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.

All About Health And Safety Travel Tips

You’ve planned and packed – you’re all ready for your trip – but you may have overlooked one of the key ingredients for a great vacation: taking the necessary steps to make sure you and your family have a safe and healthy trip.

The healthier your body is, the easier it will be for you to adapt to the effects of jet lag. If you plan a few days ahead, however, even the most out-of-shape may be able to head off the misery of jet lag. Several days before you leave, try going to bed a little earlier or a little later (if you are flying east or west, respectively), and start a stretching regiment. Hydrate yourself and eat lightly the day you travel. The headache, light-headedness and nausea associated with jet lag should lessen significantly when such measures are taken.

COMMON TRAVEL AILMENTS
Motion Sickness
Motion sickness is an unpleasant problem for many travelers; however, there are some over-the-counter and prescription medications available. If you wish to combat motion sickness on your own, try the following:

When traveling by car, try to sit in the front seat and, if you can, avoid reading as it only heightens the feeling of motion sickness.

When traveling by boat, sit as close to the middle of the vessel as possible and look straight ahead at the horizon, a fixed point that will not move. Today’s high-tech cruise ships are built for comfort, with stabilizers for smooth sailing, and most passengers experience little or no motion sickness.

When flying, try to sit near the wing of the plane, or the side where you are accustomed to driving. Ear plugs also may help.

Extremes: Heatstroke and Hypothermia
To avoid heatstroke, stay out of the sun for prolonged periods of time. By the same token, try to avoid unusually cold water to prevent hypothermia.

Dehydration
It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a vacation and get dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you even more.

Allergies
People who suffer from allergies should take the same precautions on vacation as they do at home. Bring any medications used on a regular basis. It’s also a good idea to bring an antihistamine in case of accidental exposure to a substance that triggers an allergic reaction. It also may be helpful to pack your own pillowcase for use in hotels, and to request a non-smoking room.

Arthritis
The inflammation of the joints that occurs with arthritis may be especially troubling during long trips that restrict movement. Taking frequent breaks to walk around and relieve stiff joints and muscles can make car, plane and cruise trips more enjoyable. Remember to pack aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or any prescription medications you normally use for arthritis.

Diarrhea
There’s nothing more miserable than getting sick while on vacation. For most destinations, the major health risk to travelers is diarrhea, which may be easily avoided. In general, common sense prevails. When in doubt, steer clear of uncooked meat, raw fruits and vegetables and unpasteurized milk products, and drink only bottled water (although the tip of the bottle may be contaminated, so wipe it clean before drinking from it) or water that has been boiled for at least 20 minutes. If you begin to feel sick or develop a fever, rest and drink tea or purified water. Most cases of traveler’s diarrhea clear up within a few days.

Overactive Bladder and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you suffer from an overactive bladder or irritable bowel syndrome, you may require frequent bathroom visits during long trips. Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications are often helpful for the latter, and there are prescription medications available for people who may experience more severe symptoms. Avoiding stress, caffeine, and certain types of high-fat foods can help keep these conditions under control.

Animal and Insect Bites
If you are bitten by a wild animal, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Many animal bites require a tetanus shot and, in certain cases, a rabies shot. If bitten by a snake, lie as still as possible so not to spread the venom that may be present; then send others to get help immediately.

Check your body for ticks. Remove any with tweezers and watch the area for rash over the course of the next few weeks. See your doctor if you develop abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, rash, cough or weight loss.

FIRST AID KIT
It’s a good idea to keep a first-aid kit handy for any emergencies that may arise during your trip.

PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS
Work with your travel agent to get as much information as possible about the destination, especially if you will be traveling alone.

Hotels
Stay in hotels on well-traveled streets in safer areas of any city. The more expensive hotels usually have better security. Stay on lower level floors in case of fire or other need to evacuate quickly. Avoid the first floor, as it may not be safe from burglars. When returning to your hotel at night, use the main entrance. Be observant before entering parking lots.

Close and lock your hotel room door at all times. Check sliding glass doors, windows and connecting room doors. Acquaint yourself with the location of stairways, fire escapes, exits and alarms.

Do not answer your hotel room door without verifying who it is. If someone claims to be a hotel employee, call the front desk to verify. Never invite strangers into your room.

If you see suspicious activity or suspicious object, contact someone in authority immediately.

