Travel Carnival 12: Potpourri

A potpourri of travel topics from how to ditch your travel companion to touring Paris to a (much-needed) rant on airport noise pollution and a top 10 list of tourism-competitive countries. Read on...!

Brilliant Insights

Destinations and Experiences

Travel Tips

New Dynamic Maps Improve Trip Planning

TripHub's new TripMaps allow groups to more easily plan and share trip information. If you're visually oriented, this is a dream come true. The maps are essentially a mash-up of trip elements from each group member (think wedding location, museum visit, restaurant for dinner, theater shows, hotels), plus you can easily add search results for local activities, accommodations, and more to your group's trip map.

According to a recent group travel survey by PhoCusWright, 80 percent of group travelers find maps and driving directions to be the most helpful trip planning tools. TripHub took PhocusWright's data to heart and listened to its customers and by creating maps that allow groups to see where activities, events, and accommodations are in relation to each other and to other local landmarks in a destination. You can also get driving directions to any of these locations within your trip website and print both maps and directions. Most convenient!

Note: The maps require whoever sets up the trip to use a valid city name (Las Vegas instead of Vegas, New York City instead of NYC, for instance).

2007 Travvies: Vote for Group Trip Advisor!

Travvies Group Trip Advisor has been selected by Upgrade: Travel Better and a distinguished list of judges as a Finalist for Best Group Written Travel Blog.

We are honored to be a finalist along with Brave New Traveler, Gridskipper, Lost Girls' World, and Vagablogging.

If you like what you read here, please vote for us.

Voting is open until 6pm February 28, 2007.

Thank you and thanks to Upgrade: Travel Better for including TripHub Group Trip Advisor.

11th Carnival of Travel: Culinary Commentary

If you travel for food, read on. The 11th carnival of travel is filled with thoughtful (even mouth-watering at times) commentary on food for herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores alike. Each article is fresh and flavorful.

Thanks for tuning in. Hungry for travel yet?

Planning a Reunion is No Picnic, Spread the Work

That reunion you're planning, or thinking of planning, is coming up more quickly than you might think. Studies show that while most reunions take place in summer, reunion planning goes on year-round. In a recent article for Leisure Group Travel, Edith Wagner of Reunions Magazine writes that accommodations for summer reunions are typically locked in by March so that members can plan ahead. She adds that planning and activities are becoming more organized as well, with programs often including golf tournaments or city tours in addition to the classic group picnic.

Because planning a reunion can be a daunting undertaking, Wagner urges planners to delegate and use all the help they can get. Getting others involved in planning generates "ownership" in the event's success and spreads around the gratification, as well as the workload. See our Family Reunion Guide for more tips and suggestions on planning your reunion. Have fun!

Kid-friendly Golf Resorts: Ten ways to know one when you see one

By guest blogger Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

Love family vacations? Love golf? Bringing the two together has never been easier, as more hotels and resorts are wooing parents with excellent golf schools and family-minded packages. But how will you know if a resort’s family golf program is really as kid-friendly as promised?

You can tell a lot simply by reading the property’s brochure or web site, says Jerramy Hainline, director of instruction at the Hilton Golf Academy, whose three resorts welcome over 350 kids each year. Compare how the resort describes its junior golf instruction with how it portrays its adult offerings. “If there’s very little difference in how the classes are described, it’s more than likely that the resort hasn’t tailored anything for kids,” says Hainline. “If a resort or school truly wants kids there, it will have made accommodations to offer junior golfers a quality experience.”

What else should you look for? Here are 10 more clues that a resort will deliver a golf vacation that’s truly a family affair:

