A family vacation is the perfect time to unwind, but it can be even more relaxing with time spent outdoors enjoying nature in all its beauty. Whether you plan your entire trip around a specific activity or just build in a day or two along the way, you can create some unforgettable memories with these ideas.
Unplug with an Outdoor-Oriented Vacation
(Family Features) A family vacation is the perfect time to unwind, but it can be even more relaxing with time spent outdoors enjoying nature in all its beauty. Whether you plan your entire trip around a specific activity or just build in a day or two along the way, you can create some unforgettable memories.
Choosing your destination is the first big decision in planning a vacation, and selecting a location that offers plenty of attractions for the whole family is a smart bet. For example, Texas offers a variety of state parks with unexpected terrain, such as the second largest canyon in the United States at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, or Pedernales Falls State Park with its distinctive river banks where visitors can swim, tube and kayak.
Once you have your general destination selected, it’s time to consider exactly how you’ll fill your days.
Outdoor sporting. Fishing is a fun and affordable activity the whole family can enjoy. After all, there’s no age limit on the thrill of a catch. Lakes, streams, rivers and creeks are all potential fishing sites and each offers a unique experience, from the scenery to the types of fish you’re likely to catch. Before you head out, be sure to research what permits and gear you’ll need. Some destinations even allow you to rent necessities, so you may be able to save the hassle and expense of buying new.
Wildlife watching. You can see hundreds of species of animals in their natural habitats by visiting a state park or natural area, and bird-watching is chief among those activities for many visitors. State natural areas, prairies and lakes are all good places to catch sights of different bird species, and many of these locations offer hiking paths and trails that make it easy to enjoy some fresh air and exercise along with the scenery.
Search the skies. You’ve probably heard the old adage that even the stars are bigger in Texas, and there’s no time like a family vacation to discover whether it’s true. Get away from the city lights and take in some of the best night sky views around at a dark sky park like the state’s largest state park, Big Bend Ranch State Park in the Big Bend Country region. Some parks offer special stargazing programs, events and observatories, or simply bring a blanket, some binoculars and your camera to discover the new world that awaits above.
Honor history. There are glimpses into the past virtually anywhere you go, that appeal to practically any interest. Compare foot sizes with a dinosaur. Wonder at rock art that is thousands of years old. Trace the steps of Native Americans and Spanish missionaries. Churn butter on a farm. Participate in festivals and battle reenactments that pay homage to momentous events of yesteryear.
Digital discovery. If you’re skeptical of getting the kids to put down their devices long enough to enjoy some outdoor exploration, geocaching may be just the answer. Geocaching is essentially a modern-day treasure hunt, and there are geocaches to be found throughout Texas, including at Pedernales Falls State Park in the Hill Country region. Use a GPS unit or smartphone app to find the exact location of a geocache nearby. Be sure to make note of the terrain and difficulty levels to ensure the site is appropriate for your group then set out on your adventure, enjoying the sights along the way.
For more ideas and inspiration to start planning your next family vacation, explore TravelTexas.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Texas Tourism Board
A family road trip can bring on a strong sense of nostalgia. Although much has likely changed since you embarked on your first journey as a child, there are still plenty of ways to appreciate road tripping with the family and bring the best of “then” to “now.”
Bringing Nostalgia Back to Road Trips
(Family Features) A family road trip can bring on a strong sense of nostalgia. Although much has likely changed since you embarked on your first journey as a child, there are still plenty of ways to appreciate road tripping with the family and bring the best of “then” to “now.”
Seating selection. A generation ago, road trips meant putting down the seats in the station wagon and creating a giant play space in the rear of the car. Keep the same spirit in your road trips now by attaching a travel kit in an accessible bag or organizer to the front seat backs to hold plenty of diversions. If you plan your trip well, you can build in frequent stretching breaks to coincide with points of interest along the way.
Electronic-free entertainment. Handheld devices and headphones may be the norm for this generation, but there’s no time like a family road trip to put down the electronics. Old-school games like I Spy and The Alphabet Game add some free, fun entertainment that encourages a look out the window at the passing surroundings. Other games that never get old: Make the Trucker Honk and competing to see who can find the most cows, windmills or whatever fits your region.
Vehicle maintenance. Remember the old 3-months or 3,000-mile oil change rule? Forget about it. Most of today’s vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles. However, to prepare for your family road trip and avoid mechanical failures along the way, most mechanics will offer the same tip: change the oil. If you haven’t already, consider making the switch to a synthetic motor oil such as Kendall GT-1 Max to help your engine achieve maximum performance and extend the time between oil changes to give you more time on the open road. An AAA engine oil research study confirmed synthetic motor oil performs better than conventional motor oil by nearly 50 percent. Also remember to check your vehicle’s fluids, battery, wipers, tire tread and air pressure to ensure road-trip readiness. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance information according to the manufacturer.
Gas prices. When the Griswold family hit the road on their infamous trek to Walley World 34 years ago, gas rang up at $1.16 a gallon. Today the national average for a gallon of gas is $2.49. While yesterday’s gas prices will likely never return, a road trip is still an economical choice for families. Consider a one-tank destination over a cross-county trek to help deliver a memorable experience with your family.
No matter where your trip down memory lane takes you, be sure to remember what the magic of the open road is all about: freedom, adventure and good, old-fashioned family fun. Plan your road trip with more tips and ideas at kendallmotoroil.com/roadtrip.SOURCE:
Kendall Motor Oil
(BPT) - Family travel is a great way for everyone to bond and create lifelong memories. However, before you can hit the road, you need to do a little planning.
