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The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel: Planning, Surviving, and Enjoying Your Vacation Together by Emily Kaufman
272 pages Broadway January 2006 Paperback rated 4 1/2 out of 5 stars   

If you’re like me, you have treasured memories of family vacations you took when you were growing up. But now, as an adult, I now have the responsibility of planning these trips and let me tell you, it’s not an easy task! The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel is an excellent resource for parents wanting to provide their children with fun, educational trips that won’t break the budget.

Emily Kaufman is the travel contributor for Good Morning America as well as a travel expert for other shows and magazines. She follows twelve Golden Moment Rules—from avoiding overscheduling and overindulging to taking pictures and veering off the beaten path. The book helps readers to achieve the same goals as Kaufman and her family:

  • A few planned activities to do together as a family
  • Flexibility will be allowed for everyone to do his or her own thing at least once, if not more.
  • There will be time set aside for the parents to be alone without the kids
The book is divided into two parts. Part one is titled "Creating the Family Vacation of Your Dreams." It includes chapters about planning, transportation, multigenerational travel, and educational experiences. These chapters focus on research, choosing destinations, mapping out your time, and packing. Suggestions of popular and interesting things to do are included, along with contact information for various things like zoos, museums, etc.

Part two is all about the destinations. In the first chapter, beach vacations throughout the U.S. and a couple in other countries are described. At the end of each place, a list of Must See, Must Do, and Must Try items are listed, which includes foods, attractions, or other things unique to the area. At the end of each chapter, a “Once in a Lifetime” trip is laid out for the reader. In the beach chapter, the destination is Hawaii. Other destination chapters include winter holidays and trips for cool weather (a.k.a. ski trips); all-inclusive resorts (many of these are outside of the US); family cruises; “soft adventures” such as a river raft trip or dude ranch; camping; venturing to cities with kids; and hidden treasures and road trips.

Finally, the end of the book has copies of vacation-planning worksheets for families to use. Overall, this is an incredibly helpful and informative book to help plan family vacations that everyone in the family will enjoy. The only problem I had with the book was that, with a couple of exceptions, the Northwest is not represented in the book. It would have been more helpful had there been at least one suggestion from each part of the country that includes an activity to help with those people on limited budgets. The Northwest has incredible beaches and mountains that aren’t even briefly mentioned in the book.

This is a book that should be on every parent’s bookshelf and used regularly to gather ideas and other tips for planning vacations your own children will remember for the rest of their lives.

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Melissa Parcel/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book

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