Enjoying Adventure Travel For Kids


Independent travel and the spirit of adventure can often be quashed once children come along, as many families succumb to the archetypal ‘family holiday’ full of sandcastles and ice lollies and while there’s a certain appeal to that, it’s by no means the only option available.

Starting off.

While adventure travel for kids is an enjoyable prospect, there are some simple ways to ensure the trip runs smoothly and with as little stress as possible. Travelling with children requires a certain amount of advance planning, especially if the children are very young and dependant. Start by doing plenty of research on possible destinations, considering their relevance to kids, then narrow down the options by matching them up with personal criteria and individual preferences.

Expect your children to get bored easily, especially during long periods of being stuck aboard a vehicle, so make sure you are well prepared for this and have thought it through prior to travel. Pack plenty of snacks, books and entertainment devices and consider wrapping small, individual toys so that they can be opened at regular intervals when a distraction is needed.

Think about where you are going and have a detailed itinerary as well as lists of essential phone numbers and plenty of ideas of things to do, including back-up options. Facilities for children will need to be considered.

Tailor made holidays come with a certain sense of satisfaction, especially as they are usually planned following much discussion and are suited to the needs of everyone traveling. There is nothing better than taking to the road, knowing your trip is exactly what you wanted it to be, with none of the compromises that come from booking a standard package holiday.

Where to go.

There are lots of great places to go and the world really is your oyster, but failsafe hits with children include walking or hiking holidays, cycling trips or water-based activities. If the travel is off-putting, set a time limit for acceptable distances and perhaps consider flight times of no more than four hours or similar.

National parks offer countless opportunities for adventure and children are always fascinated by the great outdoors. Search for minibeasts, trample through leaves or paddle in streams, making the most of the fresh air and freedom.

Camping is another exciting prospect and there can be nothing better than sitting out under the stars, satisfying rumbling tummies on barbequed sausages, while planning the next day’s activities in earnest.

Most children like to be active and by indulging in sporty activities, everyone has the chance to spend quality time together. Watersports such as sailing, surfing or swimming are things that work on different levels regardless of age or ability.

Where to stay.

Children can be exuberant at best and noisy at worst, so to allow them to let of steam without you getting stressed, self catering accommodations is ideal. By hiring a cabin or cottage, everyone has some space and privacy and the environment can be a home from home with no fear of disturbing anyone else.

Another fantastic family friendly alternative is to travel in a camper van or motor home and this can be lots of fun for everyone and allow for plenty of flexibility. The same goes for hiring a narrowboat and taking it for a leisurely trip down winding canals steeped in tradition and promoting a relaxed pace of life.

There are many different types of holiday available to families with children and each one can be an adventure in itself, prompting the formation of precious lifelong memories. While adventure travel is certainly challenging with children in tow, its also incredibly rewarding and great fun too!

Ljubljana, The Jewel of Eastern Europe


In summer 2015 I toured Europe for ten weeks, starting in Eastern Europe. My 2 ½ hour train ride from Zagreb, Croatia to Ljubljana (pronounced “Lublana”), Slovenia revealed lush green countryside and rivers blue in the June sunlight. The Hotel Center was indeed in the city center, an inexpensive, clean 2 star with a private bathroom. The high end, large shopping district and numerous banks told the story of a surprisingly prosperous, eastern European city in what used to be a part of Yugoslavia. An abundance of young people walked the crowded sidewalks and dined and drank in the many cafes and restaurants. Prices were much lower than in cities to the west and north. The equivalent of two dollars bought a decent glass of wine.

The most appealing feature of the city is the Ljubljanica River, numerous shops and cafes in buildings hundreds of years old adorning both sides. Except for the ancient architecture, it reminds me of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. Sitting at one of the outdoor tables, sipping a glass of wine provided excellent people watching, as well as a pleasant ambiance.

When I arrived in Ljubljana I was tired and tense from having toured four cities in eastern and central Europe in the previous ten days. Balancing activities and relaxation was easy in the relaxed atmosphere of Ljubljana. As is my habit, on the first afternoon I walked around the city to get my bearings and a taste of what the city offered.

Most of the locals spoke English, were very friendly and curious about Americans. The streets and sidewalks were clean and inviting. Even the public restrooms were clean. On my initial walk I found Tivoli Park, a huge open space with plenty of walking trails, and flora. There were also many smaller parks decked out in summer flowers and lush surroundings.

