Family Travel

What Is Your Best Holiday Travel Tip?

Posted in Family Travel, Packing Tips, Travel, Travel Tips on January 18th, 2021 by – Be the first to comment

How do you manage all the details throughout the holiday and travel?  Share your best ideas.  Here are some helpful tips to get you through this busy month.

Managing the Gifts

Because you cannot bring wrapped presents on a plane (and they’d get wrinkled or torn anyway), I pack cloth bags to put gifts in, such as velvet bags from fabric stores or a fun purse I may find on sale. It’s easy to “wrap” the presents once I arrive, and the bag is a bonus gift. It also helps the environment a little by eliminating discarded wrapping paper.

Carrie Cihasky
St. Francis, Wisconsin

To travel light and save money when visiting my family in Germany for the holidays, I purchase gifts through the German branch of Amazon.com and have them sent to the home where we celebrate, thus saving international shipping charges.

Katharina Wilkins
Weston, Massachusetts

Traveling With Children

A few tips for traveling with young children on a long flight: (1) Check in early and request front-row seats. You’ll be less frazzled because Junior isn’t kicking the seat in front of him for 10 hours, and the nearby crew seat is needed only for takeoff and landing, so you can get some extra space. (2) Bring along little gifts: mini coloring books and crayons, to make your kids happy and relieve boredom; chewable candies to prevent earache and tears on landing; and a spare set of clothes for each child, plus a fresh T-shirt for yourself. (3) If you have a baby or a toddler, take your umbrella stroller with you on the plane. The crew will store it during the flight, and customs and luggage checks are much less stressful when your hands are free.

Emma Fashokun
Houston, Texas

When I traveled overseas with my 16-month-old daughter, I was inundated with equipment (car seat, stroller, diaper bag). To thank fellow travelers who helped me through the customs and immigration lines, I gave them gourmet chocolate bars―a great way to see smiles on your travels rather than scowls.
Holly Driggers
Austin, Texas

My husband and I make his-and-hers travel CDs with copies of our favorite holiday tunes. As we take turns playing them throughout the long road trip, it’s fun to see which songs the other has come up with.

Deanna Holt
Springfield, Illinois

For long drives, I bring holiday and thank-you cards, stamps, and my address book. During the drive, I write cards for those I am on my way to see. On the way home, I write thank-yous for gifts, dinners, or parties for the people we just left. That way, no one is forgotten and the details are fresh in my mind. Finally I stamp them, and they are in the car, ready to be taken to the post office.

Annesia Bixler
Dayton, Ohio

Getting Organized

Always take notes when making travel plans over the telephone: whom you spoke with, what was said (promises, rates, etc.). Should something go wrong, you will have the details in writing.

Lori Frank
Bethlehem, New Hampshire

I order fresh flowers or fruit to be delivered to the home I’m visiting on the day I arrive. It’s always a welcome hostess gift, and I don’t have to carry it.
Deb Fecher
Acton, Massachusetts

Packing Strategies

Pack your bags for your trip and then carry them around the block. It will inspire you to rethink what you packed and simplify.
Tracy Gillin
The Woodlands, Texas

When I travel, I keep my jewelry in a small fly-fishing box (with storage compartments) in my makeup bag. This keeps necklaces and earrings from getting tangled.
Shery Rogers
Grenada, Mississippi

I store a cosmetics bag with travel-size versions of everything I use every day in my suitcase. When I take a trip, I never have to worry about leaving the essentials behind.
Sandra Boemler
Atlanta, Georgia

When packing for a trip where I’ll be on the go a lot, I put together as many outfits as I need (including underwear and socks). I then place each outfit in a plastic grocery bag and put it in my suitcase. While on holiday, I take out a bag each morning and my outfit is ready to go―no fussing about what to wear or digging to the bottom of the bag to find something. At the end of the day, I turn the bag inside out and put the worn clothes in so I know which outfits are dirty.
Jessica Baldasaro
Stratford, Ontario

