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May 2010

May 28, 2010

Top Places to Hang Out with the Kids


Go-ape-zipline
Zipline at Go Ape ropes course in Rock Creek Regional Park, Maryland (Go Ape)

Instead of going up the wall looking for ways to keep the kids occupied at home this summer, why not indulge what they love best: climbing stuff. From backyard oaks to boulder-strewn trail hikes, the opportunities for kid-sized outdoor ascents are endless. To get you going, here are four ideas for getting out—and upwardly mobile—with your budding rock monkeys.

Swing from the Branches
May 2010 saw the opening of North America's first treetop ropes course in Rock Creek Regional Park, just outside of Rockville, Maryland. Go Ape's high-swinging obstacle course includes rope ladders, ziplines, and treetop bridges, perfect for the inner child in all of us. The two- to three-hour adventure costs $55 per participant and includes a 30-minute training session and all the necessary safety equipment (unfortunately, this great day out is available only to children over ten). Click below to watch of video of one of Go Ape's ziplines in Scotland; the company has been operating ropes courses in the UK since 2002.

Rock Climbing for Dummies
The Canadian province of Quebec boasts any number of excellent outdoor adventures, including several fixed-route "via ferrata" (iron railway in Italian, the country where the first routes were established in the 1940s during World War II). The Mountain Adventure Park in the Palissades region of Charlevoix, about 125 miles northeast of Quebec City, is one such venue. Ascend close to one vertical kilometer tethered to a cable line that switchbacks up the steep cliffside, stopping to admire views out over the glacial valley and toward the mighty St. Lawrence. The route home is equally exhilarating, with a stomach-churning walk over a swaying suspension bridge followed by a 300-foot rappel back down into the gorge you just crossed. Older kids will love this, though it's not for the faint of heart! Other via ferrate around North America include Waterfall Canyon near Ogden, Utah, and Nelson Rocks in West Virginia's North Fork Valley near Circleville.

Continue reading "Top Places to Hang Out with the Kids" »


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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures

May 27, 2010

Tips for Taking a Road Trip


Road tripping
Classic Road Trip: Monument Valley (Jeremy Woodhouse/Photodisc/Getty)

With summer comes the triumphant return of the Great American Road Trip. From all-in-the-family everything-and-the-kitchen-sink cross-country journeys to connect-the-dot national park jaunts to an extended weekend to the nearest beach, the love of the open road never really goes out of style. But the hassles of the road can make things a bit more trying.

In an effort to help alleviate the road-weariness, experts at the Ford Motor Company have culled together some great travel tips to make the pesky details less a hassle.

Continue reading "Tips for Taking a Road Trip" »


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Related Topics: Cheap Trip Ideas · Cheap Vacation Ideas · Family Vacation · Road Trips · Travel Tips

May 26, 2010

Volunteering Family Finds "Pura Vida" in Costa Rica



By Guest Blogger
05/26/2010

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Cliff Hakim works with Miguel-hr Fifteen-year-old Gabriella Hakim, insightful for her age, says that "a constant sense of guilt for all I have" compelled her to press her parents to join a volunteer vacation so she could give back to people who live with many fewer resources than she enjoys. The insider perspective she gained on her Central American journey reassures her, she says, that people are the same the world over. Learning about the day-to-day struggles and joys of life in the Monteverde Cloud Forest region of Costa Rica, Gabriella discovered that "Pura Vida”—Costa Ricans' traditional greeting meaning "pure life; as in walk lightly and enjoy life”—typifies the attitude of the resourceful village leaders who transform meager resources into innovative programs improving community life.

Mom Amy Fardella said the family learned about Global Volunteers, a nonprofit, nonsectarian development assistance organization in special consultative status with the United Nations and UNICEF, from her brother who recommended the program. "They said it was a way to give back and see results that affect people's lives positively," dad Cliff Hakim recalls.

"I wanted to contribute to a culture which needs (our help) and to expose my daughter to all of this, and to teach her service like my brother did with his family," Fardella explains.

