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Family Vacations: It's the Little Things That Count (Family Features) In a recent survey commissioned by the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, kids were asked about their favorite part of family vacations. Here's what they said:
  • going to new places (27%)
  • spending more time with parents (18%)
  • staying in a hotel (14%)
  • playing in a swimming pool (11%)
  • not going to school (11%)

Moms surveyed said that they want to take the kids on a nice vacation to:

  • provide new experiences(79%)
  • relax and have fun (66%)
  • get away from the stress of work, school and home (63%)
  • spend one-on-one time with them (44%)

TravelGrand sights or theme parks are only part of the vacation experience. As this survey shows, what happens around the main events is often the stuff of the best family memories.

For a trip that gives kids and parents happy memories, get everyone in on the planning and keep these tips in mind.

Getting there. Consider renting a car to get you to your destination. It saves wear and tear on your car and you can rent vehicles with DVD players for games and movies, and on-board GPS to help navigate.

If you decide to fly, book early to get seats together, and pay attention to connection times. Missing a connection or having luggage not make the transition can make it a vacation everyone would like to forget. Eating out. Fast food three times a day might be cheap, but there are affordable alternatives to keep the whole gang happy. Smart Travel July 08 Source: Carlson Hotels Worldwide

  • Stay at a hotel that has a free breakfast buffet. There's something for everyone and it doesn't cost extra.

  • Many family chain restaurants have a "Kids Eat Free" night for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. A great way to get a good meal for less.

  • Picnic at a local park. Grab some picnic food at a nearby grocery store, spread out a blanket and enjoy a leisurely lunch. The kids can also run around and play while the adults relax.

Finding a hotel. The hotel should be close to where you'll be exploring, and should have family-friendly amenities. Look for things like:

  • Swimming pools: free fun for everyone.

  • Suites: a little extra room to spread out makes staying together more fun.

  • Exercise facilities: mom and dad can give each other a break by taking turns working out.

With the rising cost of gasoline adding to trip expenses, it's important to find the best values possible, including your hotel choice. Look for hotels that offer additional family-friendly perks. A popular program from Country Inns & Suites by Carlson is the Read It & Return Lending Library. Guests of all ages can borrow a book and return it on their next visit. Books are a great way to unwind at the end of the day and on the ride home.

They are also offering families a special Travel Values coupon book from May through September. The coupon book provides valuable family travel offers from a number of companies including: Dollar Rent A Car, Thrifty Car Rental, Sylvan Learning, Scholastic, Creative Memories, and Papa John's.

A family trip can go from good to great when you consider all the trip details, not just the main attractions.

For more about Read It & Return or the Travel Values coupon book visit

With more than 990 locations in 71 countries and five hotel brands, including Radisson Hotels & Resorts and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson, Carlson Hotels Worldwide is a leading authority in leisure and business travel.

Courtesy of Family Features



The Latest Creation of Songwriter, Author, and Multi GRAMMY® Award Winning Bassist Victor Wooten

"When I first got here, I was like, 'Wow! There goes Victor Wooten,' but now, I look at everybody that way."

What would cause a teenage boy to speak those words? On Sunday April 5, 2009, you can find out for yourself by visiting Wooten Woods.

Victor Wooten and his wife have recently purchased nearly 150 acres on the beautiful Duck River near Nashville, TN. This will be the new home for the Bass/Nature Camp-a camp they've been running since the year 2000.

For the last year, past students and friends have given back to the Wootens and have given forward to future students by donating time, labor, and love to erect the infrastructure of the new camp. By joining the Wootens and their group of instructors over a few weekends, these past students have helped construct buildings, trails, gardens, and much more-all for the purpose of furthering Wooten's dream of sharing music and nature with people of all ages from around the world.

Over the years, people have come from as far away as Turkey and Australia, Israel and Singapore, England and Brazil to learn from Victor Wooten, whom some call a bass guru.

On Sunday, April 5, you can join in on the fun, music, nature, and more (you may even get to pound in a nail or two.) The time is 1pm - 6pm and the cost is FREE!

Victor Wooten currently maintains an ambitious dual solo/sideman pace, regularly recording and touring with the Flecktones (who have released a dozen albums), Mike Stern and Chick Corea's Elektric Band. With each new solo CD (six so far), Wooten has expanded his musical focus and knack for genre-uniting via his songwriting, producing and multi-instrumental skills - all while maintaining a stellar level of bass playing. This has never been more evident than on Palmystery, his 2008 release on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group.

For additional information on Wooten Woods and directions, please visit: or:

The Dome
A 1018 sq. ft. dome structure (36' around x 20' high) is used as a large class/activity room, but is ready and adaptable for many different uses (yoga, exercise, meetings, performances, etc.).

RIVER AT Wooten Woods Retreat
A playground with swing set, seesaw, and merry-go-round sits alongside the River Cabin and the River Shack.


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