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Activities & Interests

Past travel articles organized by activity and interest.

family life

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Travellers 'R' Us

HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVISToronto-based Heather Greenwood Davis is a freelance travel writer and blogger at She, her husband, Ish, and their sons, Ethan, 11 and Cameron, 9, spent a year travelling around the world. They hit 29 countries on six continents and were named National Geographic Traveler magazine ''Travelers of the Year.''

Subject: children; family life; travel

Saturday, March 1, 2014

TRAVEL CONCIERGE The question: What kinds of trips can teenagers and their families enjoy together? THE ANSWERFamily vacations when I was a teen involved me sullenly avoiding eye contact and sneaking off unannounced whenever possible. Little has changed - apart from most kids' limpet-like attachment to their gadgets - but many parents now have better strategies for ensuring trips don't dissolve into hormonal sulk fests.

Subject: family life; travel; youth

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mind-blowing March Break getaways

It's late to be planning a trip for March break, but if you're fed up with the snow, the slush, the rain and the gloom, opportunities still abound. Here are a few choice selections.

Subject: children; family life; list; tourism; travel

Saturday, September 1, 2012


concierge@globeandmail.comThe question We're a young family seeking sun, sand and seafood in a quiet coastal village where the culture and language are warm and welcoming - and different from urban Canadiana. Suggestions?

Location: Algarve; Portugal;

Subject: children; family life; tourism; travel

Saturday, August 25, 2012


concierge@globeandmail.comThe question We're a family of five, bound for Paris. We need hotel help!The AnswerThat Eloise had it easy. Top floor digs at the Plaza Hotel and room service - charge it please! - for just her and Nanny. (Well, for Weenie the dog and Skipperdee the turtle, too.) But any big family knows whether you're in New York, Paris or Rome, hotel living gets tricky when your demographics bump up past two double beds.

Location: Paris;

Subject: family life; hotels; travel

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Glory days on the road

Sibling rivalries. Personality clashes. Dubious motels. Tents. Faulty GPS systems. Engine trouble. Puke.''Are we there yet?''Road trips are inherently painful, a crash course in your family's survival skills. Somehow, people still become nostalgic for them - from the safe distance of many years.

Subject: automobiles; driving; family life; list; statements; tourism; travel

Friday, July 20, 2012

12 months / 4 continents / 2 kids / 0 casualties

When Nancy Harper and her husband decided to go on vacation in 2006 with their two daughters, aged 7 and 8, Disneyland wasn't going to cut it.The travel junkies took their desire for adventure to the extreme, deciding to leave their home in Elora, Ont., for a year-long trek across Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Africa.

Location: Australia; Canada; Malaysia; New Zealand; Singapore; South Africa;

Subject: biography; books; children; family life; parenthood; statements; tourism; travel; travellin' mama: a parent's guide to ditching the routine, seeing the world and taking the kids along for the ride

Saturday, May 26, 2012

No place for kids? Mais pas du tout!

Paris has a reputation for being the city of lovers, but it's also notorious for being a city of haters: namely of North Americans and children. The prevailing wisdom - wrong-headed, as my family would soon discover - was that if we took our three innocents there, our reservations would inexplicably vanish the moment we entered a restaurant, locals would run for the nearest Metro if we deigned to ask directions, that we'd be socio-cultural scourges with fanny packs. More than a few times we were asked, ''To what end?'' There is nothing, nothing, for a family to do in the City of Light.

Location: France; Paris;

Subject: children; family life; tourism; travel

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three camps we'd love to sign up for

Golf in the Okanagan

Location: Bahamas; British Columbia; Grand Cayman; Okanagan;

Subject: children; family life; golf; summer camps; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 3, 2012


ON LUGGAGELet them bring only what they can carry (a small suitcase with wheels and a small backpack should suffice). Even if they're only four years old, have them pack and then actually walk around the house with their gear. If it's too heavy, make them lighten the load. You know what the alternative is....

Subject: children; family life; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March Break with a crowd: paradise or holiday hell?

You're the best of friends. Together you celebrate birthdays, promotions, the start of summer, the end of winter, getting through the week.... You share sorrows, frustrations and heartache, too.

Subject: children; family life; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why travel with kids

escaperoute@globeandmail.comThere is a tendency to view travel with young children as the modern equivalent of a hair shirt, a penance preferably avoided, or at best, endured. Kids, it is held, with their whining and restlessness and tantrums, dilute the inherent joys of wandering so profoundly that the resulting experience is, at best, a lukewarm rendition of the real thing, incomparable to the eye-opening, heart-stretching miracle that was travel-before-parenthood. Meaningful family journeys (never mind enjoyable) are widely regarded as a myth; the unattainable dream of selfish parents, and a bloody nuisance for everyone else.

Subject: children; family life; tourism; travel

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March break made easy

WEST COAST$2,000Seattle: world of discoveryPack your car and point it south: Science-loving kids will get a kick out of a week in Seattle. The city is chockablock with museums, but highlights include the Museum of Flight (a must for plane-obsessed boys and girls), the Burke Museum (for the obligatory dinosaur bones) and the Pacific Science Center (heavy on the space exhibits). Got a smaller tyke? The Seattle Children's Museum features activities every day for kids as young as 10 months. Stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Seattle Center: Newly renovated rooms average $104 a night, and you'll be within walking distance of several attractions. (Based on a March 19 to 24 booking on

Location: Canada;

Subject: events; family life; list; tourism; travel

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I spy Barcelona

I should have known when I spied my three kids and husband slumped over and barely conscious on the hotel lobby couch that jet lag was going to put a damper on our plans.

Location: Barcelona; Spain;

Subject: children; cities; family life; tourism; travel

Saturday, July 30, 2011


concierge@globeandmail.comWe want to snorkel with teens and with sea life in the Caribbean - and I don't mean captive dolphins. Can you suggest a spot?***********Teenagers will walk to the edge of the ocean, attention glued to their phones even as they're slipping their fins on,

Location: Caribbean;

Subject: family life; tourism; travel; youth

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The only explosions in Tbilisi? Diapers

This summer, the best-selling travel author is heading deep into the Georgia Caucasus, with family in tow. This is week two of a series.A dim yellow moon hung above the southern Caucasus as our taxi raced toward Tbilisi. Forty hours of flights and airport lounges with two young boys had passed without incident, almost too easily; a hazy dream of meals and naps.

Location: Georgia; Tbilisi;

Subject: children; family life; series; tourism; travel

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cherishing sweet familiarity in an old Welsh cottage

During the seventies and eighties, my parents carefully pooled pennies and flew their young family to Manchester every summer, usually aboard some cheap charter. (I still remember carrying brown lunch bags onto Wardair and Freddie Laker planes.) After weeks of tedious relative-visiting and cheek-pinching, we would at last ditch the city, jump on the motorway and head for Wales.

Location: Great Britain; Wales;

Subject: family life; travel

Friday, December 31, 2010


concierge@globeandmail.comThe question Hawaiian road trip / I've always wanted to drive the Hana Highway in Hawaii. Is this route, favoured by honeymooners and the senior set, worth it with four kids in a minivan?

Location: Hawaii;

Subject: family life; tourism; travel

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A real magical kingdom

In the holy Hindu city of Varanasi, my family and I stood respectfully back from the entrance to an ancient temple one day last spring, craning our necks a bit to get a glimpse of the elaborate gold idols inside, mindful of the worshippers edging past us to pray. Then the merry priest caught sight of my three-year-old son: He swooped over in a swirl of saffron robes, swept the child into his arms and headed for the inner sanctum of the temple. ''Come,'' he said over his shoulder to us, scrunching Darragh's cheeks. Startled but delighted, we hurried along behind.

Location: India;

Subject: children; family life; list; tourism; travel

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Where the only footprints are in the sand

The sun was rapidly disappearing when the cab, a pickup with four rows of benches in the back, deposited us at the Maho Bay Camps main office, a haphazard cluster of wooden buildings at the end of a narrow track leading through mountains on St. John, the smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands.

Location: St. John; U.S. Virgin Islands;

Subject: ecotourism; environment; family life; travel

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A group vacation that's going straight downhill

With his trigger finger hovering over a small transmitter, a young assailant awaits his victim. A dozen pairs of eyes watch in anticipation from behind potted plants, chair cushions and heavy window curtains.

Location: Italy;

Subject: children; family life; skiing; tourism; travel; vacations

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A carry-on, a laptop and the little ones

When the CBC asked Robert Herjavec to return to his native Croatia for a special episode of Dragons' Den last week, it seemed like a natural opportunity to work family time into a business trip by taking his 11-year-old daughter, Caprice, with him.

Subject: business travel; children; family life; parenthood

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Oblication [ob-li-cay-shun]- noun1. A compulsory visit to out-of-town family or friends.Visiting your in-laws this weekend? Enjoy the oblication. Just don't tell them that's what you call it.

Subject: family life; language; travel

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Recessionary road trip: It's a luxe life

On a recent weekday afternoon, sipping martinis poolside at The Cloister - one of the poshest family resorts in the United States - it occurred to my husband and me that if it weren't for the recession, we would never have considered a road trip. Nor would we have wound up on Sea Island, Ga., during our annual family vacation.

