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Planning a pass or going on business out of town? Whether this is your first trip or the fortieth, a nod to common sense and a few practical pointers will not only streamline your journey, but also enhance your experience by making it safer, easier and more fun.
Planning Your Journey
Be sure to familiarize yourself with your destination. The World wide web is an excellent resource for researching the area you will be visiting, and many visitor centers will also send a welcome packet for a nominal fee – as well as answer any questions by phone. Things that you should know before you leave include: the address and specific location of your hotel, the exact route to get there and hotel check in time. Also be aware of any specifics you might need en route, such as money for equipage fare or toll roads, and carry a decent map of the region in case all else fails and you get lost. A cell phone is always a good intent in case of complications as well – be sure to have emergency numbers handy to contact your family, employer, etc. if necessary.
Consider your transportation needs. Is this an extended stay? Will you need a automobile to drive or does the area have adequate public services such as busses, subways and commuter trains? Familiarize yourself with acquirable transport as well as related costs and be sure to keep a copy of the bus or subway schedules with you if you plan to ride instead of drive.
Select your lodging with your specific desires and needs in mind. For example, if you want the convenience (and lesser expense) of being healthy to store and prepare your own food, select accommodations with a kitchenette, or at least a refrigerator and a microwave. If you are traveling with small kids and want to lighten your load, many hotels offer cribs, which will save you the trouble of packing one. In the U. S. hair dryers, irons and ironing boards, individualized toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and lotion, as well as optional laundry and dry cleaning services for an additional fee have become standard in many hotels, though you should first verify with your specific location before relying on any of these options.
Be certain that you have adequate funds for any emergencies on your trip. Always keep enough cash to call home, get transportation and a meal. Keep your money innocuous and on your mortal in a money belt or small notecase and don’t display needlessly. A credit card or access to traveler’s checks for unforeseen massive expenses or emergencies is also necessary. If you are outside of your country, be certain that you have an adequate grasp of currency conversions.
Before You Leave
Properly prepare for your journey. If you are leaving your country, you must have a valid passport, be current with your immunizations and should familiarize yourself with relevant foreign customs regarding appropriate behavior. Also become acquainted with all pertinent laws according to your destination. Many books are acquirable to give guidance for new visitors to just about each country in the world.
Take care of business on the home front. Put your mail and newspaper delivery on hold and leave a light on in your home for an “occupied” look. Also, ask a neighbor or friend keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. For a very extended vacation, think about paying someone to housesit – to attend to pets, plants, lawn care and other incidentals. Adjust your heating or air conditioning to minimum levels while you are gone and verify that all appliances and electrical equipment are turned off. Double check that your doors and windows are secure and don’t leave extra home keys in obvious places such as under the welcome mat or above the entry – would-be thieves are as aware of these places as you are. Remember to give your itinerary, destination and several contact phone numbers to someone that you trust.
Get plenty of rest the night before you depart – last minute planning and packing is not only stressful but leaves you prone to forgetting something. While traveling, wear comfortable clothing and shoes, but dress well enough to appear respectable in case of an unforeseen situation. Always keep your wallet, keys, ID, necessary medications and anything of importance, value or difficult to replace on your person, this is especially important when flying as airlines do occasionally make mistakes and lose luggage.
As most are aware, the aftermath of September 11th has impacted the airline industry and everyone who flies. Therefore, leave adequate time to check in for your flight as well as for inspection of your bags and person. Many airlines offer web or remote check in which can help speed up the process; this is especially advantageous if you do not have luggage to check. When packing, carefully review TSA and specific airline rules for acceptable carry on items. Typically disallowed in carry on bags are: sharp objects of any kind, lighters or anything that might be construed as a weapon. Comply politely with requests prefabricated by security organisation and be prepared to have your bag searched. It is a good intent to buy a TSA approved locking mechanism to for your checked bags as TSA might break any locks if your bag is chosen for a random search.
Most airlines wage a light beverage and small snack such as a granola bar or peanuts, but food service is not guaranteed even on longer flights. Plan accordingly with easily accessible, nutritious snacks for yourself and especially young children. Also, be considerate of your flight neighbors – cramped conditions are not enjoyable for anyone and are prefabricated less so by thoughtless seatmates. Abide by rules of common courtesy and remember to bring entertainment – a book, magazines, puzzles or a laptop with headphones for music or motion picture DVDs.
