Category Archives: Travel

Tips To Spend Time When Get Delay

Almost every frequent flyer has been stuck at an airport due to weather, mechanical issues or other delays. Sometimes “stuck” can mean overnight. How you react to that disruption says a lot about your ability to handle the unexpected. Anger does little good; getting creative can soothe the soul and maybe even lead to a pleasant experience. There’s no need to play Angry Birds for 4 hours. Here are a few tips to make your layover downtime more productive.

Get a 1-Day Airline Pass
Even if you’re not a member of an airline’s airport club, many offer 1-day memberships. American Airlines, for example, charges $50 for a 1-day pass, and up to 3 children under the age of 18 are permitted to join an adult at no extra charge. You’ll pay for drinks, but snacks and Wi-Fi are on the house. Rules vary among airlines. Delta, for example, allows no guests on its $50, 1-day pass, but the booze is complimentary. An airport lounge is usually a comfortable and relatively quiet place to spread out and accomplish some work.

Head to the Chapel
If you crave a quiet space but don’t want to spring for an airport club membership, find the airport’s chapel and settle in with work materials or a book. But make sure to check your airline’s departure board from time to time. Just because a gate agent says your flight is delayed for 3 hours doesn’t mean it won’t leave sooner if, say, the weather clears or a mechanical problem is solved quickly.

Find Friends on Google Latitude
Find your friends and have a party, or at least lunch. Several location apps allow you to use your smartphone to track the whereabouts of friends. If you have Google’s Latitude app on your phone, for example, you can check to see if anyone you know (who is also on Latitude) is stuck in the airport, too. Nearly 2 million people pass through Atlanta’s airport a year, for example — surely you know one of them.

Discover Things to Do Near the Airport
At any airport, if your layover is long enough for you to leave the airport, ask a local what’s within an easy cab ride that’s worth visiting. The tour desk at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, for example, can arrange a quick tour of the city that’s only 6 miles from the airport.

Stuck in Abu Dhabi? The Al Ghazal Golf Club is adjacent to the airport, and passengers are welcome in its English-style clubhouse. And if you’ve never played on a sand golf course, it makes for great dinner conversation later when you describe such hazards as burrows dug by desert lizards. Golf clubs are available for rental.

If you find yourself stranded at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, hop the sleek light-rail train for the 6-minute ride to the Mall of America, and get a little holiday shopping done between rides on the indoor roller coaster.

Check Out Airport Museums and Art Displays
You already know you can shop ’til you drop in major airports around the world, but you can often engage in more mind-improving activities as well. San Francisco’s airport has well-curated, rotating displays of art, metalwork and even vintage airplanes scattered throughout various terminals. In SFO’s International Terminal, you’ll find the fascinating Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum. Check out the 1920s Ford Tri-Motor passenger seat (that looks like your grandparents’ wicker chair), a mint-condition Pan Am tea set and the various styles of flight attendant uniforms through the years.

At Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, just steps away from a casino is a mini-art museum, a branch of Amsterdam’s renowned Rijksmuseum. Want to know what the airport you’re stuck in has on offer? Just check the airport’s website.

Don’t Do Something Stupid
Wait, I’m not really advocating this, but if you type in any search engine “stupid things to do at an airport,” you’ll be surprised by the number of postings by folks who clearly have too much time on their hands. These days, it’s not advisable to do anything stupid at an airport. Playing the slot machines at the Vegas or Amsterdam airports is smarter than doing something that will draw the attention of airport security personnel.

But you can certainly get a cardio work out doing some serious walking in large airports without ever leaving an airport’s secure area. Many airports have mini-spas that offer massages and other treatments. And if you’re a Type A traveler who complains you have no time to think uninterrupted or to read a book or magazine from cover to cover, a layover is just what the psychologist ordered.

How To Charter Flights

Over the past few years, charter rules have been relaxed to make lower cost air transportation available to more people. “Public Charters” can be purchased from a tour operator, a travel agent, or sometimes directly from the airline. If your flight has been arranged by a club or other organization for its members, it may be what is called an “affinity” charter flight. These charters generally do not carry the consumer protection provisions of Public Charters. Be sure you know what kind of charter flight you are purchasing. A Public Charter may include only the flights, or it may be sold as a complete package, including hotels, guided tours, and ground transportation. Either way, your rights are spelled out in a contract you have with the tour operator. The operator or your travel agent should give you a contract to sign at the time you purchase your trip. Read it before you pay any money.

The Department of Transportation requires tour operators to disclose certain information in your contract about the restrictions that they impose and also rights that you have under DOT rules:

You usually pay penalties if you cancel. The closer to departure you cancel, the bigger the penalty. On some charters, if a substitute can go in your place you only lose a $25 fee. You can buy trip cancellation insurance. These policies usually provide a refund in case you must cancel due to illness or death in the family. Your travel agent or tour operator can tell you how to buy the insurance and what health conditions it does or doesn’t cover. Charter cancellation insurance often won’t pay you if you must cancel because of a preexisting condition.

