ENDS SOON! 5 Beach Resort Deals You Must Book Soon

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Although Disney World is perhaps the top family favorite, it certainly isn’t the only option for families looking for a spring getaway with the kids. The Caribbean, Mexico and Tahiti are also fantastic options and offer even more opportunities for much-needed rest and relaxation.

We’ve rounded up the best spring deals for these destinations for you, so you can vacation at reduced costs – and avoid the Disney crowds (go another time!). But you better hurry up, these won’t last long!

50% off at Grand Lucayan Resort and Spa

What: Get a 50% discount on hotel rates starting at $109/night when book a 4-night stay at the Grand Lucayan Resort and Spa for travel between May 1 and December 20, 2015.

What’s included: Guests also receive an extra $100 resort credit during stay that can be used for on-site dining, spa, golf and other amenities.

Booking dates: From now through April 16, 2015

Kids stay free at AMResorts

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What: Up to two kids stay free at select AMResorts s including Dreams, Now, and Sunscape Resorts & Spas for stays between May 1 and December 23, 2015 when staying in the same room with paying adults.

What’s included: Families also receive $50 air credit per night for travel through August 21, 2015, and an extra $200 or $400 in resort coupons that can be used for spa treatments, dining and shopping depending on their room category and choice or hotel.

Booking dates: From now through April 24, 2015

Kids stay free at the Paradisus Resorts

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What: For travel through December 22, 2015, kids stay free at select Paradisus Resorts so families can save money to spend on more leisurely endeavors. Properties participating in this offer include The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana, Paradisus Palma Real, and Paradisus Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda and Paradisus Cancun, in Mexico.

What’s included: Guest won’t have to worry about a thing with their all-inclusive package, which include accommodation in spacious family suites and fun activities for every member of the family.

Booking dates: Through April 30, 2015

Kids fly free to Tahiti

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What: With the 6-night Polynesian getaway package, families can get up to 50% in savings as the kids 15 and younger fly free to Tahiti with one paying adult for travel through June 15, 2015.

What’s included: Families will explore the beautiful island of Moorea and receive 2 free nights, transfers and complimentary daily breakfast with accommodations at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort (panoramic view room, 1 night) and the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa (garden pool junior suite, 5 nights).

Booking dates: Through April 30, 2015

Kids stay free at Iberostar 

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What: Select luxurious Iberostar properties are offering free stays for kids 11 and under for May 1 to December 23, 2015 travel, so families can go either in the summertime or during the fall break!

What’s included: One or two kids, depending on the property, can have an free all-inclusive stay for every two paying adults. Participating resorts are located in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.

Booking dates: From now through April 30, 2015

Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.

Magical Summer Fun: Sizzling Savings at Disney World

Just Beyond the Castle Walls

Walt Disney World Resort is offering five cool summer packages wrapped with magical entertainment for families of all ages. Stay cool all summer long with “FROZEN” Summer Fun LIVE and Star War Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, four thrilling theme parks, two water parks, and new restaurants and stores in Downtown Disney.

The benefits of staying at a Disney hotel while visiting Walt Disney World includes saving up to 30% on rooms or getting an extra night for free at select hotels for stays most nights June 6 – Aug 27, 2015. Then upgrade to a package by adding theme park tickets. Deals must be booked by June 12, 2015 and are valid for travel June 16 – Aug 27, 2015.

Up to 30% Savings at Disney World Hotels*

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* Enjoy plenty of family-friendly features while saving up to 30% when you stay in one of the select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts from June 16 – Aug 27, 2015.
* Save 20% at one of Disney’s select Moderate Resorts during travel June 16 – Aug 9 and save 25% from Aug. 10 – 27, 2015.
* You’ll save 15% at a value Disney hotel June 16 – Aug 9, and 20% from Aug 10 – 27, 2015.

Preschool Summer Package Offer**

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What: Families of three can enjoy a magical stay at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort plus theme park tickets for just $989 most Sunday through Thursday nights June 16 – Aug 13, 2015. Your Disney family vacation must be booked by June 12, 2015.

What’s Included: Three nights accommodations and two-day theme park tickets for a family of three.

Magic Together Package Offer***

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What: Families of four can pack in a lot of action with the Magic Together Package valid at select Disney’s All-Star Resorts for just $1,843 for stays most nights June 16 – Aug 9, 2015. Book this deal by June 12, 2015.

What’s Included: Four nights accommodations and four-day theme park tickets for a family of four.

* The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings are based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Additional per-adult charges apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. The deals cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites, three-bedroom villas, and is not valid at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms. Get 30% savings for select Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts; lower savings may be available for other resort hotels.
** Sample package price based on two adults and one child (ages 3-9) for a three-night/two-day room and Magic Your Way Base Ticket. The number of packages available at these rates is limited. Tickets are valid for one theme park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.
*** Sample package price based on two adults, one junior (ages 10-17) and one child (ages 3-9) for a four-night/4-day room and Magic Your Way Base Ticket. The number of packages available at these rates is limited. Tickets are valid for one theme park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.

