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The travel industry insiders on this page have spent their careers sending thousands — make that tens of thousands — of families on vacation to far-flung places all over the globe. So where do they and their loved ones go when they have some time to get away?
John Limper, Director of Marketing, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Daughter, Mikaela, age 13
Recent Trips: Kauai; the Big Island; Park City, Utah
What’s Next: Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia
John Limper and daughter Mikaela snowmobile in Park City, Utah.
"We love Kauai because of the culture and the activities. We’ve been there at least 10 times, but there’s always some new activity to try. Last time we went on an ATV tour.
"Another great trip we took was to the Big Island to learn about the petroglyphs. It’s just great to be able to go see them firsthand.
"We also just went to Park City, Utah, to go skiing, and we’ll be going to Whistler — and Seattle and Vancouver — next."
Bruce Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Pleasant Holidays
Sons, Connor, age 10, Sean (8)
Recent Trips: Hawaii; Lassen National Park; Canada; Alaska Cruise; River Cruise in Germany
What’s Next: Cancun and the Riviera Maya
"We love traveling with the kids. It’s just wonderful to watch them adjust to new environments and learn about the places we visit.
"Every summer, my wife and I take the kids camping in a national park; it’s a family tradition. Since we both work in the travel industry, we do a lot of traveling ourselves. Camping is a great way for us to get away from hotels, Wi-Fi and cell phones and just enjoy each other’s company."
Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President of Sales, Royal Caribbean International
Daughter, Karin, age 21; Sons, Bradley (19) and Brent (13)
Recent Trips: Cruises
What’s Next: Cruising in the Galapagos
"Our last family vacation was, yes, a cruise. It was a nine-day holiday (Christmas and New Year’s) trip — an annual tradition with our friends and family. We sailed with 140 of our ‘friends’ and many of their families as well as our extended family.
"We like traveling together as a family. On a cruise, it’s easy. No one has to worry about different age groups and interests, or not being able to find things to do. It’s about spending quality time together, whether eating together as a family unit, swimming with the dolphins, golfing, biking around a port of call, etc. Most importantly, it allows us to connect and get to know one another again. With today’s busy lifestyle, it’s difficult to slow down to thoroughly connect together all the time — thus family vacations are critical for a healthy family life.
"We repeat every year, and I know it’s a success because my children have actually begged me to continue this family tradition even though they are growing up. We have been doing this as a group for 11 years and, yes, we do switch cruise brands once in a while! This year we’re cruising on Celebrity Expedition to the Galapagos."
Peggy Peterka, Marketing Manager, Western Region U.S. Tourism Authority of Thailand
Granddaughters, Nicole, age 21, and Kaitlyn (7)
Recent Trips: San Diego
What’s Next: Palm Springs, Calif.
"Even though both granddaughters live with my husband and me, the stress of everyday life often means that the time we spend with them is not fun, quality time. So, when I have a business appointment that takes me to an area not too far from L.A. and leaves me with sufficient free time, we try to take a little family vacation. Most recently, we had a family picnic in Escondido, Calif. on Sunday afternoon, then business in San Diego and Tijuana.
"I found a great resort on Shelter Island called the Kona Kai Resort. Our room was just steps away from the sand and had a very useable patio facing the beautiful marina. The days were spent doing fun things with the girls. The hotel has a great pool and recreation area which gave the girls a chance to meet other traveling families and spend their energy (that I wish I had) on swimming, volleyball and exploring.
"Because of the great difference in age with the girls — 21 to 7 — we took turns deciding what activities to do and where to eat, so everyone had some control over the day. And there is so much to do in San Diego, there is never a lack of choices.
"At the end of this short vacation, we all knew something more about each other. For instance, I learned that Kaitlyn, my 7-year-old, worries that I ‘embarrass myself’ when I break into spontaneous dancing whenever and wherever I hear great old ’50’s music — even on a public walkway in San Diego harbor. In exchange, Kaitlyn learned that anyone who has lived long enough to be a grandma finds it nearly impossible to embarrass oneself when expressing unbridled joy and love!"
Ana Figueroa, Director of Business Development, AMA Waterways
Niece, Julia, age 15
Recent Trips: France; the Baltic; Hawaii; Alaska
What’s Next: Christmas on the Danube
"Julia and I just returned from a river cruise along the Rhone. It was her first trip to France and a great, immersive experience. The smaller towns really do provide a unique insight into the culture. We were good about doing all the organized tours, but we also strayed from the beaten path whenever possible. We stopped at boulangeries and little markets in every town, and tried to find parks where we could just hang out. Once, Julia organized a game of petanque near the ship, and the locals cheered us on. I believe that travel is the best educator, and this trip really showed Julia that not everyone needs to live a hectic, stressed-out life to be happy.
"That was the same lesson learned last summer, when we ventured to the Baltic on a Silversea cruise. Walking around Oslo on a beautiful summer day, you could see people so happy to be outside, enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company. It’s a scene we don’t see duplicated too often in major U.S. cities.
"Cruising provides an entire social microcosm, so young people often get more out of it than you realize. They learn how to order multiple courses at dinner; practice their dancing skills; learn to be polite to hotel staff; and make small talk with strangers. Those are all valuable lessons. The only downside is that kids who cruise a lot think that room service is always free, even in hotels. That can be an expensive lesson!"
Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President of Sales, Celebrity and Azamara Cruises
Dondra Ritzenthaler and sons in Breckenridge, Colo.
Sons, Reece, Age 8, and Cole, 6Recent Trips:
Alaska Cruise; Breckenridge, Colo.What’s Next:
Celebrity Xpedition next July (back to cruising!)
"For three years we have cruised and the boys just loved it. Their favorite was Alaska. However, this year we spent a week in Breckenridge, Colo., and had a blast! We chose Colorado because we wanted to get out of the heat and we love Colorado and the mountains.
"We went whitewater rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking down a mountain and ATV riding.
"We loved it and would absolutely do it again!"