Continue reading "Volunteering Family Finds "Pura Vida" in Costa Rica" »


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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Voluntourism

May 25, 2010

Something to Wine About


LogoFairtradeUSA
The next time you doff a tasty glass of Malbec from Argentina, think about what it took to get the bottle to your table. In developing countries like Argentina, Chile, and South Africa, the laborers who work the vineyards typically hold no rights and suffer to meet life's basic needs. But now a unique organization with the tagline "Tackling Poverty and Empowering Producers through Trade" is trying to make a difference.
FAIRTRADE is an alternative to conventional wine trade based on a partnership between producers and consumers. By setting standards for quality and sustainable production with a minimum price for distribution, it allows producers and laborers at least simple living conditions. In addition, a portion of the revenue goes toward improving the workers' and farmers' social, economic, and environmental conditions (ie: schools, doctors offices, etc.). By buying wine with the FAIRTRADE label, you are supporting the very people who make the wine so delicious to begin with. So the next time you choose your wine, look for the label, and feel even better knowing you're drinking responsibly.


Lisa Costantini is a writer/editor currently traveling the world with her husband working on a project about sport and culture. More information can be found on their website at www.whysportmatters.com. Lisa will be blogging from the road for us as she and her husband travel through Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe over the next several months.


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Related Topics: Food and Drink

May 24, 2010

Summer Music Festival Round-Up



By Kate Chandler
05/24/2010

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Austin-city-limits-music-fe
Austin City Limits Music Festival (Kate Chandler)

Music festival season is upon us. In fact, it already started, with Coachella running from April 16 through 18. Not to worry if you missed it. You can still squeeze in the warm-up festivals of Sasquatch! (May 29 through 31, featuring Ween, My Morning Jacket, and Massive Attack) and Wakarusa (June 3 through 6, featuring Widespread Panic, STS9, and Umphrey’s McGee) before the big daddy—Bonnaroo—hits on June 10.

As usual, Bonnaroo is the biggie on the festival circuit this year, with music being just part of the multi-faceted camping free-for-all. The music names are big—Dave Matthews, Kings of Leon, and Jay-Z, plus my personal faves Michael Franti & Spearhead and the Zac Brown Band—but the comedy stage, featuring Conan O’Brien and Margaret Cho, will also be a popular spot. Need a break from the heat and humidity? Stop by the air-conditioned movie tent, open 24 hours a day. Or get a little exercise in a yoga class. This festival has come a long way from a relatively small jam-band gathering in 2002.

Continue reading "Summer Music Festival Round-Up" »


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Related Topics: Holidays, Events, & Festivals

May 20, 2010

Great Walks of the World: Via Francigena


Settimo_Vittone_Via_Francigena_Turin_italy EDITOR'S NOTE: This post is part of a series profiling ten of the world's great long-distance walking trails. Thanks to The Wayfarers, with over 25 years experience out in the field, for their help in compiling these recommendations.

One of the earliest written descriptions of a long-distance route was made by the late-10th century Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric the Serious, as he returned from Rome where Pope John XV had presented him with his cope and pallium. Descriptions of his route and stopping places largely helped define the 1,900 km (1,180 mile) Via Francigena, which today is generally walked in a north-south direction from Canterbury Cathedral in Britain, via France, Switzerland, and western Italy to the eternal city. It can be conveniently walked in 80 stages at an average of about 15 miles a day. Like the Camino to Santiago, the Via Francigena has been designated a European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe. Improvements are being made to the Italian leg, a highlight of which would be staying as a paying guest at ancient monasteries and convents. Be aware, however, that those who don't pay are likely to be set to work for several hours before the gates are opened!

Walking vacation experts since 1984, British-founded and -owned The Wayfarers offers hiking vacations with an emphasis on culture and fitness, exclusive entrées into homes and gardens otherwise closed to the public, graceful accommodations, outstanding cuisine, and meetings with local residents. Walks are rated easy to energetic and span 14 countries, ranging from 5 to 12 days. The Wayfarers is proud to be a member of Trusted Adventures, an alliance of independently owned and operated small adventure travel companies recognized for their mission to provide the finest active vacations around the world.


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May 19, 2010

Family Friendly London Hotels



By Guest Blogger
05/19/2010

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Browns hotel guest room
Brown Hotel, London (Brown Hotel)

Traveling with the family can be a great experience, but it can also be challenging to find family-friendly areas that welcome you and your screaming two-year-old. A hotel is not always the most child-friendly place, so it's great when some of them make an extra effort to entertain their younger guests and make them feel welcome. Here are some suggestions for those traveling to the city of London.

Brown's Hotel
Albemarle Street, London

This luxury hotel offers a special "Family Affair" package. Pay for one deluxe room and get another one free. Children under three receive complimentary food and drink, and those under 16 get all their food half price. Each child can expect a welcome gift, which includes fun items such as a copy of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Junior bath-time accessories like ducks and bubble bath are supplied, and the kids' beds are made up with fun themed covers. Older children will enjoy the iPod docking stations, Playstations, DVD players, and free internet access through their televisions (with content protection for your peace of mind).

