New Year’s (Travel) Resolutions

Happy New Year 2014 // (c) coquetboy
Happy New Year 2014 // (c) coquetboy

There are many things that I want to accomplish in the New Year. Of course, I’m going in with a positive attitude that 2014 is going to be the best year ever. And, while my resolutions span everything from lifestyle changes to raising brighter, happier children, many of them focus on travel. So, I won’t bore you with every one of my resolutions, but I will share the below, which should tell you something about where my focus will be in the coming year.

2014 New Year’s (Travel) Resolutions 

1. Rediscover my French language skills — so if anyone wants to get me a Rosetta Stone for my birthday (just kidding).
2. Spend one month somewhere exotic — I have realized over the past year that I have not lived abroad long enough. While one month is clearly not living — more like extended visiting — I want to take my girls and live somewhere else for one month and become part of another culture, experiencing it (almost) like a local.
3. Take a photography class — I am always disappointed in my photos and I am promising myself that this New Year is the year of the photo — even if it’s the iPhone photo.
4. Go on an adventure that challenges my comfort zone — this year, I rappeled from a cliff into the ocean and had a near-death experience on a Class III (it was really a IV, I swear) rapid. I am going to top that in 2014 and I’m taking any and all suggestions on how…just don’t kill me.
5. Have a positive impactVoluntourism is only growing in popularity and awareness, and I am determined to make a difference in the world and there’s no better time to start.
6. Try to cut back on my Nespresso addiction — Developed years ago on a Uniworld River Cruise, I have found myself obsessively researching hotels, river cruise ships, cruise ships, resorts that have Nespresso machines — the (espresso) buck stops here — in my home — hopefully. I will no longer judge in-room coffee.
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January Is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month in Colorado

Skiing Arapahoe Basin Colorado // (c) 2013 CSCUSA
Skiing Arapahoe Basin Colorado // (c) 2013 CSCUSA

I have skiing and snowboarding on the brain right now as we are about to head out on our annual family ski trip (just have to get through Christmas). This year, we are staying closer to home, but I was excited to learn that January is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month” in Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA). What does this mean for families? Deals of course. Resorts are offering a variety of deals and discounts to entice kids and adults to come to the mountains and give skiing and snowboarding a try, sharpen their skills or pick up a new discipline. In addition to CSCUSA’s First Class program, which provides a free beginner lesson and equipment rental to qualifying fifth graders in January, resorts are offering significantly discounted lessons and Learn to Ski and Snowboard packages that include lift tickets, equipment rentals, and lessons taught by highly trained professional instructors. So, if you are headed to Colorado this January, it’s an ideal time to take up the sport.

Below is a list of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard offers from CSCUSA resorts:

Arapahoe Basin

Learn to Ski/Ride Month Super Sunday Special

Good for kid or adult first timers only, the Super Sunday Special package includes a lift ticket, equipment rental, and a beginner lesson. Guests who purchase a Super Sunday lesson will be entitled to discounts on future lessons. Prices for adults are $99 for skiing and $107 for snowboarding, while prices for kids are $79 for skiing and $84 for snowboarding. The items in these packages can be purchased individually; Super Sunday lessons will be $59. Adult ski rental: $20; adult snowboard rental: $28; kid ski rental: $10; kid snowboard rental: $15; Beginner-area lift tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids. 2014 Super Sunday Dates are January 5, 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23. Valid for morning, half-day lessons only (10am-12:30pm).

Free One Run Lessons

Guests are matched up with instructors who learn the guest’s ability level and goals during a Black Mountain Express chairlift ride. During one run down the mountain on terrain accessible from the Black Mountain Express lift, instructors coach relatively minor movements that make major improvements to guests’ skiing. Sign-up is day-of, first-come, first-served from 10:00 am – noon. 2013-14 Dates: December 7, December 15, January 4, January 26, February 9, March 9. For more information, visit www.arapahoebasin.com.

Aspen/Snowmass

Beginner’s Magic For Adult Skiers And Snowboarders

Learn the basics of skiing or snowboarding from professional instructors who practice a teaching method that promotes peak performance and confidence and educates about the right equipment and mountain awareness. Available at Snowmass and Buttermilk every day, this program is best for adults who are first time beginners or who are only comfortable on beginner terrain. Lessons start at $199 inclusive of lift ticket, equipment rental, and full-day lesson when booked at least seven days in advance.

