the games will take place, you can’t really start to make too many plans this far out, other than to begin saving for the overall trip, which, especially if in Tokyo, will up the costs considerably.

To stay on top of the decision, keep your eye on the official Olympic Games Web site . You also might be able to get some useful info at the U.S. Olympics site. As for specifics such as airfare and hotels, airlines usually don’t start taking bookings that far in advance. Your best bet might be to go with an Olympics package provider or travel agent who specializes in such deals, who might have access to advance sales of air, hotel and even ticket availability.
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Posted on Sunday, November 9th, 2008
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