To Europe as a clan via cyberspace

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NEW YORK -- There are more Web sites and pages than ever before dedicated to family travel. A look at some of what's out there in cyberspace follows:

  • Family Travel Forum is an original-content site. There are travel articles plus links to travel offers as well as family-friendly tour operators and agents.
  • The site's Travel Industry Associates program provides agents half-priced subscriptions ($24 per year) to the Family Travel Forum's bimonthly print newsletter and password-protected archives.

    Kyle McCarthy, editor of the New York-based Web site, estimated that between 100 and 150 agents subscribe.

    Agencies specializing in family travel can advertise with a banner and link for an additional $50 per year, she said.

    The Web site is free except for its archives, which McCarthy said contains some 1,000 family travel articles.

    Commissionable travel specials are listed on the site and updated every few weeks, McCarthy added.

    Recent Europe news articles covered British Airways' Family Style Vacations program. The article provided a link to the airline's new Web site, Londontraveller.com, which features a comprehensive "Kid's London" section.

    Raves: Commissonable product news. Useful news and links. Family travel-specific.

    Rants: Travel professionals might find destination content on the light side, often telling them things they already know or have read elsewhere.

    Web: www.familytravelforum.com

  • Gomez.com, a Web site that provides consumer-oriented analysis of other sites, is short in quantity but high in the quality of its family travel advice and links to relevant Web sites, which are listed in its Travel Agents pages.
  • The site is well-organized and easy to navigate.

    Gomez.com runs plenty of banner advertising. It may not be the Consumer Reports of the Internet, but it's in that spirit.

    Under "Gomez Resources," a link to the subject of "Family Travel" could be a smart place to begin Web-assisted family vacation planning.

    The next page links budding Griswolds -- the hapless family travelers of National Lampoon fame -- to planning advice from Gomez.com as well as other on-line sources.

    The "Getting Started" section begins with "Defining Family Travel: Are you going to Wally World or Disney World? ... Family travel should bring a family closer together, not rend it apart. With visions of Clark Griswold in our heads, our Gomez Team planned a family vacation from start to finish on line."

    Raves: Humorous and sound travel advice. Steers clear of providing too much information. Consistently appropriate branches, set in a frame to the side of main content being read, make this a smartly laid out site.

    Rants: Little here that specifically applies to family travel in Europe.

    Web: www.gomez.com

  • About.com is one of those Web sites that redefines the word "ambitious," as it specializes in being about everything. "Travel" is one of 36 main topics on the site's home page.
  • "Family Travel" is accessible from the "Travel" page as one of three resource branches. Another click on "Europe With Kids," and you're in business.

    About.com's "Family Travel: Europe" page includes sections on Italy, London, France and Paris with kids as well as "Getting Around Europe," "Summer in Europe: Five Vacation Ideas" and other European destinations.

    Sponsored links also are present, but there is no confusion here as to which links were paid for and which were selected on merit. About.com provides the listing fee beneath a brief description of the sponsored links.

    School teachers won't like this article: "Fall in Europe: Family Vacation Ideas."

    It begins: "For many of us with school-age kids, July and August are our prime months for family holidays. But many countries -- Italy, Spain, Greece and southern France -- are equally wonderful in September and October."

    That's playing hooky, with Europe as the hook.

    Raves: Easy to navigate. Original content is to-the-point and well-written.

    Rants: None.

    Web: www.about.com

  • Family.com, Disney's family site, is lean on European travel content but worth a visit for its "Paris With Kids" and "London for Kids" articles.
  • Also, destination reviews from family travelers provide frank opinions, formatted by questions such as "What We Liked," "What the Kids Liked," "What We Didn't Like," "What It Cost" and "How We Got There."

    The "International" forum includes three family traveler reviews on Paris, compared with 12 on Boscobel Beach, Jamaica.

    Europe does not have its own category, but it's easy enough to scroll down the alphabetical list to a European destination you're curious about.

    Raves: Family travel review forum is wonderful for fresh opinions from other family travelers.

    Rants: Interface is a little cluttered; banner advertising is too "in your face." Travel section leans heavily toward domestic side.

    Web: www.family.com

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