Here’s ‘Mud’ in Your Eyes

Those who live in America's mountainous regions call it "mud season" — that time of year between April and June when the ground may not have enough snow on it to ski, but is still too soupy to hike, camp, fish, or get out and enjoy nature.

It's a time when those in winter climates look to get away.

This year, you should, too.

Spring is the perfect time to travel, thanks to warming temperatures and decreased demand.

According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, air traffic from the United States to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico cools in April after spring break before climbing to a peak in August.

In some regions, the shoulder season brings travel deals and room rates 45 percent lower than the holiday high seasons.

Still, there are plenty of challenges to traveling south this time of year. Use these hints to enjoy a prime summer vacation before the summer even starts. Check out sites on your iPad, iPhone or with your own eyes at the book store:

· Leave no child behind. It may not be an option for high school kids or those struggling with their workloads, but for some children, a vacation can help reinforce their education through an actual hands-on experience.

"Without question, the kind of life experiences that kids gain from traveling — from experiencing new places to meeting new people to spending more time with your own family — can be as enriching as a week in the classroom," according to Alistair Wearmouth, family travel specialist for travel guide Web site: .

"Talk to your kids' teachers and make the case that it'll be educational, as well as fun," he advises.

To make the most of family travel, try to pick a location that overlaps with one of your child's classes, and ask the teacher for an assignment packet ahead of time, setting aside a few hours each day for homework.

· Get the jump on summer hot spots. Anyone who's ever hiked the Grand Canyon or visited Martha's Vineyard in August can tell you that Mother Nature and the madding crowds can make these prime destinations too hot to handle — and financially, too.

Not so in April and May. In the Northeast, the water may still be too cold to swim, but average highs in the 60s and low 70s are plenty warm to enjoy the outdoors, and even the beach, on warm days.

· Can't get away? Then become a tourist in your own backyard. For those who just can't leave, the end of spring and early summer tend to be lower seasons at regional attractions and theme parks. So it's a good time to head out there now, before they get mobbed in the summer months ahead. 



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