Posts Tagged ‘Travel Tips’

International Travel Tips For Family Vacations

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Planning a vacation is pretty stressful, especially if it involves an entire family. Plane tickets and travel arrangements alone are a nightmare to sort out, never mind choosing sites to visit that will make everyone in the family happy. However, the most important thing to consider when planning an international trip is passports.  By ensuring that all passports are in order you will reduce your stress and avoid incurring expedited passport fees.

Passports

Passports are documents allow for an individual to cross international borders, whether by land, air, or sea. Without these documents entry into a foreign country may be denied as well as re-entry back into the country of origin. For this reason it’s imperative that all members of your family have their passports including infants and children. Children used to be able to travel on their parents passports, however due to stricter laws to prevent child trafficking even infants need passports.

Airfare

Airfare will most likely be the bulk of your financial burden for the vacation. This is why it’s important to shop around for airfares. It’s always better to try comparative search engine sites over direct company sites. It is recommended that you check at least three sites to get a good comparison and quote on flights for your family. When traveling with toddlers be sure to have all necessary items for them as well as ask for assistance, like pre-boarding options. This will help reduce stress levels while traveling as well.

Accommodations

Although in the United States it is not practice to haggle a hotel price down, it is common in foreign countries. Often by calling ahead of time and paying in advance you can significantly lower the price. Small owned hotels often have the owner behind the counter and they are much more likely to give you a discounted rate, especially if you pay up front. Also, hostels are another great way to reduce costs. Basically instead of renting a room, you’re renting a bed and most feature a meal too whether it is breakfast or dinner. Hostels are a great way to experience cultures too, as often you’re residing with people from other countries.

Safety

Just like you wouldn’t certain areas of New York City at night, you should be wary of the not so friendly areas of the destination you are visiting. Always check in with the hotel or hostel attendants and ask what the safe areas are. By staying in safe well lit areas you will avoid any trouble.

Keeping Documents Safe

Before leaving for your trip you should scan all important documents such as your passport, plane tickets, and driver’s license, anything that you will have on your person. This way if something goes wrong or you have a damaged passport or a stolen passport you have a back up copy. Depending on the country visiting pick-pocketing is common, and passports are coveted items. Some travel companies even recommend placing a decoy wallet in your back pocket and safety pinning a secret pocket in your pants or even carrying your money in your shoe.

By keeping these tips in mind when planning your family’s international trip you are sure to save money and reduce stress. Make sure all passports are in order to avoid having to get an expedited passport and remember that even infants and children need passports too. Once all passports are accounted for the fun planning can begin.

Traveling While Staying Safely Within Your Budget

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Going on vacation doesn’t mean you and your family will have to live off of bologna for a week. More than ever, cheaper travel options are becoming available, one of which is the passport card. Passport cards are much cheaper than normal passports and offer many similar benefits. These cards allow you to travel by land or sea to many areas surrounding the United States without having to invest in a full passport. There are websites that offer a passport card online application so you don’t even need to leave your home to get passport cards for your entire family.

One way you can save money when you travel is by staying with friends or family. Often one of the biggest expenses involved with a vacation is lodging, followed by food. Staying with a friend or family member can help reduce or completely eliminate these costs. A good host also often gives better travel advice than any sort of travel agent. Bring your own snacks and water bottles. Often, a water bottle at a theme park could end up costing the same as a whole case of water, so do your best to stock up with your own supplies. Some packed snacks also help kids satisfied without having to waste time and money driving through fast food restaurants or expensive convenience stores.

I recently booked a flight and saved a lot of money just by switching the day of my departure from Friday to Wednesday. Not only was the flight cheaper, but it was also less crowded. Being flexible with your travel dates can end up saving you a lot of money as well, so be sure to explore all your options. Also check the prices of different airlines as well as different airports. If you save $25 per person by driving a little further, you end up saving more money. If you are flying out of the country, make sure everyone, including your children, has a passport. If not, invest in a child passport or a renewal for yourself.