More Good Ideas

Be sure to get plenty of sleep during the holidays, especially in the days prior to traveling. It’s stressful packing up the family, battling the parking at the airport, and dealing with other travelers, and sleep is one way to keep your immune system healthy so you can thoroughly enjoy the holidays.
Heidi Heikkala
Everett, Washington

Traveling with toddlers is easier if you don’t have to rely on restaurants for three meals a day. When possible, book a room with a fridge, a microwave, and a coffeemaker, then stock the fridge with breakfast and lunch basics.
Jennifer Meacher
Almonte, Ontario

During hectic holiday travel, I make it a point to smile at my fellow travelers and help them with luggage and doors or dropped items. I also thank and extend a sincere “Happy Holidays” to the service workers who are away from their families and festivities while they help me get to where I want to be.
Susan van Allen
Orono, Maine

RealSimple readers share favorite tricks and strategies to make traveling easier.

Article by RealSimple

Traveling with KIDS?

Posted in 3-1-1 Liquids Bans, Family Travel, Packing Liquids, Travel on March 15th, 2012 by – 12 Comments

With spring break upon us and summer vacations quickly approaching, parents are typically more nervous than excited as they prepare for a vacation with their lively kids in tow. As many know, traveling with kids can be stressful. Fear not, we have a few tips to easily prepare parents to think ahead and get organized for their vacation.  This will transform your vacation with kids into an “expedition of amusement” rather than a bitter experience.

Here are a few things to have prepared when traveling with kids:

1) A detailed agenda and tour plan of the places you are planning to visit.
2) Copies of all schedules and time lines to various places to cover.
3) Kids should be actively involved in certain activities such as:

  • Putting together your trip ideas
  • Planning out activities to do on vacation
  • Making family rules during vacation
  • Having a small rewards and penalties if the rule was broken
  • Assigning roles based on age group such as food carrier, water carrier, photographer, etc.
  • Collecting memorable items like tickets, brochures, pictures, etc.

4) Family games, cards, checkers,art supplies.  Many games come in travel form which are perfect for planes, trains and cars.

5) Electronic devices for kids(big and small) like cameras, laptops, DVD players, hand held games.  Don’t forget extra batteries and chargers.  Taking a GPS along is perfect for exploring your new destination and finding points of interests.

6)  Have a supply of healthy snacks on hand.  Don’t count of the airlines for much more than a drink and a bag of pretzels.
7) Packing your baggage:

  • Limit check in luggage. Try to have carry on luggage and have backpacks for each kid and allow them to carry their own stuff. This will save you money and time.
  • Pack light clothes, sweaters, jackets, beach wears, shoes.  The more items each individual can wear, the easier it is to pack and keep items to a minimum.  Ideally your destination has laundry facilities to do a quick load if necessary.
  • Follow TSA’s 311 rules when are packing the liquids, gels, toothpaste, shampoo and other stuff for your kids. These are all important for your kids, but at the same time are restricted to carry on the planes in great volumes.

Packing the family’s items can sometimes be quite a challenge, one parent commented, “Nowadays opening my baggage after a trip can be full of surprises. I only wish that I don’t end up having a toothpaste stained shirt and shampoo covered pants.” A few great products that will come in handy when packing toiletries are Pitotubes and GoToobs. Often packing many of our daily necessities slips our mind and it is often a pain to carry full size products, make sure you have the TravelRite travel kit, which will make your life so much simpler. All of these items meet TSA 3-1-1 regulations so you can use them in your carry-on luggage.  Shop www.BottleWise.com.

Pitotubes Quart Size

Family vacations can be fun, enjoyable, memorable, cherishing and adventurous. Don’t let the detail of packing and planning ruin a family memory.  It  pays to plan ahead.  Have some planning trips that have worked for you and your family in the past, we would love to hear them!

BottleWise is committed to manufacturing high-quality bags that make life easier for the discriminating culinary traveler and is founded by Amy Dias (adias@bottlewise.com)

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How to Survive 10 Travel Emergencies

Posted in Family Travel, Packing Tips, Travel Tips, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on December 28th, 2010 by – Be the first to comment

Crashed your rental car? Missed a flight? Lost a passport? Don’t panic: When the you-know-what hits the fan, we have the strategies to salvage your vacation.

