1. Check the latest travel advice and subscribe to receive free email notifications each time the advice for your destination is updated.
2. Take out comprehensive travel insurance and ensure it covers you for the places you plan to visit and the things you plan to do.
3. Before travelling overseas register your travel and contact details online so we can contact you in case of an emergency.
4. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Carry extra passport photos in case your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it while you’re away.
5. Check with health professionals for information on recommended vaccinations and other health precautions. Remember that vaccinations can be an entry requirement for some countries. Also find out about taking medication overseas – certain medicines aren’t allowed in some countries.
6. Make sure that you have the right visas for the countries you are visiting or transiting and check any other entry or exit requirements.
7. Check to see if you’re regarded as a national of the country you plan to visit, and whether dual nationality will have any implications for your travel plans.
8. Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.
9. Obey the laws of the country you’re visiting even if these seem harsh or unfair by Australian standards. Don’t expect to be treated differently from the locals just because you’re Australian.
10. Keep in contact with friends and family back home and give them a copy of your itinerary so they know where you are.
As the busy summer car-rental season begins, prices are expected to climb. “In early June through the end of August, these rates will spike,” said Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group, which tracks the car rental industry. Last July, for example, the average rate for a weekly airport rental of a compact car booked seven days ahead was $369.62, or 56 percent more than the $236.73 charged in March, according to the Abrams Travel Data Index. Here are some tips to keep costs down.
Let go of name brands. Look beyond Avis, Hertz and other big national chains to independent agencies like Payless and Fox Rent a Car. Because of lower operating costs, their cars, which can be found at Web sites like CarRentals.com and CarRentalExpress.com, typically cost 15 to 30 percent less than rentals from mainstream agencies. Another company with an unfamiliar name, at least to most Americans, is the German agency Sixt, which has begun opening branches in the southeastern United States, including in Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, Fla. To boost brand recognition, the company, whose fleet includes BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Volkswagens, is offering deep discounts. For example, a Mercedes C-class cost $38.81 a day in late May at Sixt’s Orlando airport location, according to a recent search. By comparison, the lowest rate offered by Hertz for the same dates was $50.57 a day for a Kia Rio or similar economy car.
Dig for virtual discounts. Search for discounts and coupons on sites like Promotionalcodes.com and CouponWinner.com, or type in the name of a rental company and “coupon code” into Google to see what turns up. Rental car companies offer discount codes to members of frequent flier programs, and other organizations they partner with, including AAA, Costco and BJ’s, so check those sites if you’re a member. But don’t stop there. Most major car rental companies allow you to combine discount codes with a coupon code. For example, a full-size car from Hertz over Memorial Day weekend at Washington Dulles airport was $255.71 in a recent search. Plugging in the discount code 62455 for United Airlines frequent fliers and Hertz’s promotional coupon code, 168210, brought the price down to $160.02.
Track rates through Autoslash.com. This site, which continually checks for lower rates and coupons until your trip date, can be used in one of two ways: You can track the price of a rental booked elsewhere, or you can book directly through Autoslash, which currently works with Payless, Sixt, Fox and E-Z Rent-A-Car, and the site will apply any discounts it finds.
The drawback with the second option is limited inventory. Major companies don’t like the idea that Autoslash capitalizes on the fact that consumers can usually change or cancel car reservations at any time without penalty. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, as well as Hertz and Advantage, recently pulled its inventory from the site, as my colleague Ron Lieber recently reported. Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, won’t let AutoSlash list its cars either.
Avoid the airport. Off-airport locations are typically cheaper than airport locations, which tend to tack on fees that can raise the price by 30 percent or more. For example, a compact rental from Hertz at Boston Logan International Airport over the Fourth of July weekend was recently listed at $50.49 a day, or $219 a week with taxes at Carrentals.com, a unit of Hotwire. By taking the subway to the Arlington stop and walking a couple of blocks to the local Hertz lot, a traveler could cut costs to $39.98 a day, or $146.65 with taxes for the week.
Reserve the car for longer than you need it. This may sound counterintuitive, but tacking an extra day on to that weekly rental or even adding a couple of hours to extend it over a weekend — with no intention of returning the car that late — can actually lower your rate. The strategy takes advantage of lower prices aimed at leisure travelers who are more likely to travel on weekends, said Marty Paz, a telecommunications manager from Las Vegas who has become something of a car rental pricing sleuth since he began avidly renting cars to pad his frequent flier account. (Last year alone he rented more than 100 vehicles, accumulating a quarter-million miles.)
Mr. Paz said you are essentially tricking the system into thinking you’re booking a two-day weekend rental, which typically has a lower base rate, with the goal of returning the car early. For example, the rate for a midsize car rental from Alamo at the Las Vegas International Airport, from noon on Thursday, June 7, to noon on Friday was recently listed on Alamo’s Web site for $35.95 (or a base rate of $27.27 plus $11.41 in taxes and fees). But extending the return time to 2 p.m. — two hours after the weekend rates “officially” kick in — drops the base rate to $15.18 a day. Though the overall estimated cost shows an additional $10.12 extra in hourly charges, you can still return the car at noon and get the lower rate, said Mr. Paz, who added, “Oops, you got there early.”
Negotiate. Even after you’ve booked the best possible rate, it can be worth swinging by the rental counter to see if you can finagle your way into a better car. “You don’t ask, you don’t get,” said Mr. Abrams, the rental car consultant. Success with this strategy can depend on everything from the type and number of cars on the lot to the mood of the clerk, he added. But some companies are happy to put you in a bigger, or less popular, vehicle for the cost of a compact — if it’s in their interest.
“I frequently need minivans for the volunteer activities I do with teens,” said Marty Paz, the car-rental rate hacker, who has noticed by perusing the parking lot that there is often a glut of minivans at one location he frequently rents from on the weekend. “Often times I’ve reserved an economy car for a Friday and just offered graciously: ‘If there’s a van, I’ll take that. I don’t mind,’ and for the price of the economy car I get the minivan.” (A larger vehicle, of course, will require more fuel.)
Prepay. Taking a page from hotels, rental car companies are offering discounts of up to 20 percent to travelers willing to prepay. In a recent search for weekly rentals at Boston Logan International Airport in mid June, for example, Hertz was offering economy cars for $173 a week at the “pay now” rate. The “pay later” rate was about $30 more. The trade off for locking in a low-rate? Cancellation penalties ranging from $10 with Budget to $50 if canceling within 24 hours with Hertz. And don’t forget about Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, which offer deep discounts to travelers willing to be locked into a preset price before finding out the rental car company.
1. Slow Down
Plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt if solo or as a couple. Be realistic about what you can see and do with kids in tow. Don’t try to cram too much into your itinerary. The less you feel you have to see, the more enjoyable and stress-free for everyone.
For the most part, the pace of the trip should be set to what your youngest child can handle. Build into your agenda time for stops along the way for bathroom breaks, snack breaks, and nap time. If you can avoid cranky children it will make for a much more pleasant experience.
2. Determine Your Preferences
Sit down with your whole family and discuss your ideas and interests. Memorable trips are those where each member of the family gets to experience something they love. Talk about budgets, expectations, and how you can work with the dollars available to plan an exciting family trip.
Travel experts have found that the most successful family vacations are those that involve both parents and children in choosing destinations and planning for their trip. Through these conversations, you will learn more about each others needs and find destinations and activities to suit the whole family.
3. Be Flexible
Avoiding holiday periods and traveling off-season can yield big savings on flights and accommodation. Even if your kids are in school, consider traveling just outside of major school holiday periods.
Give yourself the best chance to capture a cheap flight. Leaving a few days or even weeks before or after your ideal date could mean the difference of hundreds of dollars. Think about using airfare sales to help determine your family’s vacation destination and time of departure rather than the other way around.
4. Pack Smart
Pack the bare minimum because you can always buy it there. Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear inside shoes. Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight. Encourage kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel skills.
Select versatile and comfortable clothes and color-coordinated separates so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit. And pack bags with what is needed first on the top — a change of clothes for dinner, pajamas, or what is needed during the day including a change of clothes in case of accidents.
Hot Tip: Halve your clothes, double your budget
5. Hotel Tips
Pick a Kid Friendly Location – Stay in a safe and central area that’s close to local attractions, food outlets, the beach, the park, and all preferably within walking distance. This will save you time, money, and your kids from getting bored.
Stay More Than 1 Night – Many hotels provide their best deals when you stay over more than one night.
Stay over Sunday – Many hotels receive Friday and Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday-Friday bookings from their business travelers, so there can be a void on Sunday nights.
Check for Family Deals – Always ask about discounted rates, free meals for children, and an upgrade at check in – they can only say no.
A Pool and games room – Kids love both of these options. Does the pool have any special features (like a slide or waterfalls)?
Make Sure it Has a Lift – Carrying strollers, toys, and luggage up several flights of stairs is NO FUN!
What’s the room configuration? – For our family of four two double beds is required or a portacot. If you have a baby make sure this is available, and for free.
Coupons and Discounts – Check out the brochure shelf in the lobby and any tourist literature in your room for ways to shave a few bucks off the price of your family vacation.
Enroll in a Loyalty Program – Many hotel chains are now offering free loyalty programs with incentives like earning free rooms after multiple stays. If you travel often and stay at the same chain, or one of its participating partners, you may save on future family vacations.
Check the Dining Options – Does the hotel restaurant and room service have a kids’ menu?
TV Channels – Does the hotel offer several family-oriented cable stations, like Disney, Nickelodeon, AMC, Discovery and Lifetime? Is there a movie library with kids’ movies?
Bathtub? – You’ll want to be sure that your room will include a bathtub.
Laundry – For longer vacations, check to see whether the hotel has coin operated machines for hotel guests.
6. Consider a Cruise or All-Inclusive Resort
With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit all ages, and itineraries that can be full-on or you just sit around and do nothing, a cruise or a resort can eliminate daily decision making that can cause conflict. Look for Kids Eat Free, Stay Free, and Play Free deals.
7. Consider Apartment Rental
Most big-city hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. They usually have no refrigerator or microwave, floor space is at a premium, and neighbors can hear every tantrum. But with an apartment you get more space, thicker walls, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.
These extra facilities on a long stay can make your trip so much more enjoyable.
8. Do a Test Run
If this is going to be your first serious trip as a family, consider starting with a shorter trip such as a weekend away or even just a day trip to the zoo as a trial run. This will help you figure out packing choices, daily routines, how fast you can move around, and how you all get along and interact together.
9. Set a Budget
Travel with kids does not have to be expensive. Decide on a comfortable budget that works for your family and include items such as souvenirs, entertainment, and a few unexpected activities. Once again involve your kids to make sure they feel comfortable with your travel plans.
Hot Tip: Every now and then blow your daily budget. We go away to experience things and create lifelong memories. Don’t limit yourself to just traveling for the sake of traveling. Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, jump out of a plane, do something incredible.
10. Build in Some Private Time or “apart” time
No matter who you are, everyone needs a break from each other at some point. While the goal of your trip is to create shared memories, it is also important to remember that children need time to burn off energy and enjoy the company of kids their own age.
Likewise, us parents need quiet periods for rest and some adult company as well. Keep this in mind and be a little flexible on your trip, as children’s moods and interests can change constantly. If you and your children find something you’d rather do, be spontaneous and go with the flow.