Continue reading "Family Friendly London Hotels" »


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Related Topics: European Travel · Family Vacation

May 18, 2010

Great Walks of the World: Te Araroa, New Zealand


NZ_MtCook_SouthIs_NZT-W030
Mt. Cook, New Zealand (New Zealand Tourism)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post is part of a series profiling ten of the world's great long-distance walking trails. Thanks to The Wayfarers, with over 25 years experience out in the field, for their help in compiling these recommendations.

More than ten years in the making and billed as one of life's great adventures, Te Araroa (The Long Pathway in the Maori language) is due for completion at the end of this year when the final 150 miles of linking tracks open to provide a 1895-mile, end-to-end tramping trail that provides the whole gamut of landscape experiences that New Zealand has to offer. The experience starts from Cape Reinga in the north of the North Island and ends (for those who want to tackle it in one go) three or four months later at Bluff in the far south of the South Island. The promoters' description summarises it all: down the coastline, through the forest, across farmland, over volcanoes and mountain passes, along river valleys, and on green pathways across seven cities. Accommodation in the wild country is at basic huts provided by New Zealand's inestimable Department of Conservation with the usual range of facilities in more urban areas.

Walking vacation experts since 1984, British-founded and -owned The Wayfarers offers hiking vacations with an emphasis on culture and fitness, exclusive entrées into homes and gardens otherwise closed to the public, graceful accommodations, outstanding cuisine, and meetings with local residents. Walks are rated easy to energetic and span 14 countries, ranging from 5 to 12 days. The Wayfarers is proud to be a member of Trusted Adventures, an alliance of independently owned and operated small adventure travel companies recognized for their mission to provide the finest active vacations around the world.


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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures

May 17, 2010

Mountain Gear Presents: UClimb



By Lacy Morris
05/17/2010

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Group_Climbers1 UClimb, an event created to introduce rock climbing to beginner and aspiring climbers, has announced its 2010 event dates and locations. If you've always wanted to get into an exhilarating sport, now's your chance to learn from the pros as you get hands-on experience to conquer the mountain. The event includes camping for the weekend, dinner on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday. Expect to learn climbing techniques, watch demonstrations on how to use climbing gear, and listen to voice commands, along with tying knots, belaying, and climbing etiquette. Registration fees are $159 for youth (ages 10 through 17) and $199 for an adult's standard weekend gear package. Packages are also offered that include all of the gear you will need for the weekend like shoes, harnesses, helmets, and a chalk bag. These gear packages are $289 for youth, $329 for adults. Each event is held in an equally picturesque location from the one before. "These locations are perfect places to learn and teach to those who are enthusiastic about trying something new,” said Phil Bridgers, UClimb event coordinator. “Our goal is to inspire people to come together, learn together, and ultimately have a great time in the outdoors." For more information and to register, go to UClimb's website.

For more rock climbing destinations, photos, and gear advice check out Away.com's Rock Climbing Travel Guide.


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Related Topics: From Around the Web · Outdoor Adventures

Slovenia Unveiled



By Guest Blogger
05/17/2010

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Parin,Slovenia(Tony Conboy)
Bled, Slovenia (Tony Conboy)

Locked behind the communism that kept it virtually unknown and off limits to Americans until the late 1980s, followed then by years of regional war until the 1990s, Slovenia is only now being discovered by American travelers. This charming former province of Yugoslavia is small—you can drive from one end of the country to the other in approximately four hours—but there is a big variety of landscapes to see and activities to enjoy. From the Alps that border Austria to its towns on the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is a stunning surprise for the first-time visitor. Flying into Ljubljana, visitors will immediately notice the abundance of picturesque church steeples that dot what seems like every hilltop on the countryside of the predominantly Roman Catholic country. When you head out of the capital, you'll see where the old and new collide, all of the trappings of a good sized city of 300,000 replaced with smaller farms that still use wooden hayracks to dry hay. Speaking of the countryside, Slovenians love to play outdoors. Whether it's downhill or cross-country skiing, hiking, paragliding, fishing, rafting, canoeing, canyoning, camping, or cycling, Slovenia offers it all. The epicenter for outdoor enthusiasts is Mt. Triglav National Park. The park, named after the country’s highest mountain, Mt. Triglav, hosts more than 1.6 million visitors per year.

Continue reading "Slovenia Unveiled " »


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Related Topics: European Travel
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