  • On-course instruction. A no-brainer, right? Far from it. You’d be surprised at how often a kids’ golf “program” turns out to be a 90-minute etiquette lesson in a windowless conference room or an hour on a driving range plus a soda break. It’s critical that a program teaches kids how to play the game, not just how to drive a ball or putt. “Kids need to experience being on the course to bring it all together,” stresses Hainline. So if a resort’s junior program doesn’t feature any on-course time, it’s a deal breaker.
  • Reduced green fees. Discounts for junior golfers or deals where “kids play free” with a paying adult demonstrate that a resort is serious about encouraging kids to play.
  • Low student-instructor ratio. Class size for kids ages 6 to 17 should never exceed six kids per instructor, says Hainline. “And for 4- to 5-year-olds, the ratio should be closer to 2 to 1.”
  • Inclusive instruction. Even preschoolers can learn the fundamentals of golf, including the basic rules of etiquette—whose turn it is to putt, where to stand, and that old bugaboo, when to be quiet. A family-friendly resort will have come up with ways for kids as young as 5 or 6 to participate in the game.
  • Child-savvy pros. “You want instructors who have experience with the programs and a history of working with junior golfers,” says Eric Alpenfels, director of instruction at the Golf Academy at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. “I think five years of experience is a good start. Junior-golf certification programs vary from facility to facility.” If you can’t find this information on the resort’s web site, call and ask.
  • Family-friendly tees. Most youngsters don’t have the skill and strength required to play a long course. To get kids in the game, many resorts now offer forward tees set at shorter distances. Having a variety of tees allows the family to play together, with Mom and Dad playing the long course and kids hitting from the forward tees. Some resorts even have special scorecards with more realistic pars for kids.
  • Kid-size clubs. “Cut-offs” are adult clubs that have simply been shortened, resulting in a heavy head relative to shaft length. They’re better than nothing, says Hainline. But it’s preferable that a resort provide kids with junior clubs, which are scaled down appropriately from top to bottom.
  • Big balls, little balls. Young kids are still working on eye-hand coordination. At the Hilton Golf Academy, junior golfers start off hitting beach balls. Once they’ve mastered those, it’s on to rubber balls, then tennis balls, and finally golf balls.
  • Designated family time. Many resorts now offer special tee times reserved just for families. Pinehurst’s “Family Fairways” program goes one better, giving parents and their kids one course all to themselves for several hours each afternoon. “Family Fairways takes the intimidation factor out of play,” says Alpenfels. “You don’t need to worry about who’s behind you, or hitting in the middle of the fairway, or going straight to the putting green.”
  • Non-golf kids’ activities. If family members have varying levels of skill and interest, it’s simply unrealistic to expect your whole clan to golf 24/7. Look for a swimming pool and other recreational activities to keep everyone happy. An on-site kids’ camp or babysitting service will add flexibility to your schedule.

Bio: Suzanne Rowan Kelleher is the Editor-in-Chief of, a family travel website with resort and hotel reviews, how-to articles, readers’ tips and recommendations, and planning advice for kid-friendly vacations.


10th Carnival of Travel: Outdoor Adventures

This 10th carnival focuses on the wide range of outdoor adventures - family vacations, group trips, expats traveling abroad, volunteer vacations, solo treks. The list goes on. Enjoy!

  • Expats Today Have It So Easy 
    Lynn Rodriguez, an expat, reflects on her expat days and compares them with the technology "insta-connection" (cheap phone calls, IM, internet, American products abroad) expat days of today. What has been lost in the technology advances is the ability to truly disconnect and immerse oneself in another culture. A nostalgic article that raises the pros and cons of being able to "check in" so easily from abroad.
  • Walking In A Winter Wonderland For $1,300 
    The Silicon Valley Blogger, a finance writer, shared tips and stories from a recent group family trip to Yosemite. Comparing costs for a trip to the mountains to a Disney trip, he proves it's dollar wise and "priceless" to go au naturale.
  • Maui - Best Island in the World
    Jennifer Miner writes of Maui: an island of turtles, dolphins, volcanos, lush hills and meadows, plus a drive to Hana, a cliff-hugging road with bridges and towns along the route that make the journey as luscious as the destination.
  • Haciendas in the Yucatan 
    "Working Gringos" give an historical and personal account of traversing through the Yucatan to visit haciendas. An enlightening read that blends colonialism, tourism, anthropology, and architecture.
  • Support Your Parks: Take the Kids and Visit 
    Sheila Scarborough writes about taking her family to a Texas CCC cabin that was built in the 1930s, reminding us that many parks still have these architectural relics, and their sturdy nature makes them a perfect way to add adventure to a trip without camping outside.
  • Stay Cold, But Cozy, in Quebec's Ice Hotel 
    Mary Jo Manzanares says, "At the ice hotel, you can have your outdoor adventure indoors as well!" If you choose to stay, have a cocktail in an glass made of ice, go dog sledding, and dip your toe in a steamy hot tub to warm up before resting your head on a bed framed by ice. 
  • Our Homer Odyssey 
    Michelle compares two trips to Alaska; one with her mom, and another with her husband and kids. She touches on how the essence of a trip, the inspiration and beauty, are unique - never to be recaptured again. Her post reminds us to keep searching for new adventures, even when we know how fleeting they can be.
  • The Contents of a Good Camping Guide 
    Darlene Berkel offers tips for finding the best camping guide. It's a good hit list of things to consider: from survival tactics, to supplies, and so forth.

Dear Diary
Many posts had a diary-style essence, so I grouped them together here.