The tour operator or airline can cancel a Public Charter for any reason up until 10 days before departure. Your flight might be canceled if it doesn’t sell well or for some other reason. This is a risk you take in return for a low fare. (During the last 10 days before departure, a Public Charter can be canceled only if it is physically impossible to operate it.)

All charter flights and ground arrangements are subject to changes. Signing a contract does not guarantee that prices won’t go up or that itineraries won’t change. But, if there is a “major change” in your flight or tour, you have the right to cancel and get a penalty-free refund. Major changes include:

A change in departure or return city (not including a simple change in the order in which cities are visited).

A change in departure or return date, unless the date change results from a flight delay. (However, a flight delay of more than 48 hours is a major change.)

A substitution of a hotel that was not named as an alternate hotel in your contract.

An increase in price, if the total of all increases billed to you is more than 10% of what you originally paid. (No increases are allowed during the last 10 days before departure.)

If your tour operator notifies you of a major change before departure, you get a full refund if you decide to cancel. If you choose not to cancel, the operator is not required to make partial refunds. However, if you don’t find out about a change until after your trip has begun, you can reject the changed flight or hotel, make and pay for your own alternative plans, and insist on a refund for the changed component when you get home.

No “open returns” are allowed on round-trip public charters. Be sure you have a specific return date, city, and flight, so you won’t be stranded.

The tour operator has to take specific steps to protect your money. The tour operator must have a surety agreement, such as a bond, and must usually have an escrow account at a bank that holds your money until your flight operates. If your money is going into a charter escrow account, the bank will be named in your contract, and the check that is sent to the charter operator should be made payable to that bank. (If you are using a travel agent, it’s OK for you to make your check out to that agent; he or she will cut a check payable to the escrow account.)

Identify the departure date and destination on the face of the check. If a tour operator goes out of business you should contact the surety company or bank identified in your contract for a refund.

You alone are responsible for knowing if you need a visa and passport for your trip. You can be certain of the visa and passport rules of the countries you plan to visit by calling or writing their embassies in Washington, D.C. or their consulates in some major U.S. cities.

If your luggage gets lost during your tour, there may be a dispute over who is liable. The charter airlines process claims for bags that were lost or damaged while in their possession. If it is not clear where the problem occurred (e.g. between the airport and a hotel), the operator and the airline may both decline liability.

To cover yourself, find out if your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy covers losses that happen when you’re away from home. You might also ask your travel agent if there’s a one-shot baggage insurance policy available to cover baggage problems while you are on your charter trip.

Your charter may be delayed. Last-minute schedule changes and departure delays of several hours are not uncommon on charters. A flight can be delayed up to 48 hours before the charter operator must offer you the option to cancel with a full refund.

Charters and scheduled flights operate independently of each other. If there’s a delay on the scheduled flight connecting you to the city where your charter departs, causing you to miss your charter, you lose your flight and money. Charter reservations are only good for one flight. If you miss it for any reason, you’re probably out of luck. Check with the tour operator to see if he has another charter flying to your destination.

If your charter is late returning and causes you to miss a scheduled connecting flight back to your home, you have to pay your own expenses while you wait for the next connection. If you have a discount fare on a scheduled connecting flight you could lose it if the returning charter is delayed. Then you, not the airlines or tour operator, have to pay more for a regular non-discount fare.

Your baggage can’t be checked through from a scheduled flight to a charter, and vice-versa. You have to claim your baggage and re-check it yourself. When planning a charter, allow plenty of time to check in at the airport from which your charter leaves, or from which you have a connecting flight. On international trips, remember that you may encounter delays in Customs.

You might find seating space for your charter plane to be more crowded than you’re used to. The low charter rate depends in part on spreading costs over a large number of people with virtually all of the seats being filled.

If a charter flight hasn’t sold out shortly before departure, the operator can sell seats at bargain basement prices to latecomers. Some who have paid the regular price well in advance may object, but should realize that the operator’s alternative may be to cancel the flight altogether for economic reasons.

Charter rates are relatively low, but might not be the cheapest fare to your destination. Ask your travel agent to compare fares on scheduled and charter flights for you.

Charters offer nonstop flights for an affordable price. They can be a wise travel investment if you can be flexible in your travel plans. Just be sure you know the conditions for the trip you’re buying before you pay for it.

Some Tips and Tricks to Navigate Trudeau Airport

Montreal’s Trudeau Airport (YUL) is more than a destination airport. Passengers flying between continents ease their transition in a city that combines European flair with the efficiency of North America. And while the province of Quebec outside the airport proudly displays its French face, English is used and understood everywhere in the airport.