Driving is always an option. Although to some it may sound like a torturous option, there is some great advice online about how to pass the time and how to keep children entertained. I know some of my best vacation memories come from the actual car ride there. Compare the price of airline tickets for the entire family and the price you will end up paying for gas. Most of the time, especially with large families, driving ends up being the cheaper option.

A lot of people have told me that they have saved a lot of money by calling hotels directly and asking for the lowest possible rate. Also, look for coupons online for hotels surrounding your destination. Be a little flexible with the expectations you have for a hotel. Often, downgrading just a little bit could end up saving you a lot of money, especially with a large family.

There are plenty of ways to save money and stay on budget when you travel. Get your family passport cards with a passport card online application. Or, if you already have passports, get yourself a passport renewal. Vacations can be fun and liberating without having to break the bank, so spend the little extra effort in finding the cheapest options for you and your family.

How To Stay Sane If Your Flight Gets Canceled Or Delayed

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

So you’re sitting at the airport, and you hear that your flight’s been canceled. This can be an extremely stressful situation, especially when it’s an international flight. After an emergency passport replacement and spending hours learning a little bit of Spanish, it’s frustrating having to deal with travel delays. After all, you paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars for an airline ticket, and you jumped through all the loops and tricks of airport security. Getting yourself to your destination on-time while still retaining your sanity.

Probably the best thing you can do to help yourself in this situation is to be prepared beforehand. Research other flights that are available just in case yours gets canceled. Have all your options available, so that if something goes wrong, you don’t need to scramble to come up with a panicked Plan B. Also check the proximity of other airports in the area and see if the agent can rebook you on a flight there. Oftentimes, an agent might not weigh this option, but a friendly reminder can help them help you. Visit your passport office and make sure your passport is valid and that you have all the necessary paperwork required to travel overseas.

The first thing you need to do is keep your cool. Getting angry or upset is understandable, but it won’t end up helping you in any way. Stay patient and realize that the staff working the flight are probably just as stressed as you. Dropping expletives in their face will not get you any sort of benefits, no matter what situation you’re in. Remain firm, but be kind. You are more likely to get favorable results when remaining humane with the employee as opposed to threatening their life.

One of the key things to remember is that most airlines are obligated to give you a free night’s stay and a meal voucher if your flight is canceled due to their fault. This does not include inclement weather or other factors outside of the airline’s control, but it does include technical problems or staff problems.

Planning for a delay beforehand can greatly reduce the effects if you are faced with a delay or cancellation. First, try to book flights that are earlier in the day. If there is a delay that is effecting the entire airline, such as the weather, delays will begin to stack and flights will be pushed back later and later. The later flights will be the first to get canceled, and if you’re on the first flight of the day, you will be the first to go once the delay has ended.

Airline delays are notoriously stressful. However, it doesn’t need to be a situation that leaves you wanting to go on a homicidal rampage through the airport. Remain calm and carefully weigh your options. Remain patient with the airline personnel. Flying between countries is stressful enough. One of the greatest new things concerning international travel, however, is how easy it is to get a passport. Online passport offices offer great services, like emergency passport replacement or expedited passport replacement.

Long Trips Made Longer: How To Survive Trips With Kids

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Just the thought of a long car ride with a child is enough to make you tired. However, plane tickets can take a large toll on your bank account, and sometimes making the trip in the car is cheaper. With the economy struggling to get back on its feet, pinching a penny here and there can allow you and your family to take a much needed vacation. Canada and Mexico, as our closest neighbors, make great options for a very different kind of family adventure. Especially with the introduction of the passport card, you and your family can take a fun trip without the hassle of airports.

When I was little, my absolute favorite thing to do on car trips were the craft sets and coloring books. Armed with a Barbie coloring book, a zoo animals coloring book, and some washable markers and crayons, I would go to work for hours. Also, big felt pieces in all sorts of shapes with holes in them, along with some shoe laces, made the best little girl “sewing kit.” My little brother, on the other hand, loved the big building blocks. The best part of these blocks is the amount of assembling and disassembling possibilities.

