Ah, the family vacation. This year, we'll be driving.

Dear Columbus Parents,

Ah, the family vacation. Last summer, ours involved flying. A little too much, if you ask me. I have an uncle who lives in Alaska and the plan to visit him "someday" had escalated into "now or never" territory. Our work and school schedules have become so complex, we realized it truly was now or never. So we did it, and it was worth the cost, the near-hypothermia of an 8-hour sea kayaking expedition and the disorientation that comes with about 21 hours of daylight each Alaskan summer day. There were only a few moments - mostly during that daylong hike in a 50-degree drizzle - when I may have expressed a desire to be on a beach and hooked up to an IV drip of peach sangria. Most of the time, though, it was a great and grand family adventure (see photo as proof that the kids and I survived all the hiking).

This year, we'll be driving. Again, a little too much, if you ask me, but at least this time I know there's a lake and a cabin (and only the occasional tennis match with a live bat) in my vacation future. I plan to return much better rested this year.

Much of the June issue is devoted to the theme of family travel because there are so many ways to take a family on the road. In fact, the theme made for a great kickoff to our new partnership with the Highlights for Children organization. Highlights Magazine may well have been the first magazine you and your kids ever read (Goofus! Gallant! The Timbertoes!), but they've expanded their focus beyond Highlights and now publish magazines for preschoolers (High Five) and infants (Hello), plus they produce some very fun learning products, including several book clubs devoted to travel. Their editor, Kathleen Hayes, has contributed a great column about minimizing family-travel stress. Check it out on page 12!

We looked at the travel issue from several angles and, in fact, our writers came up with so much good material, we couldn't fit it all into print, so instead of saving these articles for another month's issue, we decided to put several online. That includes the ingenious travel bingo game that Columbus Dispatch librarian (and mom) Linda Dietch dreamed up: She created one traditional version, then one modern version. You can download and print off both from the ColumbusParent.com website. The modern version is the one you'll see on page 17.

You should also check our website for a new feature we just launched. It's the Kid Pic of the Month contest (visit ColumbusParent.com/kidpic for all the details). Our first monthly winner will appear in our August issue.

Now, get out there and enjoy a good trip with your family, Columbus parents!