Category Archives: Travel

Cruising With Kids

By Steven W., our family blogger

43_2523216.JPGCruising can be an ideal way to travel with young children due to the many onship activities and programs for your children, and due to the convenience of your cabin and the dining room when returning from a day long excursion.

We enjoyed a 15 day Hawaiian cruise aboard the Diamond Princess last November with our 1 year old and 4 year old. Here are some unique travel tips we learned that other families may find useful:

1) Get online early

On the first day that online access is available for your cruise, sign up for the children’s program (“Princess Pelicans” for our cruiseline), Reserve shore excursions, and make spa appointments. If you wait just a day or two later, the prime times will be booked already.

2) Create a master calendar

Write down dinner reservations, shore arrival/departure times, spa appointments, excursion info, and any special event times you don’t want to miss. There is so much to see and do during the cruise, that a master calendar really helps you get the most out of your vacation.

3) Pack a wristwatch for each adult

You may think that you won’t need to know what time it is during your cruise, but you will. There are few if any clocks on board, not even in your cabin. We had to turn on the television to see the time. Cell phones could be useful, but they should be off. A waterproof watch is useful both for the spa and the beach.

4) Pose for pictures every night before or after dinner

Unlike most professional photographers, there is no sitting fee charged for the photographers aboard the ship (depends on the ship). So, gather up your family and pose for pictures every night before or after dinner. You won’t have to pay or buy anything, and who knows, one of the photos may turn out great!

Bring your own USB memory key to get digital copies of your photos. And wait until the end of the cruise then buy several photos in a package deal.

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5) Eat dinner at the same table every night

This may sound boring, but if you want to enjoy your dinner, it is best to find a good waitstaff, and then stick with them for the duration of the cruise. Your child’s needs (highchair, milk before you order, extra alphabet soup) will be met quickly as the waitstaff gets to know your family, leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy your meal.

One more tip: pack a goodie bag of inexpensive little toys for each child for each night in the dining room. This will keep the kids entertained while waiting for the adults to order and the food to arrive.

6) Rent a mini-van (with a carseat) for excursions

On most, if not all, of the Hawaiian islands, I would recommend renting a minivan.
We did this at Hilo and Kauai, and it worked out great. You can go at your own pace, see the sights you want to, and stop whenever the kids need a meal break or potty stop.

Every island stop had rental car shuttles to take you to the airport to get your vehicle. Plan on spending an hour to get the car and an hour to return the car, reducing your time by two hours. But it is well worth it for the flexibility it gives your family, and much less expensive than the organized excursions.

7) Use the porter

When traveling with kids, a porter is a necessity, not a luxury. Don’t try to save $20 by unloading and loading your luggage yourself. They help with luggage during arrival and departure. Tip generously upon arrival and you may find your luggage gets to your room before you do.

Happy cruising, and let us know if any of these tips helped you! Email us your tips!!

Related Articles:

Cruising for Christmas

One of our staff is going on a cruise over Christmas.  She’ll be in warm weather, we’ll be here in Minnesota.  The good news is it hasn’t snowed here (Minnesota had two servings of winter last year, so it looks as if we may be evening out for the 2011-2012 season).

The better news is that our team member is checking out this list of special things to pack on a cruise.

Special Items

  1. Big items
    If you’re bringing bigger items (golf clubs, scuba gear, strollers), check with the cruise line to see if these items are available to rent. It might save you some extra room and travel expenses.
  2. Extra cash
    Bring plenty of cash for your end-of-cruise tips. Some cruise lines will add suggested gratuities to your onboard account which you will take care of at the end of the cruise. Check with your cruise line’s policies so that you know when and what will be charged.
  3. Be sure to pack a good watch.
    You’ll need to watch the time on your shore excursions in order to make it back to the ship on time.
  4. Small day bag.
    Also, consider packing a small day bag to use just for your shore excursions to carry your money, ids, camera and any other essentials.
  5. Pack a carry-on bag just for the boat
  6. When you check in to the ship, your bags will go through security and might not be brought to your room until a few hours later. Pack all important items that you might need in your carry-on (meds, special needs, swimsuits, other entertainment items).
    • Do NOT put valuables in bags you are checking (electronics, jewelry, camera, money, credit cards, etc.). Put them in your carry-on if you can.
    • Bring all medications in your carry-on. They should be in their original labeled container. Bring prescription copies as well as a list of the generic names.
  7. Be sure to leave room in your luggage for souvenirs, clothes, gifts, etc.

Have fun if you’re cruising this holiday season!

3 Quick Tips for Traveling with Pets

Lots of people bring their pets on vacations.  There’s a lot to remember, but here are three of our favorite tips from over the years:

Food
I like to take out and measure each meal of food for the dog and put each meal in a small, resealable plastic bag. I know if I just grab one of those bags it’s the right amount of food and I don’t have to bring a measuring cup.
– Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advisor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish.

Water
A change in the water might cause diarrhea and intestinal distress for the pet. If you’re going to a different area, use bottled water. Also, your vet may be able to prescribe an anti-diarrheal medication or suggest a brand of canned food for your pet to prevent loose stools.
– Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds

And this one is just plain smart:

Phone Number
Have a little tag made that has your cell phone number on it (many pet stores have machines that do this) – stick that on your dog’s collar when you’re traveling. If your dog gets away, they’ll call you at home but you won’t be there!
- Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advsor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish

More tips here.