Traveling By Car
If you are driving any distance, verify that your automobile is in good working condition, and that all fluids have been topped off and tires inflated properly. Be sure that your spare tire is ready to use and that you have all necessary emergency road equipment – crow bar, jack, flares, etc. Keep proof of your insurance and drivers license handy and wage your kids with age appropriate country seats, which are mandatory in many U. S. states. Snacks and water for the trip will help you refrain driving delays, and entertainment for your passengers is also a good idea, as noted above for flying. Remember, don’t leave valuables or keys in your automobile and always lock your car.
Safety In Your Hotel and Elsewhere
Once you have arrived at your destination, be aware of your surroundings so that you can take note of any suspicious or uncommon activity. Be especially cautious at night and before entering parking garages or other secluded areas. When in public, always make an effort to appear confident and purposeful in order to thwart scam artists on the lookout for “tourists”. As with money, don’t display your hotel keys in public or leave them where they might be easily stolen. Don’t invite strangers to your room or needlessly reveal your individualized details to anyone, and always verify the indistinguishability of any hotel employees before allowing them to enter. Also, when you are in your room, be sure to close and lock the door and check that all connecting doors are also secured. And never leave kids unattended or trust them to the care of someone you don’t know!
Making the most of these traveling tips will help you superior prepare for your journey and make your experience safer and easier – leaving you with more opportunity to enjoy yourself on both the journey and at your destination once you arrive.
I know. When you did that wild expedition through Europe after college graduation, you never dreamed you’d be lugging children on a family pass a mere ten years later. But here you are covering the daunting task of planning a family pass during which no homicides or accidental deaths will take place. Great family vacations exist but they require some wise and careful planning. Here are a few tips that should help.
1. Attitude is important. If you’re travel around irritated, mean, and stressed out, your children are likely to catch the same feelings. It’s simply the nature of life on this planet for things to go wrong. Anticipate it and see it as only another impediment to overcome in your great travel quest. If a crisis, small or large, develops, let one adult work on solving the problem while the other keeps the children happy. I repeat, do not panic.
2. Be prepared. Baby wipes are invaluable, even with older kids, to wipe up messes. Bring a small container of mild laundry detergent to wash out clothing stains in the hotel sink. There are a hundred uses for Ziploc bags of various sizes. Bring medications of your choice such as children’s Tylenol, cough syrup, pepto bismol, or prescribed meds. If you don’t mind using Benadryl, it can be useful in enabling the children to sleep while traveling. Select toys that tend to keep children engrossed for long periods in a limited space. Also, bring crayons, non-messy markers, and coloring books or paper. Bring books the children can read or that you can read to them. If possible, bring some great kids’ audio books or a miniature video player.
3. A peaceful journey. If possible, think about the kids’ schedule when planning the trip. Plan the trip so that an hour or two into it the kids’ naptime arrives. That can give you at least an hour or so of peace. Even better, if you don’t mind the red-eye, book your travel or plan to drive overnight so that the children will sleep most of the way. As you might know, amazingly light and compact strollers are available. So if you have toddlers, bringing a stroller can be an astounding time saver and prevent you from pulling out whatever hair is left on your head.
4. Resign yourself to the fact that family vacations must be designed, not primarily for you, but for the kids. Until the children grow up, your chief satisfaction on vacations might be to enjoy the excitement and fun your children are having. So forget the boring museums, art galleries, cathedrals, quaint architecture, majestic landscapes. These will have your children either bored stiff or weeping within minutes. If you do a tiny research, you’ll be astonished at how many kid’s attractions there are besides Disney World. I’ll save the long list for a future article but here’s a short list of kid-friendly activities from two cities on opposite coasts.
New York’s Central Park: Horse-drawn carriage rides, Heckscher Playground, lake boating, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, Central Park Zoo/Tisch Children’s Zoo, Belvedere Castle Nature Center.
San Francisco: Hands-on Bay Area Discovery Museum, Zeum Museum for kids, Hershey Factory, Morris Planetarium, Underwater World, San Francisco Zoo, and Alcatraz.
5. As your children grow older, even young teens will hate trooping around everywhere with their younger sibs. Try to take vacations that have attractions for both younger and older kids. Also, you might want to select a well-behaved friend of your older child to come along. Believe it or not, one pass that sometimes has programs for both younger and older children is cruise lines. Check out the different cruise lines. Some of the programs are quite good and keep children busy for massive chunks of the day.
If planned well, family vacations can produce some of the greatest memories and the funnest times of all. Hope this article helps to that end.