Discover Theses Luxury Family Vacations

These five retreats around the world prove just how luxe a trip with the kids can be.

Nicaragua: If the country is the next Costa Rica, then the Inn at Rancho Santana ($$) is its next great family getaway. The 2,700 acres along the Pacific coast offer plenty to keep the gang busy, like mountain biking, horseback riding, and surfing.

Kenya: The typical safari gets a reboot at Mara Bush Houses (all-inclusive; $$$$$), in the Masai Mara. Three private houses serviced by guides, cooks, and rangers give families an ideal base for viewing lions, rhinos, and other big game.

Scotland: Alladale Wilderness Lodge & Reserve (three-night minimum; $$$$$) plunks the safari model into the middle of the Highlands. Families of up to 14 have the run of the house and surrounding 23,000-acre reserve, where Highland cattle and wildcats roam.

Venice: Unlike most palazzi, the new JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa ($$$) is super kidfriendly: there’s a teen club and a family pool, plus classes on everything from traditional maskmaking to steering a gondola.

Florida: The cult classic Naples Grande Beach Resort ($$$$)—formerly a Waldorf Astoria—just emerged from a major overhaul that makes fun a top priority. Along with an upgraded beach, there’s a 100-foot-long waterslide with a serious plunge.

To learn more:

Beyond vacation: Sabbaticals allow families to bond and travel

Traveling to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. 

NEW YORK - At this time last year, Graham Bodel was analyzing  equities for Credit Suisse in Manhattan.

This year, his days look a little different. In recent weeks he has been  walking along the banks of the Seine River with his wife, Alexa, and their two  children, and strolling through the Jardin du Luxembourg or the Musée  d'Orsay.

Paris is one of the first legs on a year-long journey that will take them  everywhere from India to Australia - a huge chunk of time taken right in the  heart of Bodel's prime earning years.

"Honestly, it was the hitting-40 thing," says Bodel, 42, whose kids are 7 and  5. "I didn't get a sports car or a new girlfriend, but it does make you rethink  your whole life plan. Taking a trip like this has always been a fantasy of ours,  and now was the perfect time to do it."

If you need any proof that the career priorities of Generations X and Y are  different from those of the 9-to-5 Company Man of yore, look no further than  people like Bodel.

Some are securing extended time off work, yanking their kids out of school  and globe-trotting with their families. Call it a rebellion against cubicle  culture, or an early midlife crisis, or a "mini-retirement," as author Tim  Ferriss dubbed it in one of his bestsellers, "The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5,  Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich."

Whatever you call it, it symbolizes one thing: Younger workers are not  content to wait until their golden years for a significant break or to savor  more time with their families.

"Most people at most times can't do this, because real life intrudes," says  David Elliot Cohen, a publisher from Tiburon, Calif., who chronicled his own  family's trip in the book "One Year Off." "But if everything aligns and you have  a shot at it, you should take it. Because the opportunity to spend that kind of  time with your kids may never come again."

Companies seem to be adapting to a new workforce with different priorities.  Sixteen percent of employers now offer unpaid sabbaticals, up from 12 percent in  2009, according to the Society for Human Resource Management's 2013 Employee  Benefits Survey. Another 4 percent even offer fully paid sabbaticals as a juicy  perk.

Paid sabbaticals average about two months in duration, while unpaid stints  are "all over the map," according to Elizabeth Pagano McGuire, a founding  partner at the consulting firm yourSABBATICAL, which helps companies design the  programs. They appeal most of all to a younger demographic: Younger generations  hold very different work attitudes than their older counterparts, including  valuing time off, according to studies by Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State  University.

Of course, in an economy where most Americans live paycheck to paycheck,  taking an extended family vacation is a tricky financial equation. Your income  will likely cease just as your expenses begin to include stiff charges like  flights, hotels and restaurants.

'No extravagant purchases'

So how can regular folks pull off such a challenge?

