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  • 7 Great Tips for a Smooth Vacation

    2012-06-22

    Finally!

    You’ve been planning this summer trip for months to celebrate your daughter’s high school graduation…your 50th anniversary…your birthday. This trip is a big investment. Airfares are at an all time high and you’ve not only paid for flights, but for the vacation house, the cruise or the adventure trip. Increasingly, we have to pay up front for travel.

    Now it’s nearly time to go and finally, everyone is as excited as you are. That’s gratifying since it wasn’t easy getting everyone on board with the idea, much less choosing a date. Whenever you travel with kids and extended family, everyone has an agenda and everyone thinks they know best. We came up with 51 different great ideas for summer family vacations!

    But whether you have booked a cruise, a trip to Europe or an adventure to Costa Rica, you still have a little work to do before you leave to make sure the trip goes as smoothly as possible. After all, you can’t return a vacation and you’ve spent too much time and money to let this trip get derailed.

    Here’s what you need to do: 

    1. Be clear with everyone about who is paying for what. You don’t want to get into family spats over who is picking up the dinner bill or the drinks every night.
    2. Have a frank discussion with the kids about souvenir spending. How much money are you giving them? Do they have money of their own to spend? Encourage them to start a collection like patches, pins or stickers. (They can put stickers from where they’ve visited on their reusable water bottles and pins on a hat or backpack.)
    3. Encourage the kids to help plan the itinerary wherever possible. For example, each child who is old enough could plan a day in Europe or in port on a cruise. You will be amazed at the places they will lead you! Another plus: The kids will be more cooperative with your picks.
    4. Book excursions and tours ahead whenever possible. It not only lessens the stress level but will ensure you get to do what you want to do when you want to do it. In Europe, for example, you can book private tours with locals. See what I wrote about the experience. If you have a group of even four, you may do better to arrange private tours than large cruise tours.
    5. Buy travel insurance. Travel Guard’s Gold Plan provides coverage for children aged 17 and under at no additional cost and can cover you if you have to cancel at the last minute because your mother-in-law gets sick or your son breaks his ankle playing soccer. You can also be covered if one of you gets sick or injured along the way or your flights get delayed and you have to overnight someplace unplanned. Coverage through credit cards and homeowner’s policies may not provide the coverage you need while traveling and health insurance plans may not provide direct payment to foreign hospitals. (In my case, the hospital billed the travel insurance provider directly.)
    6. Allow for down time wherever you are going. The kids—and the grandparents—may need a nap. Everyone certainly will want time to play in the pool, at the beach, in the park.
    7. Leave museums and attractions when everyone has had enough. They will be there the next time you visit!

    Most important, relax. In the end, it is the journey together that matters most, not the destination.

    For more tips from Eileen, visit www.takingthekids.com and check out her new book, The Kid’s Guide to New York City. 



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AJ Sosa