Trudeau Airport Location
Trudeau Airport is only 10 miles west of the center of Montreal. Signs throughout Montreal point to Aéroport Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, but it’s often called Dorval Airport, which is a reference to the suburb where it’s located.

Coming and Going
Snow is unlikely to cause more than a hiccup. Canadians are prepared for inclemency. Fair-weather access can be another matter.

Roads all around the airport are being torn up and reconstructed to accommodate a rapid-transit line and revamped interchange. Short-term relief is on the way with reserved bus and taxi lanes to be implemented on the expressway to downtown Montreal. Direct access by train is years away, though a commuter station and a stop on the Montreal-Toronto VIA Rail route are located about a mile away.

The most convenient transportation option from the terminal to downtown is the 24-hour, 747 bus route. Vehicles have plenty of luggage space, stop near major hotels, and terminate at the central bus station. The $8 ticket (exact change in Canadian coins) is valid for the day on the entire bus and metro network.

By taxi, the fixed fare to downtown is $38; metered rates apply to more distant destinations. Limousine fares start at $50.

If you rent a car, follow the signs to Dorval, Highway 20 and Centre-Ville (downtown). But first inquire about current detours.

There are 3 departure areas: domestic, transborder (US) and international. Get your bearings to avoid retracing your steps. Passengers headed for the United States clear US Customs and Border Protection before boarding, avoiding long lines upon landing.

New Developments
The international arrivals hall is cavernous, following completion of renovations in 2009, and the duty-free shop has expanded its size. Dozens of stores and shops sell souvenirs and fast food. Chair and table massages are available from Airspa in departure areas. Aside from airline-specific lounges, the TD first-class lounge in the international departures area can be booked for about $30. Everything you need is under 1 roof.

The Overnighter
The new terminal includes a Marriott Hotel with 279 rooms, pool and fitness center. The airport grounds include an Aloft Hotel and a Sheraton. Among the nearest off-airport hotels with shuttles are the Fairfield Inn and the Comfort Inn Dorval. Within a couple of miles are a Best Western, Days Inn and Travelodge.

Day Tripping
Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., you can usually count on getting to downtown Montreal and back in a half hour by the 747 bus. Take advantage of the time between planes to chill at a sidewalk café, power shop in boutiques on Rue St. Denis, view Old Montreal from a horse-drawn calèche, or sample incomparable Montreal bagels redolent of a wood-burning oven.

The immediate area around the airport is suburban. For a variety of local shopping, take the 204 or 209 bus from the terminal ($3 in coins) 1 stop to the Dorval transit station (or walk on a pleasant day, about a mile through the parking lots). Cross to the large shopping center on the south side of the highway. Here you’ll find La Baie (Hudson’s Bay Company) department store and assorted Canadian-flavored shopping opportunities.

For a taste of Montreal’s West Island before it was suburbanized, continue with the same bus ticket on the 211 bus from Dorval to old Pointe-Claire. Get off on Bord-du-Lac, the road parallel to the St. Lawrence River, and stroll by the old stone mill. There are enough cafés, curio shops and pubs to pique your interest for several hours.

Food Finds
The restaurant of choice at Trudeau Airport is Cabine M, a steak house and wine bar overlooking the runways in the international departure area. A simplified haute-cuisine menu based on local specialties includes maple-smoked salmon, steaks, cheese plates and charcuterie. If you’re not flying internationally, head for the upscale, but still informal, Bijou Resto Bar in the Marriott Hotel.

Elsewhere in the airport, Subway and Burger King coexist with local brands like St-Hubert Express (roast chicken) and Brûlerie St-Denis (fresh coffee and pastries). Casey’s, in the public concourse, has table service and an American-style menu, while the Métrople has a more local flavor. Tim Hortons is the quintessential Canadian stop for coffee and donuts. Sit-down service includes Weinstein & Gavino’s (pizza and sandwiches, (US departures only); Tatami Sushi (US and international departures only); and Moe’s Deli (Canadian flights only).

Going Mobile
Bell Canada has internet/email kiosks. Free Wi-Fi access is available in departure areas; paid Wi-Fi works elsewhere.

For airport information, dial (514) 394-7377 or (800) 465-1213, email, or visit Aeroports de Montreal. SMS flight updates are available from your airline, or directly from the airport. Or text your 2-letter airline code and flight number to 23636 for automatic updates.

Know More About Travel Agent

Planning a trip today can be confusing and time consuming. A travel agent not only arranges the various modes of transportation, but a travel agent also may be able to save you money with early booking discounts, special fares, hotel deals and travel advisories. Don’t take our word for it. See what the president of Crystal Cruises has to say about using a travel agent..

