Best Family Vacation Destinations

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Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, is an adventure travel haven for families. Beyond its sunny beaches, its amazing scenery, its wonderful rugged mountains, if offers up a feast of active vacation experiences for every age. Ideal for families with youngsters of all ages and for multigenerational family travel, Mallorca promises an unforgettable holiday for all. The islands top 3 adventure pursuits include hiking, cycling and water sports of every sort:

Walking and Hiking in Mallorca’s Northwestern Mountains

Dominated by the Tramuntana mountain range, the northwestern region is Mallorca at its most spectacular with its breathtaking scenery. It is also a walker’s and hiker’s paradise with trails winding through pretty hill villages, tumbling at intervals to rocky caves and home to some of the most historical and picturesque towns on the island.

Among the many holidays on foot in the area, an easy walk takes you from the town of Puerto Pollensa through the spectacular Boquer Valley to Boquer Bay, where you can enjoy a cool swim. Or start with a visit to Lluc Monastery, Mallorca’s most sacred site nestled high in the mountains and home to a Baroque church built between 1622-24. A good time to arrive is when the boys choir sings, daily at 11 am. From here, a 2-hour climb among scented pine and cypress trees, spotting black eagles en route to Puig de Tomir, rewards you with an incredible view of the island. There are many more walking and hiking routes in the region for all abilities.

Cycling

Family holidays spent cycling in the mountains, on the coastline on this paradise island’s many biking trails offer the very best of adventures. Cycling is very safe in Mallorca since most of the roads are virtually traffic free. A trip on wheels up the hills in the Northwest will take you to some truly breathtaking views, in the midst of plant and animal life at its best.

A cycling trip between Valldemossa, a lovely little town with pretty houses and cobblestone streets at the top of a picturesque valley, and Deia, with its stunning setting to the backdrop of lush, green mountains, is an absolute must. A family biking trip is not complete without visiting bustling Palma, Mallorca’s capital city. Surrounding the city, you’ll pass through some stunning neighborhoods and interesting historical sights, including monuments from Roman, Byzantium, Italian and Arab times. The remains of the Moorish mosque under the Gothic style Cathedral La Seu and Bellver Castle, a 14th century royal fortress surrounded by scented pine, are not to be missed.

Whether you’re looking to cyle near the coast to take in spectacular sea views or prefer biking inland around small villages which offer a glimpse into Spanish culture and life, there are biking opportunities for every age and level in Mallorca.

Water Sports Galore

The biggest beach on Mallorca is at Alcudia in the north. Extending from the port of Alcudia for over ten miles, beaches of golden sand provide an ideal spot for aquatic adventures. Thought there is a great variety of watersports throughout the island’s coastline – parasailing, boating, surfing, etc., this is the area for the greatest assortment of watersports and incudes windsurfing, sialing, kitesurfing, catsailing, sea kayaking and scuba diving. Beyond magnificent watersports and beaches here, the nearby Parc Natural de S’Albufera, the largest wetland Nature Reserve in the Balearics, is home to many rare wildlife, plant and bird species. Alcudia’s Old Town walls still house ancient mansions from Moorish and Roman times, and the ancient city of Pollenta is not far away.

For sheer adventure, take the kids for a swim on Formentor Beach. Getting there is an adventure as dramatic and hairy as any child could wish – driving nearly upside-down in a valley of holes and fissures! Getting there is well worth the effort – the sea is azure blue-purple and the beach is a wonderful place for cool swims and relaxation after a worthwhile struggle.

Mallorca offers up many other adventure pursuits, among them horseback riding, caving, climbing and even tennis – all can be experienced here!

I’m a trip consultant, planner and manager who loves creating unique intercultural adventures for families. I want to impart information,tips and personal experiences especially related to family adventure travel.

Beginner Mountain Bike Skills

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Mountain biking is an exciting sport that can be
enjoyed by anyone who knows how to ride a bike.
Compared to the average bike ride, it does present
some danger. Therefore, you should master these
basic skills before you hit the trails or the
dirt.

You can practice these beginning skills at a local
park, school, bike path, or simply around your
house. If you can, try to find a location with
a steep hill.

Get a feel for your pedals

Practice moving your foot away from the pedal,
first while sitting on your bike with one foot on
the ground. Next, move on to releasing and
replacing your foot while pedaling around for a
bit. Those with toe clip and clipless type foot
pedals will want to spend a bit more time
practicing.