My mom also provided me with these little “worksheets” with some easy puzzles on them. She would hand me one, I would complete it, and hand it to her to “grade.” I’m proud to say that I always got A pluses on those worksheets. Big books full of these puzzles are a great way to introduce some education to your child. For example, when I was a little bit older, I learned to add from this big book that taught me in the simplest sort of way. So view these long trips as a great learning opportunity!

With the huge strides technology has been making, new electronic toys for kids like the Leapfrog Leapster are great way for kids to enjoy educational video games that will keep them entertained for hours. Also, on a little less advanced side, you can record your child’s favorite storybook on tape. Get a tape recorder and record yourself reading the book, you could even change the names to include your child in the story! Also, don’t forget to include noises that indicate where to turn the page.

In order to get your passport card, you can either visit a passport agency or apply on line. These cards are dramatically cheaper than regular passports. They allow you to travel by land or sea to various destinations, but they won’t be good for a plane trip. This way, you and your family can go on vacation and not have to worry about dropping half your travel budget on investing in new passports.

So if you just need to get away for a while, you don’t need to dread taking along the kids. If you are thinking of hitting the famous beaches of Mexico or seeing some of Canada’s natural landscapes, all you need to do is see your passport agency or go online and apply for a passport card. No matter what you decide to do, the memories will be worth the little extra hassle. I certainly have some great memories with traveling with my family, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world.

Traveling Abroad: Unmasking Horizons

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Traveling abroad can be a really fun learning experience, but it can also be very stressful. If you are thinking of traveling to a foreign country, there a couple things you can do to make sure you’re ready for your trip. First, make sure you have a valid U.S. passport and visas if you need them. Take the time to fill out the emergency page of your passports in case you lose it so it can be returned to you.

Use a credit card whenever you can. This allows you to avoid exchanging currency and being charged for it. This also reduces the possibility that you will be gyped by a local who knows that you are a foreigner. Take a little time to learn the currency and how to count it correctly. Keep in mind the conversion rate. Prices are often misleading when you are armed with a different type of currency.

Do your best not to dress conspicuously. Making yourself stand out can make you an easy target for criminals. Don’t wear expensive jewelry and don’t carry around your expensive handbags. Keep your important documents, such as your passport and ID, as well as your money in a little pouch inside your shirt. Don’t carry around unnecessary credit cards or large amounts of cash, library cards, Social Security cards, or anything else that can put your identity at risk. Keep your passport in a very safe place along with your ID, these are your lifelines in a foreign country. It would be a good idea to make a copy of your passport and ID card to keep in your hotel or wherever you are staying.

Learn a few key phrases in the local language. You would be surprised how far this gets you in a foreign country. The locals with appreciate the effort you make in trying to blend in with their community as opposed to expecting to be accommodated. Make sure you know the local laws and customs. When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to these laws, even if you are not a citizen. Also, knowing the customs help more than you would think. In some places, burping is considered a compliment. Knowing these customs prevents you from accidentally offending anyone.

Keep first-aid with you at all times. Keeping some ibuprofen, antibacterial ointment, bandages, and other medical necessities such as prescriptions on you frees you from having to figure out another country’s equivalent. Also, bring your own water or a filtering water container. Even if the water is clean, it may be treated to different chemicals or minerals that your stomach may not be used to. Make sure you and your family are up to date with your shots. Different immunizations are suggested for every country you may enter, and making sure your family gets these shots can potentially save you from a really terrible sickness.

Don’t let the preparation keep you from traveling abroad. The world is so big, and exploring it piece by piece with your family can provide you with countless memories and unforgettable experiences. So grab your passports, and grab your family. The whole world awaits.  With the expertise of a reputable express US passport service, you can be on your way in no time.