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Great Travel Links for 01.15.2008

Here’s our weekly roundup of good travel tips from around the Web (normally posted on Monday, but life intervened.) As an organizational experiment, I’m going to try grouping most links by continent — please let me know if you like it that way or not:

North and South America

** You’ll still find plenty of families and kids boot-scooting at these great old-timey Central Texas dance halls. I wrote about one of them, the Old Coupland Inn and Dancehall, for Texas Highways magazine.

** Looking for Disney World advice? Check out the new Disney World Moms Panel for Disney 101 information (or read my Survivor’s Guide series on navigating WDW.) Another excellent family travel writer, Eileen Ogintz, writes about the WDW panel for CNN.com. Read more from Eileen at her Web site Taking the Kids, or her blog.

** The real California — 15 places to introduce you to the Golden State.

** This link on scenic North American road trips was featured in the new Family Travel newsletter just started by Frommer’s.

** Its whole reason for existence is to shill Coke products, but if you can deal with that, one parent actually enjoyed the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta GA.

** That annual bacchanal Mardi Gras is coming up early this year (February 5th, 2008) and yes, there are ways to make it a family event. Universal Orlando in Florida has a theme-parkish Mardi Gras, or you can journey to New Orleans for the real deal. Mardi Gras with children; we kid you not.

** I just turned in another article to education.com, this one is on travel to family-friendly NASA facilities (will let you know when it’s online.) Thanks to political largesse, NASA centers are located all over the U.S., including lesser-known ones like the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. I also learned that NASA has a Braille book about cosmic images that’s scheduled for release today, called “Touch the Invisible Sky,” and there are a few cool NASA blogs.

Europe

** The UK’s Times Online brings us 10 best family walking holidays for 2008 (remember that the British meaning of “holidays” is also “vacations.”) For the time-challenged, I found 10 long weekend escapes, and I’m pleased to see a European budget hotel boom.

** A unique tour sheds light on the history of African-Americans and Paris.

** Europe travel guru Rick Steves says that Bella Italia is well worth the effort to go there in 2008.

** What a great idea; UK cooking schools that encourage teenagers to participate.

** Yes, the cheapo airlines like Ryanair are tempting, and I’ve flown them, but really, the train is very often the best way to travel Europe.

** BootsnAll has a very good article on planning your European vacation.

** Aaahhh, lodging in southwest France (St. Emilion) that caters to children.

Asia and Australia

** Bet you can get your daughter to say “kewl” to getting gussied up like a geisha in Tokyo, complete with photo….

** There’s child-friendly fun in Melbourne, Australia, even if you have to survive a long-haul flight from the US to get there.

General

** I’ll be writing a few short pieces for Away.com in the upcoming months, so to get acquainted I surfed around and found lots of good stuff, including suggestions for the best family cruise lines.

** Can you really do it? Can you take the family and live/travel abroad for awhile? Yes! This British Mum did it as well.

** From a British perspective, a funny take on 10 steps to a stress-free summer vacation.

** What to expect when your child flies solo (mine has several times, without incident.)

** Yet another list (editors are really into numbered lists these days) from Budget Travel, 15 Places Every Kid Should See. Very good picks include Ellis Island, Colonial Williamsburg (y’all know I’m a fan of that place!) the Alamo and the Boston Freedom Trail.

** This is from the travel industry’s perspective, but it’s still a useful, thoughtful article on why it’s sometimes a really good idea to skip making your own arrangements online and go with an experienced travel agent.

** Finally, “gotcha” headlines drive me kinda nuts. Case in point is 5 things airlines won’t tell you about their food….the fact that “there isn’t any,” and “what’s there, stinks” is not news, and the revelation that special meals (like kosher or vegetarian) are often better than regular is a tip older than dirt. Can I get paid to write such stuff, please?