Location: United States;

Subject: children; economy; family life; tourism; travel

Saturday, May 9, 2009

In search of a wanted man: Dad

The first time I spoke the words ''My father has Alzheimer's disease,'' I was sitting in a Thames Valley Police car.It was a lovely sunny day in Oxford, England, in mid-May and pedestrian-only Cornmarket Street was full of students and tourists. Listening to the police radio inside the car, I realized the officer was monitoring the surveillance of a pair of would-be thieves. Why would he care about a 60-year-old man from Canada who had become separated from his daughter?

Location: Oxford; Great Britain;

Subject: travel; tourism; family life

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A bowl of noodles by any other name

The first time I visited Japan, I went in search of the perfect bowl of udon. For those not familiar with this fine staple of Japanese cuisine, it is a hot noodle soup made with dashi, mirin and soy sauce and often topped with scallions and tempura. There is nothing better than a steaming bowl of these savoury noodles on a cold winter's day.

Location: Japan;

Subject: travel; tourism; family life

Saturday, September 6, 2008


It is one thing to get yourself into an embarrassing situation abroad; another to live abroad and land your mother in one when she comes to visit. I had been in Japan half a year teaching English in Tokyo and was due for a vacation. ''Don't go anywhere till I arrive,'' my mother's crackly voice implored me on the phone. ''I have a list of places I want to go. Osaka, Kyoto for the temples and, of course, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We'll ride that bullet train thing they have.''

Location: Japan;

Subject: travel; family life

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On the road again - and in the front seat

Since I've spent a lot of time travelling and writing about it, people sometimes ask me what trips are like when you're no longer a single footloose backpacker but the mother of a four-year-old boy.

Location: Quebec;

Subject: travel; family life; parenthood; children; tourism

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Someone to watch over them

It may be the perfect family vacation: Your children squeal with delight as they dive into clear blue water, your husband is paddling away in a canoe and you have a trashy novel in hand, which you don't look up from all day. Nope, not even once.

Subject: travel; family life; domestic workers; list

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Distractions for the driven

You try to sell the view: caramel wheat stalks reaching through Prairie snow; the brutal majesty of Northern Ontario; the river-bisected beauty of Riviere-du-Loup in eastern Quebec; the centuries-old dikes of Acadian agriculture; the New York skyline from the New Jersey Turnpike.

Subject: travel; children; family life; audiobooks; list

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Borscht Belt's culinary thrill ride

My first experience with gastronomic pairing was matzo ball soup and Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda in the sprawling kitchen of my grandparents' Catskill Mountains hotel. While this cacophonous staging area for a 140-seat dining room may not seem conducive to a contemplative tasting experience, every flavour and aroma I experienced during those years is etched into my memory. As in many cultures, food was the emotional linchpin of the ''Jewish Alps,'' and a hunk of sweet-noodle pudding or raisin-crammed rugelach was the currency with which to express love.

Location: Catskill Mountains; New York;

Subject: travel; food; family life

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Get off my cloud

For many families, March Break is a time to pack up the kids and head to Walt Disney World or Virginia Beach. That means gearing up for the inevitable seat-back pummelling by the child behind you, battling over the armrest with your neighbour or getting your knees whacked when the person in front of you reclines his seat all the way back.

Subject: air travel; family life; parenthood; children; behaviour; etiquette

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Paris test

Shortly after meeting my husband-to-be, I took him to Paris as a test. If he was The One, I told myself, then he would fall in love with the city as I had.

Location: Paris; France;

Subject: travel; tourism; family life; children

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Eight-year-old Julian Elia stands in front of the Taj Mahal and assesses the magnitude of the white marble wonder towering above him.''It's bigger than the things I've built with Lego,'' he says.

Subject: travel; tourism; family life; parenthood; children; lifestyles; list

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tip No. 1: Let teens sleep in

Some parents may dread the thought of travelling with children. But it can be rewarding. Really. It just demands proper prep work.Where to start?''Parents should certainly consider their children's likes and dislikes when booking a vacation,'' says Candyce Stapen, the author of 27 books on family travel including National Geographic's Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations.

Subject: travel; tourist; children; family life; parenthood; list

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The sweet smell of frying goat

When you travel, new sights, sounds, tastes and smells leave such a strong imprint on your mind that, even years later, you never know what will trigger a memory of a long-ago trip. These sudden memories can, in turn, invoke joy, sadness and nostalgia. Or, in the case of my little sister, profound embarrassment.

Location: Jamaica;

Subject: travel; tourism; family life

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mosquito Coast family reunion

In 1970, the year I was born, my father fell in love.Not with a person - he was already quite besotted with my mother and liked his children well enough - but with a tiny, little-known British colony in Central America.