The main event of Ljubljana is their summer art festival, featuring visual and performing artists from all over the world. The first festival was in 1893, and it has flourished every year since, even during the war years. Much of it is free. It attracts tourists from all over Europe and gives the city a festive atmosphere, especially at night around the main square by the river. As I walked through the neighborhoods I often heard music from musicians practicing in their apartments.

My people watching by the river included two young boys playing with a ball. Children are pretty much the same all over the world. It is when they grow up that differences develop, and those differences create fear, which in turn creates bigotry and sometimes violence.

I splurged on dinner at a fancy restaurant in a hotel. My salad of spring greens and duck breast was fresh and tasty. My fresh, local sea bass sautéed in olive oil with asparagus was delicious, as was the local red wine. The crème broulee with lavender ice cream was scrumptious. It was top was soft instead of the crisp top in the French version.

Before dinner the next evening I sat at an outside café table and sipped white wine across from a toy store owned by a young couple who played with their two boys 11 months apart in front of their store.

Most people in Ljubljana ride bicycles, but the era of the automobile is fast coming. Now, as one man put it, the only danger in the city is getting run over by a bicyclist.

Whether you are a baby boomer, senior or a traveler of any age, if you love art and music, as well as a relaxed city full of color and don’t like crowds of tourists, I highly recommend Ljubljana. It is one of three cities I visited during my ten week European trip that I would return to.

The Incomparable Beauty Of Scandinavia


A Long Train Ride to the Incomparable Beauty of Scandinavia: Copenhagen and Oslo

I went to Copenhagen by train from Bologna, some 19 hours on trains and in train stations in Milan and Basil. Walking out of the Basil train station, I was flanked by a Burger King on my left and a Starbucks on my right––disappointing. The beauty of the Swiss Alps made up for it, and once past the Americana, Basil seemed like a charming city, where American dollars exchanged for Swiss Francs didn’t buy much.

After four weeks in the warmth of summer in beautiful but economically depressed Italy, Copenhagen was a shock. It was cold and rainy, and the prices for everything were double or triple those of Italy, but it was sparkling clean with beautiful canals, sky blue when the sun shone between the clouds. The older buildings had the architecture unique to Scandinavia, so unlike that of southern Europe. In summer the gardens were beautiful. It seemed like everyone, commercial and family, was competing for the most colorful and elaborate garden. Oslo, the first stop on my Cruise of Norway was similar in its floral extravaganza and was surrounded by even more water than Copenhagen.

Copenhagen was not as crowded with tourists as I had found other European destinations in the summer, a pleasant surprise. The tourists that were there included many American baby boomers and seniors, probably attracted by the pristine cities and friendly, English speaking natives.

My favorite part of Copenhagen was Tivoli Gardens, a Disneyland with gardens. It had everything that Disneyland had, but fewer rides, more restaurants and much more open space with great splotches of colorful flowers, green lawn, ponds bordered by more flowers and trees and plants that outdid Disneyland.

It is one of the most efficient cities in Europe for getting around, quite walkable for the most part, but efficient subway and bus service and trains that go everywhere in Europe. The hop-on-hop-off busses are an efficient way to see the city.

Oslo is blessed with fascinating museums that display its long history and art. The Viking Ship Museum, which displays Viking Ships from the Middle Ages; the Folk Museum that in addition to artifacts from the Fifteenth Century, has a village of old homes and shops that were moved there from their original locations in Norway; and the Kontiki Museum. My traveling companion and I especially enjoyed the Folk Museum. Seventeenth century homes and shops had been moved to the picturesque hilly grounds that displayed artifacts and traditional Nordic dancing by Oslo’s youth. Oslo’s architecture, like that of Copenhagen is colorful and unique and has modern skyscrapers next to four hundred year old beautifully maintained buildings. The City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prizeis presented each year is a modern building full of art, old and new. You can enjoy the beauty of the city by boat, bus or foot. The food, especially native fish, is delicious, though expensive. Be prepared to pay the equivalent of six to seven dollars for a cup of coffee and thirty to forty for lunch. Oslo is a pleasant city for Americans to visit because most everyone speaks English.