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Family Vacation Hawaii Condos Punta Cana History Heritage and Fairy Tales Green Your Vacation Let Kids Know You Care Camping DVD

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Plan Your Next Family Reunion Vacation With Confidence

(NAPSI)—Family reunion vacations can provide unforgettable memories and unique opportunities to grow closer to loved ones. For the planners of these events, however, they can also present a challenge when it comes to balancing the family’s needs. When it’s time for your next trip, consider these expert tips designed to guide the coordination process and even make it as stress-free as the vacation itself:

Choose a destination—Determine the destination based on how far you are willing to travel and the types of activities and attractions you are interested in. Families with smaller budgets looking for relaxation can take a road trip to a nearby beach or lake region while families with a larger budget searching for adventure might fly to Europe. Planning around prominent events, such as food and wine festivals, is also becoming an increasingly popular trend.

Determine “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves”—Work from your list of “must-haves” first, then add amenities as much as your budget will allow. Ocean views and access come with a bigger price tag but aren’t necessarily as critical to your vacation as accessibility for family members who may have trouble climbing stairs.

Select a type of lodging—Select the lodging type based on your family makeup. Rental homes such as those on Wyndham Rentals.com suit larger reunions well, especially ones with children, as they offer space for play, washer/dryer access, and kitchens to help cut down on the cost of food—some even come with hotel-like amenities.

Prepare for travel abroad—Remember to notify credit card companies, exchange money and come prepared with an emergency contact list. Be sure to also check your passport’s expiration date at least one month before traveling in case it’s time for it to be renewed.

Streamline packing—Coordinate with family members to lighten the load of packing by assigning items like toiletries and staple food items ahead of your trip. Creating a master schedule of meals is also very helpful for knowing who is making what and when.

Have fun—All planning aside, don’t forget to enjoy this time with your family and capture the special moments. Bring your camera, videotape your trip, plan a fun family portrait and make an online album to share the memories when you get home.

For a chance to make your next trip an “Ultimate Family Reunion” or to win one of 101 vacations courtesy of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, visit www.WyndhamRentals.com/Contest. The grand prize includes a one-week stay for 10 family members, worth an estimated value of $28,000.

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A Hawaii Vacation Can Be Budget Friendly

(NAPSI)—Those looking for a vacation that’s entertaining and affordable might be surprised to learn that they can find one in Hawaii.

For starters, Hawaii offers something for everyone. For example, Hawaii Island, also known as “The Big Island,” is famous for its spectacular scuba diving, dolphins, green and black sand beaches—and its coffee. It is also home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and its active volcano, Kilauea, which can be a spectacular sight.

Kauai is known for its lush forests and plant life, so it’s no surprise it’s nicknamed “The Garden Island.” Plus, there’s hiking on Kalalau Trail, snorkeling at Ke’e Beach, golfing at The Princeville Club, sailing along Napali Coast and exploring Waimea Canyon.

Scheduling your island getaway during the fall or spring—known to travel pros as the shoulder season—often means you have access to savings and value when it comes to travel or accommodations. It’s not unusual to find properties, especially condominiums, offering bargains that may include a free night with every three- or four-night stay.

Other programs may be offered just for children, such as the Island Explorer Kit given to children between 5 and 10 years of age at the Outrigger Condominium Collection in Hawaii. Developed in partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, the child-size backpack includes a “Friends of the Reef Adventure Guide,” binoculars and sunglasses.

Staying at a condo can often provide travelers with a more independent way to vacation, combining the privacy and spaciousness of a vacation rental with the customer service of a traditional hotel.

Another great benefit is the fully equipped kitchen-just stock up at the grocer with your favorite breakfast items, snacks and beverages, or visit local farmers’ markets for fresh produce and fish to really get a taste of the area.

Choosing a condo can mean packing lighter, too. Most units have washers and dryers or on-site laundry facilities, letting guests launder personal items at their convenience.

In Hawaii, the Outrigger Condominium Collection is comprised of 15 properties on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. All are located in popular resort destinations across the state and offer spacious accommodations from studio apartments to one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

For more information, visit www.OutriggerCondos.com.

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Punta Cana Delivers Unforgettable Family Vacations

(NAPSI)—The Dominican Republic’s (DR) magnificent Punta Cana on the East Coast features top-rated accommodations, world-class golf courses, gorgeous beaches and exciting ecotourism adventures that will exceed the choosiest families’ expectations this summer. A recent www.TripAdvisor.com study found the biggest challenge for family vacations is finding a destination that offers activities for everyone.* Today, families seek a destination that has it all, and Punta Cana delivers.

