Plan Your 2012

If you’re like me, this time of year has you standing in front of a yearly calendar, marker in hand, blocking your our travel plans for the upcoming months. Since you already know your kids’ school break schedules, that’s a good place to start. I also mark down birthdays, parents’ weekends, anniversaries, and any other special occasions that I know are coming up. After that, the real fun (and challenge) begins—deciding where to go for those holidays and celebrations.

Maybe you already have some trips in the works, or maybe you are just beginning to think about where to go this year. So far, I’ve got my travels booked through April (the MLS Ladies’ Trip to India, Aspen for President’s Week with my boys, and a tour of East Coast colleges with my daughter), and I’m starting to look at summer. I encourage you to make your travel plans as far in advance as possible, especially if you have very particular experiences in mind, like an African safari or a private yacht and/or villa. The best hotels, properties, boat crews and guides book up early, and you may end up disappointed if you wait too long.

Deciding where to go when can seem like an overwhelming task, but one way to narrow it down is to look at our calendars on MLS. Our main calendar shows the best times to travel to each of our featured destinations, based on weather, events and crowds. If you want more detailed information, check out our Quarterly Calendars. Broken out by season, these list upcoming festivals, art fairs, and major events around the world, and offer inspiration for passion-based travel. Maybe you’ve always wanted to photograph the cherry blossoms in Japan, or hike the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, or see the Great Migration on the Serengeti. Our Quarterly Calendars will help you focus in on the perfect destinations, and map out all your travels for the year.

If you’re still stumped, or just can’t decide between all your options, contact our Travel Advisor, Ana Maria Pickens. She’ll talk to you about your interests, budget, and the type of vacation you’re looking for (family or couples, adventure or culture, three-week excursion or long weekend, or whatever else you have in mind). Once she understands your goals, she can make suggestions and steer you to the right partners within our global network.

One of the best parts of any trip is the anticipation, so start making your arrangements now. The sooner you plan your trip, the sooner you can start enjoying it.

New MLS Service—
School Tours

Recently, a lot of my family’s travels have involved tours of schools my kids are hoping to attend. These trips are both exciting and emotional, and generally require covering a lot of ground in a short period of time, in an area you’re probably unfamiliar with. The last thing you want is to be late to your appointment, or get lost, or be exhausted during your interviews. Our Travel Advisor has been invaluable in helping me plan these trips, and this has inspired us to come up with a new service for our members. For a flat rate of $500 per itinerary, Ana Maria can plan all the logistics for your upcoming school tours, from flights and hotels to rental cars and driving directions. This service does not include making appointments with schools, but once you have those set up, Ana Maria will handle the rest, leaving you free to focus on the applications. If you have children who are approaching college age or thinking of attending a private boarding school, I encourage you to enlist Ana Maria’s help with your travel arrangements.

New Destination

As we talk and dream about exotic locales, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the wonders in our own backyard. The newest MLS featured destination, Yellowstone & Grand Tetons, reminds us of the beauty and majesty of the American west. Rich in wildlife, abounding with recreational opportunities, and chock-full of fascinating geological features, these parks offer the quintessential family vacation experience. Visit our new pages, along with our Utah & Arizona Parks section, to discover how to do these iconic US destinations right. We’ll continue to add to them, and we’ll include a section on Glacier National Park soon, so check back with us often.

In The News—
2011 Wrap-Up

2011 was a big media year for My Little Swans. It began with a Jan. 16 article in New York Times Travel, highlighting us as a new type of curated travel site. A second NYT article on Feb. 9 focused on the unique travel experiences we put together for our members, and on Sept. 25, a third NYT article quoted me about the advantages of private jets. In June, Taking The Kids mentioned My Little Swans in a post about family travel trends. In Aug., The Inside Source featured a Q&A with me entitled “How to Travel (Luxuriously) With Kids.” Also in Aug., I was quoted in a Departures piece about the Silicon Valley power scene, and in Oct., Departures’ BlackBook listed us as one of their five favorite travel websites. In Dec, National Geographic put us at the top of their list of family spring break resources. And I was featured in San Francisco Magazine’s December issue on women in technology.

Our Wellness Ambassador, Sandra Hahamian, was also featured in a number of publications, including Shape, Self, Mind Body & Spirit Fitness, and Seventeen. And for the second year in a row, our Travel Advisor was named to Travel & Leisure’s A List as a Top Family Travel Specialist.

Photo Contest

Our previous photo contests have been so successful, we’re holding another one! Send in your submissions starting now up until May 31, 2012. Each month, we’ll select the best and most compelling images and post them on our photo contest page. In early June, the grand prize winner’s name will be drawn from the monthly winners. Once again, the prize is either an iPad or a G12 camera (winner’s choice). If you have an amazing image to share, please send it in. To see the winning photos from 2011, please visit the Photo contest page on My Little Swans.

Warm Regards,
Katrina Garnett

Portrait of Katrina Garnett

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