Taking the Kids Weekly Column for planning a family vacation. Search tips for a family vacations and find family friendly vacation ideas.

TRADING HOUSES FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION
Home Exchange family

TRADING HOUSES FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION

A cottage in the English countryside or a flat in Paris, a deluxe Caribbean villa or a house with a pool in Orlando, San Diego, Canada, Colorado, New York City or San Francisco. Take your pick for summer vacation. Price is no concern. It won’t cost you a penny -- really. There’s just one tiny hitch

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Volunteering in New Orleans (where they still need a lot of help)
Common Ground Relief effort in New Orleans

Volunteering in New Orleans (where they still need a lot of help)

All along the block in the middle-class Lakeview neighborhood where the Strauss family lives, less than a mile from the 17th Street Canal levee break, are houses in various stages of construction. Some are still boarded up; others are brand new, with flowers planted outside. Fewer than half the houses in the neighborhood are occupied.

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MEETING THE FOLKS BEHIND THE MOUSE’S MAGIC
Disney from the inside

MEETING THE FOLKS BEHIND THE MOUSE’S MAGIC

They are Imagineers. That means they spend their workdays (and probably a lot of work nights) dreaming up and ultimately implementing new attractions for Disney parks and resorts around the world. There are about 1,000 Imagineers, 750 of whom work in Glendale, Calif., in an office building (once a cosmetics factory) that has tighter security than many government buildings.

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HEARING WHAT KIDS THINK ABOUT CRUISING

There are all the other kids onboard (more than a million children cruise every year, reports the Cruise Lines International Association, more than 1,000 on each Disney ship) and organized kids' and teen activities from morning until night. "You'll find a friend on the first day," promises Brooke Abzug, 10, who likes the shipboard scavenger hunts staged by the kids' clubs.

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A LAST-MINUTE SPRING BREAK
Spring Break Ideas

A LAST-MINUTE SPRING BREAK

What are you waiting for? Spring Break is looming and you haven't planned a getaway. We're not talking a Big Trip -- a cruise, for example, or an adventure trip to Costa Rica, though, according to Travelzoo.com, there are good last-minute deals to be had in Costa Rica.

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To a favorite Colorado ski town that’s as much fun in summer as winter
Eva Weinbers with ski instructor at Crested Butte CO

To a favorite Colorado ski town that’s as much fun in summer as winter

A gem of a mountain (no lift lines here!) just minutes on a free, festively painted shuttle bus from the tiny (less than 2,500 people) town of Mt. Crested Butte, so steeped in mining history that most of the downtown area, with its wooden, multicolored, 19th-century buildings, is on the National Register of Historic Places. (Ever see a two-story outhouse?)

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Touring colleges in the heart of college country – Boston
On tour at Tufts University near Boston

Touring colleges in the heart of college country – Boston

It wasn't the choice of restaurant that was making me so happy this particular Saturday night. It was that we'd survived a day of college touring in Boston without a melt down, without stalking off a campus, without tears and with everyone still speaking-and even more surprising, smiling.

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TO PARK CITY UTAH FOR SOME FUN IN THE SNOW
Park City Utah

TO PARK CITY UTAH FOR SOME FUN IN THE SNOW

Even better, no more soggy hotdogs or lukewarm mac and cheese for lunch and no more putting kids on the chairlift with strangers: the entire class can ride up with their instructor on a six-passenger chairlift and eat together on the mountain. The teens and tweens, of course, will love the parks and pipes and the night skiing this resort is famous for.

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SQUEEZING IN SOME ADULT TIME ON VACATION

Five years is too long between vacations. Just ask Amy and Matt Wilcher. The Ohio couple hasn't had a vacation since their Caribbean honeymoon five years ago. Now that they're parents, they're contemplating an entirely different kind of getaway with their 2-year-old daughter

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