Sit and spin for position

Simply sit on your bike and pedal around. You
should keep your arms slightly bent. You should
also adjust your seat height so your leg is 70 to
90 percent extended at the bottom of every stroke
on the pedal. Keep your body relaxed, as there
will never be a position where you should have
either your knees or your elbows locked.

Shifting gears

Get a feel for shifting gears with your bike. The
higher gears are harder to pedal and will go
faster while the lower gears are easier to pedal
and will help you ascend hills. As you get to
steeper hills, its best to shift before you get
to the hill rather than while your on it.

Coasting

You should spend a bit of time coasting while
standing on your pedals, without actually sitting
on the seat. Keep your arms bent but don’t lock
your knees. Now, try experimenting with shifting
your body towards the rear end of the bike.

Pedal while standing

You should get as comfortable as you can with
pedaling while standing on your bike. Try lifting
yourself off the seat while standing on the pedals,
then crank them around. You should try this in
higher gears on flat ground then again in lower
gears while on a hill.

Dropping down a curb

Try finding a curb where you can easily get to the
upper portion of it. Practice at a moderate speed,
standing and coasting right off the curb from the
upper level to the lower level. Try this at
different speeds until it becomes second nature.

Once you practice these techniques and get the
hang of them, you’ll be able to hit the trails feeling
comfortable on your mountain bike. Even though it
may take some getting used to, it’ll become second
nature before you know it.

Choosing And Using A Heart Rate

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Here are a few things about them that aren’t always in the manuals or glossy brochures…

Chose your heart rate monitor with practicality in mind. Remember, you buy and wear the watch, not the pro athlete endorsing it. The first thing that will go will be the strap so chose a model with the least flashy strap and can be replaced with a normal “sports strap”

When the battery is running out, one or more of the following is likely to happen

1. Operating the light makes the display dim

2. Heart rate stays abnormally high or low for prolonged periods of time. How many of you can hold 217 beats per minute for 5 minutes at the start of your run.

3.The sound is distorted or muffled.

4. There is a delay in pushing the button and the desired operation.

Have the battery replaces by the manufacturer. It may cost a bit more but the cost/usefullness of your monitor is likely to be the highest of all your equipment so it makes sense to look after it.

Don’t press the buttons under water – yes it says that in the manual and yes, they really mean it.

If your watch doubles as a bike computer, make sure you clean the the pins or terminals at the back regularly.

The chest strap

The newer models have user changeable batteries but the older type must be sent back to the manufacturer. Make sure you know what type have and don’t do what you are not supposed to..

We have heard (but not verified) that bringing the watch and chest transmitter into close contact is very effective at flattening the battery of both.

You can wash the transmitter strap in warm soapy water and you should do this often to avoid build up of germs and microbes. Getting a “chest rash” from an unclean strap can take weeks even months to get rid of.

Finally…

Your heart rate monitor will give you months and years of faithful service if you look after it and take good care of it. You don’t want it to let you down in a race and it definitely will if you don’t take care

Cycling Confidence and Peak Performance

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As a top sport psychologist, I would like to address some questions related to successful performances. My answers relate to my work, and my experience as an elite cyclist.

What is the psychology of excellence?

Successful performance in different fields follows a similar pattern. What drives a cyclist to peak performance also propels a cyclist to excellence. The ideas of performance enhancement that applies to athletics also applies to life.

Is successful performance related to happiness? Why?

Yes, successful performance is related to happiness, feeling energized, and achieving one’s personal aspirations. As a sport psychologist, I find personal fulfillment in inspiring and facilitating others to achieve their potential and to overcome obstacles in their path.

What contributes to excellence in cycling?

One of the keys to excellence in cycling, and apart from sport is to focus on the present, and avoid thinking about past or future performances. I help athletes develop a process, or routine, of performing that enables them to focus on what is happening right now.

Why are well-defined goals important for an individual?

Those athletes who have well-defined goals, and can focus on the process of performance rather than on the outcome during competition will achieve the greatest success.

Why is it so important to accept the present moment?

Acceptance of being in the present moment gives one a sense of freedom. A freedom to play, a freedom to perform, and freedom from evaluations or expectations of others. Being in the present moment allows one to be in a “trusting mind set”, and to be an authentic performer. This allows you to be your true self during, and apart from competition. To learn more about being an “authentic performer” tune into my next article. Thanks for reading.