“Punta Cana has something for every family member to explore, from luxurious spas, to a swim with dolphins, to challenging golf or relaxing beach time,” said Magaly Toribio, the DR Ministry of Tourism’s Vice Minister of International Promotion. “The captivating destination boasts sumptuous, all-inclusive resorts with family-friendly activities, warm hospitality and delicious cuisine that will suit every taste and budget.”

Travel is hassle-free with many direct flights to Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ), the region’s most modern and popular airport. Here are five reasons why you should whisk your family off to Punta Cana this summer:

Gorgeous beaches: Punta Cana was ranked as the 8th best beach destination in the world by TripAdvisor Travelers.* The area features public and private beaches, including “Blue Flag” European-certified beach Cabeza de Toro; surfing beach Uvero Alto; and parasailing-friendly beach Bávaro.

Unique culture: The DR amazes with sizzling culture and rich history culminating from Spanish, African and Taino Indian influence over six centuries. Experience the authentic Dominican way of life by visiting caves with ancient drawings by Taino Indians or learn to dance merengue and bachata at your resort.

Enchanting ecotourism: Families look for memorable vacation adventures they can do together, and Punta Cana’s eco adventures will satisfy any traveler. Kids can get up close and personal with nonpoisonous snakes or swim with the graceful dolphins at Dolphin Island Park; take a walk in the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and see an exotic fruit-tree garden; or watch an animal entertainment show at Manati Park.

Top-notch golf: Punta Cana boasts nearly a dozen magnificent golf courses designed by some of golf’s most acclaimed course architects. Set on dramatic coastlines, they provide golfers with exquisite scenery, challenging plays, and kid’s clinics so everyone will be sure to enjoy hitting the links.

Pocket friendly: TripAdvisor says 26 percent of parents with children plan to take their family vacation during the school year in order to save money, and 39 percent expect to spend more on family travel in 2011.* No need to do either if you jet off to Punta Cana, one of the most budget-friendly destinations. With a vast amount of all-inclusive resorts and numerous daily nonstop flights, Punta Cana is more pocket friendly and accessible than ever.

 

*Source: www.TripAdvisor.com

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History, Heritage And Fairy Tales

(NAPSI)—A wedding fit for a prince may require a royal guest list, but people of all kinds—from around the world—are expected to visit the U.K. following the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The world’s enchantment with the fairy tale wedding promises to deliver a long-term tourism boost in London and other parts of Britain where the romantic story evolved.

The glamorous wedding is just the latest example of the kinds of pageantry and historical tradition that have long drawn visitors to Britain. From Stonehenge to Balmoral Castle to the future site of the Summer Olympics in 2012, the land of kings and queens offers castles, cathedrals and stunning landscapes rich in centuries of history.

Whether you want to walk in the footsteps of Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling or Beatrix Potter, or visit the recording studios made famous by The Beatles, the British Isles offer a lavish dose of literary and musical legacy.

And there’s no need to go it alone. There’s a tour for “whatever takes your fancy,” as they like to say across the “pond.” For example, CIE Tours International offers excursions that focus on The Beatles, “Braveheart,” Beatrix Potter and “Brideshead Revisited.”

One tour blends England’s historic, literary and scenic regions with Beatrix Potter’s Lake District, the magnificent York Minster, a vintage train ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, a walk around the walled city of Chester, and an optional stay in London.

Or visitors can marvel at The Beatles’ Liverpool, stately Castle Howard of “Brideshead Revisited” fame, Brontë Parsonage, where the three sisters produced their literary masterpieces, the U.S. historical connections at Sulgrave Manor and other famous attractions. The tour includes a taste of Scotland with visits to Edinburgh and Stirling Castle.

Or you can start your tour in Edinburgh and travel south via the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, York and Liverpool to end in Manchester or extend your tour to London.

While in Edinburgh, visitors will receive tickets for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This is an annual series of drum and military displays performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands and display teams in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. The event takes place annually as part of the wider Edinburgh Festival. Tour goers can also enjoy fine dining and Scottish cabaret.

Visitors are urged to take advantage of these opportunities while they can. After all, it could be quite a while before there is another royal wedding.

