Sunday, January 9, 2011

Incorporating Nature Into Family Travel

Since I can remember I have been in love with traveling. I love everything about it from getting in the car, to arriving at an airport, to seeing my final destination for the first time. Every step taken when traveling makes me feel alive. I am addicted to it.

There is no better way to learn about a culture or experience what it may be like to be from a different place than through travel. True, you can read about different places but to experience a destination, its people, flavor, sights and what it has to offer or not offer is a true experience.

When my son was born four years ago, I experienced for the first time anxiety
over travel, I was concerned that I would have to put travel on hold. I spent hours online trying to find resources for planning the perfect family trip with a young child. I was able to find some information but not exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for two things, comfortable destinations for traveling with children under 5 and trips that included nature experiences. I was able to put together two trips that worked out well for our family.

Disney and Sanibel Island
As a new parent, I was worried about my first time on an airplane with my son. I was that traveler who would silently sigh and scream inside when I saw a young family coming near me on an airplane. I hate to admit it especially now since I have become a member of that family walking on to an airplane kids in tow. I was so certain my karma was due. With that mindset, I set out to find the perfect trip, I wanted to be around other families. Not at all how I traditionally traveled and not how I travel now but had to be done for our first trip.

We set out for Disney, being a lover of environment and culture and heading to Disney seemed to be an oxymoron. I decided that staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for a few nights would satisfy our needs perfectly.  It was wonderful. The Animal Kingdom Lodge resort is located on a 43-acre wildlife preserve. The resort has awesome views of the surrounding savanna and its animals. I learned that the Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to the following animals, Ankole Cattle, Bontebok, Eland, Zebra, Greater Kudu, Impala, Okapi, Red River Hog, Nyala, Reticulated Giraffe, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Thompson's Gazelle, Waterbuck, White-Bearded Wildebeest, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Blue Crane, East African Crowned Crane, Greater Flamingo, Marabou Stork, Ostrich, Pink-Backed Pelican, Spur Winged Geese, Guinea Fowl and Ruppel's Griffon Vulture. We stayed in a savanna room and saw giraffes right outside our balcony.

Also impressive were the African artifacts that can be found throughout the resort lobby.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has been designated by the Florida Green Lodging Program, recognizing the Resort's environmentally responsible practices.

After three days at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we headed to Sanibel Island about a three hour drive. Sanibel Island is world renowned for its shelling beaches and the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations. We ended our vacation with a restful couple of days exploring beaches and the Refuge.

Beaches Turks & Caicos
Our second family vacation was to Turks & Caicos Islands. Turks & Caicos islands are known for their beaches and most of the islands are considered to be an undiscovered part of the Caribbean. We chose to stay at the Beaches resort and could not have been happier. Beaches provides Sesame Street Caribbean Adventures camp. With programs like bird watching with Big Bird and story time with Elmo, my son was able to learn lots of new things. He went on nature walks and learned about habitats.
You can access reviews for both the Disney and Beaches trips through my TripAdvisor account at:

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