The key to avoiding the aggravation that comes from travel planning, as well as enjoying the cost-savings and even gaining a few perks along the way is simple. All you have to do is choose a corporate travel agent who:
1. Is well connected in the industry.
It’s true that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is as important in corporate travel planning as it is in the entertainment industry. You never know when that one special connection will come through for a CEO, guest or employee. Your corporate travel planner should give you firsthand insight into vendors and accommodations.
2. Understands and knows value when he sees it.
From last minute travel arrangements to leisure trips, the price for travel fluctuates by the hour. An experienced travel planner knows value, knows when to wait and when to snatch up a reservation pronto.
3. Can project manage, coordinating and rearranging the most minuscule details without losing his mind or dropping the ball
Whether one person or a group is traveling, the devil is in the details. Work with a travel agent who is a proven multi-tasker. One who can reserve 15 airline seats together, 15 hotel rooms on the same floor, etc. without overlooking any minute detail. Group travel planners worth their salt are hard to come by.
4. Thinks clearly and rationally in the midst of “crazy”.
Weather, blackouts, national emergencies, a meeting running late and a multitude of other circumstances can impact travel plans. Even in the craziest of travel nightmares, the perfect corporate travel planner keeps his wits and has workable solutions up his sleeve.
5. Respects your privacy, keeping your info safe and secure.
Think about it. Your corporate travel agent has access to a vast amount of private data, and should have the latest security tools in place to protect it.
6. Is capable of developing, implementing and sticking to a corporate travel policy.
If you have a corporate travel policy in place, you want an agent who takes the time to understand and follow it. If no such policy exists, one can be developed. The benefits of having a policy include evaluating your company’s budget and needs and avoiding needlessly high travel costs. Not to mention the little perks only a travel planner can deliver.
7. Can handle big and small accounts.
Small companies don’t want to feel ignored. Large companies need the assurance that their travel planner can handle the volume. The best agencies can do both seamlessly.
8. Has a personal touch but is backed by a powerful agency.
When there’s talk of airlines charging passengers to use the toilet, it’s a clear indication that the idea of service is dying. Some feel it’s been dead a while now. A corporate travel planner brings humanity back to travel. No, the customer service rep on the other line may not care that you’ve missed a flight, but your personal travel planner sure will. And when they’re backed by a robust agency (like Tzell), they can make things happen!
9. Is willing to develop (and maintain) relationships.
Planning corporate travel is personal. Work with an agent who cares enough to keep track of personal preferences. One who promises to be there when you need it, no matter what time it is. One who answers calls and acts quickly. One who’s smart enough not to burn bridges, knowing the impact it has on clients. One who invests in building relationships with key sources, which prove valuable to you.
10. Cares about people.
This one goes without saying (hopefully).
Dan’s been collecting and posting video tips for almost two years, and he recently added the tenth tip. Here they are, in chronological order.
Tip #1: Stop the germs. Airplanes are cauldrons of bacteria and viruses, but with an ounce of prevention you can stop the germs cold (pardon the pun). You’ll need a small bottle of hand sanitizer and tube of Bacitracin. Sanitize your hands, then put a dab of Bacitracin on your finger tip and use it to coat the inside of one nostril. Repeat for the other nostril. Doctor-recommended, this wards off all the evil sick-makers.
Tip #2: Bring down the noise. Forget the expensive, noise-canceling, bulky headphones. Get some E-A-R soft foam disposable earplugs. There are five good reasons why these trump other solutions: they’re far cheaper, far less bulky (thus easier to pack), easy to replace, takeoff- and landing-friendly (non electronic), and you can actually sleep comfortably wearing them because you don’t have to wrangle big earmuffs.
Tip #3: Eat smart. Dan has four road rules for eating in airports. First, look for where the airline personnel—pilots, attendendnats, etc.—are eating, and follow their lead. Second, go for protein over carbs, because it takes longer to digest and burn, and therefore lasts longer. Third, always choose bottled water as your preferred beverage (never soda, it messes with your tummy). Fourth, if you’re at a loss for what to eat, go with the always-safe chicken quesadilla.
Tip #4: The rule of HAHU. Every once in awhile I, like Dan, bring a family member, or members, along if it’s someplace cool, or I have multiple international dates spread too far apart for return trips home. Family travel is made easier by the acronym HAHU. H is for hustle. A is for anticipate. HU is for “heads up.”
Tip #5: Sanitize the tray! The folding tray table is rarely, if ever, cleaned. So it’s rife with unsavory artifacts of human presence and food debris. Carry some antibacterial wipes with you and wipe that tray before you use it for anything. Then wipe it again. (Warning: be prepared to be unpleasantly surprised at the amount of dirt on your wipe after using.)
Tip #6: Stay connected. For frequent travelers and heavy laptop workers, Dan recommends a wireless broadband USB modem, such as those made by Sierra Wireless. It’s a potentially better solution for several reasons. More and more it’s easy to find WiFi spots, but they generally require accounts. There are a number of different providers, which means you need to remember all your accounts and passwords, and you’ll be paying several different fees. The wireless USB modem uses any cell signal, so you can use it anywhere, and you pay one monthly fee. It may be more expensive, but the tradeoff is convenience.
Tip #7: Zip through security. First, if you have any reasonable claim to a premier status, get in a premier line, it’s worth a shot. Second, when you show your ID and boarding pass, ask the agent which line they think will move the fastest. Third, get in any line with more male solo business travelers. Men have fewer accessories to discard and are hyper-competitive, which means they tend to view the security line as a race. Finally, avoid any line with married couples traveling alone on leisure… you’ll miss your plane.
Tip #8: Avoid the TV. Unless there’s show you can’t possibly live without seeing, the one thing you should never do upon entering your hotel room is turn on the television. Before you know it you’ve wasted 90 minutes. So step away from the remote. Just say no. Instead, Dan suggests trying one or all of these activities for “more enduring satisfaction”: call a loved one, get some exercise, or read a book.
Tip #9: Beat jet lag. To battle the fatigue of long-range travel through multiple time zones, focus on three key things: time, food and light. Time: trick your body into thinking it’s in the time zone of your destination by resetting your watch to that time as soon as you’re on the plane, and try to only sleep if it’s night at your destination. Food: eat less—if you’re offered food, eat no more than half what’s offered. It’s better to eat an appropriate meal when you arrive at your destination. Light: even if you’re dog-tired when you land, never ever sleep unless it’s dark outside. If it’s light out, stay up. And if it’s dark, go to sleep even if you’re not tired. To fall asleep, Dan has a foolproof remedy. Step 1: take one Benadryl. Step 2: Read The Economist.
Tip #10: Buy a local paper. One of the first things you should do as you venture out when you’re in a new country is pick up the local paper. Carrying a paper makes you look a bit more like a local, which if you’re in a big city can be a good thing by making you less conspicuous and thus less of a target for any unsavory characters that may be lurking about. Also, you might actually learn something from the paper, even if you can’t read it, just from looking at the pictures. Finally, it will make great wrapping paper for any gifts you might pick up.
Traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights of a new place, it’s also about enjoying yourself and getting a break from the stresses of your everyday life. Here’s a tip to get the most out of your vacation: get a massage along the way.
Not just for pampering, massages can help ease the pain of a wide variety of ailments. While it doesn’t work the same for everyone, many people who suffer from headaches, insomnia, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and a host of other ailments have found relief through massage. This is especially good news for travelers, as the stress of getting to your destination can often lead to needing a vacation from your vacation!
Without going into a lot of details, there are four basic types of massage: Swedish, which uses long strokes and kneading to relax you, Deep Massage which uses more forceful movements to reach the deep muscles and connective tissues, Sports Massage which is designed specifically to treat or prevent sports injuries, and Trigger Point Massage which is used to treat areas that have been injured or overused.
Besides reducing pain and muscle tension, massage also reduces stress. This is the key reason doctors are beginning to include massage in treatment plans as an alternative medicine, since we can all use a little less stress in our lives.
If you’re picturing a towel-draped form like you see on TV, be relieved to know you don’t need to strip down to the buff in order to get a massage. You can remove only the clothing you feel comfortable with, or wear loose clothing and not remove any. Whatever you’re comfortable with is the key, as your masseuse won’t want you tensing up just thinking about being touched!
Before you begin, don’t be afraid to ask for the credentials of your masseuse. Most states require licensing, and it’s your right to know the person about to treat you knows what they’re doing. As you begin the treatment don’t be afraid to speak up if something hurts or makes you uncomfortable. The whole idea of getting a massage is to make you feel better, not worse!
Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
- Owned and operated by Starwood Hotels, the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel sits next door to Epcot Center and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is also near the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
An Alamo and National Car Rental desk is located on site in the Guest Services area of the Dolphin Hotel for guests to drop off or pick up a rental car. Guests at the Dolphin Hotel receive Disney benefits like complimentary boat and shuttle rides to the Disney parks, free Disney parking and Disney character dining at hotel restaurants.
Buena Vista Palace
- Located in the Downtown Disney area and an official Disney World resort, the Buena Vista Palace offers guests exclusive Disney perks. As Mouse Savers states, an Alamo and National Car Rental desk is located inside the Buena Vista Palace and is easily accessed from other Disney parks and resorts by the Disney bus.
Buena Vista Palace features free transportation to all Disney parks, access to Disney golf courses and Disney character dining. It caters to families and large groups with spacious family suites.
Hilton Orlando Resort
- Part of Downtown Disney, the Hilton Orlando Resort is not part of the Disney family of hotels, but offers Disney perks to guests, like early and late hours at all the Disney parks. Guests can find an Avis Car Rental desk in the lobby of the Hilton Orlando Resort to pick up and drop off rentals. For guests at other properties wanting to rent from this location, the Disney bus stops right across the street from the Hilton.
Walt Disney World Car Care Center
- Offering guests of all the Disney hotels convenient access to an Alamo and National Rental Car center, the Walt Disney World Car Care Center sits near the parking exit of the Magic Kingdom. The Car Care Center provides shuttle transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and other Disney parks and hotels to pick up and drop off rentals.
My mother once told me this – “Everyone has to work so why not work where you get perks you like”. She made a lot of sense.
While working in college I worked for Ticketron and was able to see concerts and plays for free so that was a great perk.
When I got ready to start working full time I went straight to the airlines and worked in that sector of the travel industry for over 10 years.
I was accustomed to the travel benefits so I stayed in the industry and switched over to being a travel agent.
- You do not need to go to a specialized travel school. Many travel companies will train you. American Express has a program called TEP
Travel Education Program and they will train you to be a corporate travel agency. You get paid for training and get benefits from day one.
- What are they looking for? Clear, pleasant speaking voice. Does your smile shine through? Are you easy to understand?
- Basic keyboard skills – typing of about 30 wpm would help you
- Use the STAR technique – that is how Amex interviews. If you know how to respond to their questions you are one step ahead of the game.
- Learn airport and city codes. They will teach them to you but knowing them in advance will help you with your interview and with the training
- Check all the employment websites – Indeed.com is a good one. Go directly to the travel companies websites and fill out applications even if there is not a current opening.
- Network – join plaxo and linkdin and find out if any of your friends and family know anyone they can introduce you to.
- Take advantage of ongoing promotions for seniors. Many car rental companies offer percentage off discounts or special rates for seniors above a certain age.
- Search for last minute deals. One way is to go online and search the websites of several major car rental companies.
- Scan the Yellow Pages. Call around to check both the daily and weekly rates, although the weekly rate usually is lower. Don’t forget to contact some travel agencies to inquire about any unadvertised promotions.