  • Coconuter: Introduction / About
    David Poarch passes up an Ivy League education to become a nomad in the Phillipines and find himself, calling it "An epic adventure that surpasses just travel. It is also a search for life, freedom, purpose, happiness, and the meaning to it all." Here's to finding yourself!
  • Motorcycling Leads to Serendipitous Discovery
    Lisa Grissom waxes poetic about "How a recent ride on my motorcycle helped me to discover why I ride."
  • On Wearing a Bathing Suit
    Toe blogs about beach-going in diary style, saying, "An overweight prude contemplates on wearing a bathing suit in a paradise beach resort in Cambodia."
  • Mt. Field National Park
    Dan also writes in diary format also about his visiting Tasmania's Mt. Field National Parks and its various waterfalls.
  • If diaries consisted of photos, they'd be... scrapbooks. Soufulow offers two photojournal posts (e-scrapbooks), one on her family trip to China, and another trip to Japan. The photos are coupled with occasional commentary.
  • The G Cam - Trek to Kodachadri, Karnataka
    Vinaya HS photographs the road less traveled, saying, "After a brief hiatus, the G Cam is back - this time bringing you mesmerizing photos from the Kodachadri Mountain Range in the evergreen Western Ghats of beautiful Karnataka." Ooh, la la. Stunning images, indeed.

That's all, folks. The 11th edition of the carnival of travel will be themed food or culinary travel (including beverages, etc.) and go live February 15th.

Need Help Planning a Large Gathering? Act like a Pro

Organizing a large family reunion, destination wedding or meeting is a lot of work, and the process can quickly become overwhelming. Where to hold the event? How much space is needed? Which facilities can accommodate the group? Who are the good caterers and other service providers in the area? What should be on the menu?

Corporate meeting and event planners do this every day for the most demanding customers in the travel business. And thanks to MiMegasite you can benefit from many of their tips and tools, even if your budget doesn’t include professional planning help.

Read articles on food and beverage planning. Gain insight on new and improved facilities and activities in their destination guides. Use the meeting space planner to determine your square footage requirements. Looking for space options in San Francisco? The facility search tool has information and links for over 900 options, which you can narrow down based on room requirements. Photographers in Phoenix? The supplier search tool has contact and other information for 54 of them as well as recommendations in 46 other supplier categories.

Getting started is often the hardest part, and MiMegasite lowers that hurdle so you can focus on making the right choices for your group.

Happy Holidays!

Dear Fellow Traveler,

The holidays are upon us!  We at TripHub send our warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and a joyous new year.

Remember it's never too early to begin planning your 2007 travel.  Roughly two-thirds of TripHub's customers are planning 2+ months in advance.  In fact, we're seeing some groups planning more than 12 months out!  What's that old saying about early birds and worms? Start planning your trip now to help ensure greater availability in lodging and transportation, and to get your event scheduled before calendars fill up.

The holidays are a great time to plan trips with family and friends. Whether you're pulling together a ski get-away, an unforgettable spring break, or a memorable summer reunion, check out these articles for useful tips and ideas:

  • Ski Guide for Groups includes check lists, top ski resorts, ski trivia, and other links to the best of the Web

  • Family Reunion Planning Guide includes extensive tips to make sure your reunion planning efforts yield lasting memories. (Note: Useful for brides and grooms too!)

  • Art of Delegation includes sage advice on how to get others involved so they can share the planning responsibilities for any type of group trip.

Happy Holidays!


9th Carnival of Travel: Potpourri

'Tis the season to have as random of an assortment of travel subjects as appetizers you can cram on a holiday plate. The 9th carnival of travel is a mix of topics. Here goes!

Travel Companions: 3 amazing stories

  • Rich Peluso presents You Eat What You Kill. I loved these words of wisdom from a father traveling to Rome with his family. His search for meaning in the everyday is poignant. A contemplative passage.
  • Michelle presents Considering A Cruise?. It is hilarious to venture into the mind of a cruiser and hear her internal dialogue about the hypothetical lives of fellow passengers.
  • Kelly Vaughan presents Fotoğraf Kıraathanesi saying, "Sometimes we have to seek out new companions, and through this, we see things we never would have seen." A camera. A will to meet others. And an unusual journey with a group of flickr photographers.

Travel as Inspiration: thought-provoking tales

  • Ian MacKenzie presents 12 Personal Travel Websites That Will Make You Quit Your Day Job. Inspirational travel quotes from those taking the road less traveled and loving every step, pedal, and flight of it.
  • Michelle presents Green Retreats For Scrooge. A wonderful compilation of green retreat vacation spots. Most of them can accommodate groups and all offer environmentally-friendly accommodations (alternative energy, recycling, gray water for watering plants, etc.).

Rants and Warnings: comic and tragic truths of travel

Travel Tips: miscellaneous nuggets of wisdom

  • Jenin presents How to Enjoy St. Lucia On A Budget. If you think St. Lucia might be in your travel planning future, here are budget ideas.
  • Alvaro presents Well-Deserved Break: Top 10 Brain Teasers saying, "How does one travel inside one's mind, and navigate through brain structures and assumptions? Well, here's one option: try these well-designed and explained brain teasers. Most of them good to print and do while traveling."

That's all for this edition. Theme for the upcoming January 15th edition is Outdoor Adventures.