Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tips For Traveling With Kids

One of the country’s leading experts on family travel, author and television personality Deb Geigis Berry spends up to 16 weeks on the road each year with her husband and two young children to seek out the best destinations to recommend to consumers. Here are some tips for holiday travel she’s picked up along the way.

Family Around Christmas TreeKeep planning simple: Traveling with kids in tow involves many details. To make the process easier, consider using a travel agent, who can recommend vacation destinations tailor-made for your family’s interests and budget, find great deals on airfare and hotels, and fill you in on the latest airport security news.

Make getting to your destination fun: Use time traveling together for zany sing-alongs, family storytelling sessions and scavenger hunts. Parents can draw up a list of things you might expect to see from a car or plane, such as two-toned cows, a car toting a Christmas tree, or a man wearing a red hat, then have the kids vie to see who spots the items first. For the ultimate treat, splurge on a portable DVD player, and watch a new holiday movie in transit, the just-released A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is a good bet this winter.

Pack a fun bag: Assemble a bag for each child containing stickers, paper and washable markers, poseable figurines (that don’t have a lot of pieces), magnetic games and puzzles, and a pillow. If you use these particular bags for trips only, they’ll remain novel, and kids will look forward to the journey.

Break up the trip with frequent stops: Playgrounds, indoor fun centers, and family restaurants are good bets. AT&T Wireless even offers new M-Mode cell phone services that let customers access the locations of nearby fast-food restaurants, movie schedules, restaurant reviews, directions and even weather reports.

Make a memory box: Bring an empty shoebox along to store items you’ll collect along the way, such as seashells, rocks, funny postcards, and marked-up road maps. When you get home, label the box with the trip destination and date, and you’ll have a great souvenir of your time together.

Tips For Traveling With Teens

Pretty young woman boarding a train

Give some parents a choice between traveling with teenagers or with a pack of hungry badgers, and they’ll choose the badgers nine times out of ten. There’s just something about combining unpredictable teens and close quarters that create stressful situations for those unprepared for the journey.

When faced with a long trip with their teenager, some parents simply toss an MP3 player or hand-held computer game into the back seat with their child, or allow their teen to invite a friend. While this may stop them from repeatedly asking, “Are we there yet?” it builds barriers between the child and parent, defeating the true spirit of the family vacation.

teenagers near seaTravel agents, in all their worldly experiences, see vacations as the perfect opportunity to bond with your teens, for how often do you really get a chance to spend quality time with them away from phones, TVs, video games and instant messaging? Once teens are in a different environment, even for a day trip, they often become more open and communicative.

To unlock the secrets of traveling peacefully with your teenagers, check out these tips from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that even though you don’t agree on music and movies with your teen, you can all agree that hiking the Grand Canyon or watching the sun set from the deck of your cruise ship is very cool.

Space, the First and Final Frontier
Teenagers need space like fish need water. Give them space by having your travel agent select accommodations that offer more than just one room, such as a suite, or book adjacent rooms if the budget permits. Mental space is important too, so do not plan a schedule jam-packed with activities for every minute of the day. Have plenty of time for relaxing.

To teenagers, space equals privacy, and privacy is hard to come by in a cramped hotel room. Plus, the more space your teens have to get away from you, the more you’ll have to get away from them.

They’ll Love It When a Good Plan Comes Together
Planning is an important step of every vacation. If you want to plan a trip your teenager will get excited about, the solution is easy: get them involved with the planning. Your teen will enjoy sifting through the guidebooks with you or researching activities online. Bring them to your travel agent’s office and urge them to ask as many questions as they like.

Brainstorm with your entire family and listen to their input. Your teen may surprise you with some of things he or she might like to do on vacation. The more you show that you are listening, the more your teen will come forth with ideas. Take their interests into consideration, whether it’s their love of the outdoors, history or music.

Father and Daughter FishingOnce the family plan is in place, keep your teen involved by putting them in charge of at least one aspect of the trip. If they’re good with maps, make them the navigator. Do they have an eye for photos? Make them the official vacation photographer, in charge of not only taking photos during the trip, but also of compiling the album once you return. They will enjoy the responsibility of the project and the trust you give them to accomplish it.

They Love the Night Life, But They Don’t Love to Boogie
Going out at night is a necessity for teenagers, so it’s vital to visit an area with many nightlife options. Your travel agent will know which towns or resorts have something going on in the evening, and how to avoid quiet communities where they close the streets at 5 p.m. You should aim to go places where teens are, so that your kids can hang out with others in their age group.