CIE Tours offers the 2011 Olde England & Heritage Tour, with prices starting at $1,258. The company has conducted trips through England, Scotland and Ireland for nearly 80 years. In addition to group tours, it also helps construct tour itineraries for individuals.

For more information, call (800) 243-8687 or visit www.cietours.com/FairyTale.

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Can You Green Your Vacation?

(NAPSI)—At home, most of us are taking steps to live greener: reusing Ziploc bags, recycling milk cartons and trying to eat more local produce. But did you know that your well-earned vacation could counteract all that good green work you are doing? With nearly 900 million tourists traveling each year, vacationing is an enormous strain on the environment—travel devours fossil fuels, hotels guzzle enough energy to light a small city, and tourist-related pollution wreaks eco-havoc. Instead of leaving your green lifestyle at home this year, Recyclebank, the company that rewards people for taking everyday green actions with discounts and deals, has easy, eco-friendly solutions to green your getaway.

Cover Your Pool—Without a cover, an average pool loses about 7,000 gallons of water annually. Not only is this costly and a drain on the water supply, it also releases harmful chemicals into the environment. Covering your pool reduces evaporation by up to 95 percent. For a quick fix, buy a large sheet of plastic from a lumber store, cut to fit your pool.

Give Your Appliances a Vacation—By turning off your hardworking, energy-sucking devices while you are gone, you will be helping your energy bill and the environment. Electronics with digital displays, instant-on features or remote controls consume energy even while not in use, so give them a rest! Unplug TVs, cable boxes, DVD players, computers, printers, digital clocks, etc.

Rent a Fuel-Efficient Car—Take a break from your gas-guzzling SUV and opt for something more eco-friendly. Car rental agencies such as Avis, Enterprise and Hertz are adding hybrids and flex-fuel cars to their fleets. If hybrids are unavailable, opt for a smaller car with better gas mileage.

Practice “Leave No Trace” Camping—The National Outdoor Leadership School’s Leave No Trace program educates campers about the eco-effects of their outdoor pursuits. One vital tip is choosing durable surfaces like rocks, sand, gravel or hardy, dry vegetation for all your activities. Staying on these less-vulnerable surfaces prevents erosion and long-term damage to sensitive wilderness areas. Other tips include bringing your trash home with you and keeping a good distance from wildlife.

Take an Eco-Volunteer Vacation—If you crave a hands-on experience (tracking lemurs in Madagascar? Maintaining walking trails in New Zealand?), an eco-volunteer vacation may be the right fit for you. You can explore the globe and leave things a little greener. For more on volunteer opportunities, visit Voluntourism.org and TransitionsAbroad.com.

Kermit was wrong; it IS easy being green! For more insider tips and ways to get rewarded for your everyday green actions, visit www.recyclebank.com.

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Packages To Let The Kids Know You Care

(NAPSI)—Whether your child is away at school or camp, sending a care package can help brighten his or her day and help alleviate the longing for home.

Traditionally, care packages have contained mostly food, but they can include anything you know your child will appreciate.

Here are a few hints from the experts at FedEx:

• Perish the perishables. You may want to avoid sending food that will be inedible in a few days, but if you want to ship off a batch of favorite cookies, place them in a sturdy container and layer wax paper between the baked goods, using crumpled paper to fill in any void spaces.

Secure the lid of the container to the body with tape to keep it from accidentally popping off.

Place the container in a sturdy cardboard box and use packing materials to cushion the container tightly in place. Ship overnight, priority or standard. Also, if sending to a camper, check to see if the camp has any food restrictions; for example, to protect children from peanut allergies.

• Instant works. For college or boarding school students, consider coffee beans, tea bags or flavored instant coffee drinks.

• Send a snapshot. Include a photo. Although your child can probably catch up with the latest photos online, it’s still nice to have a framed picture of the family to display or a snapshot for the bulletin board.

• Consider the environment. Cushion items with newspaper, shredded paper or plastic grocery bags. Use envelopes and boxes made from recycled content. When you are all done, shake the box to be sure nothing rattles.

For more information, visit www.fedex.com.

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Getting Kids To Love And Respect The Great Outdoors

(NAPSI)—Connecting with nature offers many rewards for children. Spending time outside gives kids a chance to exercise in the open air, engage all their senses of perception and enjoy the simple pleasure of being outdoors.

