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Do you need to rent a car in Costa Rica?
Driving Across a River in Costa Rica
Doesn't Always Involve a Bridge

Right now I'm struggling, for some reason, to follow my own advice:  I do not recommend driving cars while traveling in other countries. I think it is much safer, easier, wiser, and even worth a small extra price for the convenience, to simply book cars with drivers, rather than driving a car myself, on international journeys. But, according to what I've read, Costa Rica is a unique case. Or is it? In this post I'll explore the common question of whether it's best to drive a car in Costa Rica, or allow yourself to be driven by someone else. My first consideration was...

Seeing Basel with a big family
Our Big Family entering the gateway to Europe (Basel, Switzerland)
Basel in Switzerland is a great gateway to Europe for a traveling family, because...

Taking small children swimming at the lake or at the beach or pool
Our big family having a lake swim at a Virginia state park

Going swimming with a big family is basically an All Day Deal, even though it may only amount to two hours in the water.  So how do you agree to let there be swimming, without letting that single activity (which you could really do almost anywhere!) consume your entire vacation? What we've worked out with our kids is...

Taking the perfect family travel pictures as a group
Let's face it, Gang: Some shots just aren't going work out!
(Our Big Family at the Toy Museum in Basel, Switzerland)
There's always been something special about traveling that makes the traveler want to...

Rötteln Castle in Lorrach, Germany, near Basel Switzerland
Our Big Family at Rötteln Castle, Germany
The 11th-century Rötteln Castle (in German: Burg Rötteln), is a great place to visit with a big family, and is very close to Basel, Switzerland. It makes a great half-day trip from Basel. There's a modest entry fee, and our youngest children were free. We found taking a self-guided tour of this medieval castle to be one of our favorite activities in all of Europe! However, knowing a few things about it beforehand would have made it a bit easier. Here are our tips for your visit...

Renting an apartment for 3 nights in Hong Kong with a big family
Central Hong Kong as seen from
the Star Ferry in Victoria Harbour

You research and plan for weeks, but you can't plan for everything. What do you do when something doesn't work out? What if something you were promised just doesn't happen? What if you were given bad information? What do you do? There we were, finally entering our apartment around midnight on our very first night in Hong Kong, only to discover...

Visiting the islands near Krabi, Thailand
Visiting the Islands Near Krabi with a Big Family
When visiting southern Thailand with our big family, one of our favorite activities was a day trip to visit Krabi's beautiful islands. The islands are full of limestone cliffs in unique, awe-inspiring formations. However, some of the most famous islands have been completely overrun and all-but ruined by mass tourism, while other islands are still relatively pristine and enjoyable. Some tours cram as many tourists as possible into each boat, while others do the opposite. Read on for our big family's tips for visiting Krabi's beautiful natural wonders...

Caribbean views off the coast of Honduras
Caribbean Sunrise on the Honduran Coast
Recently I made a quick trip to Honduras to visit some friends who operate a non-profit there. In this post I'll give you a pictorial tour of that trip. This was a brief visit to an isolated small community on the Caribbean coast, located a full-day's overland journey from the nearest major airport. The first thing you need to know about any visit to rural Honduras is...

Can you leave the airport during a layover in Seoul?
Free Cultural Activities at Incheon
International Airport, South Korea
We took advantage of the "layover loophole" on a flight between the U.S. and Thailand. As you may know, the "layover loophole" is what we call the nonsensical airline pricing logic that says it is often cheaper to fly from City A to City B to City C, than it is to fly from City A to B. Case in point: a flight from the U.S. to South Korea would have been three times more expensive than the same flight that merely changed planes in South Korea before continuing on to Thailand.  Plus, the airline gave us a choice in layovers: 3 hours, 6 hours, or 17 hours. Since we wanted to see South Korea anyway...

The First 5,000 Visits to Our Site

Tips for traveling with a big family
Our kids get almost as excited about traveling as I do!
View from the top of the Incline Railway,
Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.
The growth in readership of our big family's little travel blog continues to surprise me. We have some days when only a handful of people stop by, then there'll be a day when we get 200 page views in a day! I suppose what has happened is...