For Kids & Teens – Experienced professional instructors share their wealth of knowledge and instill an appreciation for the mountain environment. Their passion is contagious and kids enjoy perfecting their skills while they develop a love for the sport. Beginners learn in a supportive and fun environment while developing confidence and life skills. They will explore the mountain, try new skills, terrain and snow conditions based on appropriate skill development and experience the thrill of the pipe and park and/or race course with expert coaches. Available at Snowmass and Buttermilk every day, kids will be in groups with other kids or teens of similar ages. Lessons start at $111 for a full-day lesson when booked at least seven days in advance. For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com/schools.

 Copper Mountain

Free Skiing and Riding for Beginners During Ski and Ride Month and All Winter Long
All season long beginners can access and learn for free on the Easy Rider carpet located in Center Village. Once basic skills are learned, a ticket for the Pitchfork chairlift is $15, allowing beginners to master getting on and off the lift while perfecting turning and stopping.

Woodward at Copper Barn – Great for Newbies and Beginners 
This past summer the Woodward at Copper Barn underwent a half-million renovation project which opened the door far beyond snowboards and skis to now include skateboards, BMX and slopestyle mountain bike . All synthetic snow surfaces were replaced with a surface designed for wheels. Families and amateurs alike are invited to experience the renovations expanded offerings for never-evers with additions including a new beginner foam pit with two-foot and four-foot jumps, a pump track designed for the development of park skills, and new programming to bridge the gap and see results on snow. For more information, visit www.coppercolorado.com.

 Crested Butte

$59 Beginner Ski or Ride Package.

For Learn to Ski Month this January 2014, Crested Butte Mountain Resort is offering a $59 beginner ski or ride package. The package is available for adults to learn how to ski or snowboard at a 63 percent discount. This package is for first-time skiers and snowboarders, age 15 and up only.  It includes an Adult First Time Beginner Adventure Ski or Snowboard lesson and a 1-day adult lift ticket valid for limited lift access on the day of the lesson.  Participants can also receive a 50% on rentals when they redeem their Liftopia voucher at the Adventure Center. Visit www.skicb.com/learn for more information and to book this package through Liftopia.com.

Loveland

Free Unrestricted Season Pass for Qualifying Kids

All children (ages 4-14) regardless of ability, who pre-purchase or complete 3 full day lesson packages, receive a free unrestricted season pass to keep practicing their skiing or snowboarding skills for the rest of the season. Children’s full day lesson packages include lesson, lift access, rentals (ski or snowboard) and lunch.  Full day lessons are from 10am through 3:30pm daily. Phone reservations are available or register at the Loveland Valley between 8am and 9am. Pre-purchase price:  $315 for ages 6-14 skiers & snowboarders (Includes Season Pass) $345 for ages 4-5 skiers (Includes Season Pass) (4-5 yr old program includes early drop off beginning at 8:15am). For more information, visit www.skiloveland.com.

 Monarch

First Timer Lessons

First-timer lessons at Monarch are conducted in a group setting and provide first time, basic, beginner instruction to get new skiers and snowboarders comfortable, moving and having fun on their equipment. Packages include all-day lift ticket, equipment and helmet rental, 2.5 hrs. of group instruction, and a snack.  Lesson begins promptly at 9:30 or 11:30 and are $89 for new snowriders aged 7-12 and $99 for ages 13 and older. For more information, visit www.skimonarch.com.

 Powderhorn

Learn to Ski and Ride Season Pass Program

Powderhorn Mountain Resort and the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel join forces to bring back the Learn to Ski and Ride Season Pass Program for the 2013 – 2014 winter season. Designed for first time skiers or snowboarders ages eight and up, the Daily Sentinel’s Learn to Ski and Ride Season Pass program features three consecutive ski or snowboard lessons at Powderhorn Mountain Resort with the Intensive Series, which includes a full day group lesson with an hour break for lunch.

Lessons run from 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 3pm and focus on weather precautions, changing snow conditions, etiquette on the mountain and the Skier/Rider Responsibility Code. Participants emerge from the series with a great foundation in their chosen snow sport, and are able to put new skills to the test on-mountain. Upon completion of the three-lesson program, participants receive a free season pass for the remainder of the 2013 – 2014 season.

Cost for the program is $269 for youth and pre-teen participants (ages 8-17), $320 for adults (18+) and $299 for full time college students. Visit www.powderhorn.com for a list of regular season rates and details on the Learn to Ski and Ride Pass pass program.