- Check for member discounts if you are a member of AAA or AARP. Members often receive special discounts ranging from 5% to 25%.
- Rent on weekends when some companies offer up to a 50% discount.
- Do not settle for the first price you are quoted. Rates can change depending on supply and demand.
- Become a club member. Most car rental companies offer memberships that are free to join. You then qualify for discount savings and all sorts of other perks, such as earning airline miles or a free car rental for a day.
- Make a list of the cities in which your firm typically does business. Determine which airlines go to all needed destinations. Contact each chosen airline, and ask a representative about a corporate contract. Using your firm’s previous travel budget, estimate how many trips your company makes per year. Tell the sales representative how much money your company spends on travel. Let him know the number of estimated trips for the coming year. Ask what the airline can do for you if you fly solely on their carrier. The airlines can offer a couple of savings options. Contact several airlines and compare. Do the math, and decide which option would give you the greatest discount. Get your deal in writing.
- Repeat the negotiation process with car and hotel vendors. Keep at least two each of car and hotel vendors, however. You never know when these things can get over-booked.
- Write it up. Assign a staffer or your corporate travel agent to write up all the details of your new travel policies and procedures. Make sure all employees know they are expected to honor your negotiated deals. Make it a company policy that trips are booked only from your preferred suppliers. Find a way to enforce this by checking on trips, and have a system of approval in place. You don’t want to overwhelm your employees by being too strict, but explain the reason why this should all be followed for the benefit of all.
- Keep track.Ask the various travel vendors to supply you with a quarterly report to track usage. Have your accounting department to starts a database logging all travel related expenditures. Meet with any employees who are not following the policy, and stress the importance of the cost savings. Your firm stands to save thousands of dollars per year by adhering to a negotiated travel policy.
- Make use of a travel agent. If you do not have a travel agent on-site, seek out an agency that specializes in corporate travel. Alert your agent of your preferred carriers and contracts. Your travel agent can then help all your employees when they book corporate travel. This will be appreciate by your employees since it takes a load of work off of their backs, and it will give you peace of mind in knowing that your corporate travel policy is being enforced.
- Make sure you have a valid driver’s license. An American license will suffice in western European countries; if you’re planning to drive to eastern Europe or elsewhere, obtain an international driver’s license before you arrive.
- Call a travel agency three weeks before your trip and let it know the dates you wish to rent a car, and where you’ll want to drive. Since many American car rental agencies have European counterparts, you can easily check rates or availability and book or cancel a reservation online.
- Book the car, keeping in mind that European rentals are frequently stick-shift. Choose the model, size and dates of your rental.
- Determine where you wish to pick up and drop off the car. For a fee, which varies widely depending on the country, you can drop the car off at a different location from where you picked it up.
- Prepay for the car or make a deposit.
- Review European street signs and driving laws before you get behind the wheel. Be aware that the auto accident fatality rate in Europe is about four times higher than that in the United States.
Start-up Costs to Consider
- You can either start a travel agency as a home-based business or choose to establish an office in a building or shopping center. Where you choose to open your travel agency office will have an effect on how much money you need to start the business. In order to keep costs to a minimum, a home-based travel agency only requires you to have a phone and a computer in order to start booking travel and making money. If you choose to establish an office, you’ll have additional costs such as rent, furniture and electricity.
For example, if you choose to rent a small retail spot, it can cost you a couple thousand dollars in rent, and then there are the added costs of furnishing the office–hundreds if not thousands of additional dollars. With a home office, you can use what you have as far as furniture and a computer is concerned, so your cost for a phone line and Internet access will run you far less than renting an office.
- Travel agency owners do more than book airline tickets, hotel rooms and cruises. Additional services that travel agencies provide include helping travelers obtain travel visas and passports, arranging transportation from the airport to the hotel, conducting research for group and company retreats, business meetings, conferences and trade shows. Some travel agencies even partake in event planning services for special events such as weddings and corporate events and provide total travel budget management for companies to keep their costs to a minimum.
- There are two main target markets for a travel agency. One market is consumers that travel, which can be virtually any individual. Since travel agents can work with anyone in the world to book travel, it’s not necessary to limit your sights on your local market. With access to the Internet, your services can be helpful across the globe.
The second main market that travel agencies provide services to is the business or corporate market. Larger companies can be lucrative because they tend to have more travel needs. This, however, does not eliminate the need for your services in small companies that may not have the staff necessary to handle booking business travel and accommodations.
- Other travel agents start out with an already established agency to learn the ropes and build a book of clients. Once they get the hang of the business and have a decent amount of repeat customers, they can then branch out on their own and open their own travel agency.
- Travel agent commissions are derived from two sources. One source is from the fees charged to clients that are booking travel. The larger the volume of business, the better your commission, and by focusing on higher-end products, you can also increase your income potential. Most travel agents earn anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the net cost of the services sold. Cruise businesses pay anywhere from 18 to 20 percent to travel agents for bookings.
The average earnings for a travel agent really runs the full spectrum. Since it is a job based on performance, you really have control over the amount of money you can earn, but agents report earnings anywhere from $17,180 to more than $44,090 per year. This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t agents earning six figures. “Travel Weekly” magazine reported that home-based travel agents earn more than $100,000 a year.
- Find out what local nursing staffing agencies are in your area. Most traveling nurses work with agencies to find work. Some traveling nursing agencies provide workers with subsidized accommodations for each assignment. Others expect nurses to make their own arrangements. An agency may be willing to work with you as a provider of temporary lodging for their staffers or they may let you post advertisements in their offices.
- Contact each agency individually. Some agencies have a single local office. Others may be part of a larger chain. Ask to speak with the person in charge of travel nursing housing arrangements.
- Send information about your lodging to the agency. List all the rooms you have to rent, the rates you intend to charge and the type of amenities you offer, such as a bed and private bathroom as well as access to kitchen facilities. Some agencies may have specific requirements for all housing they use. List all hospitals that are near your house as well as all transportation options to and from the hospital. If you can, find out the approximate travel distance to and from your house to each facility.
- Purchase advertisements in nursing publications. Certain publications are geared toward exploring issues and ideas of concern to nurses.
If you work as an administrative assistant, an executive assistant or in some other administrative support role, at some point you’ll likely make travel arrangements for one or more executives. Most corporations have contracts with travel agencies that work with airlines and hotels on the corporations’ behalf or the companies themselves will have in-house travel services. Either way, you’ll set up executive travel through the entity serving the company’s travel needs.
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When you are satisfied the itinerary is correct, call the travel agency again telling them when to issue the ticket. Most ticketing is done through e-ticket. Both you and the traveler will receive an email containing the e-ticket. Print the executive a copy for use at the airport to secure boarding passes.
- Place your reservation online. This is the best way to ensure that you will get the best possible rate. Online rates vary greatly from the rate the actual company will offer. Choose the airport locations as your desired pickup location. When you have decided which rental car company you desire, you will need to enter your card number, its expiration date, and CVC code to hold the reservation. You will receive a generated confirmation number that will allow to hold the reservation and the price rate you found.
- Provide your license, physical credit card and confirmation number when you arrive at the pickup location. The company will ask what method of insurance you would like to purchase to insure the car. Opt to use your own insurance company to avoid incurring charges for the use of the rental car company’s insurance.
- Furnish your Disney World luggage tag. This tag is important because vacation verification is required to rent a car from any rental car hub affiliated with Disney World. The rates for these authorized hubs are based on location. Also, these car rental companies do not offer unlimited mileage because the mileage around the Disney World vicinity is factored into the rental rate.
- Choose a form of payment. Although your credit card held the reservation, you can opt to use a different form of payment. Using a credit card is the most effective way to expedite the process. Cash payments are no longer allowed and debit cards require an additional deposit to secure the cost of the rental car, in addition to incidental charges. Therefore, paying with a credit card will save you money.
- A travel agent helps you to plan your trip from start to finish. The agent listens to your ideas about what you would like your trip to be like and how much money you would like to spend. He then presents you with some ideas. When you make up your mind as to where you would like to go, a travel agent can help you plan the airline tickets, car rentals, hotels and anything else you may need. A travel agent does not have to go to college and may instead be trained in the office or in courses at a trade school.
Corporate Travel Consultant
- A corporate travel consultant works in a travel agency and deals with the needs of medium to large companies. This may include booking the business travel for employees, planning travel for company meetings and conventions, or both. A corporate travel consultant is more knowledgeable of meeting spaces and banquet halls, as well as locations that are suitable both for business events. It is the job of the corporate travel consultant to book the travel and find ways to keep attendees entertained between meetings by planning things such as golf outings or sightseeing expeditions.
- Every office needs a manager and a travel agency is no different. An office manager is responsible for taking care of what is necessary to keep the business running on the inside. This may include hiring and firing; purchasing supplies and equipment; and even making sure there are enough brochures in the office. The office manager at a travel agency is usually knowledgeable when it comes to the travel industry and is sometimes used to help out travel agents and corporate travel consultants. He may also be involved in payroll or collecting money from clients.
- The variety of jobs in a travel agency will really depend on the size of the company. In a large travel agency, there may also be a person who handles social media such as Twitter and Facebook. You might have someone who handles all the computer programs and software or an employee in charge of accounting. On the other hand, a small agency may consist of an owner who operates as a travel agent and uses independent contractors for additional agents, marketing personnel and booking.
- Business travel extends the job duties beyond the normal workload and commute. The business pays the tab or reimburses the employee. Business travel agencies help by selling a complete travel package that would account for accommodations on the trip, transportation to get to business meetings, group packages and vacation incentives for employees. While on a business trip, you are expected to conduct yourself as if you were in the office. On trips, you represent the company.
- Operating on behalf of airlines, hotel and rental car companies, commercial travel agencies sell packages as a third-party provider. For every booking, the airline or hotel will pay the agency a commission percentage. Commissions can range from 10 percent to 15 percent, depending on the agreement with the service providers.
- Business travel agencies must be certified, receive formal approval from legislating agencies and prove financial stability. For example, before agencies can work with airlines they must be approved by the International Airline Travel Agency Network. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in the Occupational Outlook Handbook that at least one of the managers must have experience and certification as a Certified Corporate Travel Executive, which can be obtained through the the National Business Travel Association.
- Business travel isn’t always used for meeting clients. It is also used as a method to reward employees for going the extra mile. Corporations hire commercial travel agents to create travel gift programs. In the book “The Tourism System,” Robert Christie Mill states, “Corporations pay for the incentive travel service either through a mark-up on the incentive package or on a fixed-fee basis.”
From the Corporation’s Perspective
- Travel agents have working relationships with travel service providers that can translate into financial savings. Businesses save time by leaving the calling, negotiating and coordinating to an agent. Agents have the knowledge about the destination, when the business traveler often doesn’t. One disadvantage is that some agents work under exclusivity contracts and don’t shop around for better deals.
Compare prices of various rental companies through their websites. Also consider available car makes and models, service fees and location. To get the best — and cheapest — rental car deals, book in advance, because car rental rates tend to rise during holidays and summer. Online travel sites offer competitive rates
Check for Discounts and Rewards
Check for available rewards at various rental companies and choose the best deals. Many groups offer affiliation discounts such AAA and AARP. You may also qualify for a discount though your employer. Some government employers and private firms have arrangements with rental car firms to provide discounts for employees. Check with your employer’s human resources office or the rental car company you are doing business with. There are also bonus rewards offered by credit card companies — look for one that provides such rewards. To know which companies are offering promotions, check on coupon aggregator websites such as Zalyn. These companies gather car rental deals and filter them by location and availability dates. Car Rentals provides you with a chance to get the best deals on rental cars from various dealers. Budget Truck enables you to save through rental discounts.
