(BPT) - Are you dreaming about an incredible family escape your loved ones will always remember? Perhaps your dream vacation is filled with adventure while eating around the world and exploring castles in faraway places, or maybe it’s relaxing on a private island with picturesque views of crystal clear water. Before taking off, you need to tackle the logistics. Fortunately, with a few tips from those in the know, creating an unforgettable getaway can be as magical as taking one.
Tip #1: Get the inside scoop
No idea where to begin? Talk with a trustworthy resource or fellow parent who has “been there.” The honest and relatable vacation tips you’ll receive are invaluable and can ease the planning process. For example, individuals thinking about planning a Disney vacation should visit www.disneyparksmomspanel.com, an online resource providing authentic answers to guests seeking advice from in-the-know panelists with years of vast experience.
The panel, which recently announced the addition of 11 new moms, dads and grandparents, includes your next-door neighbors, your good friends, and above all else, seasoned vacationers you can count on for genuine advice when planning your next getaway to a Disney destination. The panel can give you a personalized response in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese.
Tip #2: Find an all-appealing destination
You probably have a few ideas of where to go, but brainstorming destinations with your travel crew can provide helpful feedback and insight into everyone's interests. Maybe your best friends are making brunch a priority for your girlfriends' getaway. Or Grandma has a few “memory making” ideas for her vacation with the grandkids. Your fickle pre-teen even has a dream destination you might not know of, and your kindergartner is sure to throw a few ideas into the ring.
After you make a list of everyone's thoughts, do some research online. Poke around travel websites, talk with other parents and search www.disneyparksmomspanel.com for guidance. With a little digging, you can find experiences that appeal as much to your toddler as your teenager and even your best friend. The key is to make it a discussion, talk with others who are in the know and overall, enjoy helping you plan your escape. Whether you're going for a dream Disney vacation, planning a beach getaway, indulging in one-of-a-kind foodie experiences, (or all three!), there are plenty of places that grant everyone’s wishes.
Tip #3: Be proactive about special requirements
Keep special needs top of mind when booking accommodations. For example, all U.S. hotels are required to offer wheelchair-accessible rooms, but international hotels follow different guidelines, so be sure to ask. Additionally, if you have a sensitive child who prefers a calmer environment, book a hotel room away from the pool or other entertainment spaces.
Another common concern for families is food allergies. To ease worries, plan ahead. Experienced jetsetters suggest asking restaurants for their ingredients charts and nutrition information or requesting to speak directly to the chef. You can even call airlines and hotels early to ask about allergy policies.
Bottom line: It's easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when planning a family getaway. Each age has different considerations, but with some smart strategizing and advice from the right people, you can create memories to last a lifetime. These three tips will have you well on your way to experiencing an epic family vacation.
A vacation for the family is no small expense, but with these tips you can minimize the hit your wallet takes and focus instead on exploring new places while making great memories.
Family Travel You Can Afford
(Family Features) A vacation for the family is no small expense, but there are plenty of ways you can minimize the hit your wallet takes and focus instead on exploring new places while making great memories.
Travel during off seasons. Although peak season varies by destination and region, virtually every location has an off season when demand is lighter and so are prices, for everything from hotel rooms to entertainment. The one downside is that while off season travel can be great for a strict budget, lower tourist traffic means many attractions and amenities may offer reduced schedules or even close. An alternative is traveling during what’s known as the shoulder season, the transitional timeframe between peak and off-peak seasons, when it’s easier to find the best of both worlds: lower prices and plenty of things to see and do.
Pack your snacks. Particularly if you’re traveling with small children, there’s no way to avoid frequent stops for restroom breaks and burning off some energy. Outfitting the whole family with a drink and snack at every stop can quickly add up. Instead, carry a supply of treats and drinks in a cooler, if there’s room, so you can refresh and recharge but skip the added expenses.
Shop smart for gas. Just as you’ve likely noticed in your hometown, gas prices can fluctuate from one area to the next. When it’s time to fill up, avoid densely populated tourist areas where prices tend to be higher. There are also several smartphone apps that can help identify the best prices in your immediate vicinity.
Leverage rewards programs. Whether it’s a retail shopping card or an incentive program on your credit line, take maximum advantage of your available rewards to help defray travel costs. Cash in points to earn credit on essentials like gas, hotel costs and more, depending on your program offerings.
Practice fuel-efficient driving. If weather allows, use the vents or windows to cool down rather than the air conditioner. Make sure tires are properly inflated. Try to limit abrupt changes in speed with hard accelerations and braking, and use cruise control when traffic conditions allow.
Eat on the cheap. Do your research ahead of time to find deals at restaurants on your route. Look for “kids eat free” deals and other specials. Also take advantage of the free meals offered at many hotel chains, such as hot breakfast buffets.
Comparison shop. If you can pinpoint where you’ll be each night of your trip, you can compare hotel rates ahead of time. Not only can you get a better deal, you’ll avoid the risk of bouncing from one lobby to the next in search of vacancies.
Enjoy simple pursuits. Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Skip the pricey amusement parks in lieu of a scenic hike or a new experience like zip lining. National parks and historical sites offer plenty of low-cost adventure for families of all ages.
Find more tips for travel and other family-friendly activities at eLivingToday.com.
Bringing Nostalgia Back to Road Trips
A family road trip can bring on a strong sense of nostalgia. Although much has likely changed since you embarked on your first journey as a child, there are still plenty of ways to appreciate road tripping with the family and bring the best of “then” to “now.”