Mimi Slawoff of WriteMimi.com contributed this to MiniTime. She is a Los Angeles-based journalist and a seasoned family travel expert who explores the world with her three children and writes about their journeys.

Packing Tips for Family Travel Abroad

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Some say that packing for a family vacation is the most stressful part of traveling! It’s tricky to know just what to bring and what to leave behind. Some of us tend to bring everything including the kitchen sink, while others, who are blessed with the travel-light gene, somehow know just how to keep it simple.

Here are our top 16 tips to pack for your family vacation abroad.

1. Start early and sleep on it.

When packing for your family vacation, always start a week before leaving, that way I can sleep on it, ponder, wonder and wait for various brainwaves to hit, or just have time to absorb the various reality checks like “No, I will not need those heels because I may only wear them once, if at all.”

2. Choose the size of your bag wisely.

One always fills whatever space one has, so be cruel to yourself to be kind and pick a bag a bit smaller than the one you would ideally have. This will automatically help you to pack lighter. Less space = less stuff.

3. Roll stuff.

A classic trick. Somehow rolling your clothes reduces their volume. It’s also a good way to keep things from getting too crinkled. Jeans and t-shirts are ideal candidates, as are kid’s clothes and accessories such as scarves or belts. Use ribbon or rubber bands to keep them in place.

4. Ditch the beach towels.

They take way too much space! You can either buy some on the spot as a souvenir (who knows how you will bring them back though?!) or the place you are going to will provide them.

5. Stuff every teeny tiniest corner.

Don’t leave any corner unused. Shoes are ideal hideaways for underwear or socks.

6. Forget liquids and toiletries.

If you are travelling with hand luggage only (not likely), you will be aware of the restrictions on liquids. Regardless, if you are checking the luggage in, you must be aware that those bottles of shampoo and conditioner are worth their weight (and then some) in gold. Buy some on the spot, use the hotel’s amenities or decant into smaller bottles but don’t lug around products that will probably come back with you.

7. Check the wrinkle factor.

Some fabrics travel better than others. Linen is lovely and lightweight but does not fare well in a scrunched up suitcase. Check your fabrics before you pack so you don’t end up with useless items on arrival!

8. Go barefoot.

Well, perhaps pack flip-flops? Shoes are bulky and heavy, making them a double disaster in the packing stakes. Be realistic about which shoes you are actually going to wear. Party shoes are a nice idea, but think about the weight/space/to wear ratio and it will all make sense.

9. Invest in Ziplocks.

Ziplocks can serve many purposes when packing. Whether you want to bring along a little detergent powder, to act as an extra waterproof barrier for your decanted cream container, or if you want to keep junior’s socks together or even day by day baby outfits so it’s all to hand…

10. Color code.

When picking clothes, stick to one range of colors. Pick items that match each other so you can maximize the combinations while minimizing what you bring.

11. Use your tech.

Leave the guidebooks behind and download apps or guidebooks to your phone so it’s all there in one device, which you were going to carry in any case!

12. Emergency Kit

Do bring a small bag of kit in case of emergency. Especially for kids, it’s always useful to have their regular medication on hand.

13. Buy disposables.

If you’re traveling with a baby, look into the wonderful world of disposables – from bottles to bibs and mats, you can find all sorts of kit you can use and bin as you go along!

14. Check into the laundry situation.

Some hotels charge crazy rates to do your laundry, so check into the situation before packing. Going somewhere with an on-site laundry room? Pack less and schedule a load.

15. Wear it until the bitter end…

Traveling for several weeks with a growing toddler? Bring stuff that’s almost too small and leave it en route, creating space for souvenirs!

16. Think inflatable.

Space for toys is always an issue. Inflatable toys are great for the beach, ideal to carry (so light and airy!), and won’t be missed if they are left behind…

Rowena Carr-Allinson contributed this to MiniTime. Since the arrival of her son in 2011, she has taken him everywhere from Bangkok to NYC, writing family friendly articles en route.

 

Great Portland Attractions for Family Fun, Rain or Shine

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Portland, Oregon is an excellent place to take a family vacation thanks to the many kid-friendly attractions found throughout the city. From children’s museums and roller coasters to indoor parks and science playgrounds, Portland has a little bit of everything when it comes to things to do.

Here is a list of the 5 top kid-friendly attractions in Portland to see during your visit. Between the 3 indoor activities and 2 outdoor activities, you should be able to plan a great Portland family vacation whether the sun is shining or it happens to be raining outside.

The Oregon Museum of Industry and Science. Better known as OMSI, this large hands-on-science museum is one of the top kid-friendly attractions in Portland, jammed packed with exhibits for all ages. For young children, there a special area just for babies and a large science playground for children 6 and under. Older kids will enjoy performing real life experiments in one of the labs. You will want to visit this kid-friendly attraction when it’s rainy or likely to rain.