Avoid Airport Rentals
Renting a car from an onsite airport car rental facility is expensive, due to taxes and surcharges. Going offsite may prove inconvenient, but you can save time and money if you map out your route using public transportation before you begin your trip.
Get a Compact Car
Small, economy cars tend to cost less to rent. Be flexible enough to take the least expensive car. To get deep discounts, use websites such as Hotwire, Priceline and Car Rental Hawaii, which all offer discounts on car rentals.
To get the most mileage for your money, avoid purchasing add-ons. Use your smartphone’s GPS, rather than buying it as an extra service for your rental car. If your own car’s insurance covers rental cars, avoid paying extra for rental car insurance — you generally don’t need it. Check with your insurance company before going to rent a car. Refuel the car at a gas station before returning it. If the tank has fewer gallons of gas than when you rented the car, the rental company will charge you for the extra gallons of gas you used — often at a higher price than what you would pay at a gas station.
Stress and Changes
- Corporate travel managers typically work in a corporation’s headquarters. They spend the majority of their day working at a computer and on the telephone making any necessary travel arrangements. They can often work under stress, especially in a large corporation with many travelers, or in situations where travel plans suddenly change or a trip must be planned at the last minute. Any type of industry might employ a corporate travel manager.
It’s a Negotiator’s World
- Corporate travel managers should possess strong negotiating skills since a large part of their job includes obtaining the best possible rates for travel and accommodations. This involves building relationships with vendors who will offer discounts for repeated use of their services. They also need to be able to work well with all departments within the company. Globalization of the economy requires knowledge of other countries’ customs, monetary system and other issues.
Get That Sheepskin
- Most corporate travel managers will need at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a business related field. In some situations, an MBA will be required. It is also helpful to have previous travel industry experience, such as working in a travel agency. Certifications from organizations such as the Institute of Certified Travel Agents can also help the travel manager attain career advancement.
It’s A Living
- According to Indeed.com, the average corporate travel manager earned $66,000 per year in 2014. Salaries could vary according to organization, experience and location.
Globalization Means Travel
- With the continued expansion of a global economy, the demand for the corporate travel manager positions is expected to increase in the coming years. As such, travel managers will need to have a growing awareness of travel procedures, regulations and cultural differences in an increasing number of foreign countries, especially in companies that conduct a large amount of business overseas. Economic downturns increase the need to spend wisely for corporate travel, and the travel manager plays a key role in this area.
- Decide if a home swap is right for you. There are several ways to trade vacation homes. Regardless of the details, however, you will be allowing a stranger to stay in your home. In some cases, home swapping organizations prescreen members, and often you are able and encouraged to communicate with the person with whom you are swapping to get to know them before the swap. Many people are comfortable with home swapping, because the people to whom they are entrusting their home are also opening up their home.
- Decide which type of swap is right for you. The most common option is the swapping of primary residences, in which case both parties are vacationing in each others’ homes at the same time. If you own more than one home, you can engage in nonsimultaneous swaps so you can travel at a different time than the person with whom you are swapping. With this type of swap, you may be able to swap vacation rentals and timeshares. Another type of nonsimultaneous swap could involve inviting a person to stay in your home while you are there, and vice versa.
- Many online organizations and websites offer all of the previously outlined house swapping options. Some home swap options even cater to specific age groups and preferences. Some of these organizations charge a membership fee; others are free.
- Once you have chosen the organization or site you would like to use to swap, familiarize yourself with its policies. Keep in mind that these organizations do not assume responsibility for anything that happens during the swap, such as property damage.
- When you are ready to trade houses or vacation rentals, check the site you are using for tips and etiquette. For example, you should leave written instructions for appliances, important contact numbers (if applicable) and the best way to contact you during the swap. You should also store and lock up valuables, leave room in a closet or dresser, and do a thorough cleaning before your guest’s arrival.
- Travel management companies often partner with a company’s finance or administrative department to provide in-house services covering all aspects of the company’s business travel including the development of corporate policy and its implementation. Services can also include expense auditing, identifying tax issues, route planning and logistics. In addition, they can advise executives on updates and changes affecting the travel industry.
- Through strategic partnerships with preferred vendors and the use of state of the art software and technology, travel managers manage vendor negotiations for the purpose of identifying discounts and acquiring the best rates on travel, including hotel packages, meals, taxis and car services for business travelers.
- Travel management companies often have branch offices in other countries or partner with other international companies to provide important information for international business travelers. This information can include passport requirements, cultural customs, language translation, currency exchange, international laws, and traveler safety warnings.
All Inclusive Services
- As a functioning department within a corporation, a travel management company maintains travel profiles and coordinates information on conferences, itineraries, travel authorizations, and allowable business expenses and can deliver data directly to employees using Web-based portals and integrating with popular software like Microsoft Outlook and Excel. The company can also manage business expense processes and forms upon the employees’ return.
Financial Planning and Management
- In addition to providing travel services, a corporate travel management company provides comprehensive data and ongoing reporting on business travel expenses to assist companies with reviewing and budgeting corporate travel costs. They also advise executives on best practices and help to develop future initiatives and travel policies.
- Use a computer to search the street address of prospective vacation rentals. Verify that the location actually exists by searching the Internet white pages or real estate sites for those areas.
- Check for rentals that have been built within the last five years or those that have been renovated during the last few years to get the best deal for your dollar. Pay closer attention to those with postings of many photos. If the property interests you, then it would be a good idea to request more photos from the owner — just to be sure your potential rental property looks good in every room.
- Read the reviews given for the listed vacation property. Be sure there are many satisfied customers. For instance, at the website VRBO (which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner), a review section is available at the bottom of the rental page you are viewing where customers sometimes leave comments. This online site was established in 1995, allowing homeowners to advertise their vacation rentals, now totaling more than 140,000 in more than 100 countries.
- Use a credit card to reserve your rental. If the home turns out to be a fake address or not as purported in the description, you can dispute the charge.
- Travel agency accounting software is a set of programs that corporations use to record operating activities and prepare accurate reports at the end of each month and quarter. The software plays a key role in the travel industry because it enables agencies to monitor important operating data, such as travel traffic, reservations and business cycles. Tracking the cyclicality of business helps department heads understand performance trends and what seasons of the year generate higher sales.
- Accounting and financial reporting applications are important parameters to which travel agency department heads and segment chiefs pay attention when drawing up long-term financial plan. The applications help travel agents monitor clients’ expense trends, indicating customer preferences and popular destinations, based on the season. With accounting software, travel companies can prepare accurate financial reports and assess the economic soundness of their businesses. Financial reports include balance sheets, statements of profit and loss, statements of cash flows and statements of retained earnings. A statement of profit and loss, or P&L, is also referred to as a statement of income. “Balance sheet,” “statement of financial position” and “statement of financial condition” are identical terms.
- Travel agency accounting programs have various features, depending on the company size and the scope of operating activities. These features include an interface between the software and travel providers (airliners and cruise operators, for example), ledger accounting options and escort agency management tools. Other program features are earnings-tracker options, multi-currency distribution channels and scheduling tools. Earnings-tracker options help agencies monitor profit levels. Multi-currency distribution tools enable travel firms to run their businesses globally.
- Accounting software comes in different “shapes and sizes.” For example, a large U.S.-based travel agency catering to airline clients may possess software options integrating multi-currency channels and Department of Homeland Security compliance tools. In contrast, a small Bahamas-based cruise agency may need only a limited number of application options to run its accounting operations effectively.
- Travel agencies use accounting software throughout the year, but they can customize the application to suit their business needs at specific periods. For example, a travel agency that generates more revenues in the summer may customize the software to track financial trends during the months of June, July and August.
Find the best moving truck rentals at the best price to ease the stress of moving house.
When it’s time to move, you can save money by renting a moving truck yourself instead of hiring movers who use their own truck. Enlist family and friends or hire movers to help you load and unload. Either way, you’ll save money over hiring full service movers.
- Decide what you’ll be moving. Make a list of all furniture and estimate the number of boxes you’ll need to move. Remember to include patio furniture, lawn mowers, and any other items that aren’t necessarily in your house.
- Make a short list of moving truck rental companies to call. These may include Penske, Budget, U-Haul, Ryder, among others.
- Be prepared to speak to moving truck rental representatives with a general idea of this information:
- Prepare a list of all of your furniture and the estimated number of boxes and how large the boxes are (how many of each by approximate size).
- Know the approximate number of miles you’ll be traveling with the truck rental.
- Decide if you need a car carrier or tow dolly to rent also.
- Age of all drivers of the moving truck.
- What the policy is on insurance for the moving truck.
- Speak with moving truck rentals. Have a separate sheet of paper prepared for each moving truck rental company that includes this general information (to be filled out partially by you before speaking to the moving truck company and to partially be filled in while speaking to the representative):
- name of moving truck rental company
- phone number of each company
- representative’s name you speak with
- miles of your move (local or long distance, figure the approximate miles)
- condition of the truck, its age, whether it has air conditioning, etc.
- date of move, renting a truck early or in the middle of the month may be cheaper than at the end of the month
- move destination (address of old and new homes)
- list of of furniture, boxes, and other possessions to be moved
- quote for moving truck rentals
- Shop online for to find the best moving truck rentals at the best price if you want more quotes to choose from. Search using ‘moving truck rentals’ to find companies other than the ones you called in person.
Some websites have you enter your information into a website form, then they email you a moving truck rental quote. Be prepared and have the same information handy as in Step 4 to complete the online form.
- Compare the quotes. Try to compare apples to apples. Use the information to make a decision for renting the best truck for your move.
Get Relevant Training
- The first step to enter this career is to pursue a travel agent program, such as the one offered at Penn Foster Career School in Pennsylvania. The five-month program provides training in travel scheduling, hotel booking, travel accounting and marketing principles. Pursuing at least an associate degree in travel and tourism can also give you a solid foundation. You can then supplement your training with business travel courses offered by professional organizations, such as the Global Business Travel Association’s, or GBTA’s, fundamentals of business travel management course.
Learn the Skills
- You need to be a competent planner with a keen eye for detail to thrive in this profession. When dealing with a company that wants to send its top executives to a seminar in a foreign country, for example, you must make arrangements for their air travel and accommodation, taking note of client-specific preferences such as preferred seats on planes. If the company makes last-minute changes, such as adding more employees to the trip, you need customer-service skills to respond to the change with tact and professionalism. Many companies aim at minimizing corporate travel costs, so you need good research skills to, for instance, find providers with the best rates for business class air tickets and executive accommodations.
Enter the Industry
- Early in your career, you will likely start by working for an established corporate travel agency as a general travel agent. Your roles may include answering telephones, calculating travel costs and collecting payments from clients. After gaining at least three years of business travel experience, obtain the GBTA’s Global Travel Professional certification to demonstrate your competence and increase your ability to attract corporate clients. With this credential, you can also qualify for employment in companies that hire in-house travel consultants. Alternatively, with sufficient capital, industry know-how and strong business skills, you can establish your own corporate travel agency.
Register Your Agency
- Although in most states you normally need a general business license to operate a travel agency, in others — such as Florida, California and Washington — you need to meet additional registration requirements. In California, for example, you must obtain registration from the Attorney General’s Seller of Travel Registration Unit. Requirements for registration vary among these states, but generally include submitting your business’s physical address and contact information, and paying a registration fee and a surety bond.
- Perform an online search for car rental discounts and coupons. Compare rates of different car rental companies. Some companies offer deals for certain vehicles or for reservations made for a certain period of time. Look for AAA discounts or senior discounts, for instance.
- Avoid renting a car from a car rental facility on or near the airport; rather, rent from a facility away from the airport instead. On-site airport car rental facilities charge taxes and airport surcharges that increase the price of your rental.
- Find package deals if your rental car is part of a vacation you are planning. Travel companies often offer deals featuring a discounted rate on your rental car if you book your flight and hotel in the same package.
- Rent a car from an independent car rental company instead of a large international car rental chain. Independent facilities often have better customer service and are more likely to give a favorable rate because they can set their own policies and procedures.
- Reserve your rental car as far ahead of time as you can. Ask for favorable rates. Call the rental facility periodically to inquire if more affordable rates are available. Car rental rates are determined by the amount of cars on the lot at the time of your reservation. Since this always changes, the rates also change frequently.
- Rent an economy car and avoid purchasing any add-ons. Economy cars give you the best mileage for your money, and you can often bring your own add-ons, such as a roof rack, car seat or global positioning system (GPS) rather than paying extra for the same amenities.
- Inquire about weekly rental rates and daily rental rates. Often weekly rates are more favorable. Avoid returning your rental car one or more days too early because your weekly rate may not apply anymore. Make sure to return the car on time.
- Fill up the car with gas before returning it to the car rental facility. Find low gas rates at gas stations away from the airport. Avoid signing up for the rental facility’s prepaid gasoline plan because you often end up paying more than you would if you filled the car up yourself.
- Refrain from purchasing the added insurance when renting a car. Check your own car insurance to see if it covers rental cars, as this way you can avoid the extra charge.
Search for Country-Specific Airlines
- Look for an airline based in the country where you want the stopover. Most free stopovers happen during connections in the airline’s home airport. Although you might find some local stopovers, most stops occur on international flights, where planes need to stop to refuel. For example, British Airlines will offer stopovers in London, Singapore Air in Singapore and Icelandair in Reykjavik. Most free stopovers are for 24 hours or less, but some airlines allow you to extend the stopover for a minimal fee. With short stopovers, however, you’re unlikely to be able to explore beyond the city.
Use Travel Websites
- To find a stopover flight, start by searching for a flight using travel sites such as Orbitz or Expedia and see what options are offered. Usually, you’ll be given a nonstop flight option as well as a number of one-stop or two-stop flights. The cheapest flights tend to be the ones with the longest stopovers, because many people see this as an inconvenience. Stops of up to 10 hours are common on cheap flights, and in some cases that’s enough to do some exploring, as long as the airport is not too far from the city center.
Call the Airline
- If there’s a flight you want that offers a stopover, but that stopover is too short, contact the airline directly. Ask about taking the following flight out, rather than the one scheduled on the offer. This will usually give you at least one additional day. Smaller airports might not have another flight for several days, giving you time to explore the area. When asking for long stopover flights, make sure you don’t need a visa to exit the airport and enter the country. This might be the case in some Asian and African countries.
Use a Travel Consolidator
- Using a travel consolidator might be a good option if you’re having trouble locating free stopovers on your own. Consolidators are brokers who specialize in one-way tickets, so they arrange stops in multiple cities for the same price you would pay for a single ticket on your own. Because consolidators count each stop as a separate leg of the trip, these are not technically stopovers but work the same way. You also have the added advantage that you can come back using a different route, so you get an additional stop in a different city if you want.
Look for Extras
- Always check the official websites of the airlines you’re considering to see if they have special offers. For example, Turkish Airlines has a special tour program for anyone who reaches Istanbul in a stopover. Their one-day tour, which is free, takes those on a stopover to see some of the major attractions in the city, including museums, famous landmarks and special views of the city.
In 2010, we traveled with our four children to a beach location and, yes, we have photos of sun-kissed children and gorgeous tropical sunsets to help us remember our vacation. What the photos don’t show, though, is all the work that goes into a family vacation. I spent four months planning the trip, two weeks packing for the trip and two weeks recovering and doing laundry after the trip. Our vacation photos don’t reveal the cost of schlepping our family across the country either. Our costs fit neatly in the range of what an average American family spends on a vacation — $1,000 to $1,600 — according to surveys by AAA, “Money” magazine and Visa.
In 2011, we’ve decided to try the latest vacation trend: staycationing. We’re staying put. No packing, no airports, no uncomfortable hotel beds. We’re not alone in that choice.
As gas prices soar and incomes shrink, more families are opting to stay home. Gasoline prices have spiked recently because of increased demand from developing countries and Middle East unrest. Fred Rozell, a gasoline analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, predicted at The Huffington Post in December 2010 that at least 15 states would see gasoline prices exceed $4 a gallon by Memorial Day 2011.
While the unemployment rate may be going down, wages are not keeping up with increasing inflation, meaning that many families are still feeling a financial pinch, according to a March 2011 article in “The New York Times.”
But money isn’t the only thing to be saved by planning a staycation. Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, founder and CEO of Momaboard.com, said, “A staycation is sometimes more fulfilling than an exotic destination because you can focus on family members without the distractions of travel logistics.”
Make a Plan
The first step is to develop a plan for your staycation. Structure it just as you would a regular vacation with defined priorities and goals.
The key to a satisfying family staycation, said Jana Lusk, an Austin, Texas, mother of four, is getting the kids involved in the planning. “Nothing makes a kid feel more important than contributing his opinion and being taken seriously,” she said.
Lusk suggests brainstorming ideas as a family and letting each child choose an activity. Decide ahead of time what is most important to you and make specific plans so you don’t get sucked into routine tasks and activities.
Bhojwani-Dhawan recommends breaking up the time into four parts: Spend 25 percent of the vacation doing activities, 25 percent catching up with family and friends, 25 percent on personal time (yoga, massage, pottery class) and 25 percent working on a family project.
Decide ahead of time how to handle mealtimes and routines. Some families prefer to eat every meal out, eliminating the chore of cooking. On the other hand, if you like to cook, a staycation can allow you to spend time in the kitchen making special dishes you normally don’t have time for. Fire up the grill; try an exotic, ethnic dish; or make homemade ice cream.
“Leave the laundry and unnecessary cleanup. Unless a typical household task has to be done, don’t do it,” recommended Judy Woodward Bates, author and radio and television guest.
A staycation is not the time to clean out closets or do major home projects, but if the sight of unmade beds and piles of laundry seems anything but relaxing, institute a 30-minute “quick clean” every morning and evening to corral the chaos.
Tell friends and co-workers that you’re going on vacation, but be vague about the specifics. Set your email and phone to relay messages that you are out of the office and limit time spent on your computer. The point of a staycation is to relax and refuel.
Make It Meaningful
Once you’ve developed an overall plan, narrow your choices to provide a good mix of activities.
When selecting activities, strive for a balance between recreational, fun activities and learning opportunities, said Lusk, whose family visited an animal shelter and learned about responsible pet ownership. She said her family has had similar learning experiences at botanical gardens, museums, public libraries and historical landmarks.
Lusk also advocates service projects as a worthwhile family project.
“Teach kids early where the opportunities are to make a difference, then make a difference together, as a family,” she said. “Nothing builds self-esteem better, and these are incredible experiences and memories that cannot compare to just another vacation.”
The Law family of Gilbert, Arizona, spent part of their vacation working at an orphanage. They painted, made repairs and played with the children.
“The experience was unforgettable,” Patrick Law said. “The kids were so happy to see us and so grateful for every small thing they had. We have gone on a lot of family trips, but none that left an impression like that one did.”
A Hassle-Free Vacation
Time away from work and school responsibilities is important for parents and kids alike. Through vacations, families reconnect, create memories and refuel.
However, planning and implementing a vacation are often stressful and costly. A 2010 study by Visa found that over 50 percent of Americans don’t take all their allotted annual vacation time. In addition to pressing work responsibilities, the financial burden of going on vacation, as well as the time required to plan a vacation, are likely reasons for not taking time from work.
Staycations offer the benefits of a vacation without the stress of planning or the cost. By reducing travel, food and lodging costs, families can spend money on memorable activities instead. Staycations allow families to plan ahead and keep better control of their finances.
I’m excited about the prospect of a family staycation. It offers all the things I want in a vacation — adventure, relaxation and time to reconnect with my family — without all the things I don’t want — crowded airports, big credit card bills and the incessant cries of “Are we there yet?”
Who knew I could find Shangri-la right in my own backyard?
There are several variations on how to book multi-stop flights. The circumstances of the flight will determine the best configuration. An open-jaw flight flies from one city to another with a return from a third city. This kind of flight is useful for people who fly into a city and then rent a car to drive to another city, from where they will depart.
Circle itineraries begin and end in the same place, with one or more stops en route. Around-the-world flights allow flights in as many as 15 destinations over a period of up to a year. Several one-way tickets are also an option.
- Determine departure and initial destination cities.
- Choose the ultimate departure city. Figure out how to get from the original destination city to the final departure city.
- Book the flight on a travel search engine that will allow departure from a city other than the initial destination city.
- Decide on the departure city and destination cities.
- Pick how many stopover cities you will visit.
- Choose travel dates.
- Click the multi-city button or tab on the airline website. Most airlines allow at least five flights.
- Book your flight with a return to the same city from which you departed.
- Choose the general route, direction and area of interest for the trip.
- Decide how many places will be visited on the entire flight itinerary.
- Decide which kind of multi-stop flight to purchase.
- Visit round-the-world websites that feature pre-packaged itineraries for different regions of the world.
- Shop around for good prices. Search on the three main airline networks, which are alliances of airline companies: Star Alliance, SkyTeam and oneworld. Check on travel search engines to compare prices.
- Understand that the challenge is to find a place where small children can safely blow off steam. The geyser basins are not usually safe places for them—they do not understand how dangerous the boiling water is—but the Old Faithful area has a couple of excellent options.
- Try some of the more stroller-friendly parts of Old Faithful (also called the Upper Geyser Basin). You can, for instance, walk the trail that runs northwest along the Firehole River to Morning Glory Pool. This trail is actually the former route of the highway, and is paved.
- Toddlers need to run around, though, and a good place to do that is actually indoors. Try the Old Faithful Inn, the big log hotel that is the most prominent building in the area. The lobby is a good place for small children to exercise, and adults will find it impressive, too (be a little more cautious on the upper levels of the lobby, where the balcony rails are not quite toddler-proof).
- Go to hotels elsewhere in the park, where similar opportunities present themselves. The Lake Lodge and Lake Hotel, both on Yellowstone Lake, have lobbies where toddlers can take a break, as does the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs. At Mammoth, you will also find expansive lawns where kids can play without getting too close to the abundant car traffic.
- Try playing the “spot the animal” game while in the car. This will work for slightly older children, 4-year-olds, and possibly 3-year-olds. Some of the animals of Yellowstone, like elk and bison, are so big and plentiful that small children will be able to spot and maybe even identify them.
