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Erin Gifford is a family travel expert and founder of Kidventurous, an award-winning travel resource designed to help moms and dads plan adventures that are both educational and fun. A mother of four young children, Erin serves as one of five Smart Family Travel experts for Scholastic Parent & Child magazine, dispensing tips and advice to families interested in memorable vacation experiences. She also serves on Merck’s Active Family Project Play Council, which seeks to empower moms to enjoy healthy and active lifestyles with their families. Erin has also contributed to TravelChannel.com, Fodors.com, MiniTime and Trekaroo, among others.
Always in my luggage…
Ear plugs. I’m a light sleeper and bring ear plugs to keep from being woken up by those who choose to go to bed later than me.
3 favorite home-away-from-home places…
- Lake Placid
- Cork (Ireland)
- San Diego
All very different, but all relaxing and easy-going with lots to do.
A favorite travel memory is…
My husband and I were recently at Beaches Turks & Caicos. We visited a local school through the Sandals Foundation and I loved watching my husband read to and fully engage with a class of first-graders as part of a Reading Road Trip volunteer excursion.
3 favorite travel brands…
- HomeAway (I love vacation rentals and have always had good experiences with HomeAway)
- Tumi (their luggage lasts forever)
- JetBlue (I love the Terra Chips and DirecTV, and so do my kids)
3 money-saving travel tactics I use are…
- As a family of six, I love to stay in vacation rentals when we travel. It’s a great way to save money and I love having all the extra space.
- I also love home exchanges. We did our first one last summer when we traveled to Ireland for three weeks. We paid nothing for our accommodations. It was fantastic.
- There are so many fun and free things for kids to do in each city. Hunt them down before you travel.
3 ways that I have fun while traveling are…
- I try to have at least one kids fun day when we’re in a city filled with museums and galleries. Last year, I took my girls (ages 8 & 10) to Paris and there was a lot of value in taking one day off to go to Disneyland Paris.
- I try to seek out attractions that have hands-on activities for my kids, like science centers, as well as scavenger hunts at art galleries. When the kids are engaged, it’s more fun for the whole family.
- I like to take sightseeing cruises to get a different perspective of a new city we are visiting. Plus, my kids love being on boats!
8 word (or less) travel mantra…
Travel, explore, but save time for naps. (Seriously, don’t run yourself and your kids ragged. We always doing our sightseeing in the mornings through lunchtime, then rest and relax in the afternoons.)
My favorite non-travel website…
I hate to say it, but I do love BuzzFeed.
most memorable souvenir …
I wouldn’t say I have one memorable souvenir, but I do love collecting nice Christmas ornaments from cities we visit (when I remember to do so). It’s always such a treat to decorate the tree in December and think back on all our past travels.
recent discovery …
I only recently discovered “behind-the-scenes” experiences at amusement parks. We’re hoping to check one out in August at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that will teach about the science behind roller coasters, how to landscape a theme park, etc. I love being able to combine both learning and fun for my kids.
Thank you, Erin, for sharing your thoughts with McCool Travel and may you have countless more memorable travel adventures!
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McCool Travel presents tips from travel experts in our 5 Minutes interview series—featuring travel industry giants, super frequent travelers, and adventurous persons. Previous 5 Minutes post: Jerome Shaw.