However much time and money you've got for a family vacation this summer, you've never had so many options--or places to go for planning help--whether you want to camp in the mountains, cruise the Caribbean on a megaship or kayak among whales in Alaska.
No matter what you decide, the memories will last forever. Grab your phone or your computer keyboard. This resource guide will get you started planning your best family getaway yet:
To find a certified family travel specialist near you, contact the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) at 1101 King St., Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314; telephone (703) 739-2782, Internet http://www.astanet.com.
Travelling With Children, 2313 Valley St., Berkeley, CA 94702; tel. (800) 499-0929 or (510) 848-0929. This agency can set you up with a condo in Hawaii or a flat in London, among other places.
Rascals in Paradise, 650 5th St., No. 505, San Francisco, CA 94107; tel. (800) U-RASCAL, Internet http://www.rascalsinparadise.com. Rascals sends small groups of families off to slightly off-the-beaten-track destinations, from Mexico to Australia to Bali.
Grandtravel, 6900 Wisconsin Ave., No. 706, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; tel. (800) 247-7651, Internet http://www.grandtrvl.com. Grandtravel offers upscale grandparent-grandchild tours of Washington, D.C., the Southwest, Europe and Africa as well as vacations designed to bring together extended families.
Escapes Unlimited, 17842 Irvine Blvd., Suite 232, Tustin, CA 92780; tel. (800) 243-7227. This agency sends parents and their kids on affordable eco-trips to Costa Rica, Bali or Peru. Activities include river rafting and meeting local schoolchildren.
A HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Condominium Travel Associates, 2001 W. Main St., No. 140, Stamford, CT 06902; tel. (800) 492- 6636, Internet http://www.condotravel.com. Condominium Travel promises it can find you a condo for the price of a hotel room or less.
Hideaways International, 767 Islington St., Portsmouth, NH 03801; tel. (800) 843-4433. A travel club that offers villas, condos and suite resorts around the world at a discount. Offers a $39 four-month trial membership.
Resort Quest, 530 Oak Court Drive, No. 360, Memphis, TN 38117; tel. (877) 588-5800, Internet http://www.resortquest.com. Vacation rentals throughout North America.
Paris Sejour Reservation, 645 N. Michigan Ave., No. 638, Chicago, IL 60611; tel. (312) 587-7707. This agency helps you become part of a Paris neighborhood by offering 600-plus privately owned apartments for rent, from $100 a night.
Intervac, P.O. Box 590504, San Francisco, CA 94159; tel. (800) 756-HOME, Internet http://www.intervac.com. This large home exchange agency offers access to thousands of swappers worldwide for $83.
9ECO-ADVENTURES AND LEARNING VACATIONS
American Wilderness Experience, P.O. Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306; tel. (800) 444-0099, Internet http://www.awetrips.com. Offers scores of family adventures in Colorado, Hawaii and Mexico, among other places. Here's your chance to ride in a rodeo or learn how to ride on a dog sled.
Wildland Adventures, 3516 N.E. 155th St., Seattle, WA 98155; tel. (800) 345-4453, Internet http:// www.wildland.com. Sends families cruising in Costa Rica, hiking glaciers in Alaska, looking for wildlife in the Galapagos.
Backroads, 801 Cedar St., Berkeley, CA 94710; tel. (800) GO-ACTIVE, Internet http://www.backroads.com. Tour company offers 80 different biking trips designed for families, from France to Lake Tahoe to Puget Sound to Maine. Kids' bikes, trailer cycles available.
The National Wildlife Federation, 8925 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22184; tel. (703) 790-4000, Internet http://www.nwf.org. Sponsors weeklong "summits" in Winter Park, Colo., and Bellingham, Wash., where adults can take classes in everything from nature photography to bird-watching while kids attend their own eco-oriented sessions.
The Sierra Club, 85 2nd St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105, tel. (415) 977-5522, Internet http:// www.sierraclub.org/outings/national. Offers 30 different family trips, including a grandparent-grandchild trip near Lake Tahoe, raft trips in Utah, Dinosaur National Monument, Southwest camping trips and a parent-teen service trip to work on trails.
FamilyHostel, University of New Hampshire, 6 Garrison Ave., Durham, NH 03824-3529; tel. (800) 733-9753. Trips are run by the University of New Hampshire's InterHostel, which is known for its moderately priced ElderHostels. Go to Scotland or Costa Rica, staying in university housing and spending time with local families.
Thompson Family Adventures, 347 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139; tel. (800) 262-6255, Internet http://www.FamilyAdventures.com. Specializes in sending well-heeled families on safari to Tanzania, trekking in Nepal or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.
Most are booked through travel agents. Two large cruise-only agencies offer substantial discounts and can advise which ships are best for kids: