03/03/2015

The Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling With Kids

Shutterstock_family at airport

 

Remember the scene in Home Alone when the McCallister family is rushing around frantically to get to the airport on time for their Christmas trip to Paris? The McCallisters make their flight in time, but end up forgetting Kevin, the youngest child in the family, at home.

A worst parents’ nightmare.

Then, in Home Alone 2, Kevin makes it to the airport with his family, but ends up on a different plane as a result of all the chaos.

Another nightmare.

Chances are you won’t leave your child at home or lose him on a different flight, but traveling with your kids can be a challenge. Check out the do’s and don’ts of traveling with your kids that will make the process much easier.

1. Pre-Trip Communication

Don’t: Arrive at the airport with your kids for the first time and expect them to behave. Flying causes anxiety for grown adults, so it’s understandable if your kids are frightened or nervous about getting on a plane.

Do: The night before your trip, walk your kids through what they should expect. From the security process and body machines, to the aircraft and the noises they will hear, taking the time to explain can help alleviate confusion and worry, and make airports a more peaceful place for your child.

2. Booking Your Flight

Don’t: Travel when you know your kids will be the greatest hassle. If you know your kids are energetic during the middle of the day and you’ll have to give them plenty of attention, don’t schedule a long car ride or a flight during that time.

Do: Work your travel plans around your kids’ schedules. If your children still nap, schedule your car ride or flight during the time that your kids are napping. If it’s easier to travel after your kids are down for the night, schedule a red-eye flight.

3. Seat Selection

Don’t: Ignore your ability to pick your family’s seats on a flight. If you know Jack and Sarah don’t get along, don’t sit them next to each other on a long flight.

Do: Use SeatGuru.com to check out the layout of your aircraft. This will give you a better idea of whether or not you want your family to sit in the same row or if there is a way to group people together for a much smoother flight.

4. What To Bring

Don’t: Forget to bring toys. This may be a given, but never travel with your kids without bringing something to keep them entertained. The busier they are during the trip, the less likely they’ll be to get bored and stir up trouble.

Do: Prepare a list of your children’s favorite An assortment of tasty snacks and activities like puzzles, movies, and magnetic travel board games can help pass the travel time for your kids.

Travel is a great way to expose your kids to new places, people, and cultures, so don’t let the stress of traveling with your children prevent you from booking your next trip. If you follow these do’s and don’ts, traveling with your kids can be smooth sailing!

 

03/02/2015

Spring Break 2015: Where Will You Be?

Shutterstock_41457937

March isn’t just the start of the spring season. March is when students of all ages break free from the classroom, ditch their textbooks and coursework, and dive head first into a week of spring bliss.

Whether you’re a college student or a parent of a K-12 child, now is the time to get out of town and enjoy a vacation. But with so many incredible destinations in the world, how can you find the perfect one for you, your family and friends, and your budget?

 

Check out our list of top six spring break destinations ranked from family-friendly to college hot-spots that are guaranteed to be fun getaways that won’t break the bank.

Outdoor Fun for the Whole Family:

Asheville, North Carolina
Located about two hours from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville is the perfect outdoor getaway. With horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking, and a thriving arts and food scene, your family will have plenty to do. Remember to pencil in some time to visit Sliding Rock, a 50 foot natural waterslide, the Botanical Gardens of Asheville, and Splashville, an interactive water feature in downtown Asheville.

Take Your Family to Texas:

Austin, Texas
Spring in central Texas offers beautiful weather without the punishing summer heat. From swimming in the naturally fed Barton Springs Pool, to riding Austin’s only Steam Train where you can take a step back in time, Austin boasts plenty of family friendly activities. Don’t forget to stop by the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex where you and your family can see a movie, go bowling, indoor roller skating, play at the arcade, and more!

The Ultimate Family Beach Getaway:

Key Largo, FL
Orlando and Daytona are well-known spring break spots, but have you heard about Key Largo? This is the perfect spot for water enthusiasts of all ages with parasailing, sunset cruises, paddle boards, and even the chance to swim with dolphins. Whether you spend your trip lounging on the beach, swimming, or touring the Everglades National Park, your family will have a blast at Key Largo!

Viva Las Vegas, College Students!

Las Vegas, NV
You certainly don’t have to be a high roller to have a good time in Las Vegas. Pool clubs like the Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage and the Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan are popular and affordable for college students during spring break, especially if you’re looking for a place to mingle, party, and cool off. For the more low-key college student, the Eiffel Tower Experience and the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay are fun, budget-friendly activities to do while visiting.

Party It Up South of the Border:

Cancun, Mexico
A popular hotspot for spring break, Cancun is full of white sand, sparkling beaches, and electrifying nightlife. You can pet exotic marine life such as stingrays at the Interactive Aquarium and eat delicious food at Senor Frogs and Dady’O. If you’re looking to take the all-inclusive route, Oasis Cancun and Salvia are budget friendly and offer pools, beach, daytime dance parties, and more.

Visit the Land of the White Cane Palms:

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
In Punta Cana, it’s all about the beach. With over 21 miles of fine, white, coral sand beaches, Punta Cana offers the luxury of beach-side fun at all-inclusive resorts like top rated Majestic Elegance and Hard Rock Hotel. These resorts offer large lagoon-style pools, top shelf drinks, nightly entertainment, rock climbing, meals, and more! The island also offers other thrilling activities like zip line tours, snorkeling cruises, and Central Romana Corporation, the largest sugar cane plantation in the country. Punta Cana promises a week packed with fun for you and your friends!

 

01/28/2015

Winter Travel Tips

Winter Travel

Winter travel is appealing to many people across the country. Whether you prefer to escape bitter cold temperatures to a sunny paradise or hitting the slopes atop a snow crested mountain, winter travel offers plenty of reasons to getaway. But successful winter travel means navigating through the snow, ice, sleet, or even freezing rain that can be unavoidable during this time of year. To that end, here are some travel tips to help you avoid spending time stuck in airports or on the side of the road.

Managing Flight Disruptions

1) Airport woes can happen anywhere. Delays and cancellations are the biggest problems for frequent travelers, especially if your travel plans include one or more flight connections. If non-stops flights are unavailable or out of the question and you must connect, connect via a warmer hub such as Phoenix or Dallas; versus Chicago or Minneapolis for example.
2) Arriving at the airport early if your flight is affected can score you a better chance to hop on an earlier flight or book a different connection.
3) Purchasing travel insurance can pay huge dividends. Some benefits of travel insurance can reimburse you for substantial fees in the occurrence of covered trip delay or cancellation. Other advantages can include reimbursement for hotel stays, meals, and local transportation.


Safe Winter Driving Tips

1) Safety is at the forefront when it comes to driving during the winter months. Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Some key tips to remember:
A) Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
B) Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.
C) The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten.
2) Watching weather reports prior to a long-distance drive can help in determining if you should cancel your trip all together or if you can reroute your trip to avoid the path of the storm.
3) Before any trip you should make sure that your vehicle is in peak condition. Keeping at least half a tank of gas in your vehicle at all times and packing essential items such as extra blankets, food, water and any needed medication is advised.


Striking A Winter Deal

1) January and February are great months to find affordable winter vacations that provide far less crowds than December. Keep in mind with the holidays over, most schools are back in session and parents head back to work which equates to less congestion when traveling during this time.
2) In the coldest months, deals frequently emerge to lure hibernating travelers from their den. Some of the best travel deals are during “dead weeks” of mid to late January when, according to Peter Greenberg, travelers can save about 25%.
3) Many times after the holidays, airlines are left with half empty planes to fill. Airlines will often offer abundant fare sales and decrease ticket prices in order to fill these open seats. These winter sales may not always be advertised so checking out websites such as airfarewatchdog.com can be beneficial.

01/27/2015

Tips For Nervous Flyers

 

Nervous flyer

Does getting on an airplane make you nervous? If so, you’re not alone. According to Budget Travel, more than 25 million Americans suffer from flight anxiety, making aerophobia (fear of flying) the second largest fear in the U.S. after public speaking. 

You might be thinking your fear is warranted after nearly 1000 people died from plane accidents in 2014. But if your fear is so bad you’re thinking about skipping your next vacation, hold that thought. Here are five tips to help you combat flight anxiety and get you to that well-needed trip.

1) Flying is now safer now than it’s ever been before

Since the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 and most recently the devastating crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 with 162 people on board, the thought of stepping onto a plane might make you cringe. Despite what you hear in the news reports, flying is actually one of the safest ways to travel with less than one accident occurring for every 1 million flights. You’re more likely to get into a car accident on the way to the airport than wind up in a plane crash.

2) Share your feelings

Don’t conceal your fear. Many times if you share your apprehension with the gate agent when you check in and the flight attendant when you board, you’ll receive assurance and support. Often times, flight attendants will go out of their way to check in with fearful flyers several times during the duration of the flight, so don’t feel embarrassed to admit that you’re nervous about flying.

3) Avoid a hyper state of mind

Many nervous flyers drink caffeine or alcohol products while flying. This is a costly mistake that is important for travelers to understand and avoid. By pumping your blood stream with coffee for example, the caffeine actually intensifies your anxiety and can make you dehydrated. When you travel, make sure to drink planet of water and non-caffeinated liquids.

4) Treat turbulence like a pot hole

For many flyers, encountering turbulence is the most challenging and terrifying aspect of any flight. Pilots are thoroughly trained on air turbulence and typically receive general warnings from air traffic control or other pilots in the area flying near the same altitude. When air turbulence occurs, picture yourself in a car driving over a pothole instead of thinking about being in the air. It’s also important to keep your seatbelt fastened and allow your body to flow with the air movement instead of tensing up.

5) Choose the front of the cabin

At check-in or when selecting your seat at time of purchase, nervous flyers should ask for a seat at the very front of the cabin when at all possible. If air turbulence occurs during the flight, the effects are often less noticeable in the front of the aircraft than in the rear. If you have an extreme dread of flying, don’t try to overcome your fears on a long flight. Take the shortest flight you can and preferably in the biggest plane possible.

It’s important to keep these few tips in mind before you step into the airport. Visualizing your destination and imaging yourself there can be a powerful antidote to stress-and can help keep you focused. Close your eyes, relax, and focus on the positive aspects of your journey.

 

Top Travel Gadgets For 2015

IStabilizerMonopod-620x330

Every year we witness cutting edge technology and a wave of new gadgets, but which ones are essential to travelers? From the mother of all suitcases to a device that can jumpstart your car, mobile devices, and easily fit in your backpack or purse, here are our top five gadgets for 2015 travelers.

1) The Smartphone Selfie Stick

By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered “selfie” one of the top 10 buzzwords of theyear. Quickly sweeping the world, “selfie” has become common enough to be monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary. This opened up the doors for tech companies worldwide to create products such as The Smartphone Selfie Stick. This telescoping pole works with cell phones and cameras allowing you to capture photos of everyone in the selfie including scenic background images that otherwise may be harder to fit in a manual selfie shot.

2) Prynt

Remember when Polaroid cameras let you print photos immediately? A France-based company, Prynt is helping bring back those memories by developing a smartphone case that can instantly print your snaps. With smartphones continuing to advance their technology in HD lenses, it’s becoming increasingly popular to keep the bulky, digital cameras at home and rely on smartphones to capture your memories instead. Designed to support 30 sheets of paper and printing in less than 30 seconds, Prynt offers a new, revolutionary way to print your vacation or day-to-day photos quickly and most importantly, in a high quality fashion.

3) GoPro

Although GoPro isn’t new this year, its popularity has greatly increased and has become America’s fastest-growing camera company. Highly differentiated from what a smartphone can do, GoPro is making sharing life easier than ever. GoPro has changed the way travelers document their adventures and the company’s informative blogs now provide helpful GoPro travel tips to capture better photos and footage.

4) Cobra JumPack

Venturing on a road trip? The Cobra JumPack is the easy to fit in your palm, handy gadget booster that will rescue you when your car, motorcycle, boat, or other vehicle’s battery is dead. This tiny gadget will also charge your smartphone, tablet, camera, or other mobile device rapidly. The Cobra JumPack will charge devices multiple times in one charge making it perfect for emergencies like a power outage, traveling, or anytime your slowly wasting cell phone battery decides to give out on you. The Cobra JumPack includes jumper cables and two different re-charging methods, a wall charger for home and a 12V car charger. For $129.95 you can protect your travels and have portable power on the go.

5) Trunkster

What does the luggage of the future look like? Meet Trunkster, the world’s most revolutionary luggage which features zipperless entry for fast access, includes a removable battery with USB port, and has a built-in scale and GPS. With a fancy sliding door, high-tech travelers who are desperate to ditch the traditional zipper suitcases will be in luck. Beyond the sliding door, Trunkster comes with a built-in digital scale to help you avoid overweight luggage fees. The built-in battery allows you to charge your phone and mobile devices right from your luggage. For an additional $40 fee you can activate the bag’s GPS service and never worry about finding lost luggage again. For the frequent traveler who prefers fast and easy access to their belongings, and true convenience of powering up smartphones before a long flight, Trunkster is for you.

 

12/17/2014

5 Business Travel Tips

Business woman

Have you ever heard the term “road warrior?” There’s a reason frequent business travelers have earned the nickname. From dealing with airport security and feeling pressure to land the sale to sleepless nights in a noisy hotel and eating poorly, business travel can be stressful.


If you travel for business frequently, you may already have a system down that helps in avoiding these common pitfalls. For those that don’t, here are some tips to help make your next trip productive and enjoyable.

1) Pack Smart
Learning to carry-on luggage can be tight depending on the length of your travels but, if at all possible, this is the way to go. Carry-on bags allow you to depart the airport much more quickly and the possibility of lost luggage is diminished. Travel-size containers, a wardrobe that resists wrinkling, and vacuum storage bags are essential to obtaining the most space your carry-on has to offer.

2) Request a good night’s rest
If at all possible, choose a hotel where you know you’ll be comfortable. When requesting your room, request to be placed on a quiet side of the hotel away from the highway or roadways, elevators, and stairwells. You may not always be able to avoid a noisy neighbor from beside you or above you, but if you stress the importance of a quiet floor and room the hotel should be accommodating in placing you on a floor with minimal guests. A continental breakfast and free cup of hot coffee will help start your day with convenience and eliminate having to find a nearby breakfast chain.

3) Communication is key
While you’re away, it’s important to stay in touch - both with the office and your family. Taking 5-10 minutes out of a hectic day every couple hours to check in with your boss will help keep you in the loop of top priorities or emails that need attended to by the end of day. Find creative ways to stay in touch with your family. If children are involved, you can read stories over the phone, record your message at bedtime, and leave a series of notes for each day you’re gone. This allows you to stay well-connected even though you presence is not physical.

4) Healthy choices
Poor eating coupled with zero exercise and low sleep can take a toll on your body especially, while traveling. Often while traveling you go for convenience - that quick sweet roll that looks delicious when in reality the oatmeal right it will provide you with more sustained energy throughout the morning. Drinking plenty of fluids will also increase energy and relieve fatigue while flushing out toxins and boosting your immune system. Packing healthy snack options and making good choices to fit some type of exercise into your day will increase your energy, productivity, and help alleviate common stresses that are typically carried over from traveling to home.

5) Avoid Delays
If you’re flying, book or request to be on the earliest flight. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, flights scheduled to take off by mid-morning are more likely to depart and arrive on time than those scheduled for later in the day. If you have a connecting flight or a can’t-miss appointment, traveling early will reduce the stress of potentially having a delay. Although arriving on time depends by city, airline, and weather, you’re most likely to get to your destination on time if you give yourself plenty of extra time between locations.

12/08/2014

How To Stay Healthy While Traveling Abroad

Travel-Health-checklist-Pic1

Health seems to always be a topic of discussion when it comes to traveling. Most recently, Ebola has dominated the news headlines and instilled fear across the country. If you are planning a trip abroad in the future, here are some tips on how to travel with an eye toward maintaining your good health.

It truly is important to do your research before you travel abroad.

Before you depart, educate yourself on the country you will be traveling to and determine if diseases are prevalent or if outbreaks are occurring. The best outlet for online research is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. This site includes travel health notices as well as tips, articles, vaccine and immunization information and more. Other tips to keep in mind are:

• Don’t buy medicines abroad
• Take an ample supply of medications with you include over-the-counter drugs
• Research required immunizations at least 6 weeks prior to your departure
• Research the altitude at your destination and consider any lifestyle changes you may want to make

Another useful outlet is STEP. Enrolling in the STEP program is highly advised. STEP is The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program which is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The benefits of STEP include:

• Receive important information from the Embassy about health and safety conditions in your destination country
• Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency
• Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency

Important tips to remember during your trip:

• Exercise - During long trips, circulatory problems in your legs can occur. To help eliminate issues, stand up and walk every hour. You can also swing your legs and do ankle rolls to help the blood move through your body appropriately
• Eat and drink wisely - According to the FDA, you should avoid overindulgence as too much alcohol and/or food can result in gastrointestinal problems, poor sleep, and altered moods
• Fight off jet lag - Time-zone hopping can affect our bodies. Minimize fatigue associated with a time change by eating normally and getting a good nights sleep at your final destination

Healthy travel requires planning and preparation. Although no one wants to think about getting sick or having an emergency, sometimes it’s inevitable. By being proactive you can be better prepared for any possible issues that may arise.

10/31/2014

The Difference between Trip Cancellation and Cancel for Any Reason

Shutterstock_199552949_hand-w-travel-brochureOverlooking the unexpected events that occur in today’s travel world happens. Even the most carefully planned and well thought out trips can’t always avoid the surprises that life throws our way. We often don’t worry about serious emergencies, natural disasters, bankruptcy on a reputable cruise line, or loosing a job. Unfortunately, these events can and do happen and if your unprotected, your hard earned investment will suffer.

A common question that is asked when determining what type of travel insurance to purchase is, “What is the difference between trip cancellation and cancel for any reason?” We realize when selecting a travel insurance plan to cover your investment, these may seem similar or confusing. We will start with trip cancellation and the common reasons that reflect this coverage to be selected.

 

 Trip cancellation:

will reimburse, up to the plan maximum, the amount of forfeited, non-refundable, and unused payments or deposits that you paid for the covered trip if cancellation occurs before your scheduled departure date because of unforeseen circumstances. Examples of unforeseen circumstances are illness, injury, death, weather, and work related reasons such as layoff or termination. A Select plan will also reimburse additional costs incurred if the travel supplier cancels your trip and you elect to replace that travel supplier with a different travel supplier.

 Cancel for any reason coverage:

An option that can be added to your selected travel insurance plan. There are many common “what if’s” that may cause you to cancel your trip for a reason not covered under the plan. You can add this as part of your plan if you purchase coverage early and are concerned about cancelling your trip because you simply change your mind, encounter a work obligation, a change in weather occurs, your pet get’s sick, your visa is denied, or other life happenings that would fall into the “what if” category.

Travel Insurance Services is happy to assist you in:

1)Answering any questions that you may have.
2)Helping you identify coverage that will fit your needs.
3)Discussing optional benefits that will provide you with the most comprehenisve plans on the market.