Popularity of Online Travel Agencies Growing
- Travel and tourism are among the biggest industries worldwide, and more than 80 percent of the travel sold in the United States is now purchased online. With more consumers using the Internet to plan their vacation getaways, online travel agencies have been growing in popularity, helping to increase business in the travel industry overall. Aside from booking travel packages, many travelers go online in search of travel reviews before making a final decision about their choices. Reports show that more travelers who have traditionally booked trips offline are checking out vacation destinations, as well as travel and hotel rates, online.
Working With a Known Travel Agency
- The travel industry is a busy industry; therefore, many online travel agencies are working with established host agencies, which can provide marketing materials, along with experience in knowing what travelers are looking for. Being part of an affiliate program can help to increase an agency’s bookings and sales. Like other businesses putting up websites, going online allows travel agencies to reach a wider market of travel consumers.
Advantages to Consumers and Travel Agencies Both
- Online travel agencies use automated processes to reduce costs and increase profitability, in addition to improving efficiency. While there are a variety of software tools available to assist businesses in saving time and selling more travel, online travel agencies offer several advantages to consumers. Would-be travelers have access to airlines, cruise lines, railways, hotels, tours and car rental companies all from a single source, allowing them to check out current travel discounts from the comfort of their own homes. Consumers can also benefit from special offers and promotions often offered online.
Consumers Need to Know What They Are Buying
- Booking travel online can save consumers money, but you need to do your homework first. Before purchasing a travel package online, a consumer should be sure to read all the fine print. A dream vacation might not turn out to be what you are expecting. That’s why you need to know exactly what expenses are included in a package before buying. Frequently, hotel stays and some attractions are the only items included. Even so, the package may still be a good deal, but travelers need to know up front what other expenses will be involved. Consumers should always read reviews about any online travel agencies, from which they are considering purchasing. In many cases, comments made by other people who have purchased travel packages from the company can be read online. Consumers can also find out how a certain company has been rated by others.
- Peruse the Parent and Child calendar, available in each issue of Southwest Florida Parent & Child. The periodical describes family activities and special events happening in a day-by-day format. The free magazine is available at more than 500 different spots, including all CVS locations in the Southwest Florida region as well as doctor offices and schools. To check things about before you travel, you can read the magazine online.
- Browse through the family fun attractions catalogued by the Southwest Florida Attractions Association. Since the association maintains a focus on grassroots marketing, their list will include ideas outside of the typical beach fun. Check out links to the Imaginarium Science Center, several museums of history and Zoomers Amusement Park. Many of the attraction websites sport a tab of special events, detailing the activities families should consider when planning a visit.
- Visit the Southwest Florida Fun Events Calendar. Written and maintained by a Southwest Florida resident, the list of attractions includes special tips and comments about the child-friendly or family-friendly nature of each activity. Click on the home page for a detailed Google calendar. Select an activity to display more detailed information. Sync the Southwest Florida Fun Events Calendar to your own Google calendar to stay current and up to date on family fun events in the region.
- Start your search for vintage travel trailer identification on the Internet. If you use the search term “vintage travel trailer” on Google, you will receive over two million hits. A travel trailer is considered vintage if it is over 25 years old. Join a community of vintage travel trailer aficionados, such as Vintage Trailer Crazy. This site has amazing photographs of vintage trailers.
- Identify a vintage Airstream by its iconic silver body. Airstream trailers are the most desirable and available vintage trailers, and parts are easier to obtain. The company’s website has extensive information on models of vintage trailers, consumer forums and service information. Airstream has been in production since 1932 and are considered by many people as the elite trailer. Many vintage Airstreams are still on the road today.
- Identify vintage teardrop trailers by their distinctive shape. Teardrop trailers have been in production since the 1930s. Many of these trailers were made from kits or plans. They are compact and perfect for camping or short-term use, for one or two people. Because many teardrop trailers were handmade, it may be difficult to establish a date of origin. Benroy was a manufacturer of teardrop trailers in the 1950s.
- Identify certain models of 1950s and 1960s vintage Shasta travel trailers by the wings on the upper rear of the trailer. Shasta trailers were in production from 1941 and were used to house member of the United States armed forces. Shasta was purchased by Coachman in 1976.
- Talk to vintage trailer owners. Vintage trailer enthusiasts love to help other people in their search and forums are plentiful. There are many brands of the “canned ham” type of vintage travel trailer. They are identifiable by the rounded shape of an old-style can of ham. Crown, Oasis and the rare Hanson Love Bug are vintage trailers in this category. Look for a manufacturer’s plaque on vintage trailers. The Love Bug plaque features a heart pierced by an arrow.
- Disney World is considered one of the best destinations for young children. It has amusement park rides for all ages — from the Tea Cups to the Tower of Terror. Numerous exhibits and activities appeal to diverse interests. The famous destination also has a a variety of theme parks and water parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach. No child can really ever be bored at Disney World because it caters to entertaining families and more specifically, the children.
- Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, also known as “the Sweetest Place on Earth,” is a well known amusement park that is also fun for young kids. The park hosts a number of family shows, a zoo with over 200 animals, Dutch Wonderland which specifically caters to children under 12 with roller-coasters, water play, mini-golf to name a few. There is also a great garden for the children to explore what nature has to offer. It is beautiful indeed!
The National Aquarium
- The National Aquarium in Baltimore draws many visitors yearly including young children. The aquarium reveals some of the Earth’s greatest creatures in the form of Australian animals, a variety of amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals, and reptiles. Children will be completely fascinated with what the National Aquarium has to offer because of the beauty and diversity of the animals.
Noah’s Ark, America’s Largest Waterpark
- The Waterpark Capital of the World in Wisconsin Dells, is host to Noah’s Ark, which is America’s largest waterpark. The park consists of such rides as the Black Anaconda, Time Warp, and Scorpion’s Tail. By reading the names, it’s easy to imagine how intense yet amazingly fun these rides are. The children will love them; most will require some supervision from the parents. The park is becoming a popular destination for the entire family.
Sea World Orlando
- Sea World in Orlando is an exceptional destination to see what the marine life has to offer. The children will be captivated by the magnificence of its exhibits and the many shows presented including one starring the famous trained whale Shamu. Children also have the opportunity to interact with the animals and participate in adventure camps according to age. Sea World is a favorite destination for the whole family to enjoy because it brings the ocean to life.
- Many Internet-based travel search engines allow you to see fares to multiple destinations from a single airport or region. Simply plug in your departure airport or city and the travel search engine will look for the lowest fares to all destinations. On some sites, you can sort the results by dollar amount, airline, price per mile and other factors; others allow you to plug in your departure airport and see current deals under a certain dollar amount to many destinations. This type of search is a good way to get a general overview of the current fares to the destinations you are considering. Not all of these sites allow you to book, but they can give you an idea of the fares you can expect when you are ready to book on another site.
- If you want to plan a trip that includes stopovers at multiple destinations rather than a simple round-trip between two destinations, book a multi-segment trip. Most booking engines and airline websites will allow you this option; simply choose “Multi-Segment” and input your destination airports and the dates you want to fly. Multi-segment trips do not necessarily cost more than simple round trips—it all depends on the fare rules, which vary widely.
- Many websites let you search for the best fare to a given destination within a range of dates. The results are typically sorted by fare and airline, and you can see the fare rules for each fare and the dates the fare is actually available.
- If you know what airline you want to fly on, go to its website and select “Multi-Segment” on the flight booking page. Most airlines allow you to book multi-segment tickets with three or more stops, and these fares are not always more expensive than regular round-trip tickets. This option usually requires you to input specific dates for each segment; to search for fares using flexible dates, most airlines require you to book a round-trip or one-way fare.
- Online travel agencies offer users the option of searching for multi-segment fares. When you search for multi-segment fares on third-party sites, you will get results for multiple airlines, which can help you find lower fares than you will see when searching on a single airline’s website.
- Founded in 1927, the New Children’s Museum in West Hartford focuses on science and nature education. Kids can enjoy exhibits that cover such topics as electricity, space exploration and wildlife. There’s also an on-site planetarium that hosts digital projector shows and an animal sanctuary that’s home to such critters as lizards and turtles. Stepping Stones Museum for Children is a large, educational institution in Norwalk. Hands-on exhibits give children the chance to alter the path of water in the Energy Lab, construct miniature structures in the Build It! exhibit and explore the inner workings of the human body in Healthyville. There’s also a community garden where young visitors can roam through butterfly gardens and play with sculptures.
All the World’s a Stage
- New Britain Youth Theater gives stage productions for young children that star young actors. Shows are performed at various locations throughout the city, including YMCAs and elementary schools. Seasons may include up to seven shows. Past productions have included plays and musicals such as “Into the Woods,” “Cinderella” and “Seussical.” Run and organized by university students, Yale Children’s Theater in New Haven produces four shows a year for little theater-goers. Performances take place in Yale’s Dwight Hall and have included such kid-friendly fare as “Peter Pan,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
- Open from May through early October, the 20-acre Quassy Amusement and Water Park in Middlebury includes more than 20 rides. Little ones can raft down a water coaster or ride on a miniature train, while bigger kids might enjoy the old-fashioned wooden roller coaster or a plunge on the free-fall attraction. There’s also a water park, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend, which includes body slides, spraygrounds and a sand beach along Lake Quassapaug. Based in Bristol and open from May through December, Lake Compounce is a massive amusement park with more than 40 rides and attractions. Kids can test their iron stomachs on Thunder N’ Lightning, a 60-miles-per-hour steel coaster, or cool off on Thunder Rapids, a white-water rafting ride. For smaller kids, there’s also a carousel, bumper cars and Ferris wheel. Crocodile Cove, the attached water park open from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, has a large wave pool, lazy river and side-by-side racing water slides.
- Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport is home to 300 animals, focusing primarily on wildlife from North and South America. Kids can walk through the free-flight rainforest aviary filled with tropical birds and monkeys; come face-to-face with barnyard animals, including pigs and sheep, at the children’s farm; and observe wolves in the learning facility. The zoo also has a carousel, public feedings and animal-themed arts and crafts sessions for kids. Children can learn more about marine life at the Mystic Aquarium, home to such creatures as beluga whales, African penguins and eels. Interactive exhibits include shark and stingray touch tanks and Scales and Tails, a section of the aquarium where children can feel the scaly skin of various reptiles. There’s also a sea lion stage show and a 4-D theater.
- Visit Kayak’s home page at www.kayak.com. The site is easy to use with many different features to look through.
- Click the “Flights” button at the left of the top main menu.
- Select Round-trip, one-way or multi-city. Enter “From” and “To” a city or airport, leave and return dates, number of travelers and cabin seating type. Click “Search.”
- Wait as Kayak searches thousands of flights for you, and then review your choices, automatically sorted by price. If too many flights are available to show at once, you may be asked to refine your search by limiting it to a certain airline, number of stops or takeoff time.
- Click on the flight you’re interested in to learn more. You’ll be taken to the appropriate carrier’s site.
- Check the “I accept the fare rules…” box, and click “Continue.”
- Enter traveler information and use the seat selector tool if desired.
- Add payment information to complete the transaction. Kayak.com accepts many credit cards as well as several other payment options such as money orders.
Two Minute Tens
- In order to play this game, one player challenges the rest of the players in the car to compose a list of ten Disney-related items in a given category. The person chooses the category and allows the others to name ten things in that group. Categories can be anything from movies to characters to types of animals. The players receive points for every item they come up with. The player with the most points wins.