Staying in a traditional hanok stay in Seoul with small children
Getting a Taste of Korean Flavor at a Traditional Hanok Home in South Korea

If you're looking for a memorable stay in South Korea, we recommend spending at least one night in a traditional hanok home. These are homes built in a traditional, 14th-century style of architecture, some of which are available for rentals as short as 1 or 2 nights. When our big family had a stop in South Korea, we stayed in one and...

Traveling with a big family to Mexico
So Many Places, So Little Time

Your help is requested!  Tell me, Dear Readers: Where should our big family travel next? Can you, our readers, make a suggestion or three? Some of the best trips we've ever had have been to destinations that were suggested by others. My friend (who was at least half-joking) suggested Switzerland when I said we wanted to see "snow in summer."  I was thinking Colorado. But he said, "Why don't you go to the Swiss Alps?" and, well, a few months later, we did!  So that's what I'm hoping for here - a great suggestion, whether you're serious or half-serious, then I'll do some research and take it from there....

Is Airbnb Illegal in some cities in Southeast Asia?
This condo in Southeast Asia warns tourists 
that they might get arrested for staying there

According to my wife, the single most important question to consider for any rental property is:  "Do guests have to sneak in?"  Now, I wouldn't want to write anything in a blog post that might potentially incriminate anyone regarding a short-term rental in a place where it is frowned upon. So, this story is about a friend - a friend who travels with his big family around the world. These friends of ours found themselves in a very uncomfortable situation with a prepaid short-term rental in a place that doesn't exactly welcome tourists. Apparently, in some cities around the world, there is a movement against short-term rentals. So how do you book one safely, without having to risk being reported as a trespasser?  Read on for our tips...

Seeing Macaw parrots with children at zoo in northern Thailand
Macaw Parrots at the Chiang Mai Zoo

By the time we got to Chiang Mai, our fifth city stop in Thailand, we had seen just about all the temples we could see in one trip. We still saw some of Chiang Mai's temples too, but starting on our second day there, we began to cast about, looking for something else to do. Then, the zoo was recommended as an activity popular with children. If you're considering seeing the Chiang Mai Zoo with a big family, here's our take on whether that visit is worth it...

Staying in a penthouse near the airport in Bangkok, Thailand with a big family
View from Roof of our Bangkok Apartment Rental

When we're planning a trip for our big family, we keep in mind that every potential home or apartment rental has its own unique surroundings of some sort, which can be a major factor in whether it's the right place for us to stay. Before booking a rental, it's wise to consider not just what the apartment or home has to offer on the inside, but what the neighborhood is like. Does the advertised "quiet neighborhood" mean it's a one-hour walk to the nearest restaurant? Does "fun area" mean that the downstairs nightclub's bass thumps will keep your children awake until 3am? Does "local residential area" mean it's against city laws for you to book a 2-night rental? In our travels we've discovered the secret ingredients to finding the perfect location for a big family to stay, and we'll share them with you here...
3 Tips to Avoid Getting Lost

Picture of Swiss Train Station in Switzerland
This Swiss train station is "just minutes" from the apartment - supposedly

You research and plan for weeks, but you can't plan for everything. What do you do when something doesn't work out, and you get lost? What if you were given bad information? What do you do? There we were, panting and sweating in the steep hills of Switzerland, looking for lodging in all the wrong places. We ended up sitting on the sidewalk, utterly lost, on our very first afternoon in a new city...

Visiting Ayutthaya Historical Park with a Big Family
Visiting Thailand's Ayutthaya Historical Park with a Big Family
Wat Ratchaburana

So, you're planning a visit to Thailand with the family and are thinking of visiting one of the great historical and cultural destinations close to Bangkok. Ayutthaya is a great choice! It's easily accessible from Bangkok and serves as a great introduction to Thailand for a big family. In fact, for a family with children, it's a much better introduction to Thailand than Bangkok itself. Here are our tips for making a great family visit to Ayutthaya, Thailand...