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Eileen Ogintz
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Eileen Ogintz is considered a leading national travel expert and syndicated columnist of the weekly column Taking the Kids. Read her biography and how she became an expert on family travel.

The meeting of a three-year-old, a cat and a goldfish pond started Taking the Kids, now the leading nationally syndicated family travel column.

Eileen Ogintz’s then three-year-old son Matt, pushed a hapless kitty into a pond at a Wisconsin cottage her family had rented for the weekend. The furious owner insisted they pack up and leave immediately. The embarrassed parents drove home three hours to Chicago in a downpour. “I thought the kitty wanted to eat the goldfish,” Matt explained

Ogintz was a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune then (1987), covering news stories around the country. The travel editor, hearing her tale of woe about the cat and the goldfish pond, encouraged her to write a story about the trials of traveling with young children. That story led to others. “We realized there were a lot of people like me, parents who wanted help planning trips now that they had kids.” The award-winning syndicated column Taking the Kids, and this popular website grew out of those stories.

Taking the Kids is a major and growing presence online, appearing on online news outlets such as www.msnbc.com, CNN.com, Smartertravel.com, and Frommers.com, Taking the Kids also appears in newspapers around the country including the Newsday, Miami Herald, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Dallas Morning News.

Eileen is considered a leading national expert on family travel and is often quoted in major publications such as USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and parenting and women’s magazines on family travel. She has appeared on such television programs as “48 Hours,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and “Oprah,” as well as dozens of local radio and television news programs. She is also often asked to speak to corporate groups about family travel.

Eileen holds a master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri, is a 30-year veteran of the news business, reporting for The Anniston Star, The Record in Hackensack, N.J., and Des Moines Register as well as the Chicago Tribune, where she created the paper’s family-issues beat. She has also taught journalism and writing at Northwestern University, New York University, Fairfield University and Quinnipiac University.

From their home in Connecticut, Ogintz travels with her husband, their three children, Matt, Reggie and Melanie, and other young children in the extended family who serve — not always graciously — as Taking the Kids’ special team of experts.

Entries by Eileen Ogintz

Learning About Grapes and History in the Champagne Region Near Paris

(0) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 12:13 PM

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NEAR REIMS, FRANCE -- We're sitting in a family dining room in a tiny French village eating chicken cooked in champagne and sipping champagne.

Why all the champagne? For one thing, the owners of the home -- Martine and Alexandre Penet...

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In Niagara Falls, Family Travel Writers Agree: Passport Is a Must to Teach Kids the World

(2) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 6:04 PM

Do your kids have passports?

"The passport is the new diploma," Keith Bellows, editor of National Geographic Traveler and the father of three, told the nearly 50 influential family travel writers and bloggers who had gathered this past weekend from around the country and Canada at the TMS...

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We All Want the Same Things From That Family Vacation

(0) Comments | Posted June 28, 2013 | 8:42 PM

By Eileen Ogintz and Kyle McCarthy

Sun, sand and happy kids. Just make sure the little ones don't eat the sand. Maybe your family would rather be hiking in a national park or exploring a foreign country. Wherever you go this summer, all of us want the same...

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Direct From the First Lady: Tips on Keeping Your Family Active on Summer Vacation

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2013 | 12:04 PM

Are you ready to let the kids lead the way on vacation?

First Lady Michelle Obama suggests that's one way to get everyone more active on vacation this summer. The first lady told Taking the Kids exclusively, "The key to getting kids moving is to find something they enjoy, and...

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Take the Kids to Washington DC for Fun, Education and Value

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2013 | 5:57 PM

PSST....Looking for a vacation bargain?

Head directly to Washington, DC. It's not that the nation's capitol is the best value in the country. (That honor goes to Orlando, according to a new Hotwire poll.)

But it's that Washington, DC has more free attractions (and more spies,...

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Keeping Young Children Safe When Flying

(3) Comments | Posted October 25, 2011 | 9:57 AM

I just don't get it.

Parents stress more about their babies annoying other airline passengers than whether they are safe on board.

They wouldn't think of driving anywhere without securely strapping their baby in an appropriate safety seat and spend countless hours considering which safety seat to buy. But on...

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The Best Of Orlando For Young Kids (PHOTOS)

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2011 | 9:56 AM

If you think your preschoolers are too young for Orlando's parks, think again.

Of course there is the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and the chance to not only meet your favorite characters and princesses but be transformed into one at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques, complete with...

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Dream Big When You Take The Kids

(0) Comments | Posted October 18, 2011 | 9:00 AM

Ask my daughters their idea of a dream trip and they'd say climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or helicopter skiing in British Columbia or returning to the amazing Galapagos Islands

Ask my son and he'd say exploring an exotic city while staying in a hip, luxe hotel.