Traditionally, moms took the lead in organizing vacations. Today, a new trend is emerging in which men are taking charge and planning family trips. Driven by the desire to share important life experiences with their kids and partner, fathers are handling every aspect of travel, from researching locations to booking hotels.
Beau Coffron is one of these dads. With a passion for travel, the Lunchbox Dad blogger has planned numerous family vacations. These experiences led him to become a Travel MANager for Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton.
Coffron knows family travel is a lot of fun, but it can also get stressful fast. To avoid those out-of-control moments and keep kids (and parents!) happy, he offers eight smart tips for stress-free family travel.
Plan early: Whether a quick weekend adventure or a grand week-long escape, plan as early as possible. Having extra time to research the right location, travel accommodations and activities cuts stress and ensures you plan a memorable vacation.
Use online planning tools: Save time by using the internet to research and book travel. An all-in-one website like Mencanplantravel.com is packed with inspirational insight from dad travelers, tips for planning a great family vacation and fast options for finding great hotel rates around the world.
Pack smart: Traveling with a family can mean bringing a lot of stuff for each person. Pack smarter by focusing on items that multitask. For example, kids' T-shirts take up little space and can be worn during the day or at night as pajamas. Accessories like scarves can also be used as small blankets for picnics.
Keep kids busy in transit: No matter what your mode of travel, kids can get bored while in-route to your destination. Keep kids busy by packing unique activities such as giving out a small metal tin from the kitchen and pack magnets for mess-free fun. Searching "free printable coloring sheets" online and printing out loads of activities kids can color with crayons is another great option.
Guarantee sound sleep: For little ones, always pack a crib sheet so you know you'll have fresh linens for your baby or toddler. For all kids, you can download a soothing sound machine app on your phone to block any sound to help everyone sleep better.
Simplify first-aid: Create a travel-friendly first-aid kit by filling a plastic pencil box with travel-size sunscreen, insect repellent, bandages, tweezers and more. It takes up little space and you won't have to spend time digging around your luggage to find items when needed most.
Bring a disposable camera for kids: Kids love to take pictures, but parents tire of having to share their smartphone constantly. Instead, give kids control by buying a disposable camera. They'll have fun documenting the vacation and you don't have to worry about them breaking your screen.
Document possessions: You're sure to use your phone to take photos and videos of the kids, but have you thought of doing so with your luggage? Lay out what you've brought and take a quick video before putting items away at the hotel. This helps should you have to make an insurance claim.
With these tips, dads can plan stress-free family trips with ease. Now you just count down the days until takeoff.
(BPT) - Whether it's a quick weekend away or a weeklong adventure, family travel is a great way to bond and create lifelong memories. However, if you have an infant, you may be hesitant to pack all those bags and venture to the unknown.
"With their love of a set schedule and the familiar, plus loads of gear, babies are natural homebodies," says Sandra Gordon, baby safety expert and blogger at www.babyproductsmom.com. "Still, they can be surprisingly adaptable and getting out and about can be loads of fun for everyone. The trick is to be prepared so you can enjoy the journey and the destination."
Gordon offers eight tips and tricks that make infant travel easy so everyone can have an enjoyable vacation:
Prepare the diaper bag
The diaper bag is your go-to throughout your trip. Pack everything your baby might need including diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks, toys, a pacifier, feeding supplies, infant formula and lots of Ziploc bags for dirty bottles, clothes, etc. An extra shirt for yourself is a smart addition as well, just in case.
Pack pre-measured, dry powder baby formula
Whether on the plane or out for the day, pack two to four bottles with pre-measured, dry baby formula that you can mix with bottled water at feeding time. To save up to 50 percent, buy store brand infant formula. All infant formula sold in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so store brand formula must meet the same FDA standards as the big advertised brands. It's available wherever infant formula is sold, such as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Target.
Bring a prepared bottle
Bring a prepared bottle for the airport; it can help keep your baby content during the lengthy check-in process. It's also a must during takeoff to relieve ear pressure. You can take more than 3.4 ounces of infant formula or breast milk through airport security. Tell the transportation security officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the checkpoint screening process. Visit the TSA for more info on flying with children.
Split up your stuff
When packing bags you plan to check at the airport, split up the contents so that each suitcase has everyone's clothes in it, including your baby's. That way if a bag gets lost, everyone will have something to wear for the next few days until your bag is found. Essentials such as formula, medicine, etc. should be packed in your carry-on.
Stick to baby's schedule
Babies rely on a schedule so there's no need to disrupt it when on vacation. Try travelling around nap time for domestic flights or at bedtime for international flights. Be sure to bring along her favorite stuffed animal or blanket that she normally sleeps with so there's something familiar to sooth her. Baby can sleep and you can relax.
Avoid popular travel times
Avoid crowds and save money by travelling on slower days. The day prior to holidays will always be hectic, so opt to fly two to three days before or after to enjoy a slower airport plus cheaper ticket prices. For non-holiday travel, avoid early-morning flights on weekdays so you and your baby don't have to compete with harried business travelers.
If you can't bring all your gear when travelling, consider renting. Ask your hotel about rental options in the area so you can have everything you need to make baby feel comfortable without having to lug items across the country. It is an extra cost, but it also saves you the cost of having to check bulky items on the plane.
Eat in or eat out early
Book a hotel with a kitchen so you can make baby-friendly foods in a comfortable space. When you do want to eat out, remember that prime time for eating out with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is Sunday through Wednesday before standard lunch or dinner times (11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.). Restaurants are less crowded and you'll get faster service.
Travelling with a baby gets easier every time you do it. With these tips you'll satisfy your wanderlust without worry, plus your little one will have a great time.
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