What Should I Do When…

…I MISS MY FLIGHT?
Get to the airport right away and ask to be put on the next flight. If an agent gives you grief, explain why you missed the flight—particularly, why it wasn’t your fault (snarled traffic, for instance). Airlines are more likely to ask for additional payment if an agent thinks you missed the flight simply because you wanted to change your ticket without paying a change fee. With a little luck (and a sympathetic agent), you’ll be on a flight later that day at no extra charge.
Worst case: Paying the difference between your new ticket and the original fare, plus a ticket-changing fee of about $150 for domestic flights.
When all else fails: Realize that no matter what the official policy is, agents can cut you some slack. Mentioning that you belong to the airline’s frequent-flier program can’t hurt. May we also suggest crying as a tactic?

…THE AIRLINE LOSES MY LUGGAGE?
Take the obvious first step and contact the airport’s lost-and-found. File a bag-claim form and ask about the airline’s policy for reimbursing you for toiletries and other essentials. Most bags are recovered and will be shipped to you (at home, a hotel, wherever—and at the airline’s expense), so stay polite.
Worst case: About 2 percent of delayed luggage disappears forever. If your bag vanishes for good, file a form that itemizes what was inside it. Most airlines won’t pay for precious items, including cash, artwork, electronics, and jewelry. So don’t pack them in luggage. For covered items, you’ll be paid for the depreciated value, not what it would cost to buy brand-new gear (including the bag itself). Sometimes you’ll even have to produce receipts. On domestic flights, a carrier’s liability maxes out at $3,300 per passenger. Weirdly, liability on most international flights is even less—about $1,700 per passenger.
When all else fails: Instead of looking for receipts for items purchased years ago, bring in printouts of the current value of comparable items for sale as “used” on Amazon. Overall, the moral is: Never pack anything of value in your checked luggage.

…I CRASH MY RENTAL CAR?
After the accident (here or abroad), insist on calling the police (even if it’s a minor fender bender), and make copies of the report. If you declined collision damage waiver insurance coverage, your auto-insurance policy should cover damages. If you declined rental coverage and don’t have auto insurance, the credit card you used to pay for the rental should pay for damage to the vehicle.
Worst case: You didn’t check for loopholes in your policy’s fine print, and now you’re stuck with a huge bill. Coverage provided by your credit card or auto insurer often doesn’t apply to vans and luxury vehicles. Rentals in some countries, such as Ireland and Jamaica, may not be covered either. That’s why you need to call your credit card company and check the fine print before you depart.
When all else fails: Never agree to pay anything to the rental company on the spot. If you’ve looked into all the other options and it looks like you’re on the hook for thousands of dollars, call a lawyer.

…MY TOUR OPERATOR GOES OUT OF BUSINESS?
Hopefully, you paid with a credit card, which you should always do because it offers the most protection. If so, call your card company and explain what happened. Your money can be refunded if you contest the charges within 60 or 90 days of when your statement is mailed to you.
Worst case: You paid with a check and didn’t buy travel insurance that specifically covers the financial default of a tour operator. In which case, you’re not getting your money back.
When all else fails: Contact the United States Tour Operators Association (ustoa.com) to see if the tour operator was a member of their group—and as such, would have been required to keep $1 million in reserves to refund to customers.

…MY PASSPORT IS STOLENAND I’M THE VICTIM OF A CRIME?
For most crimes except minor pickpocketing, call the police. If you’ve been hurt or robbed, or your travel plans must be changed, the police report will help you file claims with health and travel insurers. Cancel any stolen debit and credit cards, too.
Worst case: Your passport was stolen, and without it you won’t be allowed back into the country. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate ASAP. With luck, you normally either travel with a photocopy of your passport, which will help speed up the process of getting a new one, or you’ve e-mailed a scan of your passport to yourself at a Web-based account you can access.
When all else fails: Bust out your emergency stash of traveler’s checks, which you brought along for just such an occasion—and which should hold you over until you get your hands on new cards and a new passport.