Vacation? Check These 6 Things

Go through this list and make sure you’ve got the names, numbers, dates, emails, and documents you need for  vacation.

  1. Hotel: Reconfirmed – Online confirmation printed or saved in phone – In person reservation? Get the name of the person you spoke with and the date – Confirmation number(s) – Email Confirmations Printed
  2. Airplane: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time – Confirmation number(s) – E-Ticket Printed or in Phone
  3. Car Rental: Reconfirmed – Confirmation number(s) – Email Confirmations Printed or in Phone
  4. Train: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time – Confirmation number(s) – E-Ticket Printed or in Phone
  5. Driving to your vacation destination? Call ahead and reconfirm: Your Arrival – Date/Time of Conversation – Person Spoke With – Confirming (and printing) route you’re planning to take
  6. Re-evaluate itinerary. Make any necessary changes. Leave a final copy with a friend, family member or trusted neighbor.

WHN TIP – At the Office: Leave your itinerary with a co-worker. Why? Often the first sign that something may be wrong is when someone doesn’t show up at work when they are due back.

‘Kids and Cars’ Safety Tips

With the kids back in school, you’re probably driving a car load of kids to soccer practice, ballet classes, baseball games and more.

Here are some kids and casr safety tips to share with all of the kids you’re taking around town.

  1. Never start the car until EVERYONE, including yourself, are buckled up.
  2. Remind children not to distract the driver while the vehicle is in motion.
  3. “Everyone must buckle up, no matter how short the trip,” says Jennifer Huebner from the AAA’s Traffic Safety Programs. Setting a consistent message each and every time reinforces the safety habit.
  4. “Everyone should have their own seat belt,” says Amanda Giruzzi, a representative of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Children should also be reminded to never sit in the car unless there is a seat belt for them. If there are only three seat belts in the back seat then only three kids should sit back there.”
  5. “Even if they’re riding in someone else’s car, they need to buckle up,” says Huebner. If kids feel like they are in an unsafe vehicle, like being asked to ride in the bed of a pickup, or if the driver seems unfit to drive, “your child should never get into a vehicle if they feel unsafe.”

Here are more tips on kids and car safety.

Road Trip: Money and Luggage

Here are a couple of nifty ideas from friends who have traveled on road trips:

Tag the Bag

Even though you’re not flying, here are a couple of labeling tips in your bags are somehow lost or stolen.

  1. Put on a luggage tag on the bag with your home address
  2. Put a label inside your bags (tape a card or a piece of paper to the inside) as a backup

Call for Credit

  1. Call credit card companies and let them know the dates you’ll be traveling and the cities you’ll be visiting. Why? Because if they see activity outside of your normal routine and they don’t know you’re traveling, they may put a security alert on your account, which means your credit card will be rejected.
  2. Reader Input: Letting the credit card company know travel dates was helpful for Mark, one of your fellow readers. His credit card company saw a charge AFTER he’d returned from Mexico and called to ask him about it.  Turns out they caught the fraud before he did!

Makin’ Copies

  1. Remember to make photocopies of all the credit cards (front and back) you’re taking with you.
  2. Give one copy to a friend or family member (who is not traveling with you…)
  3. Keep your copies in a different area from your wallet (i.e. luggage, locked glove compartment) in case you need to call and cancel your card.
  4. Bonus Tip: Write down the phone number you need to call your credit card company in case it’s lost or stolen.

– Susan

Vacations: Cruising with Kids

With colder weather and holidyas seemingly around the corner, thoughts of vacations are looming on the horizon (hopefully a warmer horizon.)

Our family blogger Steven has seven tips for cruising with kids – our favorite is #5:

Eat dinner at the same table every night
This may sound boring, but if you want to enjoy your dinner, it is best to find a good waitstaff, and then stick with them for the duration of the cruise. Your child’s needs (highchair, milk before you order, extra alphabet soup) will be met quickly as the waitstaff gets to know your family, leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy your meal.
One more tip: pack a goodie bag of inexpensive little toys for each child for each night in the dining room. This will keep the kids entertained while waiting for the adults to order and the food to arrive.

Thanks Steven!

– Susan

Don’t Be Rude, Threaten Me or Yell

MSNBC’s Chris Elliot has a nice article that talks about six things you should never do while traveling. A couple of examples – don’t be rude and don’t yell.

We were yelled at in an NYC airport for line jumping.  There was this very uptight woman who had obviously been waiting (and watching) the line. As we stepped into a line, she let us know ‘HEY – THE LINE IS BEHIND ME!”

Sadly, she had a faux-fit because we were actually in a completely different line than she was. She was kind of embarassed, and we just felt bad for her because – wow – what a day she was having!

Check out  10 flying do’s and don’t’s.

Quick Advice: Pet Travel Kit

Great advice after we tweeted about Pet Travel Kits – Rachel Farris from PetRelocation.com contacted us with this tip for pets and airline travel:

>>For photocopies of health documentation, we use plastic shipping sleeves (normally used for address labels) to secure the documentation to the top of the travel crate. These sleeves are great as they show the content, stick to the crate easily and usually have a resealable closure – perfect for airport officials to quickly and easily access the documentation.<<

Thanks Rachel!