Plan years in advance. Vancouver's Chris Boltwood, a finance manager for  local utility BC Hydro, isn't messing around: He has been planning his big  family trip for four years, siphoning a percentage of his salary into a  dedicated account. He has also arranged to rent out the family home for the six  months they will be gone. He, his wife and their two kids (ages 8 and 10) plan  to opt for family-run guesthouses and will focus on Asia, which offers more  budget-friendly countries than Europe, once their trip starts in January.

"We have been living off a tighter budget over the last four years in  anticipation," he says. "Very little eating out, no extravagant purchases. And  when it's tough - and sometimes it is - we remind ourselves why we're doing it,  and generate that buzz to reset the compass."

Give yourself a margin of error. Silicon Valley engineering manager John  Higham wasn't sure how much it would cost to travel the world with his family in  2005. He estimated the trip would set them back $100,000, so over 13 years he  and his wife put away $120,000 to be safe. They also rented out their home while  they were gone and took out a home-equity line of credit as a source of  emergency cash in the event of a catastrophe.

"We never ended up needing it, but having that kind of fallback was a  critical part of our financial planning," says Higham, who ended up writing the  book "360 Degrees Longitude: One Family's Journey Around the World."

Try to make reintegration seamless. You don't necessarily have to quit your  job or sell your home. See if your employer is amenable to a sabbatical or a  leave of absence, and rent out your place while you're gone.

If your boss says no, you may be faced with a difficult decision that could  have long-term financial consequences, and should be made cautiously. You could  be wanting to switch jobs anyway. Graham Bodel, for instance, was ready for a  new position and fresh challenges, and timed his family's trip so it began after  he left his previous gig.

But if you can, take it easy on yourself and preserve the basic structures of  your life. "Whatever you do, don't sell your house," says Cohen. "We did, and it  was totally unnecessary. It made reintegration on the other end much harder than  I expected."

Finally, get the kids involved. Higham and his wife wanted to make sure  theirs had a stake in the trip's success, even though they were only 8 and 11 at  the time.

"When the kids helped us save, too, it became a true family goal," he says.  "When they wanted ice cream at the store, they would say, 'Can we really afford  this, or should we save it instead?' Enthusiasm about the trip became  infectious."


Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD - good article



In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological--psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children's focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child's brain but in the child's social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child's brain.


French child psychiatrists don't use the same system of classification of childhood emotional problems as American psychiatrists. They do not use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM. According to Sociologist Manuel Vallee, the French Federation of Psychiatry developed an alternative classification system as a resistance to the influence of the DSM-3. This alternative was the CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L'Enfant et de L'Adolescent), first released in 1983, and updated in 1988 and 2000. The focus of CFTMEA is on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children's symptoms, not on finding the best pharmacological bandaids with which to mask symptoms.

To the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child's social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Moreover, the definition of ADHD is not as broad as in the American system, which, in my view, tends to "pathologize" much of what is normal childhood behavior. The DSM specifically does not consider underlying causes. It thus leads clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis to a much larger number of symptomatic children, while also encouraging them to treat those children with pharmaceuticals.

The French holistic, psychosocial approach also allows for considering nutritional causes for ADHD-type symptoms—specifically the fact that the behavior of some children is worsened after eating foods with artificial colors, certain preservatives, and/or allergens. Clinicians who work with troubled children in this country—not to mention parents of many ADHD kids—are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child's problem. In the United States, the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD, however, encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children's behavior.

And then, of course, there are the vastly different philosophies of child-rearing in the United States and France. These divergent philosophies could account for why French children are generally better-behaved than their American counterparts. Pamela Druckerman highlights the divergent parenting styles in her recent book, Bringing up Bébé. I believe her insights are relevant to a discussion of why French children are not diagnosed with ADHD in anything like the numbers we are seeing in the United States.

From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means "frame" or "structure." Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies "cry it out" if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.

French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word "no" rescues children from the "tyranny of their own desires." And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.

As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don't need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.

Copyright © Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D.

Marilyn Wedge is the author of Pills Are Not for Preschoolers: A Drug-Free Approach for Troubled Kids