Disney Car Colors
- Another enjoyable game to play in the car with your kids is Disney Car Colors. Allow your kids to choose a common color from the cars that pass by on the road. In one minute, the participants have to name as many Disney-related things are that colour, such as Mickey’s gloves for white, or Goofy’s pants for blue. The player with the highest number of items named wins the round.
Sing It Out
- If your family likes to sing then this travel game is perfect for your next road trip. The first player sings a verse from a Disney song such as “Hakuna Matata”. The next player must repeat the verse, leaving off the last word. The following player leaves off the last two words and the game continues in this fashion. Your family members must sing the song correctly on their first try or else they are out. The singing continues around the car until no words are left. The last player remaining who sings correctly the entire game wins.
I Have Never
- Players go around the car, one by one, saying Disney-related things that they have never done. They can be simple such as never seeing a certain Disney movie or worn Mickey Mouse ears. You earn one point every time you can successfully say “I have never…” The goal of this game is to name something that you think others in the car have done to prevent them from scoring points by repeating your ideas. The player with the most points after six rounds wins.
- Find a website host and a domain name. Some travel sites offer a free membership if you register and additional features if you upgrade to a paid plan. Alternately, you can start an independent website by contacting a website host (see Resources).
- Design the outline for your site before you leave on vacation if you plan to upload photographs and videos as you travel. Select a simple background that does not detract from your content. Consider using a complementary theme. For example, if you will be posting photos from an island vacation, choose a background that features a beach and palm trees.
- Get creative with your photos. The last thing viewers want to see is you, repeatedly, waving at the camera from in front of the most recent tourist attraction you visited. Instead, consider using the panorama feature on your camera to allow them to scroll for a 180-degree view of the scenery.
- Capture some action in your videos to make them interesting. Instead of filming the sky, the surf, the beach and then the sky again, wait until Aunt Mary decides to parasail and get it on tape. Use your graphics program to cut out all but the most intriguing parts so website visitors won’t get bored.
- Separate different aspects of your travels by giving them different pages on your site. Keep each page simple but unique, with only the shots and text that apply to the photos you post. Add a simple caption for every photo, and resist uploading different angles of the same shot. The viewer only needs to see one photo of the sandcastle you constructed.
- Locate Internet cafes on your travels, and update your website as you go. Family and friends at home will be waiting excitedly for updates from the newest leg of your journey, so try to upload new information as often as you can.
- Include some short stories about the places you visited and the people you met. Keep your text brief, and cover only the most interesting and exciting events.
- The Indianapolis Zoo and Children’s Museum Family Fun Adventure package is a year-round experience for the young and young at heart. Numerous participating hotels offer overnight packages for two adults and two children that include both museum and zoo tickets. Zoo highlights include a dolphin exhibit and elephants, giraffes, polar bear, tigers and sea lions. Feed the family at any one of seven zoo dining sites. The Children’s Museum’s 11 major galleries provide hours of learning and discovery. See full-size dinosaur skeletons, a recreated Egyptian pharaoh, an interactive Hollywood set and a planetarium. The food court offers a variety of kid favorites, like mac and cheese.
Celebrate the Big Race
- The Indianapolis 500 is held each Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the downtown district, Saturday’s Kids’ Day is a free outdoor festival for children. Also on Saturday, the Rookie Run and Mini-Marathon are available for kids of different ages. The annual 500 parade showcases the starting 500 drivers and attracts 300,000 spectators. Prime Sport is the official travel partner of the speedway and offers Indy 500 packages for all budgets. The Hampton, Omni Severin Hotel and Hyatt Regency Hotel offer packages based on two-, three- or four-night stays for up to four guests per room. All packages include race tickets and transportation to the speedway, admission to the Hall of Fame Museum and souvenirs. Pricier packages offer a meeting with race drivers, garage passes and breakfast buffets.
Go on a Spending Spree
- Whether it’s time for back-to-school shopping, holiday gift buying or for a little family retail therapy, the Shop and Drop package from Hampton Inn offers a base station for bargain hunting and after-shopping entertainment. Located downtown across from indoor Circle Centre Mall, the package includes mall gift card and a coupon book that can be redeemed among the mall’s 100 retailers. Choose from eight sit-down restaurants, catch a blockbuster movie at the United Artists Theater or challenge the kids in a game of mini-golf.
Explore White River Park
- White River State Park spans 250 acres in the heart of Indianapolis, offering recreation options that appeal to all ages. Located a stone’s throw from the urban park, JW Marriott offers a Lights, Legends and Lions package that includes deluxe overnight accommodations, tickets to the park’s IMAX theater and admission to the Indianapolis Zoo. Guests also receive tickets to White River Gardens, the park’s botanical landmark where more than 1,000 varieties of plants grow. Packages are based on a per room rate. Breakfast is included in this weekends-only package.
- Find the departures and arrivals information for every flight in your terminal on the nearest display. Every monitor will display flight information such as flight number, time, destination of arrival or departure, gate number and flight status. If you cannot locate the monitors, ask an airport worker for assistance.
- Ask the attendant at the boarding gate about your flight information. Every gate at the airport is staffed with an attendant for their respective gates. If you need to find a flight without entering the security checkpoint, go to the nearest boarding pass counter representative for flight details.
- Connect to the airport Wi-Fi. Most major airports have Wi-Fi connectivity for travelers and guests to check flight information and status online. Although accessing other websites may require you to purchase a day or monthly Internet access pass, checking your flight status is a complimentary service provided by most airports.
- Examine the travel trailer you’re interested in for a Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. The VIN is like a fingerprint for a vehicle. It should match the VIN listed on the title. The VIN is printed on a metal plate and in the case of a travel travel is placed near the front of the trailer on the tongue, on the front of the frame or on the side of the trailer. If no VIN is present then a title search cannot be made.
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether you must schedule an appointment for an inspection. In some states you can have an inspection done without an appointment, so it’s wise to call your local DMV or check your state’s DMV website.
- Take the trailer in question to the Department of Motor Vehicles so that the inspector can compare the VIN on the title to the one printed on the vehicle’s VIN plate. The two should match exactly. The inspection is typically done by a DMV employee specializing in VIN inspections or a county official, such as a law enforcement officer.
- Once the VIN and vehicle title have been compared and verified, the official will complete and sign a title verification form provided by the DMV. A nominal fee is charged for the inspection. It’s typically less than $10 but varies from state to state.
Store-Bought Travel Journals
- You can buy travel journals for kids in stores or online. These store-bought journals already have lines and sections, and you can choose the cartoon character or theme you want. The journals tend to be divided into sections with titles that children fill in. You can buy journals dedicated to kids’ travel for under $10 as of 2011.
Printable Travel Journals
- If the journals in the store aren’t suitable, you can print out journal pages for free from some websites. You can get plain black and white pages for the child to decorate herself, or print out color pages with flower or animal designs. The advantage of printable pages is that the child can choose her own binder.
Homemade Travel Journals
- The kids may enjoy making their own travel journals before the family heads off on the vacation. You can buy a colorful small binder folder from a stationery store, along with paper of different colors and an A4 sheet of cardboard. Cut the paper to the size of the folder and use a three-hole punch on the pages. Cut the cardboard to the same size, punch holes in it, and use it as the front and back layer of the journal. Then place the colored paper into the binder, allowing two pages of each color in a row so the kid has enough writing space for one day. Buy sticky transparent pockets from the stationery store, then stick them onto individual pages so the child can press flowers or leaves from the vacation between the pages. The new journal owner can decorate the inside and outside of the folder with stickers and drawings.
Journal Entry Ideas
- If a journal has lots of different sections and headings, the child will be able to put lots of detail into the journal, making the vacation memories more accessible. For example, you can have a section marked “What I Ate Today,” or a section for “A Fun Skill I Learned.” He can dedicate the first page of his travel journal to the list of items he will need to pack, and write the number of souvenirs he bought in the last page of the journal. Keep every fourth page clear of sections so he can glue menus, maps or photographs into the journal.
- Direct your browser to google.com/cse. Click the “Create a Custom Search Engine” button.
- Give your unique search engine a name, such as “Travel Search Engine.” Write a brief description of the search engine if desired, and select the language the search engine will use.
- Define the search by adding the websites you wish to search. If your travel search engine is going to be used primarily to find flight and hotel information, include sites such as Hotels.com, Orbitz.com and Expedia.com. If your search engine will be used to find adventure travel opportunities, include sites such as iexplore.com and adventure.travel. Add the desired website URL addresses to the “Sites to Search” box, pushing the “Enter” key after each address. Click the check box to agree to Google’s Terms of Service, and click “Next.”
- Choose how you want your search results to be displayed. Google gives you six customizable styles to choose from. After you have chosen your style, try your new search engine by using the Custom Search Bar at the bottom of the page. The results will be displayed on the same page. If you are satisfied with the results, click “Next.” If you want to make changes to the search engine, click on the “Back to step 1” link.
- Capture the code to use on your own website or blog by copying and pasting the code Google provides in the Custom Search element box. If you do not wish to post the search engine on your own website, you can use the search engine via Google by clicking on “My Search Engines” on the My Account page. This link can be copied and shared so others can use the search engine.
- Direct your browser to au.alpha.yahoo.com. Alpha has default information sources, the websites it is searching, preloaded onto the form. These are customizable as well. If there are sources that you do not wish to use in the Info Sources box, simply uncheck them and they will not be displayed in your search results.
- Click and drag Alpha’s modules to rearrange the way your search results will be displayed. The modules are displayed in the right column of the page.
- Customize the websites Alpha will search by clicking on the “Add Custom Info Source” tab. Name the module and add the URL to the website you want added to the search criteria, then click “Next.” Alpha will display a sample search engine return and give you the choice of adding the source or changing it. When you are satisfied, click “Yes, add this new source.” Your source will be displayed in the right column of the Layout page. Each source must be individually entered.
- Capture the RSS feed code by clicking on the “Create site search” link in the right column of the Layout page. Choose the style of search box you want to see displayed, copy the code and paste it into your website or other page that accepts RSS feeds.
- Direct your browser to bing.com/siteowner. Click on the “Get started” button below the Advance Search Box paragraph.
- Add the websites you want your custom search to use. Type in a display name for the search engine and the first URL to be included. Click the “Add more sites” button to add multiple websites to the search criteria. When you have added all the websites, click “Next.”
- Customize the search box by choosing the language, color and size of the search box to be created. Preview your search box, then click “Next.”
- Copy the code generated by Bing into your website or blog.
- Ask yourself if you want a relaxing getaway or do you want the excitement and thrills. It is quite possible you may want some of both.
- Decide who and how many are going with you. If you and your significant other are going, your itinerary will be vastly different from that of parents with a preschooler.
- Decide if you will use a travel agent or booking service. Many travel agents are able to secure lower airfares, hotel rates and attraction tickets at a reduced price from what the general public might play. You certainly can book all the arrangements yourself, but you may be missing out on some great packages or vacation deals.
- Plan your traveling arrangements. A large family will be costly, if you decide to fly. Of course, the rise in gas prices can be hard on a large family as well. Decide which means of travel is best suited for your family.
- Be aware that if you book a flight over 21 days in advance, you will get a substantially lower rate than if you book the week before you leave. To save some extra cash, try to find a flight that leaves on Tuesday or Wednesday. These are often the cheaper days to fly. If your children are older, you might also consider a red eye flight. Many times these flights can save you another 30 percent off a regular daytime airline ticket.