…MY CHECKED LUGGAGE IS ROBBED?
You’ll probably never get your stuff back, but you should file reports anyway. Why? They increase the chances that the thieves will eventually be caught. If there’s a slip in your bag stating that the TSA inspected it, file a claim at the TSA website (www.tsa.gov).
Worst case: There’s no slip of paper from the TSA noting that your bag has been inspected. So file a claim for reimbursement for lost and stolen items with the airline directly—and quickly, because claims often must be submitted within as little as 24 hours of an incident. Ironically, airlines won’t pay for the most-likely-to-be-stolen items, such as jewelry and electronics, and they impose caps on their total liability per passenger.
When all else fails: File claims with the airline, the airport(s), and the TSA. To be safer next time, put a TSA-recognized lock on your bag to prevent the half dozen, non-TSA workers who handle it from being able to pry it open.

…I GET SICK WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER PASSENGERS ON A CRUISE?
If your cruise is interrupted or postponed because of an outbreak, you should expect to be given the option to cancel for a full refund or to reschedule at a discount of up to half off.
Worst case: Cruise ships are not required to compensate passengers for illnesses. If you and a small number of passengers get sick on an otherwise uneventful sailing, don’t expect a refund.
When all else fails: Call the cruise line’s customer-service department and request a discount on a future sailing, explaining that your vacation was ruined and that you’d like to give the experience another shot at a discounted rate, or with credit for on board purchases.

…I NEED EMERGENCY MEDICAL HELP AT MY DESTINATION?
Most U.S.-based health-insurance plans offer some coverage overseas, but only for emergencies, such as broken bones or heart attacks—anything that would send a reasonable person to the ER. Chances are you’ll have to pay the hospital or doctor directly and get reimbursed later, so keep all receipts. In some rare cases, health plans work with doctors and clinics overseas, and if your treatment occurs in-network, your insurer may be able to pay the bill directly, saving you the trouble of paying out of pocket.
Worst case: You have no insurance and rely on Medicare or Medicaid. Neither program will protect you outside the U.S. Be sure to buy supplementary travel insurance in advance of your trip. To scout out the policies of multiple established, well-regarded providers, use insuremytrip.com.
When all else fails: Get to a doctor or hospital and worry about payment later. In many parts of the world, medical treatments cost far less than in the U.S. And in countries with socialized health plans, medical bills have a way of disappearing, even for foreigners.

…I’VE BEEN ARRESTED OVERSEAS?
Drugs are involved in roughly one-third of the arrests of Americans abroad, so it goes without saying to just say no. Legal systems vary widely around the globe, however, and to avoid getting in trouble because of an unusual foreign law—in Singapore, for instance, you can be fined for not flushing the toilet—study up on your destination’s peculiar regulations in guidebooks and at travel.state.gov.
Worst case: You’re facing serious jail time, or worse. When speaking to the police, be respectful and apologetic without necessarily admitting wrongdoing.
When all else fails: Tell everyone who will listen that you demand to speak with a U.S. embassy officer, who can help you navigate that country’s legal system, find a local attorney, and send messages to your family.

…I’M CAUGHT IN A NATURAL OR MAN-MADE DISASTER? Serious emergencies can happen anywhere (see: London, Haiti, Chile, Mumbai, New Orleans), so it’s a good idea to e-mail your itinerary, including flight and hotel info, to a friend back home. Register your trip with the State Department for free at travel.state.gov, so that the government will know where you are and will be able to help get you to safety in a crisis.
Worst case: If you’re fortunate enough to have life and limb intact, money shouldn’t be a concern: When true emergencies occur, hotels and airlines are generally very sympathetic to travelers and waive cancellation and change restrictions.
When all else fails: Figure out a way to get yourself to a U.S. embassy or consulate, which can provide safety and coordinate evacuations. Getting home may take time, so be patient, and try to console the travelers around you, who may become your new best friends.

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
By Brad Tuttle, Budget Travel

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