Transportation
Your travel agent can arrange for transfers from the airport or port, if necessary. Taxis or private car hires are recommended, as you are more insulated. Most airports, ports and train stations have areas clearly marked for taxis and car service pick-up. Do not enter any vehicle that does not have a proper license or does not pick you up from the designated area.

If you will be renting a car, get maps in advance and clearly write out the directions from the airport to your hotel. If you need to stop for directions, go to well-lit public areas. Keep the phone numbers of your destinations with you.

Lock your car doors while driving. Do not pick up strangers or stop for people you don’t know. Police cars will have blue and red lights; do not stop for cars flashing their high-beams.

Keep a low profile
Do not discuss your travel plans or itinerary publicly. Vary your schedule, if possible. Vary travel routes when possible.

Maintain a low profile. Dress down, if possible, and leave the expensive jewelry and watches at home. Do not display large amounts of cash or travelers checks. Look like a person of modest means. Do not leave your itinerary or other sensitive business information in your hotel room.

Blend in with the locals as best you can so you do not want to stand out. Cultural and racial differences may make this impossible, but you can still make yourself look like a person of modest means.

Be alert for surveillance, especially in high-risk countries. Kidnappers and extortionists identify their targets and then watch their potential victims to determine daily patterns.

Avoid disturbances and civil demonstrations, as they may become violent. Seek safe shelter away from the disturbance as quickly as possible.

Out and about
Keep your valuables, including passports, etc., in a money belt concealed under your clothes. Or, use the hotel safe to store valuables. Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times, but separate from where you are carrying your passport. In high-risk countries, it is a good idea to check in with the American Embassy and provide them with a copy of your passport in case you need to have it replaced. Pickpockets and thieves operate widely in many cities around the world, but especially near tourist attractions.

Whenever you use your credit card, keep an eye on it until it is returned to you. Always verify that it is your credit card before storing it again. Check credit cards when they are returned

If you are unfamiliar with the local language, carry a card or matchbook with the hotel’s name and address. You can show the card or matchbook to a cab driver or police officer if you get lost. Before leaving the United States, make up several pocket cards with key phrases in the local language. (i.e., “Which way is the airport?” and “Where are the restrooms?”)

Be careful when out on the town at night. Watch your drinks being poured and never accept a drink from a stranger. Get advice from your hotel concierge or other trusted source about reputable restaurants and other entertainment. Avoid being out on the streets late at night. Have your hotel arrange for car service or taxi service and know the addresses and directions before getting in the car.

BLAZING YOUR OWN TRAIL SAFELY
If you’re charting unknown territory, you’re going to want to take extra precautions to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. Plan for the worst. Pack a survival kit that includes your first aid kit, a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof firestarter, personal shelter, whistle, warm clothing, sturdy hiking boots, rain wear, high-energy food and water. Ask your doctor about necessary immunizations. Take a first aid course before you leave and learn the ABC’s of treating emergencies. Learn to recognize medical emergencies and respond to them immediately and appropriately, comforting the victim until help arrives. As common sense would dictate, avoid areas of natural hazards such as avalanche, rock fall, floods, and hazardous plants and animals, and check for potential hazards of terrain, sanitation (including infectious disease) and climate.

TRAVEL INSURANCE
Finally, the best thing you can do for yourself to keep healthy and happy while on vacation is to purchase travel insurance. Neither Medicare nor Medicaid pays for care outside the United States, and most health insurance plans don’t, either. Travel insurance is advisable, especially since the odds are you or someone in your family will need to seek some type of medical assistance while away. Talk with your travel agent to help you decide what coverage you’ll need based on your type of travel (developing country, adventure safari, Disneyland, etc.). Be sure to examine different policies, make careful inquiries and always read the fine print. Two features are essential: a 24-hour, toll-free, English-language phone assistance and a plan that provides direct, immediate payment to the medical provider.

Although you can’t anticipate every contingency, these are steps you can take to ensure a healthy vacation. For travelers with special needs, your travel agent can assist you with any personalized services.

How To Using Overseas ATM When Traveling

Wherever you travel in the world, cold hard cash is your most essential necessity. This is true if you’re buying a cup of coffee in Los Angeles, a silk scarf in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar or a bracelet off a street vendor in Hong Kong. That is why the first thing many travelers look for when they step off the plane in a foreign country is an ATM machine.

ATMs usually solve the traveler’s dilemma of where to safely and quickly obtain local currency. All cash withdrawals, regardless of size, are exchanged based on the wholesale exchange rate, which is usually a few percentage points better than the rate at a local exchange counter. Plus, these machines are practically everywhere – ATM cards linked to the PLUS or Cirrus networks can be used in more than 135 countries – which makes them the convenient choice of cash-strapped travelers.