Purgatory

Discounted Basic Beginner Packages

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is pleased to announce two new low cost packages during January 2014 for children and adults who want to learn how to ski or snowboard. The program includes two new packages plus a discount card for future skiing or snowboarding.

The Basic Beginner Packages include full-day ski or snowboard lessons for adults/children, basic rental equipment, and lift tickets. Offered Jan. 6 – 31, 2014, the two-day package is $158, $100 off the regular price while the one-day package is $79, a savings of 39 percent.

Upon completion of the 1-Day or 2-Day beginner packages, participants will receive a card good for discounts on lessons, lift tickets and rentals for the remainder of the season through March 30, 2014.  These discounts are valid for use of the LSSM participant only and include lift tickets at $50 for adults, $40 for young adults, and for $30 kids; lessons are $39 for a half-day group lesson, $59 for full-day group lessons; ski or snowboard rentals are $20 for adult basic, $17 kids.  Blackout dates apply:  2/15/14 – 2/16/14 and 3/8/14 – 3/15/14. For more information, visit www.durangomountainresort.com.

Ski Granby Ranch

Get On The Snow Season Pass for Qualified Beginner Skiers and Snowboarders

For $199, complete two ski or snowboarding lesson days and graduate with a “Get On The Snow” season pass to Ski Granby Ranch, as well as a 20 percent discount coupon valid for a retail merchandise purchase. Get on the Snow is for level one, never-ever beginners ages 10 and up. This program is available from January 6 through March 6, 2014. Lessons do not have to be on consecutive days. Not valid with any other offers or promotions. No discounts offered for having equipment or passes. Black-out dates apply:  January 17 – 20, 2014 and February 14-17, 2014. Reservations required. For more information, visit http://www.granbyranch.com/.

Sunlight

Learn to Shine Program For First Time Skiers And Snowboarders

The Learn to Shine package includes three days of lessons, equipment rental and lift tickets. Plus, participants receive a free 5-Day ski pass once they’ve completed the lessons – all for $365. The three lessons can be taken on the dates chosen by the student, whether those dates are consecutive or not.

Skiers and snowboarders that participate in the Learn to Shine program are matched with top-notch instructors that will have them navigating beginner terrain by the end of their first day. For more information, visit http://www.sunlightmtn.com/.

 Winter Park

Winter Park’s Family Easy Start
Learning to ski or snowboard is more fun as a family, and the Winter Park Ski + Ride School offers a great program that allows families to learn together, creating shared memories for one all-inclusive price. For $679 for a half-day or $859 for a full day a family of four gets four lift tickets, four equipment rentals, a private instructor, and access to all the amenities of the Private Lesson Center, including lockers, equipment storage, and a cozy lounge. For more information, visit www.winterparkresort.com.

Wolf Creek

First and Second Day Beginner Packages
These package is ideal for those who have never skied/snowboarded before. The First Day package ($60 for skiers, $66 for snowboarders) includes an all-day lift ticket to the Nova Lift and four hours of professional instruction (from 10am to noon, and from 1pm to 3pm) for new skiers and snowboarders ages 9 and up. The Second Day package ($70 for skiers and snowboarders) includes an all-day lift ticket to the Nova and Raven Lifts plus two hours of professional instruction. This package is designed as a follow-up to the 1st Day Beginner Package, although the 1st Day package is not a prerequisite. For skiers and snowboarders ages 13 and up. Prices quoted for the First and Second Day packages do not include equipment rental.

Children’s Camp Robber Clinic – January 11, 25; February 1, 8

This four-week program (Saturdays only) is designed to introduce 5 to 8 year olds to skiing or improve on the skills they already have, all in a fun environment. Children are grouped according to ability and ski with the same children and instructor each week to foster socialization and friendship. Activities include terrain garden, fun races, and mountain safety. Lift ticket, ski rental, four hours of instruction, lunch and snacks are all included each week. $210 for season pass holders; $240 for non-season pass holders. For more information, visitwww.wolfcreekski.com/.