- Try to find a hotel located on a Disney property. There are some very substantial benefits to staying there. You will be provided transportation. The park has transportation to and from the hotels. Disney also has the Magic Express, which will take your bags from the airport to your room. It might, however, take up to four hours for you to receive them. A great bonus to a Disney property is how you can have your souvenirs delivered to your hotel room. This is a great way to keep from carrying toys and such from your children all over the park.
- Consider purchasing the Park Hopper Pass. You can enter all the parks, and some of the water ones, too. You can go from park to park at your leisure. If you buy the complete Disney pass, you will find your park passes, room keys, and credit card can be in one Disney card. It is a great way to keep from losing something.
- Check out additional special offers. Disney has many special offers. Extra Magic Hours allow a Disney hotel guest to enter the park after it is closed. This is great fun because you may not experience any lines for the rides. Dining plans are also available and usually will pay for themselves after the first meal.
- In the mid 1800s, Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell established that light is a form of electromagnetic energy that travels in waves. The question of how it manages to do so in the absence of a medium is explained by the nature of electromagnetic vibrations. When a charged particle vibrates, it produces an electrical vibration that automatically induces a magnetic one — physicists often visualize these vibrations occurring in perpendicular planes. The paired oscillations propagate outward from the source; no medium, except for the electromagnetic field that permeates the universe, is required to conduct them.
A Ray of Light
- When an electromagnetic source generates light, the light travels outward as a series of concentric spheres spaced in accordance with the vibration of the source. Light always takes the shortest path between a source and destination. A line drawn from the source to the destination, perpendicular to the wave-fronts, is called a ray. Far from the source, spherical wave fronts degenerate into a series of parallel lines moving in the direction of the ray. Their spacing defines the wavelength of the light, and the number of such lines that pass a given point in a given unit of time defines the frequency.
The Speed of Light
- The frequency with which a light source vibrates determines the frequency — and wavelength — of the resultant radiation. This directly affects the energy of the wave packet — or burst of waves moving as a unit — according to a relationship established by physicist Max Planck in the early 1900s. If the light is visible, the frequency of vibration determines color. The speed of light is unaffected by vibrational frequency, however. In a vacuum, it is always 299,792 kilometers per second (186, 282 miles per second), a value denoted by the letter “c.” According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, nothing in the universe travels faster than this.
Refraction and Rainbows
- Light travels slower in a medium than it does in a vacuum, and the speed is proportional to the density of the medium. This speed variation causes light to bend at the interface of two media — a phenomenon called refraction. The angle at which it bends depends on the densities of the two media and the wavelength of the incident light. When light incident on a transparent medium is composed of wave fronts of different wavelengths, each wave front bends at a different angle, and the result is a rainbow.
- Make your first stop in Hershey at Chocolate World.
Chocolate World is very much like a complete pavilion at EPCOT. There are some great experiences, many of which are free. Let your kids make a box of Hershey kisses. You can then purchase the kiss box they made to enjoy later. Take a free ride on the Great American Chocolate Tour dark ride. Go see the Hershey Really Big 3D show, which is really a 4D show so be prepared. You can also experience Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Adventure or you can choose from a selection of chocolates and treats that only Hershey can imagine at one of their many shops.
There is also a nice food selection in the Courtyard Cafe atrium or in the Kit Kat Cafe.
- Plan to spend an entire family day (possibly 2) at Hershey Park, right next door to Chocolate World.
Hershey Park has as much character as any park you will ever visit. The topography of the park is quite hilly. There are some nicely themed areas that fit well with the landscape and there are some very traditional theme park areas. Overall, the park planners have kept some great vintage rides and architecture, but improved other areas with a modern touch. The rides are diverse and plentiful and the landscaping and bridges provide many scenic views and spots for photos.
- If you have time, enjoy the extra theme parks within Hershey Park. There are actually 3 Parks within Hershey Park including Hershey Amusement Park, Zoo America, and The Boardwalk (waterpark). They are all included with the admission price.
Go to the back of Hershey Park to get to Zoo America. Use the Kissing tower (space needle) as your guide. The entrance is just to the left. Zoo America is an 11 acre walk through wildlife park. They have over 200 viewable animals. Zoo America can also be accessed without admission to Hershey Park through a separate parking lot and gate. There is a fee which is less than Hershey Park tickets.
From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend you will be able to take your family to The Boardwalk waterpark within Hershey Park. The waterpark has slides, a wave pool, a water playground, and a lazy river.
- Try the Hershey Story Museum. The museum is located in downtown Hershey. There is plenty of free parking in the parking garage next to the museum. The Hershey Story museum is a new attraction dedicated to the life of Milton Hershey and the Hershey Chocolate Company. Be sure to enjoy the world’s only Hershey kiss light posts through downtown Hershey.
- Try some great family accommodations at Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, or Hershey Highmeadow Campground.
The Hotel Hershey is a top notch historic hotel with great views of Hershey gardens, Hershey park and downtown Hershey. They also have 4 and 6 bedroom cottages available for larger families. Hotel Hershey also offers a top notch Chocolate Spa, Cocoa Clubhouse for the kids, multiple swimming pools, and a indoor sports complex with year round ice skating.
The Hershey Lodge is great for families. The amenities include 3 swimming pools, mini golf, 5 restaurants, and visits from Hershey characters.
Hershey Highmeadow campgrounds offers 55 acres (some open and some wooded) for tent sleepers or RV owners. There is a game room, playground, self-serve laundry, and a country store on property.
Any of these accommodations will make your next family fun visit to Hershey PA a great experience.
Practice Personal Safety
- Consider learning basic self-defense. For instance, by striking the eyes, nose, throat, groin or knees, you can disable an assailant.
- Research your destination so you’ll know what to expect in terms of attitudes toward foreigners and, if you’re female, women.
- Request a room that isn’t on the ground floor, which can offer easy access through a window.
- Avoid opening your door to people who are unknown to you or who do not identify themselves.
- Become familiar with the people at your hotel’s reception desk, and inform them of your comings and goings. Give them emergency numbers of family or friends.
- Get to know the area where you’ll be staying, and trust your intuition; avoid places that look risky.
- Dress like a local resident, or at least try to look inconspicuous in your dress and behavior.
- Walk with confidence. If you’re feeling nervous, seek out a fellow traveler as a temporary companion or stay close to another pedestrian so that you don’t appear to be alone.
- Stay sober, or at least know your limits when drinking.
Get Comfortable on Your Own
- Follow some of the routines you have at home: Drink a cup of coffee in the morning, take an afternoon jog, visit the market in the evening.
- Create a temporary home, if you are staying more than a couple of days, by decorating your room with familiar objects, such as pictures, candles and flowers.
- Go to a restaurant and bring a book, journal or materials for writing letters. You might also bring a guidebook or map to help plan the next part of your trip.
- Become a regular: Visit one shop consistently or have breakfast at the same café each morning, and get to know the people who work there. They can give you helpful advice about the area and, when you need it, provide assistance, which can be especially important in an emergency.
- Meet other travelers through classes or tour groups. They can share travel tips with you and even become temporary travel companions.
Buy a Pass
- Depending on your country of residence, two main options are available. Non-European residents can purchase the Eurail Pass, which covers 24 countries. For a sweeping itinerary, the Global Pass allows travel across all participating countries, while travelers with a narrower focus would be better off taking a Select Pass, which allows travel through four bordering countries, or the Regional Pass, for two-country combinations. European residents, however, can buy the InterRail Pass, whose Global Pass covers 30 countries, while the One Country Pass allows unlimited travel within 27 countries. For the Global Passes, passengers can either choose continuous travel for a defined period, or take a Flexi Pass which allows a certain number of travel days, making it the better option for those who want to spend a longer period of time in just a few destinations.
City to City
- While passes are ideal for those who plan to travel on three or more consecutive days, for example, or do not have a clear itinerary in mind, train companies increasingly follow the airlines’ model in offering cut-price tickets booked in advance online. Travelers who have a clear itinerary are best served by booking city-to-city tickets at discounted rates, typically three months in advance. This applies above all in Eastern Europe where rail fares are much cheaper. As Jane E Fraser wrote in “The Sydney Morning Herald,” 80 percent of high-speed journeys in Europe require reservations in advance, so confirmed tickets are already a tacit prerequisite. The only drawback to the point-to-point ticket booked online is that it will almost certainly be nonchangeable and nonrefundable.
- Non-Europeans cannot buy Eurail passes in Europe, while European residents cannot use an InterRail pass for travel within their own country. Both passes must first be activated by obtaining a stamp on the first day of travel from a station official or ticket office, and pass-holders will still need to reserve seats for travel in many Western European countries. “Lonely Planet” warns that there will frequently be extra charges on long-distance trains, particularly in France, Italy and Spain, where a reservation fee is applied, but many travelers will find the charges nominal. Switzerland, Germany and Austria do not usually require compulsory reservation. For overnight journeys, passengers have the option of reclining seat, couchette — shared compartment — or a private sleeper cabin. Travelers under 26 or over 60 should also look out for some very attractive discounts.
Where to Go
- Passengers with a Global Pass could theoretically travel from Ireland in the West to Turkey in the East, although travel on the EuroTunnel beneath the English Channel is not included. National Geographic recommends a handful of iconic journeys that are possible using a pass, among which are The Chocolate Train, which runs through the Swiss mountains from Montreux to Broc, and the Balkan Flexipass, which whistles through the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece and Turkey. Rick Steves, however, recommends against investing in a rail pass for southern Spain, Ireland, Croatia and Greece because the rail network is so limited. Also, be warned that high-speed services in Italy and the Thalys service, which serves Paris and Amsterdam, both charge hefty supplements.
- Purchase a travel trailer that will be big enough to live in. Ideally, you would want a trailer that’s at least 21 feet long, especially if there will be two or more people in the trailer. The trailer can be new or used, but be sure to have it thoroughly inspected.
- Search for land to purchase and park the trailer on if you plan to keep the trailer stationary. If you intend to travel with your trailer check out campgrounds where you can park for a night or up to a week or more.
- Cook meals on a propane stove as this is the cheapest, easiest and most portable way of cooking in a travel trailer. A propane stove can have up to four burners and doesn’t take up much room. A two-burner is probably all you will need.
- Store perishable foods in a propane refrigerator. This will keep your food from spoiling and can provide cold drinks and ice as well. Nonperishable foods can be stored in cupboards or plastic storage bins. An added benefit of keeping foods like flour, rice, beans, and pasta in storage bins is that it will stay fresher longer and bugs won’t get into it.
- Using the restroom will be easier if you have a toilet with holding tank in the trailer. Alternately, you can build an outhouse, though this isn’t nearly as comfortable, especially during the winter and in the middle of the night. Campgrounds usually have public restrooms.
- Taking a shower in the trailer is most comfortable, so try to get a trailer that has one installed. Campgrounds usually provide public showers if your trailer doesn’t have one, though if you plan to live in your trailer full time, especially on your own property, you’ll want a trailer with a shower.
- Wash dishes and hand wash clothes in the sink of your trailer if it has a water system with storage tank. If your trailer is lacking in water, you may want to buy disposable plates, cups and silverware, and wash clothes at a laundromat.
- Store items not in use to avoid clutter and keep the trailer as neat as possible. It’s easy to feel claustrophobic if items are left out or you accumulate too many things. Out-of-season clothes can be stored in plastic storage bins and placed in a closet or up on a shelf. The storage bin will keep clothes from getting dirty or mildewed.