Even in the same family,...

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Spas Aren't Just For Grown Ups Anymore

(1) Comments | Posted October 3, 2011 | 12:31 PM

I'm face down on a massage table being slathered by honey -- locally produced no less -- and I'm enjoying every sticky moment.

To be specific, I'm at the Ritz-Carlton Spa in Orlando, part of the sprawling 500-acre Grande Lakes Orlando hotel complex that includes two...

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When In Rome... Consider A Guided Tour

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2011 | 9:28 AM

If there is ever an ancient site to use your imagination, the Coliseum is it.

No wonder kids (especially boys) love it: Gladiators fought to the death with animals and each other.

Today of course, it's just a relic of its ancient glory but our guide Maria...

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Family Travel In Venice

(1) Comments | Posted September 6, 2011 | 11:54 AM

We succumbed to the sales pitch for a gondola ride on Venice's Canals and paid 80 euros for the 110 euro tour, but our gondolier didn't sing -- or talk much either. I don't think he spoke English.

Still, it was fun gliding on the narrow canals past Marco Polo's...

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Boys Meet a Beluga in Mystic

(1) Comments | Posted August 8, 2011 | 9:53 AM

I'm gently squishing the top of a 1,400 pound Beluga whale's head.

The whale's name is Juno and I can feel the combination of muscle and fat that enables the eight-year-old to direct sound. He's able to use ricocheting sound from his "melon" to figure out his location, where food...

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Joining the Walruses in Norway's Arctic Ocean

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2011 | 12:49 PM

It is 34 degrees and the gusting wind makes it feel a lot colder. I'm hiking behind a man with a rifle, my hands freezing inside my two layers of gloves. I'm wearing four layers of clothes. We hike through ankle-deep snow.

Ahhh, July.

I'm on Nordaustlandet (northeast land), the...

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Letting the Kids Lead the Way -- Memories of a Bareboat Sailing Adventure in the Caribbean

(0) Comments | Posted May 10, 2011 | 4:29 PM

Everything changed that trip in one fell swoop.

My kids -- aged 21, 19 and 14 at the time -- decided after years of following us on vacation, it was time for them to lead mom and dad on an adventure, they said (though they expected us to pay for...

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Attention Young Moms -- Vacations Get Better as the Kids Get Older

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2011 | 2:52 AM

Some vacation.

The young mom spent more time washing baby bottles in the bathroom of her expensive hotel room than basking in the sunshine on the famously beautiful Bermuda beaches.

Not that she could have enjoyed the beach much. Her fair-skinned 6-month-old couldn't tolerate much sun and liked nothing better...

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At Mesa Verde National Park -- Who Says Learning Can't Be Fun?

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2011 | 3:26 PM

The kids are climbing up a 32 foot ladder, squeezing through a tunnel, walking in toe holds carved into the sandstone.

They're having a blast and learning a little archeology, Native American culture and ancient history as they go. Who says learning can't be fun?

We're at Mesa...

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Communing With The Penguins In Patagonia And California

(1) Comments | Posted April 7, 2011 | 7:05 PM

It may be chilly and drizzly, but the penguin families are out for a day at the beach -- literally.

It's New Year's Eve in 2009. We're in Patagonia, Chile, at the bottom of the hemisphere (a four-hour flight from Santiago) and a destination that is becoming more...

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National Parks Are the Perfect Spots to Help Kids Learn to Be Active and Healthy

(18) Comments | Posted March 31, 2011 | 1:52 PM

"Can we keep any dinosaur bones?" the boy asks the National Park Ranger Marker Marshall, who has heard this question many times in her nearly two decades at the Grand Canyon National Park. She smiles.

"This is Grand Canyon National Park, not Jurassic Park," she says, holding up...

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At the Marine Mammal Center Near San Francisco, Little Miracles Happen Every Day

(2) Comments | Posted March 25, 2011 | 5:09 PM

What a big baby -- literally.

Elephant seals weigh 75 pounds when they're born and now, a little more than a month later, these guys should weigh more than 300 pounds.

That the elephant seals at the Marine Mammal Center don't, is one reason they are here in...

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San Francisco's Farmers Market: No Place Better to Learn Where Your Food Comes From

(1) Comments | Posted March 14, 2011 | 1:42 PM

We've never seen so much luscious -- and unusual -- produce in one place. Have your kids ever seen a cranberry bean? There are heirloom tomatoes, white peaches, plums, big and tiny grapes, almonds and walnuts, various varieties of chili peppers, eggplants, potatoes, all kinds of apples.

Welcome to

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