Benefits of Using a Travel Agent
Save Money! – Strong working relationships with travel suppliers and the latest in computer reservations technology enable travel agents to access the most up-to-date information on how to get you the best value.

Traveler Advocates – Your best interests are the priority. ASTA (The American Society of Travel Agents) has a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights and ASTA member travel agents are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.

Convenience – The ASTA membership includes travel agents across the country and throughout the world, most of which offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements.

Service – ASTA member travel agents are knowledgeable and active in the industry. The Society provides education, training and resource materials to its members to equip them with the tools to offer the highest quality of service.

Agents Will Go the Extra Mile – Agents work for you and will do everything they can to meet your travel needs. Some agents literally go that extra mile to help their clients. One ASTA-member agent even went to Ethiopia to escort two adopted orphans to the US.

How do you find a good travel agent?
Choose one like you would a doctor or lawyer. Get advice from friends and relatives who use an agent they trust. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, you will want to visit or call several travel agencies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel agent’s willingness to listen and answer questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

What should be the determining factor in choosing a travel agency?
Your travel agency should belong to ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). With over 20,000 members in 140 countries, ASTA is the largest and most influential travel trade association in the world. Membership includes travel agencies, airlines, hotels, railroads, cruise lines, tour operators,car rental companies and travel schools.

Through its continuing education and training programs, ASTA prepares its members to operate high-caliber, competitive businesses. Due to the Society’s on-going educational programs, comprehensive agent management resources and stringent Code of Ethics, ASTA travel agents are known as dedicated, hard-working professionals who provide superior service to their customers. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

What special services do travel agencies offer?
As the travel industry grows more competitive, travel agencies increase the quality and type of services they offer. Travel agents can arrange all types of domestic and international travel, from hotel and resort accommodations to air and ground transportation, including car rental needs and tour packages. They can provide assistance with travel insurance protection, passport and visa applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel requirements. Many have toll-free phone numbers and offer meeting planning and incentive travel services. Some travel agents maintain automated individual profiles that include the client’s frequent flyer number, airline seating preference, smoking or non-smoking designation and other specifications for a custom-designed trip. Arrangements can also be tailored to suit business and vacation objectives, personal interests and budget concerns. Although most travel agencies provide a wide range of services, some agencies may specialize in areas such as family travel, group travel, adventure travel, ecotourism, the mature market, incentive travel or travel for the disabled. Find an travel agent now!

How do I know if my travel agent is consumer-conscious?
Membership in ASTA is a sign of consumer awareness. The Society works on behalf of its members to support pro-consumer issues. In addition to lobbying for consumer protection on issues like airline bankruptcy and travel safety, ASTA has an active Consumer Affairs Department that monitors travelers’ problems and helps to find solutions. The Society works closely with other travel organizations to continually upgrade service and technology to better serve the traveling public. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

How do I know if my travel agent is well trained?
Ask about your travel agent’s professional background. Many have been trained in business management, travel and tourism or geography. Others have supplemented their agency experience with extensive education and training courses. Some travel agents are Certified Travel Counselors (CTC), having completed an educational program with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

Who uses travel agents?
Travel agents are the leading distributors of travel products and services. Travel agents sell:

87% of cruises
81% of all tours and packages
51% of all airline tickets
47% of all hotel stays
45% of all car rentals
Source: 2004 Travel Industry Survey/Travel Weekly

Agents are the only unbiased professionals who can sort through nearly 100,000 daily changes in airfares alone. Experience, constant industry interaction and computer reservations systems make travel agents the only source savvy enough to engineer a relaxing trip out of the fluctuating complexities of travel offerings. So, save yourself time, money and frustration. Find an ASTA Travel Agent – Your Ticket to the World!

Who are ASTA travel agents?
ASTA travel agents are knowledgeable professional members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) – who uphold a strict code of ethics. The Society provides education, training and resource materials to its members to equip them with the tools they need to offer you the highest quality of service. ASTA travel agents keep up-to-date by attending industry events that offer educational seminars and networking opportunities.

The ASTA membership includes over 20,000 members across the United States and around the world. Most ASTA member agencies offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements. To find the ASTA member agency near you, search the Travel Agent Travel Directory.

ASTA’s priority is fighting for your best interests. We have a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights. And, should you ever encounter a problem with an ASTA member, our Consumer Affairs Department is here to help you. We want you to have a safe and happy trip. Start by seeing your local ASTA member travel agency.

All About Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can protect you from substantial losses that result from a variety of situations, including canceled trips, lost baggage, medical emergencies, supplier defaults, as well as other unforeseen circumstances.

There are several general types of consumer travel insurance available. The coverage and limitations of each will vary depending on the insurance company issuing the policy. The following is a brief description of some of the general types of travel insurance.