 

Last-Minute Holiday Family Travel Deals

Holiday travel to New York City // (c) Javier Gutierrez Acedo
Holiday travel to New York City // (c) Javier Gutierrez Acedo

I often change my mind about staying home for the holidays — especially when I miss the idea of a white Christmas or if the L.A. temperatures begin to rise above 70 degrees — and I start looking for last-minute holiday travel deals for the family. It may still be cold now, but in case you catch the travel bug this holiday season, CheapOair has put together some last-minute travel packages perfect for families looking for a quick  holiday getaway. Book by Dec. 20, 2013, to take advantage of these specials.

New York City

During the holidays, travelers can experience the many famous sites of the Big Apple,  including Rockefeller Center where they can go ice skating and pose for pictures in front of the city’s iconic Christmas tree, to visiting the “Top of the Rock”, which soars 70 stories above the street. More must-do activities include getting tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, along with walking up 5th Avenue to see the lights and decorated storefronts. CheapOair is offering a vacation package to New York for a seven-night/eight-day stay at the Westin New York Grand Central Hotel starting at $2,015 per person.

Sample hotel rate listed for travel from Phoenix to New York for Dec. 25, 2013, through Jan. 1, 2014, and is based on availability; additional dates and locations available. Taxes and service fees included.  For reservations, visit http://www.cheapoair.com/vacations/special-packages/exclusive-vacation-packages.html

Orlando

Orlando, Fla., is the perfect destination to visit for an entertaining holiday experience. Walt Disney World offers visitors its famous fireworks display, a Christmas parade that features Santa and more. For more holiday celebrations the Orlando Museum of Art displays the Festival of Trees,which features some of the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees and window displays you’ll ever lay eyes on. CheapOair is offering a vacation package to Orlando for a nine-night/10-day stay at the Hampton Inn Orlando Florida Mall starting at $1,391 per person.

Sample hotel rate listed for travel from Austin to Orlando for Dec. 24, 2013, through Jan. 2, 2014, and is based on availability; additional dates and locations available. Taxes and service fees included.  For reservations, visit http://www.cheapoair.com/vacations/special-packages/exclusive-vacation-packages.html

Denver

What’s a festive a festive holiday season without lights Denver offers its beautiful Botanic Gardens, where visitors from around the world travel to watch the Blossoms of Light exhibit. For the perfect way to embrace the season, this annual event contains over one million colorful lights draped in elegant designs that highlight the garden’s winter beauty. CheapOair is offering a vacation package to Denver for a nine-night/10-day stay at the Magnolia Hotel Denver starting at $1,144 per person.

Sample hotel rate listed for travel from Los Angeles to Denver for Dec. 23, 2013, through Jan. 1, 2014, and is based on availability; additional dates and locations available. Taxes and service fees included.  For reservations, visit http://www.cheapoair.com/vacations/special-packages/exclusive-vacation-packages.html

Phoenix

The Phoenix Zoo presents ZooLights each year, which is a dazzling light show featuring more than 700 holiday light displays. This year the annual ZooLights will have two different “Music in Motion” shows, one of which “will take you down the yellow brick road with music from the Wizard of Oz,” as well as 3D LED animal displays throughout the zoo.  CheapOair is offering a vacation package to Phoenix for a eight-night/nine-day stay at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak starting at $915 per person.

Sample hotel rate listed for travel from New York to Phoenix for Dec. 24, 2013, through Jan. 1, 2014, and is based on availability; additional dates and locations available. Taxes and service fees included.  For reservations, visit http://www.cheapoair.com/vacations/special-packages/exclusive-vacation-packages.html

www.cheapoair.com

Five Inspiring Adventures for the New Year

Adventure travel treks: The Great Himalaya Trail // (c) 2013
Adventure travel treks: The Great Himalaya Trail // (c) 2013

These are definitely not adventures for families, but it is that time of year when people consider their “best of” lists, dream destinations, bucket lists and what have you, and I though that this was a pretty awesome list of over-the-top  treks. At the very least, it can provide some inspiration for next year’s travels. These specific trips are provided by World Expeditions.