Introducing kids to nature can be easy and fun for the whole family. Here are a few tips:

Start in your own backyard: Children’s first introduction to nature can start at home. Even small children can dig a hole, hunt for bugs, plant sunflower seeds and watch them grow, or help fill a bird feeder and watch the flocks come to feed. Parents can plant flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, then ask kids to notice when insect or bird visitors arrive.

Take a nature walk: Start your preschoolers with a trip to a park or nature reserve and take note of the flowers, insects and animals you see. If you can’t identify them, take a picture and try to research them online when you get home. Some nature reserves offer guided walks, which are great for older kids. Next, try short hikes. Be sure your child has a pair of sturdy shoes. Wearing two pairs of socks—a thin nylon liner close to the foot and a thicker, heavier pair on the outside—may help prevent blisters. Hikes are a lot of fun but your child could become bored if there isn’t anything going on for a long time. You can engage them by playing games such as “I Spy” and challenge them to contests collecting leaves, stones or twigs to help them relate to the nature around them.

Bring nature to the craft table: Collect items found on nature explorations to create crafts that will bring the outside in. For example, dried flowers and leaves can be used to make place mats or picture frames. Rocks can be decorated and transformed into paperweights.

Take the kids camping: When introducing camping, try to keep the first trip short—about two nights—and keep travel time to the site as short as possible. Before you go, you may want to show kids a DVD about camping so they know what to expect. For example, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Great Outdoors” features five episodes from the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” TV show that showcase how to enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and exploring nature.

The camping episode shows that when camping, the first thing to be done is to set up the campsite, put up the tent and organize the fire. Only then do Mickey and friends go fishing. The other adventures introduce binoculars, using maps and finding landmarks. Each episode incorporates the value of using tools to help solve problems.

Teach children to respect nature and leave a small footprint: It’s fun to catch fish, but check size requirements and throw back fish that are too small. Collect fireflies in a jar but release them at the end of the adventure. Help children remember to clean up after themselves outside and not litter.

Subscribe to a nature magazine: Nature magazines can teach kids about different aspects of nature and help keep them interested during the colder months when it’s not as easy to spend time outside.

Look up: Teach children about the planets and the constellations. Take a lawn chair outside some nights and look up at the stars or plan a picnic at dusk and watch the sun go down. The changing sky offers a fascinating show.

Take a child to the seashore at low tide: Point out a few tide pools, give your kids a bucket and let them go. Then have fun discussing everything they bring back.

Plan a visit to a children’s zoo or petting zoo: Children love the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat and may even have a chance to pet or feed them. It’s another wonderful way to spend time outdoors together.

Visit natural history museums: These museums offer information about ecological systems and various animals. They often have special exhibits and play areas specifically for young children. Teaching your children to love the natural world around them can be one of the best gifts you can give them.

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This Franchise Is A Favorite

(NAPSI)—As more and more people see the current economy as an opportunity to go into business for themselves, franchising is becoming an increasingly popular way to go about it. Currently, there are more than 75,000 different franchises in the U.S. and Canada. All franchisors, however, are not alike.

Sign of Quality

“Franchisee satisfaction is the most critical factor for any prospective franchisee to consider before investing in any franchise opportunity,” explains Eric Stites, president of Franchise Business Review. “Even during challenging economic times, the very best franchise businesses maintain high franchisee satisfaction. This year’s award-winning franchises are in that elite group and represent the very best franchise opportunity investments in the marketplace today.”

Now in its sixth year, the Franchise Business Review awards begin with in-depth research on more than 500 franchises that include more than 100,000 franchisees. Survey questions cover everything from training and support, system quality issues, franchisor relationship, and financial opportunity to overall satisfaction.

A Leader in its Field

One of the more popular franchisors is Kampgrounds of America, the first choice of North American families when it comes to camping and the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world. In fact, it has just been ranked 10th in the list of Top 50 Franchises by Franchise Business Review.

One reason the company stays popular may be an annual effort to survey hundreds of thousands of campers immediately following their KOA stay. KOA immediately finds out what campers liked—and didn’t like—about their camping trip, and is able to provide immediate feedback to KOA owners.

The largest system of family campgrounds in North America, it has been in business for nearly 50 years and has more than 475 locations around the U.S. and Canada—though there’s plenty of room for more.

Learn More

If all this has inspired you to own your own KOA, go to www.ownakoa.com or call (800) 548-7239 for more information.

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