Trip Cancellation: The most important and common type of travel insurance. Generally covers non-refundable payments or deposits if a trip is canceled or interrupted due to unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Delay: Provides reimbursement for expenses incurred when a trip is delayed.

Accident/Sickness Medical Expenses: Covers costs incurred due to injury or illness that occur while on a trip.

Medical Evacuation/Emergency Transportation: Covers transportation when a medical emergency while traveling requires transportation to a hospital or other medical facility.

Supplier Default: Covers deposits or payments lost due to the financial default of a travel supplier.

Baggage/Personal Effects Loss or Delay: Covers losses due to items lost, damaged or delayed during a trip.

Many travel vendors (tour companies and cruise lines) offer their own protection plans and these plans may provide very different coverage than offered through third party insurance companies. In most cases, supplier-provided coverage won’t cover you in the event they go bankrupt. When considering a supplier protection plan, you should carefully compare the coverage with third-party travel insurance products.

Who should buy travel insurance?
Travelers who want to protect their travel investment should consider purchasing travel insurance. If an illness, accident or sudden change in plans forces you to cancel or interrupt travel plans, you face two major financial losses – money you’ve invested in nonrefundable prepayments, and medical expenses that aren’t covered by your health insurance.

How does trip cancellation coverage work?
It is designed to reimburse you for forfeited, nonrefundable, unused payments or deposits if you have to cancel your interrupt your trip due to a variety of situations, including but not limited to inclement weather, illness or another unforeseen event.

Depending on your policy, it may also cover:

Emergency medical expenses
Transportation ordered by a doctor to the nearest adequate
medical facility
Reasonable accommodations and travel expenses for travel delays
Essential items you purchase if your baggage is delayed
Lost or stolen luggage

How much does travel insurance cost?
The cost of travel insurance varies from company and policy to policy. The more you have invested in your trip, the more you need to protect it. Travel insurance covers you for losses caused by trip cancellation and interruption, medical expenses, baggage, trip and baggage delay. When you consider all the protection you get, travel insurance is actually a great value.

Where do you buy travel insurance?
Most travel agents offer travel insurance and many may even require customers that decline insurance to sign a waiver form.

Tips To Money Saving While Traveling At Summer

Summer is quickly approaching so before you load the kids into the car to escape town, there are few money-saving tips you might want to consider.

“Whether you are traveling internationally, by car or just for the weekend, costs are going up and it is important to save on the small things,” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. “An ASTA travel agent is your best resource for finding ways to save while you travel this summer.”

When traveling internationally:

Visit destinations where the U.S. dollars is closest in value to the local currency (currency in the Caribbean is tied to the U.S. dollar, for example)
Look for all inclusive packages, such as resorts or cruises and pay upfront in U.S. dollars
Ask your travel agent about locations that may be less costly as they are in their ‘off season’
Ways to save money on hotels:

Ask your travel agent about upgrading your hotel reservation to a room with two king size beds instead of getting two hotel rooms when traveling in groups or with kids
Ask your travel agent to find hotels where kids stay for free or cheaper when traveling with kids
Ask your travel agent to find a hotel room with a kitchenette so you can take care of a few meals yourself instead of eating out for every meal
Your travel agent can suggest properties that might offer complimentary breakfast or heavy hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon.
When traveling by car:

Pack the car as light as possible – the more weight, the harder the car works and the more gas you use
When renting a car for a large group of people, renting one SUV saves on gas mileage vs. renting two smaller cars
Make sure tire pressure is accurate so that gas is spent efficiently
Use only the grade level of gas that your car owners manual calls for, nothing more
Use cruise control to run the engine efficiently and save on gas
Ways to save at home while you are away:

Turn the air conditioning off or down
Put your lights on timers
Unplug large appliances like TV’s and computers
Turn off automatic sprinklers
Other Tips:

Buy travel insurance: it may cost more upfront, but has the potential to save you thousands
Fly in and out of airports that may be farther outside of the city to get cheaper flights then take public transportation into the city
If a family member has a business trip, consider adding your vacation onto the end of the trip so there is one less plane ticket to pay for
Consider a volunteer vacation–the volunteer portion of your travel may be a tax write-off
Let us connect you with the expertise to navigate summer travel! Find a travel agent two ways: search our Find a Travel Agent directory or request a FREE trip quote and agents will respond to you.

How To Planning The Greatest Family Vocation

tricky thing about family vacations is that they include your family. And with your family comes school and work schedules, video games and cookbooks, rock concerts and the big football game that can’t be missed. With these conflicting schedules and widespread interests, you’ll definitely need time to map it all out.

The goal is simple – make everyone happy with an unforgettable trip to the perfect destination. Achieving that goal can be daunting, especially when all the travel planning falls on you. But it is obtainable, as long as you know what your family enjoys and what travel options you have at your disposal. In the end, seeing your children’s faces light up makes it all worth the effort.