Seating selection. A generation ago, road trips meant putting down the seats in the station wagon and creating a giant play space in the rear of the car. Keep the same spirit in your road trips now by attaching a travel kit in an accessible bag or organizer to the front seat backs to hold plenty of diversions.
Electronic-free entertainment. Handheld devices and headphones may be the norm for this generation, but there’s no time like a family road trip to put down the electronics. Old-school games like I Spy, Make the Trucker Honk and The Alphabet Game add some free, fun entertainment that encourages a look out the window at the passing surroundings.
Vehicle maintenance. Remember the old 3-months or 3,000-mile oil change rule? Forget about it. Most of today’s vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles. However, to prepare for your family road trip and avoid mechanical failures along the way, most mechanics will offer the same tip: change the oil. If you haven’t already, consider making the switch to a synthetic motor oil such as Kendall GT-1 Max to help your engine achieve maximum performance and extend the time between oil changes to give you more time on the open road. An AAA engine oil research study confirmed synthetic motor oil performs better than conventional motor oil by nearly 50 percent. Also remember to check your vehicle’s fluids, battery, wipers, tire tread and air pressure to ensure road-trip readiness. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance information according to the manufacturer.
Gas prices. When the Griswold family hit the road on their infamous trek to Walley World 34 years ago, gas rang up at $1.16 a gallon. Today the national average for a gallon of gas is $2.49. While yesterday’s gas prices will likely never return, a road trip is still an economical choice for families. Consider a one-tank destination over a cross-county trek to help deliver a memorable experience with your family.
Plan your road trip with more tips and ideas at kendallmotoroil.com/roadtrip.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (family packing car)SOURCE:
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions. Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes had little to no or little impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean – a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.
The Caribbean is Open for Cruise Vacations
(Family Features) Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes in September had little to no impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean – a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.
In fact, of the nearly 100 ports in the Caribbean, almost 90 percent are open and fully operational – and welcoming thousands of cruise ship passengers every day.
To help make sure consumers are aware that the Caribbean is open for business, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has launched a campaign and website, CaribbeanIsOpen.com, to provide the latest updates.
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions.
The locals welcome vacationers to their islands as tourism, and the cruise industry in particular, is critical for the economy.
According to the FCCA, cruising generated $2.4 billion in direct economic impact for the Caribbean and created nearly 55,000 jobs and $842 million in wages throughout the region during the 2014-15 cruise season. This is in addition to the indirect jobs created in supporting industries, such as providing supplies for shore excursions, ports and restaurants.
“Seasoned cruisers to the Caribbean understand that most of the islands have been unaffected,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, chief content strategist for the website Cruise Critic. “They also understand tourism is a top driver for the islands’ economic well-being and that cruises are a large part of that equation. Because of that, it’s important for both cruise lines and travelers to continue to support so many of the Caribbean islands that are ready for business and eager to provide travelers with the incredible vacations they’ve come to expect from the region."
Now is an ideal time to plan a Caribbean cruise vacation. Contact a local travel agent or check out cruise line websites to find plenty of options for cruise vacations.SOURCE:
Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association
(BPT) - No matter where you live, spring travel is synonymous with the search for warm weather. While the sunshine may help keep the blues at bay, it takes more than just golden rays to make a trip unforgettable.
Whether you're taking a family vacation, a couples escape or a getaway with friends, these insider tips will help you plan a successful trip:
Look for deals at well-known destinations
The best trips happen when you find a destination that everyone loves and you stay on budget. Start by researching areas that have something for everyone so no one feels left out. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — with virtually endless attractions, world-class dining and 60 miles of beautiful shoreline — is one of these gems that also happens to be affordable. Countless deals can be found in any season at www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.
Once you determine your destination, dig in to find the deal that's right for you. Some hotels and resorts offer themed packages that also provide deep discounts on museum tickets, concerts and other special events. Or you can make your own trip, allowing each member of your party to pick their favorite must-see attraction.
Try something new
It's important to enjoy some R&R, but also make time to try something new on your trip. This will take you outside your comfort zone, which can stimulate the mind in new and exciting ways. What's more, it's how you create lasting memories.
With growing interest in adventure travel, many destinations are offering exciting and fun experiences for all age groups. In Myrtle Beach, for example, you can try cable boarding at Shark Wake Park, which allows you to wake-board without a boat, or indulge your inner speed demon by racing around a track in the area's NASCAR Racing Experience.
Embrace experiential eating
Eating is one of the best ways to truly experience what makes a destination unique, so be sure to eat like a local, and maybe even fish like one, too. Eating turns into a memorable experience when you've helped catch your main dish. Sign up for a shrimping, crabbing or a deep-sea fishing excursion and enjoy an adventure plus a delectable meal.
If you'd rather avoid the open sea, you're not out of luck. Seek out restaurants that source ingredients locally. That could mean eateries that boast a farm-to-table or sea-to-table experience so you enjoy the freshest fare available.
Become a history buff
Virtually anywhere you go in the United States, you'll discover a fascinating history of how it came to be. When you make time to explore museums, walk stunning gardens and visit memorials, you'll be able tell tales back home that you would otherwise have never known.
For an insider's glimpse into history, check out National Historic Landmarks. For example, Hopsewee Plantation in the Myrtle Beach area was built an estimated 40 years before the Revolutionary War. In addition to beautiful scenery, you'll experience the heritage of the area up close.
These four steps will help you plan a vacation that your travel crew will be raving about long after you return home. Best yet, you'll have memories that will last a lifetime.
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