Give your teens a night off. Allow older teens to go out on their own for a few hours, to just hang out at the local shops, and trust them to be back at the hotel at a designated time. For piece of mind, have your travel agent set up an international cell phone plan that can keep you and your teens constantly connected.

Even if they don’t feel like going out, you can still give them the night off to simply chill out in the hotel while you enjoy the nightlife. Let them rent a movie and order room service.

Dollars and Sense
Set a budget with your teens for incidental spending and stick with it. One good idea is to make a deal with your teens, stating that they will get a percentage of the money left over at the end of the vacation. This often works in reducing the number of “I wants” that escape their lips.

Sleeping Beauties
Let your teens sleep in as much as your schedule allows. It’s a win-win situation. They happily get to sleep in, and you have time for a quick nine holes on the course or a trip to the spa. Teens love to sleep late, and research has shown that their body clocks demand it. Try not to think of it as wasted vacation time, for letting them sleep is an easy way to eliminate tension.

Food for Thought
Part of experiencing a new destination is enjoying the local cuisine. While most travelers look forward to this savory part of world discovery, teens often fear it. Especially during international exploration, where the food can range from the exotic to the bizarre, forcing your teen to experiment day in and day out may not yield positive results.

Allow them the occasional fast food trip to cleanse their delicate palates. One great trick, travel agents tell us, is to let older teens eat on their own, especially in a foreign town. Give them enough money and set them free. This will force them to find their way around, communicate with locals and handle money responsibly. And all the while, you and your spouse can sneak off for a romantic dinner.

Just be sure to discuss with your teens to respect and obey the local customs while they’re out on their own.

Take a CyberBreak
As many parents can attest to, it’s difficult at times to pry your teenagers off their computers. While a vacation is a great opportunity for teens to experience the World Wide without the Web, don’t force them to quit cold turkey. Make it easy for them to stay in touch with their friends back home by visiting cyber-cafés. You know you’ll want to check your e-mail just as much.

Where to Go
Skiiers on MountainNow that you have a better grasp on how to peacefully coexist with your teens while on vacation, the next logical question is where to take them? A question like that is best directed at a travel agent, for they know of many places that cater to the entertainment and cultural needs of all ages.

Travel agents recommend cruises as a great option for families, where teens often bond with others their age on board and enjoy a great amount of space and freedom. Ski holidays also come highly recommended, even though your teen will most likely choose to snowboard, for most resorts have special programs designed just for their age group.

“Family adventures” are a travel agent specialty, where you’ll enjoy guided, multi-sport tours in amazing locales. If multi-sports are not your idea of vacation bliss, and you prefer to keep things low-key, possibly to visit relatives or an historic site, keep in mind some activities that your teen can look forward to or plan a side trip to an amusement or water park.

The Name is Agent, Travel Agent
The end result of any family vacation is to bring you closer to your loved ones while enjoying a fantastic travel experience. The key is to think of your next vacation as an adventure, for it’s nearly impossible for anyone – especially your teenager – to not get excited about setting off on an adventure.

Tips For Traveling with Pets

They’re furry, they’re friendly – they’re absolutely lovable. Family pets are often a big part of the family, and sometimes it’s hard to leave those adorable rascals behind when you leave town. With these simple tips, your pet won’t have to miss out on one fun moment of the family’s big vacation!

GET A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH

SEEING-EYE DOGS
If you are a disabled person traveling with a seeing-eye dog, notify your destination hosts and airline ahead of time.
Before you take your beloved pet anywhere, take him to the vet for an overall checkup, and ask for the number of an associate in the area where you will be staying. A few weeks before you depart, get your pet a physical, complete with vaccinations necessary for the area to which you are traveling. A direct, uncrowded flight is best (an evening flight if the weather is warm), but the vet can also give you tranquilizers to calm your pet for the long journey. If you’re unsure whether your pet is up for the trip – ask. Although a cross-country flight may be no problem for you, a pet may suffer greatly while left in a hot baggage area. Don’t wait to find out that Fido couldn’t handle the hike up the mountain – or even the plane journey there.

Most airline and state officials mandate a clean bill of health in the form of a health certificate dated within 10 days prior to travel before your pet can fly with you. And even if he is in tip-top shape, traveling abroad sometimes assumes an automatic quarantine upon arrival for your pet whether or not there is an outbreak of a disease (Hawaii does, so contact your travel agent for assistance in this matter).