Before planning your family’s next vacation, check out this advice from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that planning the perfect vacation is easier with time and good advice on your side.

Great Family Vacations Start with Great Family Planning
At the heart of every good, stress-free vacation experience is the perfect plan. If you want a perfect plan that your entire family will love, then get them to help you make it. The more input you get from each family member, the better. Your children may surprise you with some of things they suggest to do on vacation. If the destination or activity is already set, have your kids research online or at the library for exciting things to do while you’re all there.

Once the family plan is in place, keep your kids 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.

Setting Your Sights – Where in the World Will You Go?
In Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says, “Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.” Well, a Jedi might not crave them, but your kids do. The good news is that there are millions of exciting adventures in this world for you to choose from. The bad news is that there are millions of exciting adventures in this world for you to choose from.

Paring down the list is priority number one. Consider your budget, timeframe and expectations. Are beaches calling your name? How about something in the park variety, be it an amusement, theme, water or National one? Is international travel in your future? Family friendly cruise or resort? With all those in mind, check out these options below sent in by travel agents around the globe.

Yosemiti NPFollow Your Sense of Adventure at a National Park
America’s 388 National Parks are not just the great outdoors, they’re the greatest outdoors, and always a family favorite. From glaciers and geysers to canyons and deserts, there is something that will wow every age group. At the tip of your travel tongue may be Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, but dig a little deeper and you will find many surprises.

Your children will actually enjoy learning at a National Park. They’ll become minor geologists in the dark depths of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave. Watch their eyes erupt with wonder at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. History comes alive by tracing footprints at Antietam National Battlefield or watching oil droplets bubble to the surface of Pearl Harbor above the USS Arizona Memorial. Experience white water action over class V rapids through magnificent gorges and valleys at Gauley River National Recreation Area. Or, conquer the ice age as a family by hiking along Glacier National.

National Parks are perfect for kids. Most of the larger parks run Junior Ranger Programs, allowing kids to participate in fun activities while learning about the area’s natural habitat and historic significance. Other parks offer nature walks and wildlife talks specifically geared toward children to show them that nature has more to offer than video games.

All Aboard! Cruising Family Style
Cruise ships are a family vacation planner’s best friends. Picture a floating, mega-resort with tons to do for everyone in a confined space where you know your kids are supervised and safe. Many cruise lines offer voyages designed specifically for families, with expanded activity programs and shore excursions for all age groups and waterslides, ice rinks and climbing walls that keep kids and parents happy for days.

Some cruises have even developed onboard programs that not only feature family together time, but also arrange crucial alone time for parents. Together, parents and kids can participate in mock game shows, story hours, treasure hunts and other activities. Later, adults can schedule a massage or spend time on the sun deck knowing their kids are enjoying a host of supervised games and activities. To find a family cruise line to your liking, talk to a travel agent who specializes in cruises.

ElephantsSomething Wild This Way Comes – African Safaris
For something a bit out of the ordinary, many travel agents rave about African safaris. There’s a long list of wilderness adventures available in every degree of comfort, adventure and budget. Safaris range from luxury holidays, where elegant lodges and fine wines share time with tracking giraffes from a sturdy, open-roof vehicle, to mobile camping safaris where you follow predators or stake out the great wildebeest migration, sleeping in tents at a different locale each night.

Just mention the word “safari” to your kids and watch their eyes grow as large as a lion’s as they roar with approval. Each safari is judged by the thrilling wildlife it encounters, and many come through with high marks as they safely bring your family into the playgrounds of zebras, lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, gorillas, cheetahs and a whole ark-full of other animals. So many beasts roam these lands that the ground itself feels alive.

Travel Agents – Your New Favorite Aunt
When you’re ready to make the most of your next vacation, open your arms to a new member of the family – your neighborhood travel agent. Your travel agent can save you so much time and money while relieving stress that you may want to invite him or her over for next Thanksgiving.

Know More About Traveling With Grandkids

Befitting their titles, grandparents and their grandchildren should engage in grand relationships. Since the dawn of man, grandparents lived in multigenerational communities, living and working alongside their children and grandchildren. They were not “in the way” or a “nuisance;” instead they served as teachers, advisers and role models – key figures that positively shaped the lives of their grandchildren.

Times have changed and families are now spread across the country, forcing grandparents to constantly seek new ways to cultivate relationships and share special experiences with their grandchildren. The answer: intergenerational travel, where grandparents plan vacations with only their grandchildren, leaving the parents at home.

Intergenerational travel is a win-win-win situation: parents get a well-needed break; grandparents get quality time with the grandkids; and the grandkids get a week without homework, learning about the world with their grandparents. Yet while more and more seniors are leading active lives, it can be difficult to match the energy and interest level of a child for an entire week.

