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Ah, the family vacation. It's a rite of passage for many households, often marked by last-minute arguments, drama, and tears as the car inevitably gets packed in the dark for a crack of dawn departure, to beat the traffic. Of course, once everyone's settled down and the stress of packing and other considerations wears off, these opportunities make memories that last a lifetime and can be extremely rewarding and relaxing.

You should be prepared to sleep all in one room, especially when hotels and motels offer two king- or queen-sized beds for under $100. Pricier places to stay often have weekend specials in which you can obtain a suite or two adjoining rooms for the price of one standard room in mid-week.

Look for family-friendly places to eat, such as the Perkins chain. If you follow your children's culinary instincts, you'll end up at a fast food place, anyhow. Consumer food sources indicate that Boston Market and Wendy's seem to have the most lower-cholesterol choices, though often not by much. If your kids enjoy real food and exotic fare, low-priced Mexican, Chinese and Indian restaurants are a good solution, the latter cuisine continuing to grow in popularity throughout North America.

Agencies/Operators

  • About Family Travel (tel. 541/535-5411; www.about-family-travel.com) offers tailor-made vacations for families and groups for destinations around the world.
  • Fun Time Family Travel (tel. 707/446-8497; www.funtimefamilytravel.com) is a full service travel agency specializing in complete family vacations for parents with children six years old and younger.
  • Travel With Kids (no phone calls, www.travelwithkids.about.com) offers news and information, and covers all manner of family vacations in many parts of the world, from California to the Caribbean to cruises and African safaris. Teresa Plowright serves as the spokesperson.

Organizations

  • National Crime Prevention Council (www.ncpc.org) offers McGruff's Family Travel and Safety Tips and other information pertaining to travel as well as for stay-at-home readers.

Publications

  • There are many site-specific books for kids and for traveling with kids. The Frommer's series has several volumes on the subject, which you can find in our online bookstores (www.frommers.com/guidebooks). Just use "kids" as your search term to view them all.
  • The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel: Planning, Surviving and Enjoying Your Vacation Together (Broadway Books, by Emily Kaufman) offers a range of ideas and troubleshoots you through travel snafus such as missed flights and what to do on a rainy day.
  • Family Travel: The Farther You Go, the Closer You Get (Travelers' Tales Guides, edited by Laura Manske) waspublished in 1999 and claims that travel can restore and revitalize family ties.
  • How to Take Great Trips with Your Kids (The Harvard Common Press) is full of good general advice that can apply to travel anywhere.
  • Adventuring With Children: An Inspirational Guide to World Travel and the Outdoors (Avalon House, by Nan Jeffrey) encourages the reader and explains how to take the whole family off the beaten path and into the unexpected.

Web sites

  • Baby Goes 2 (www.babygoes2.com) is a U.K.-based site that tells you which airlines like kids, and offers tips for traveling, along with destination suggestions and guides.
  • Expedia (www.expedia.com) has family vacation package information, including flights, hotels, cruises and vacations.
  • Family Adventure Travel Directory (www.familyadventuretravel.com) is an information resource on family adventure travel as well as a listing of companies that offer family adventure travel around the world.
  • Family Travel Files (www.familytravelfiles.com) is on online magazine that offers family vacations, reviews, ideas, travel articles, deals and specials for destinations in North and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean.
  • Family Travel Forum (www.familytravelforum.com) features lots of destination information, especially for families traveling with children, vacation booking, and links to a message board.
  • Family Travel Network (www.familytravelnetwork.com) provides a range of destination ideas for families, including trips to Costa Rica, family volunteer vacations, and eco-travel adventure.
  • Gorp Adventure Travel (http://gorp.away.com) has a section with travel tips for taking kids on vacation, whether that's camping or hiking, or by road or by plane-including the first trip overseas-and a family vacation guide.
  • Go City Kids (www.gocitykids.com) is a city guide and planning resource for parents with information on large, popular cities across the United States.
  • National Geographic Magazine (www.nationalgeographic.com) has a whole section with travel information, features, and resources, and archived articles on family travel.
  • Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) offers many low fares and web-only airfares, good for families and individuals.
  • Outside Magazine (http://outside.away.com) online offers archived family vacation guides as well as suggestions for road trips and city travel for families.
  • Single Parent Tours (www.singleparenttravel.net) is full of useful advice, deals, a newsletter and tours "for all forms of non-traditional parenthood."
  • Smarter Travel (www.smartertravel.com/family) compiles tips, travelogues, and deals aimed at traveling families. You can become a member by subscribing to their newsletter, which offers exclusive discounts and promotions, with a newsletter that you can subscribe to.
  • Travel for Kids (www.travelforkids.com) provides tips for kid-friendly destinations, travel guides and information for destinations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, from Belgium to Bali and China and Cuba. It also publishes its own family travel restaurant guides.
  • Travel With Your Kids (www.travelwithyourkids.com), written by parents for parents, is concerned with where you should go with your kids, what to do, and how to make it an easier process.
  • Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) offers flight, hotel and vacation packages suitable for individuals and families.