Remember, whether it’s a trip of a lifetime, a yearly get-away, a special celebration, or a spur of the moment trip abroad, don’t put your trip at risk!

10/29/2014

10 Safety Tips for Students Traveling Abroad

Study Abroad

Studying abroad is often associated with excitement, independence, cultural awareness, and personal growth. Any trip requires careful planning but students should be aware that in some study abroad destinations, safety should be kept in mind and deemed important.


Below are 10 important steps you can take to prepare for a safe trip abroad.


1) Be aware of any travel alerts and warnings for your destination
The State Department issues travel warnings and alerts to recommend postponing travel to a country if dangerous conditions are present and or civil unrest, terrorist activity, etc.


2) Familiarize yourself with customs and local laws
In any country you are expected to obey the laws. By researching the areas that you plan to travel, you are better equipping yourself with understanding telecommunication, restrictions, dress standards, curfews, etc.


3) Protect your passport
Theft of American tourist passports is on the rise. It is recommended that you carry your passport in a hidden portion of your clothes or a front pants pocket.


4) Use only authorized taxis
Be aware of gypsy taxis. Gypsy taxis are illegal taxicab operations and can be marked taxi vehicles, speedy cabs, or personal vehicles used by an individual to offer unauthorized taxi-like services.


5) Do not carry large amounts of cash
Always deal with reputable currency exchange officials or you run the risk of receiving counterfeit currency.


6) Do not take unnecessary identification or credit cards
Take only what you need. Obtaining travelers checks is a good alternative.


7) Make copies of necessary documentation
Making copies of passports, driver’s license, and airplane tickets will help speed the replacement process if they are lost or stolen. Keep a copy at home; carry a second copy with you but keep separate from the original.


8) STEP
Enrol in STEP-The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program which is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and national traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling, you receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions, and help the U.S. Embassy and family get in touch with you in case of an emergency.


9)Travel Insurance
Many parents or students do not realize that they might not be covered by their health insurance when they travel abroad. Many do not cover emergency treatment outside of the country; should an emergency occur. Study USA Healthcare provides plans specifically geared toward students and can help you in selecting the right plan for your trip.

 

10) Keep track of all local emergency numbers
Store emergency contacts into your phone while abroad such as-the nearest US Consulate or Embassy, local police and fire stations, a local authorized cab company, you’re hotel, and any other numbers you may need in a pinch.

10/24/2014

How To Pack a Suitcase More Efficiently

Suitcase OverflowingWe have all been there-trying to squeeze as many of our belongings into one bag and hoping the zipper won’t bust. With almost every airline charging $25+ for you first checked bag and $50+ for overweight bags each way, it’s now more important than ever to pack efficiently.

Whether it’s for unexpected weather, a flight delay or cancellation, or deciding to extend your stay by a couple days The answer isn’t telling you to pack less because let’s face it-you want to have wardrobe options when you travel.

Here are 5 packing tips and ideas to help maximize space in your suitcase more efficiently:

1) Roll your clothes

 A common packing technique and the best way to fit the most into your suitcase. Rolling your clothes not only provides more space but rolled clothes tend to wrinkle less than folded clothes.

2) Utilize your shoes

 Shoes take up a lot of space inside a suitcase. Utilize them by stuffing socks, underwear, jewelry, and other small items to help maximize space.

3) Shrink heavy articles

Travel Space Bags are a great option to shrinking down bulky and heavy articles of clothing. You do not need a vacuum to operate and these bags will keep your clothes wrinkle free and protected.

4) Invest in travel gear

Grooming accessories and hygiene products are bulky and take up space. The good news is, most are available in travel sizes. You can also buy a mini brush and comb, travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush, a mini hair dryer, travel-sized bottles for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.

5) Pack awkward items first

Pack items such as shoes, purses, and blow dryers around the outer perimeter, and then work your way in. Use the odd-shaped cracks between items to tuck in your socks, bathing suits, and belts.

Share with us!

Do you have any helpful packing tips or secrets that save you space while traveling?