So if you want to take a “grand” vacation but are worried about keeping a grandchild entertained, check out these trusted travel tips from the American Society of Travel Agents. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that children love shiny toys, and there is no better shiny toy than an exciting vacation with loved ones.

Tips to Travel By
Create a Multi-Generational Itinerary – Too often seniors plan activities to solely please the children, running themselves ragged to keep the trip in a high gear of constant fun. But if you become unhappy, the kids will soon follow. A travel agent will help you craft an itinerary that appeals to both generations, paying special attention to natural attractions, like mountains and canyons, and historical sites, like lost temples and medieval castles.

Consult the Parents – It may be awkward to turn to your own children for advice, but talking with your grandchild’s parents is a critical step in planning a successful trip. Parents know their children’s favorite activities and subjects, along with their sleeping and eating habits.

You’re the Guardian, So Be Prepared – One lesson travel agents teach time and time again is to always have proper identification and medical histories wherever you go, for emergencies enjoy being unpredictable. During the vacation, you are 100 percent responsible for the children, so make sure you have their proper identification, health insurance, contact information, recent photos and notarized authorization from their parents in case they need medical attention. All identifying documents for the children should comply with the latest federal requirements for passports and other entry/exit documents. Also, it’s your job to know their medications and dietary needs backwards and forwards.

Finally, some countries do not allow entry of minors not accompanied by both parents unless the children have written, notarized permission from the absent parents. The rules vary from country to country, so consult your travel agent before your trip.

Play Favorites – Since a child’s energy level escalates exponentially with each additional child in the room, it’s wise take no more than two grandchildren at time, or even just one. As much as you would to include all eight grandkids, in reality you should play favorites and take only a few at a time. You can always plan more vacations for the others.

Keep the Kids Excited – Just like a movie studio builds excitement for an upcoming release, so should you with your impending excursion. Have your grandchildren help plan the trip by reading guidebooks or visiting your travel agent’s office together. As the date approaches, send your grandchild e-mails about the activities or maps and pictures of the destination in the mail.

Take a Warm-Up Trip – Before traveling alone with your grandchildren for an entire week or two, discover how you all travel together by taking a day trip or have them stay over for a weekend. If this short trip is more sour than sweet, maybe your grandchildren are not ready for a longer journey away from home. If that’s the case, don’t give up. Simply take more and more day trips until the group learns to have fun together.

Like E.T., Phone Home – An effective way to alleviate homesickness is to make periodic phone calls to the parents and let the kids gush about the day’s exciting adventures. The parents will feel better knowing their children are in good hands, and you’ll feel better listening to the kids rave about the activities you planned.

You Need Downtime, Too – Many places provide supervised activities for kids. If the resort or cruise offers these, take them up on that offer and get some much-needed rest.

Music to Their Ears – If you’re traveling by car, especially with teens, let them enjoy their portable CD and MP3 players. Trust us – you won’t like what they’re listening to. And don’t try and force Sinatra on a teen either. They will lean to appreciate Old Blue Eyes later in life; everyone does.

Plan B? Call Your Agent
When life serves you lemons, your travel agent has a lemon squeezer, clean glasses and a bucket of ice. Many unforeseen factors – an illness, hurricanes, unscheduled closings – can dampen a vacation, no matter how thoroughly it was planned. When one of these occasions arises, stay positive, pull your travel agent’s card out of your purse and give her a call. A travel agent has Plans B-through-Z at her fingertips.

Final Tip – Use a Travel Agent
Intergenerational travel is not a phrase created for this Web site; it’s a gratifying market that many resorts, cruises and travel agents enjoy sustaining. If the idea of an intergenerational trip with your grandkids sounds appealing, but you feel uneasy about planning such a complex journey on your own, then turn to a trusted travel agent who specializes in family travel.

A travel agent can set up a fun-filled itinerary that will stimulate curiosity, encourage exploration and, most importantly, let you and your grandchild bond like never before. Using a world of experience, travel agents know which cruise lines, safaris or theme parks are the most family friendly, for your travel agent has most likely taken her own children there.

Should You Know About Some Tips On Traveling With Children

Family vacations can create long-lasting memories and fun learning experiences for parents and children alike. But traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness — and of patience. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has created a list of suggestions to help make the sometimes daunting task of preparing for a trip with the kids manageable and fun for the entire family.

Create anticipation for the family trip by starting a countdown calendar with perhaps a photo or illustration of the destination. Let kids pack their own bags. Decide what type of clothing (preferably loose and comfortable), but allow them to choose their favorites and to pack a special toy. In a carry-on bag, pack some hard candies and gum, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers in a small, tightly sealed plastic bag and perhaps a surprise toy for each child.