Yet some travelers are running into ATMs that, like stingy uncles, refuse to give them money, usually when they try using their debit cards. Recently, debit cards have been the targets of international frauds, prompting banks to block out entire countries where these frauds occur most often. Travelers usually don’t even know a block is currently in place until they are standing cashless in front of an ATM, mildly cursing at their debit card that no longer seems to be working.

Countries that have recently been blocked by various banks include England, Thailand, the Philippines, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Singapore and Japan, though different banks utilize different criteria when selecting countries. Also, some banks block PIN-based transactions, while others block signature-based transactions; it all depends on their risk threshold.

Unfortunately for travelers, banks are not required to inform their customers about these bans, for they do not want to tip their hand to the countermeasures they’re employing to criminals. Travel agents urge you to call your bank or check out its Web site before you leave to find out if your debit card will work at your destination.

Here are some additional tips from travel agents concerning the use of ATMs when traveling abroad:

Take a variety of payment options, such as credit cards, debit cards, traveler’s checks and currency, to be prepared for all circumstances.

Go to a bank if you have problems withdrawing cash from an ATM. Many debit cards can also function as a credit card, which will allow you to get a cash advance (though at a higher interest rate than a normal debit transaction).

Bring your bank’s contact information when you travel, just in case your card fails to work like you expect.

If your PIN number is longer than four digits, go to your bank and have it changed. Many ATM’s abroad, especially in Europe, do not accept PIN numbers longer than four digits.

If your PIN number is based on letters, translate the letters into numbers before leaving the country. Many ATMs abroad only have numbers on their keypads.

Always have your travel agent’s contact information with you. It’s good to have an ally back home you can call whenever a problem arises.

With these tips and a little TravelSense, you should be able to freely explore the world without standing in long lines at the bank trying to access your money.

More Information About Students Travel Tips

The permission slips are signed, your bags are packed and you’re, like, so ready to ditch the classroom and head out on your class trip. Travel is an exciting opportunity to experience different places and wondrous cultures, so the key is not to blow it by doing something that will ruin the trip for yourself and others.

While it’s tempting to forget about all the rules as soon as your chaperones turn their backs, you should keep in mind these tips from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that studying for your upcoming trip is a homework assignment you’ll actually enjoy.

student travel, what to know before you go

Before You Go
Before you go, learn about the local laws and customs of the countries you’re visiting, especially those concerning drinking age, drugs and curfews. You are not immune to a country’s laws just because you’re a visitor, and you can be arrested.

Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. It’s hard to enjoy the sights when you can’t see them.

Pack a simple first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream and pain relievers. It’s a good thing to have “just in case.” And tell your trip leaders about any medications you’re taking.

Give your parents the phone and fax number of your hotel, the cell phone numbers of the chaperones and a full itinerary of your trip. If anything changes during the trip, e-mail your parents immediately with the new info.

Pack all valuables, medications, travel documents and passport in your carry-on bag. Occasionally checked luggage gets lost at airports, so you want to have your important items on you.

While You’re There
Do not carry all your cash at once, especially if all you need is enough to buy lunch and a few sodas. And keep your wallet in a zippered pocket, preferably inside your jacket. If you need to exchange money in a foreign country, only use authorized vendors like banks.

Don’t be flashy. Wear an old, inexpensive watch and leave the bling at home. You don’t want to be a walking target for thieves. If you bring a fancy digital camera or an MP3 player, don’t flaunt them.

When you check in at your hotel, grab a card from the counter with the hotel’s name, address and phone number on it. Keep this card on you at all times.

Look both ways before crossing the streets. Yes, you’ve heard that a billion times, but you’ll be surprised how easy it is to step into oncoming traffic in foreign countries, especially the ones where they drive on the other side of the road.

Student Travel, be respectfulTravel with a buddy at all times and never wander off alone from the group.

Be respectful around, and ask permission before taking photographs of, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other religious sites. Also, ask permission before taking photographs of government buildings and military installations. In some countries you can be detained for taking a picture of the wrong building.

Talk to your trip leader or to a travel agent about types of food or beverages to avoid, and don’t buy food from street vendors.

Class Dismissed
Going on an extended class trip may be the most fun you’ll ever have while actually learning something. If you follow the rules above and stay out of trouble, the only memories you’ll bring back are good ones.