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Oregon Zoo. A family vacation in Portland must include the Oregon Zoo because it is just as great as OMSI. Portland’s sprawling zoo, right in downtown, covers 64 acres and is home to all kinds of monkeys, lions, elephants, penguins, and over a thousand more animals. There are live kid-friendly animal talks throughout the day and sometimes live music in the evenings. You can bring in food if you like or dine at one of their eateries.

Playdate PDX. This massive indoor play place is another awesome must visit for kids. They have a three-story kid-friendly play structure for children to climb, slide, crawl and dance their way through. They often host events like puppet shows, magicians or jugglers. On the certain nights, they turn on the black lights for a cosmic play experience that may even include laser tag. For parents, they have a cafe with drinks and food, as well as free wifi.

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The Portland Children’s Museum. The Children’s Museum in Portland is a great kid-friendly museum that just underwent a remodel to be better than ever. There is a designated area for babies now so they can play and discover and many different play areas for building, shopping, digging, water play, and more. Visit their website to find out which traveling exhibitions are best for your kids.

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Oaks Park. No trip to Portland with kids would be complete without a visit to Oaks Amusement Park, Portland’s very own amusement park. It is home to all kinds of fun rides. Younger kids will enjoy the kiddie area with age and height appropriate rides like Frogger while older kids and parents have thrill rides that will leave screaming even the bravest ones. Keep in mind that depending on what part of the year you are taking your family vacation, the rides may not be in operation. Oaks Park also has an indoor roller skating rink that is open year round.

Meagan Shamy contributed this to MiniTime.

Headed to Disneyland this Spring? Grab These Deals Before You Go!

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Something exciting is happening in Southern California this Spring. As Disneyland Anaheim, dubbed “the happiest place on Earth,” is gearing up for its Diamond celebration to celebrate its 60 years of magic, the park is offering some great offers for families looking to visit in the springtime or the early summer. Not only will families experience and enjoy their beloved Disney characters and favorite Disney fairy tales, they will save some serious cash as well!

Up to 20% off on Disneyland Hotels

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What: For select nights from April 5 to June 16, 2015, Disneyland is offering huge savings when you book and stay at one of the park’s onsite properties. Families will enjoy a 15% discount* on standard rooms and 20% off* on premium rooms. For bookings through May 7, 2015.

What’s Included: Reap the benefits of quirky, themed rooms, easy access to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, exclusive entrance to California Adventure, fun pools and waterslides (Disneyland Hotel Anaheim and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel only), kid-friendly interactive activities, and that extra magic hour that gives guests early access to the parks to avoid crowds and long lines.

Special ticket offer exclusively for Southern California residents

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What: From now through May 21, 2015 (with blocked dates), Southern California residents may enjoy two to three days at the resort at special rates**, starting at $139/ticket for a 2-day base ticket, representing up to 25% in savings!

What’s Included: Special rates are at $139 for a 2-day base ticket, $178 for a 2-day Park Hopper ticket, $169 for a 3-day base ticket, and $208 for a 3-day Park Hopper ticket – a bargain considering regularly priced 2-day base tickets are at $225 a pop! Plus, also for a limited time, meet and greet favorite Arendelle sisters Anna and Elsa, sing-along to the songs we all now know so well, and many more with Disney California Adventure’s Frozen Fun.

* Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel for select Sunday through Thursday nights between 04/05/15 – 06/16/15. Book from 03/25/15 through 05/07/15, with travel completed by 06/17/15. Ask about savings in other room types. Not valid on previously booked rooms. Advance reservations required. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Excludes applicable fees and taxes. Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and five (5) people maximum per room. Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Separate Theme Park admission required to enjoy the Parks.

**Valid only for Southern California residents within ZIP codes 90000-93599 and Northern Baja California residents within ZIP codes 21000-22999; proof of residency is required for purchase and admission. 2-Day, 1-Park Per Day ticket is valid for admission for two (2) days to either Disneyland® or Disney California Adventure® park, but not to both parks on the same day. 2-Day Disneyland® Resort Park Hopper® ticket is valid for admission for two (2) days to both Disneyland® and Disney California Adventure® park on the same day. 3-Day, 1-Park Per Day ticket is valid for admission for three (3) days to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure park, but not to both parks on the same day. 3-Day Disneyland Resort Pak Hopper ticket is valid for admission for three (3) days to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park on the same day. Each day of use constitutes one full day of use. Tickets expire May 21, 2015. Blockout days of 3/20/15-4/4/15 apply. May purchase up to 5 tickets per person per day with valid ID. Tickets may not be sold or transferred for commercial use. Offer may not be combined with other ticket discounts or promotions. Tickets not valid before 1/7/15. Subject to capacity, restrictions and change without notice.

Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.