The Great Himalaya Trail: The Full Nepal Traverse
Be amongst the few who have trekked the Nepal Great Himalaya Trail in one continuous 152-day trek! Along this 1700km trail you’ll encounter some of the wildest and most remote mountain environments imaginable. We’ve also crafted seven treks that interlink to make up the full traverse.
Departs: 01 March – 30 July 2014 (152 days)

Great Patagonian Traverse – North to South
Mostly on foot and at times by boat, be among the first to discover the rarely used pass between the shores of Lago O’ Higgins (Chile) and Laguna del Desierto (Argentina).
Departs: 4 February, 29 November 2014 (15 days)

Bhutan Snowman Trek
One of the world’s most challenging treks is undertaken by only a handful of trekkers each season. It accesses the remote region of Lunana, where tiny Buddhist monasteries and secluded villages remain isolated many months of the year.
Departs: 15 September 2014 (27 days)

Dominica – Trek the Waitukubuli Trail
The Waitukubuli National Trail in Dominica is the longest walking trail in the Caribbean crossing the entire island. Along the way, hikers encounter a varied canvas of contrasting landscapes.
Departs: 2 February, 9 March, 20 April, 5 October, 16 November 2014 (12 days)

John Muir Trail
Celebrate the centennial anniversary of the John Muir Trust hiking the Sierra Nevada trail, covering some of the most pristine and dramatic backcountry in North America.
Departs: 10 July, 31 July, 4 September 2014 (21 days)

www.worldexpeditions.com

 

Live Disney’s ‘Frozen’ This Summer With Adventures By Disney

NORWAY FAMILY VACATION HIGHLIGHTS •	Bergen 

Begin your adventure with a visit to this storybook village which served as the inspiration for the kingdom of Arendelle, home to Anna and her sister Elsa—in Disney's epic animated-adventure, Frozen. 	•	Fjord Country 

Discover the natural beauty and cultural heritage of this dramatic Scandinavian region as you meet local storytellers, fisherman and farmers along the way. 	•	River Rafting 

Feel the exhilaration as your family floats along the waters of one of Norway's breathtaking rivers as it carries you through the gorgeous Norwegian landscapes of natural beauty and wonder. 	•	Learn Norwegian Folk Dancing 

Take part in the rich history of one of the region's most beloved pastimes—folk dancing—where you'll feel like a local from Arendelle as you whirl around like Anna in Frozen. 	•	Trout Fishing 

Step into the glacial blue waters of Lake Loen for a net fishing experience to catch some of the native trout in this unique activity that will have you feeling like a true local. 	•	Visit Stave Churches 

Get a close-up look at these wooden masterpieces that remain an important part of Norway's heritage as well as serving as the inspiration for much of the film's architecture.
Relive Disney’s “Frozen” with Adventures By Disney in Norway. // (c) 2013 Disney

Disney’s newest blockbuster animation film, “Frozen”, has taken over the minds of my children. They are singing all of the songs (actually, they sing everything now, imitating princesses Elsa and Anna), they want to build a snowman (tragic, as we live in Los Angeles) and they are dying to go to Arendelle, the fictional Scandinavian kingdom where the movie takes place.

Thankfully, Adventures By Disney has anticipated my children’s (and I’m sure many other children’s) desires and launched a new guided tour in Norway, beginning in late spring/early summer. Already an ideal family destination, young explorers can now feel a little closer to their new heroes with a visit to the country’s fjords and charming villages and explore the Nordic culture that inspired the film. Girls can dance like Anna, explore the northern sea by boat and visit the ice with a stop at a glacier. Although it’s inspired by the film, the adventure offers much more with visits to local farms, river rafting adventures and scenic hikes.

Itinerary At-A-Glance

  • Bergen

    Begin your adventure with a visit to this storybook village which served as the inspiration for the kingdom of Arendelle, home to Anna and her sister Elsa—in Disney’s epic animated-adventure, Frozen.

 

  • Fjord Country

    Discover the natural beauty and cultural heritage of this dramatic Scandinavian region as you meet local storytellers, fisherman and farmers along the way.

 

  • River Rafting

    Feel the exhilaration as your family floats along the waters of one of Norway’s breathtaking rivers as it carries you through the gorgeous Norwegian landscapes of natural beauty and wonder.

 

  • Learn Norwegian Folk Dancing

    Take part in the rich history of one of the region’s most beloved pastimes—folk dancing—where you’ll feel like a local from Arendelle as you whirl around like Anna in Frozen.

 

  • Trout Fishing

    Step into the glacial blue waters of Lake Loen for a net fishing experience to catch some of the native trout in this unique activity that will have you feeling like a true local.

 

  • Visit Stave Churches

    Get a close-up look at these wooden masterpieces that remain an important part of Norway’s heritage as well as serving as the inspiration for much of the film’s architecture.

Departures being on May 31 and start around $4,800.

www.adventuresbydisney.com