For U.S. territories and foreign countries, contact the appropriate embassy, governmental agency or consulate at least one month in advance before making arrangements for your pet. Moreover, some states require certain pets to have entry permits issued by the destination state’s regulatory agency, and may request to view the interstate health certificate in advance of issuing the permit. Some even limit the time during which the entry permit is valid.

PET FRIENDLY
VACATION SPOTS
1. Florida
2. California
3. France
4. Colorado
5. Disney World (tie)
National Parks

PAPERS FOR YOUR POOCH
Always keep an ID collar with your name and phone number on your pet, and always travel with favorite toys, proof of vaccination and proper licenses. Bring color photos of your pet, as well, in the unfortunate event he gets lost.

PETS ON PLANES
Because airlines limit the number of pets that can be on board at once, have your travel agent notify the airline of your pet when your reservation is made. Also ask for the allowable dimensions of your pet carrier. Regulations state that dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and fully-weaned before flying. If your pet is pregnant or in heat, do not subject it to air travel. Written instructions for food and water must accompany any shipped pet regardless of the amount of time they are scheduled to spend in transit. Unless your vet signs a certificate otherwise, your pet may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45 degrees.

If your pet is less than 15 pounds and you are on a domestic flight, you may be able to fit a small, airline-approved kennel (check with your travel agent) under the seat in front of you. Out of respect for the person sitting next to you, inform passengers that you’ve brought your pet along so they may switch seats with someone else if they suffer from pet allergies. Have paper towels and a scooper on hand for any inevitable accidents that may occur. On international flights, larger animals can be shipped (for a fee) in the forward cargo bins, which are climate-controlled. Contact your travel agent or the airline for specific information on fees and requirements.

TRAVELING ‘KENNEL’ CLASS
One thing you should not underestimate is the importance of a quality travel kennel, no matter if you’re traveling by bus, car, plane or train. Let your pet eat and sleep there before you leave, and throw an old sock – worn by you – in as well so he may accustom himself to the kennel in time for travel. Exercise, feed and give water to your pet before you leave, and place a dish for food and one for water inside the kennel. If you’re shipping your pet, write the words “LIVE ANIMAL” all over the crate with arrows pointing in the upright direction, and put your name, phone number and address on a well-fastened label. Secure but don’t lock the crate so airline personnel can access it if necessary. Make certain enough air is getting in. Check with your travel agent or call your airline and find out if there is an additional cost for your pet to travel with you.

ON THE ROAD WITH FIDO
Be careful if you’re driving to your destination. Countless pets die each year from heat stroke after being left alone in hot cars for even a few moments. As a general rule, if you leave your car, your pet should leave, as well. If you park, make sure it’s in a shaded area to keep the car cool. For safety’s sake, check that your car’s air conditioning is functioning before taking a long trip on a hot day. Never let your animal jump around or hang out the window – it’s dangerous for both you and him.

A NOTE ABOUT BIRDS, REPTILES AND SMALL ANIMALS
Travel is not recommended for smaller animals and birds because of the stress it causes them. Reptiles are especially discouraged because of their specialized requirements.

A strong, mesh crate (the bottom lined by towels) with plenty of food and water is advised, with enough room so your pet can stand, turn and lie down. But exercise is necessary – stop frequently at rest stops for water and exercise, keeping a leash on your pet at all times. If your pet is unaccustomed to car trips, increase his time in the car before you take him on vacation. One piece of sugar candy – not chocolate – before hitting the road may quell motion sickness. Although you do want to feed your pet at least four hours before air travel, leave a window of six hours before a car trip during which your pet is not eating. If he’s overly fussy, it may be best to rethink bringing him along.

YOUR PETS AND HOTELS
Ask you travel agent to call ahead to make sure your hotel or motel allows pets. Or, for a list of pet-friendly lodgings, call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at your destination. Once there, clean up after your pet – don’t abuse the privilege. Likewise, pack a supply of plastic bags to make this chore easier. Request a room at the end of the hall so other guests aren’t bothered by the possible noise.

So plan ahead, bring the right supplies and rely on these Tips on Traveling With Pets to ensure that you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable trip. With the helpful hints we have listed here, your pet can be the perfect addition to a perfect vacation.