Update immunizations for the entire family. If traveling abroad, check with public health authorities for advisable additional vaccines. Depending on the destination and duration of stay, the following immunizations may be recommended (although some cannot be given to infants and young children):

Hepatitis B vaccine
Typhoid vaccine
Hepatitis A vaccine
Immune globulin
Yellow Fever vaccine
Japanese B Encephalitis vaccine
Meningococcal vaccine
Rabies vaccine

Allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last minute delays and confusion, especially with the new security regulations. Be sure to have a safety plan in case anyone gets separated at the airport. Discuss where to meet and what to do.

1. Disney* – 100%
2. Cruises – 41%
3. Orlando – 28.2%
4. Hawaii – 23.7%
5. Cancun – 18.1%

* includes all Disney parks and Disney Cruises
Source: ASTA-member travel agents survey
Review screening procedures with children before entering security checkpoints so they will not be frightened by the process. Every person, including children and babies, must undergo screening at security checkpoints. Also, all child-related equipment must go through the X-ray machine. To speed the process along, remove children from their strollers/infant carriers and collapse/fold the equipment so it may be examined or put through the machine. When going through metal detectors, with an infant, have one parent hold the baby and walk through the machine. Do not hand off the baby under the detector, or hand the baby to the screener to hold. Children who can walk should go through the metal detector independently. For older children, it is important to stress that the process should be taken seriously and that threats made even as a joke could result in law enforcement being summoned.

Bring a child/infant seat on board that meets current safety standards and is not more than 16 inches wide. The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that children weighing less than 40 pounds be placed in child/infant seats.

The best coach seats to have when flying with small children are the first row in economy class. There’s a lot of legroom, and you’ll be removed from most of the plane when the kids get cranky from the long flight. If the front row seats are not available, place children away from the aisle, preferably between responsible adults. Also, remember to get up, stretch and walk around with kids often during the flight, but do not allow children to walk around unsupervised.
1. Disney* – 57.4%
2. Cruises – 48%
3. Cancun – 36.7%
4. Hawaii – 27.2%
5. Orlando – 22.9%

* includes all Disney parks and Disney Cruises
Source: Survey of ASTA-member travel agents
Getting your seat assignment in advance can help ensure families are seated together and that children and adults will be seated next to each other. If a flight is full and obtaining seat assignments in advance is not a possibility, advise the airline personnel at the airport. The airline may need to ask other passengers to change seats so children are not seated apart from parents.

Bring bottled water to drink and lotion to apply to skin to rehydrate during the dry flight; gum, pacifiers and bottles to reduce air pressure on the children’s ears; and a variety of toys in carry-on bags to keep the child’s interest from waning.

Make it comfortable by bringing pillows and blankets. Stop frequently at rest stops to stretch and make use of restrooms. Play games like “I Spy.” Make sure the car is stocked with paper, pencils, plenty of engaging toys and tapes or Children in the carCDs of their favorite songs or books. Most importantly, keep children involved in the vacation process. Save everything collected on vacation – brochures, napkins, ticketstubs – and have children paste them into a scrapbook.

Plan ahead with the rental company to make sure they offer car seats and installation. If not, you’ll have to bring your own in addition to a collapsible stroller. If nothing else, a simple call to the rental car company may save you the hassle of bringing along one extra piece of equipment.

Have a daily schedule planned with some flexible, free time for each family member. Provide friends or relatives with phone numbers and addresses of hotels where the family will stay, transportation information and emergency contact information. If possible, each member of the family should have a cell phone or walkie-talkie to keep in touch at all times. Coming up with an emergency plan or meeting point is also a good idea in case family members become separated.

Put safety first by avoiding a myriad of possible accidents. Bring outlet protectors and make a sweep of balconies and bathrooms for any potential dangers. Hide away small objects, accessible medications and cleaners children could get their hands on. Familiarize yourself with the hotel’s fire and emergency evacuation routes and procedures.

If your vacation includes a trip to a pool, ocean, water park or any other place involving water, the number one rule is to never let children venture off alone. Even if they know how to swim, children should wear a life jacket at all times. Also, it is important to know what is in the water, such as chemicals or jellyfish. Very cold temperatures, currents, and sudden drop-offs are all things to avoid, especially with children.

Always bring a hat with a wide brim and sunscreen of at least 30 SPF to shield children’s skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sun poisoning can ruin any vacation.

It is important to bring along needed medications. Diarrhea treatments (although these should not be given to very young children), pain relievers, insect repellants, antihistamines and adhesive bandages are good staples. Consult your doctor about “over the counter” remedies before using them. Bringing a doctor’s number, even if traveling to a foreign country, is a good idea, as well.

To prevent diseases spread by drinking contaminated water, use only bottled or boiled water to mix formula and juices, or simply go with pre-mixed liquid formula whenever possible, if an infant is not being nursed.

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.