Location: Belize;

Subject: travel; tourism; family life

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How to be cool with your kids

It's not what you would expect to find in the middle of a snow-clad forest: A 126-metre suspension footbridge, Ontario's longest, straddling a hillside ravine. But it's not the surprising span that grabs my attention. With my one-year-old daughter on my back and snowshoes on my feet, I'm more concerned with the eight centimetres of timber, and 25 metres of oblivion, between myself and the valley floor.

Location: Canada;

Subject: travel; tourism; family life; children

Saturday, November 17, 2007


You vowed to school your six-year-old on the finer things in life, so you devised a travel itinerary that includes a culture-rich trip to New York City. But after a lesson in Broadway was cut short by a temper tantrum, you are yearning for recess. A new website,, links travelling parents with reliable babysitters in all 50 U.S. states. The site's child-care directory is searchable by zip code and allows users to access limited provider profiles, reviews and videos. A membership fee of $25 a month plus a $15 registration fee allows unlimited access to profiles and the ability to conduct background checks at no additional cost. The company screens all providers and profiles include qualifications, schedule availability and rates.

Location: United States;

Subject: travel; family life; children

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Enchanted August

I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not planning a trip to Italy.In high school, I pulled out of a March break trip to Rome and Florence on the basis of irreconcilable itineraries: All of my classmates, as well as the supervising teacher, were more interested in meeting Italian men than in what I wanted, which was to be transported into another time and place via old art, strange food and breathtaking views of silver olives and golden sunflowers.

Location: Italy; Tuscany;

Subject: travel; tourism; family life; women

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pack the laptop and the diapers

Last Wednesday, Carla Caccavale Reynolds awoke before dawn, roused her husband and infant daughter and waited for the car that would take her to New York's JFK airport, where she would fly out for an annual meeting in Aruba.

Subject: business travel; tourism work; family life; parenthood; employees; relationships

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sun, sand and geography lessons

I have to admit, I wasn't thinking the words ''educational opportunity'' the morning I booked my family's flight to Orlando and pulled out my Disney guidebook last month. ''Oh dear God, not another snowstorm'' was closer to the truth. But here was my dilemma: The snow was flying, the family was experiencing intense cabin fever and March Break just seemed so far away. Besides, did I really want to fork over cash to pay high-season prices and fight my way through the spring-break crowds?

Subject: travel; family life; education; children

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Where the wild things schuss

Want to offer your children something educational over March Break? I recommend naked Germans in a spa. They were what you might call an unexpected part of the scenery in the Austrian Alps on a memorable family ski holiday with my boys.

Location: Oberlech; Austria;

Subject: travel; tourism; skiing; family life

Saturday, October 7, 2006


Marjorie Beare and I have more than two decades of history behind us: There have been lobster suppers, family reunions, Thanksgivings, funerals and more than a few personality clashes -- including the Great Battle of 1983, which began as a disagreement over my wife's bridal bouquet but soon mushroomed into a months-long family stand-off.

Subject: travel; tourism; family life; driving

Saturday, June 10, 2006


My two sons have always been great travellers. In elementary school, they got to miss two months of classes to travel to Havana, where I was working. They were together 24/7, sharing the same Spanish tutor, the same cramped sleeping quarters -- and loving it. I was convinced travelling was the ultimate brotherly bonding experience.

Subject: travel; family life; parenthood; children

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A backpacker's baby blues

I'm sitting despondent at my friend's house in Oxfordshire, England, trying to zip up my overstuffed suitcase while listening on the phone to the bewildering rail timetable for trains to London. Once off the phone, I sigh deeply in frustration.

Subject: travel; children; family life; behaviour

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I'm not the type of Scottish Canadian who gets all patriotic when she sees Braveheart or teary-eyed at the sound of bagpipes. I'm only part Scottish, and that part is second-generation at that, so I didn't go to a family reunion in the Trossachs expecting much. Just the same what-is-your-name-and-what-do-you-do chit-chat that dominates most family gatherings, only set this time amid rolling hills near Loch Lomond.

Location: Scotland;

Subject: travel; family life

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bébé on board

It's true that a spring vacation in France with your partner and your four-month-old baby may not be the honeymoon of your dreams. But for us it had to be.

Location: France;

Subject: travel; tourism; children; family life

Saturday, May 7, 2005

A step behind my mother

We were at the end of our first day of hiking along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in Wales. Under bright and breezy summer skies, we had followed the path as it wound along the cliff tops, skirting the edges of fields, at times mere feet from stunning rock formations that tumbled to the sea.

Location: Pembrokeshire; Wales; Great Britain;

Subject: travel; hiking; family life; list

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Grand travel

On a return flight from Calgary this spring, Chris Redfern watched her grandson's face as he peered through his window. His nose pressed to the pane, he was enraptured by clouds that seemed to hang on pure nothingness.

Subject: family life; children; grandparents; travel; tourism

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