Win for family travel in British court

The dad. Courtesy of The Independent.

The dad. Courtesy of The Independent.

Cheers to Jon Platt.

How else to lead into a story about the British father who fought and beat a silly law forbidding kids to miss school for travel? How else to celebrate a man who established legal precedent for British—and, hopefully, at least eventually—American families to pull kids from school to experience the world.

The story is convoluted to say the least. Last April, Platt pulled his daughter from school on the Isle of Wight for a family vacation to Florida and the Walt Disney World Resort. When the family returned, he was hit with a £60 fine for violating the Education Act, which stipulates that parents are guilty of an offence if they fail to ensure their child “attends regularly” at school. Platt fought the fine. It doubled. So he took it to court.

The battle escalated to reach the Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court in October, where Platt won his case, but the local authority appealed the decision to the High Court, which this week finally ruled this week in Platt’s favor.

All told, Platt told The Independent said the case had cost him £13,000, which he described as “money well spent”, and has crowdfunded £25,000 to cover legal costs.

Coverage of the decision was fantastic because much of it included running quotes from Platt after his big win. During an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain program, Platt said: “If the law required 100 per cent attendance, if the law said your children must attend every single day in order to get a great education, the law would say that, but it does not. We are not arguing on behalf of people whose kids don’t go to school, I’m arguing on behalf of people whose kids go to school every single day and maybe once a year they take them out for five days. It does not harm them at all. How do I know? Because my own kids are doing really, really well in school.”

Sounds like a regular guy airing pretty understandable gripes against an inflexible system. Every district should be lucky enough to have a Jon Platt on the parents’ side. As for moms and dads, any parent who thinks twice before taking kids out of school for a family vacation should think again. There’s learning in travel, too. You might just have to work a little harder for it in the end.

Sharing the word about Four Seasons Orlando

The kids club at Four Seasons Orlando (photo courtesy of Trips + Giggles.

Kids’ club at Four Seasons Orlando (photo courtesy of Trips + Giggles).

I’ve lamented since last summer that I wasn’t able to check out the Four Seasons Orlando when we visited Walt Disney World Resort last summer. The new luxury property formally hadn’t opened yet, and I couldn’t find time (or, quite frankly, a rental car from my Disney-owned hotel) to break away and take a tour of the construction site.

Thankfully, Juliana Shallcross, my (former editor at VegasChatter.com and HotelChatter.com, and) buddy over at Trips & Giggles, went recently, and wrote a definitive post about the place, which she published earlier today.

If I may summarize, her post basically says that the Four Seasons Orlando KICKS MAJOR ASS. Especially for family travelers.

I love J’s post for its simplicity—she talks briefly about the design and service that made the hotel so special for her, then gets right into a host of pictures (one of which I pilfered to accompany this post), with descriptions of each. My favorite of her observations: The Four Seasons Orlando is especially great at the end of a hot day when you want to leave the parks and escape the Mouse for a while. My second favorite: Her reminder that the Kids for All Seasons kids club is included in the room rate.

Granted, the price point at a luxury hotel such as this one is way too high for the majority of visitors to Walt Disney World Resort (or Florida, for that matter). Still, if budget is no issue and you’re looking for a property that treats kids—and their families—like royalty, it sounds like this is your place.

Consider yourselves warned.

What are your lodging strategies when you visit Walt Disney World Resort?

Celebrating the best family travel year ever

One year ago tonight, in London.

One year ago tonight, in London.

One year ago today—August 20, 2013—our wandering pod embarked on the greatest adventure of our lives: a five-month relocation to London.

Our stay in the U.K. kicked off what has been the greatest stretch of travel in our lives. Over the course of the last 12 months, we Villanos have logged nearly 400,000 (air and car) travel miles as a unit, touching down in England, Ireland, Canada, Hawaii, Florida (specifically, Walt Disney World), Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and more.

The best part: We’ve done it all together.

I’ve had fun over the last few nights going back and looking at posts and pix from this time last year. There’s this post, from two nights before we departed. And the photo that accompanies the entry you’re reading now; the pic was taken at 3 a.m. London time on the night we arrived—after both girls woke up for the day (damn you, jet lag!). Then, of course, there is this piece, from two days after we arrived.

(Interestingly, we ditched the pram in that post for a sturdier one we bought in London. We still use the “London buggy” every time we fly.)

It’s also been fun to remember the highs and lows of a year of family travel. My favorite high: A week of dodging raindrops and chasing geese in the Lake District, toward the end of our run in England. My least favorite low: The night Little R kicked me out of bed at The Ahwahnee (inside Yosemite) and insisted that I sleep on the floor—making it the most expensive campsite of all time.

Throughout these adventures, I have deepened my appreciation for the world, for embracing new things, for the privilege to leave home for a while. I’d like to think the girls have experienced similar growth.

Even if all this travel hasn’t changed my kids, exposure to it certainly has sensitized their little brains to the notion of exploration. Will I be disappointed if they grow up to be homebodies? Not at all. But something tells me that after a year like the one we’ve just had, curiosity will come naturally to them.

What will the next year bring? From a practical perspective, the next 12 months of travel likely will look very different; with both girls in school (and L in Kindergarten five days a week), our opportunities to escape as a foursome may dwindle. Rest assured, we’ll find ways to get out and about. There are places to go! There are people to see! Most important, this travel thing is what we Villanos do best. Here’s to another great year.

%d bloggers like this: