Dad Travel 101

When You Wish Up OnStar, Makes No Difference Where You Are

“Hello, Traveling Moms, welcome to OnStar. How can we help you?” Although you’d not be called by name were you the one making the OnStar call for directions—we were a special program—you’d get the same clear, professional assistance from the real person on the other end of the line. Our cool voice came through the audio system in the Chevrolet Camaro we were prodding through the streets of Kissimmee, Florida, under an leaden-overcast May afternoon. On the Road with OnStar – Disney World Our wheels were a slick red Camaro SS convertible, and had there been any hope the rain would hold off, the top would be down and Megan, Chris and I would have had hair blowing in the wind. Well, the women would have hair blowing in the wind; my blowing mane is long gone. I would probably have bug splats on my pate. This is Florida, after all. “There’s one Traveling Dad in here, too,” I protested. The only Traveling Dad tapped to write about innovation and technology, I was part of a collection of Traveling Moms, we were guests of Disney Parks, Chevrolet, OnStar and Panasonic for a wild weekend writing workshop. This Saturday afternoon, we were on a scavenger hunt with an hour, a list and OnStar. Traffic was not kind, and we mixed up the dropped Ripley’s Believe or Not museum with the...

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Five Reasons the Lumix ZS-40 Puts My DSLR in the Closet

By Eric Jay Toll “I feel naked with just one camera,” says Rick Gerrity, a professional photographer for Panasonic assigned to help a gaggle of Traveling Moms (and one Traveling Dad) on a drippy afternoon in Disney World. “I usually have a couple of cameras with me and enough gear to make the TSA really nervous.” We’re gathered around Rick in the tunnel under the Magic Kingdom train station. The seven of us in Group Bashful are clustered near a pillar splitting the unending stream of Disney World arrivals glued to a demo of the Panasonic Lumix ZS-40 digital...

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The Traveling Dad Guide to Zip Lining

What’s a ski resort to do when the snow is gone but the bills for maintenance are still coming in? Two Northeast ski resorts have solved the problem to the delight of thousands of youngsters and oldsters alike. They’ve built zip lines that even for the greatest daredevils will often take your breath away. Camelback Mountain in Tannersville, PA and Mountain Creek in Vernon, NJ have both installed amazing zip line adventures that are guaranteed to excite even the most staid adult and bored kid. Camelback’s location is an easy ride from most of Metropolitan New York, virtually all of New Jersey from the mid-section northward and from Pennsylvania. Throw in a bit of Connecticut too while you are at it. While other zip lines may be higher and faster, the Zoom Zip Line complex at Mountain Creek is unique in what it has to offer. Tops amongst that is the cadre of competent, friendly and courteous young guides who accompany each and every group of “flyers,” as zip liners are called. Group starting times are spaced well so that no group encroaches on the other. At the office you’ll be required to sign a waiver and then gear up in a harness that will later hook onto a “trolley” that will carry you along the zip cable. One thing unique to Zoom at Mountain Creek is the first...

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How to Travel With Your Teen

“You may have to carry tampons,” suggested Judy Antell, who was among several writers at Traveling Mom advising me a few weeks ago as I prepared to take my first-ever father-daughter trip with my 14-year-old. I got plenty of other good tips from the parents at Traveling Mom (I always do) but to some degree I was prepared to let the unusual circumstances of our trip dictate my strategy: my daughter and I were headed for the Playlist Live convention in Orlando, a conflagration of 8,000 hyper-excited teenagers vying for the chance to score autographs and get selfies with YouTube celebrities. If you’ve ever been to a fan convention, you know the scene – hordes of pathologically impatient people, frighteningly long lines, and way too few bathrooms and food concessions. And that very dynamic helped define what my primary functions would be that weekend – bodyguard, chaperone, butler, line-space saver, and cash dispenser. Given this dynamic, this wasn’t the kind of father-daughter trip where I could throw my arm around her shoulder and say, “let’s have some quality time together!” Although in our own way, and in lots of serendipitous little ways, we had just the kind of trip I think we both had hoped for. Here now, a few of the things that helped make our father-daughter time together go more smoothly … 1. Take it easy. Without my...

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What Kids Would Change About Travel

When I have writer’s block, a friend will usually suggest that I “need to get out of my own head,” which is typically true but my head is where most of my writing comes from, so I’m kind of screwed there.   If I’m stuck and I need to freshen my perspective, I turn to my kids and I ask them, what would you change about the travel industry? I did this for the first time in 2011 and again in 2012 in posts for Shermans Travel. And here now is a third installment, exclusive to Traveling Dad, with...

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What LEGO Can Teach Our Kids

I can sit in a museum and stare at a piece of art for a long time …if I’m not with my family. With my kids in tow, a museum experience is, to put it mildly, not nearly as pleasurable. Upon arrival the kids dash in different directions and often go through all the collections too fast, eliminating any chance I have of gazing lovingly at a painting. By the end of the museum visit we’re all left wondering, “Did any of us appreciate what we just saw?” One notable exception was a Guggenheim outing with my two younger children, when they relished...

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Questions That Tick Off Family Travelers

Has a seemingly innocent question posed by a loved one during vacation ever wrecked your good mood, sending your anxiety level into the stratosphere? No? Then I’ll have whatever medication you’re having. A simple question lobbed over the backseat or directed at me at the very moment I think we’re all finally starting to relax sets me off like nothing else, and if you’re anything like me you may be particularly interested in the results of the recent Travel Habit Survey conducted by The study of 1,132 American grown-ups — a mix of respondents who travel with kids...

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Do You Have Any Kids? Go Fish.

Give a girl a fish and you feed her for a day. Teach a girl to fish and she’ll either like it or go back to playing on her phone. While fishing with my family at Kingsmill Resort this summer I discovered that my eldest daughter did in fact like fishing and would do it again, while my younger daughter would be happy never doing it again. My son hates whatever my younger daughter hates, so he surprised us all by also taking a liking to the sport. Needless to say all the kids resumed playing on their phones once our angling was done...

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What You’ll Get Out of a Family Golf Lesson

Golf never struck me as a sport that fostered togetherness – nor did it ever really strike me as a sport – until my family and I hit the links for the time this summer. Teeing up at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, we learned during the course of our private lesson that being chaufferred around in a cart is certainly as fun as it looks, but it’s not the only rewarding thing about the game. Among other things, golf teaches focus. Our instructors were golf pro Jason King and Kingsmill head of instruction Chris George, who took us through the...

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How to Bond Like a Man

No matter how much we love the women and children in our lives, all men need male bonding time every now and then, primo moments when we fart, belch, tell crude jokes and generally just be a guy. My time comes once a year on a weekend baseball trip with several other guys, both old friends and new. This year, we hopped onboard an Amtrak at Union Station in Chicago and headed to St. Louis for a Cardinals-Cubs game. OK. We really went for the farting, belching and bawdy humor. We could have been heading to the Bowling Hall of...

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