Family Vacation Tips

You may want to switch off and unplug – Camping or outdoor based trips like Cherrystone Camping Resort in Chesapeake Bay area (keeps kids busy with array of activities like swimming, crafting, sunset dolphin cruises and more) or Mammoth Mountain (offers hiking, biking, kayaking, zip-lining you name it!) And contrary to popular belief this doesn’t HAVE to involve a tent – you can rent an RV, trailers or cabin.

You may be on a budget – Take a day trip to the nearest museum, national park or beach (download an app like ‘daytrips’ to your iphone) If you do decide to fly download a flight tracking app like ‘hopper’ which will notify you when flight price go down!

You may not have much time off – weekend getaways on the coast are the way to go – on the west coast anywhere from Santa Barbara down to San Diego, or on the East check out Myrtle Beach in North Carolina which offers the best of both worlds with a amusement parks and arcades located right beside the beach (and it’s also very affordable)

You may need it to appeal to everyone! – There are great all-inclusive resorts in locations like the Paradisus Playa del Carmen in Mexico (with rates as low at $130 a night with food and kids club included) or the The Ranch at Emerald Valley, CO, which has something to do for every age.

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Home and Family 4144 Final Photo Assets

Best Travel Social Networking Sites

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While you don’t always hear a ton about social networks for travelers, there are a few great ones out there that can help you plan trips, make new friends and discover places you never knew existed.

Wayn
– Allows you to search prospective destinations based on the kinds of activities you do eg) skiing or surfing.
– If you already know where you want to go, you can also search by destination and get tips from local on what to do while you’re there.

HelloTel
– Business travel often means lonely travel, but Hellotel creates a localized social network around the hotel you’re staying in – this allows you to connect with other nearby travelers (or locals) to grab a drink or do a little networking.
– Have a specific need? You can also ask the group questions about everything from restaurants to transportation options and get answers in real time.

Trover
– This app allows you to explore some of the world’s most exciting travel destinations through the photos of other travelers (posted in an instagram-style format.)

– You can use the images to plan your next big getaway, or to just to take a virtual vacation from your office chair during your lunch break!

In-Flight Etiquette

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1# Reclining- Don’t lean your chair back as soon as you get on. When you do recline your chair, do it slowly, and return the seat back to the upright position during meal and drink servings so you don’t impose on others.

2# Seat Kickers – If it’s a child, politely ask the parent to ask him to stop kicking my seat. If it’s an adult the same applies, ask politely. If nothing changes quietly speak with a flight attendant.

3# Over-Talkative Neighbors – Grab a book or a magazine and he or she should get the hint (especially if you say it’s a book your dying to read) OR headphones never fail to send a red ‘no talk’ flag!

4# Sleepers – If your stuck and have to get out to the isle, while it may be tempting to climb over your neighbor, you risk awkwardly straddling her as they wake up. Instead, give them a gentle pat and say, “excuse me.”

5# Overhead compartments – Use the storage space above your head; taking the storage space of other passengers is rude and can delay exiting the plane as they search for their luggage. Also if you have heavy luggage, wait until others have left before grabbing it so you don’t block people (or ask somebody to help.)

Last Minute Spring Break Deals

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Look at last minute ski trips; as it heads towards the end of season, look for deals in places like Mountain Creek, NJ (where for $100 you can learn to ski, rent equipment and enjoy the mountain all day) or Whiteface Mountain in NYC which boasts hotels like Whiteface Lodge that provide great package deals, such as the ‘midweek ski for free package.’

Europe is a great option now before the summer flight prices rise. Choose a destination and download a flight price-tracking app like hopper travel to see when flights drop (oh and hotels are equally more modest in March than summer months.)

Look into alternative transport; consider a train trip or road trip as you don’t need to fly to have fun. Amtrack your way along either coast or take the car and embrace your spontaneous side! (e.g. explore Boston by Amtrack from NYC for as low as $70 each way.)

Book a casino weekend; for west coasters, Vegas is a great value option & for East Coasters consider NJ’s Atlantic City – hotels are always cheap in casino towns and you don’t even have to gamble to have fun

Look online at websites like priceline.com or lastminute.com or download apps like hoteltonight which offer great last minute deals on 5* city hotels for as little as $70 a night!

Best Kids Free and Family Vacations

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Best Kids Free

Costa Rica (for the action seekers)
– Playground for adults (between fishing, snorkeling, surfing & more.)
– Incredible tropical scenery, only a short distance away.

Napa Valley (for the romantics)
– Also known as the “wine country” boasts great food and some of the world’s best wines.
– Romantic, gorgeous setting.

Naples, Florida (for the relaxers)
– Quiet, removed yet elegant – little beach town of West Coast Florida.
– Beautiful sunsets, sandy beaches & Florida charm.


Best Family

San Diego
– San Diego offers 70 miles of sandy fun in outdoor sports.
– Great for kids are the San Diego Zoo or SeaWorld or museums of Balboa Park.

Washington DC
– The key to D.C.’s family appeal is the National Mall, which is surrounded by free, kid-friendly museums and renowned monuments.
– Families can visit The National Zoo (which also offers free entry) or snag a treat at one of Georgetown’s cupcake shops.

Myrtle Beach
– In terms of accessibility and cost, Myrtle Beach offers an excellent family getaway.
– Ripley’s Aquarium and Mount Atlantis Miniature Golf are welcome distractions from the shoreline.

Travel Trends for 2016

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*MORE HOTELS WILL OFFER FLEXIBLE OR NO CHECK OUT TIMES
Acc to NYT, hotel groups like Peninsula, Patina & Yotel experimenting
w/flexible checkout policies to allow guests more wiggle room in their travel itinerarieS

*FLIGHTS WILL BE CHEAPER
Acc to data from Hopper travel, the average price for a ticket in Jan will be at a 3-yr low.
But flyers should be cautious of super cheap rates– airlines will likely begin tacking on new fees

*ECONOMY CLASS WILL GET MORE CROWDED
So-called slimline seats are already being installed on new Southwest planes– and
it won’t be long before United, American, and others start retrofitting aircraft with skinnier seats.

*NATIONAL PARKS PARTIES WILL BE A THING
National Park Service turns 100 in 2016 and to celebrate, various centennial events
will be held at parks throughout the country

*MORE PEOPLE WILL TURN TO AIRBNB AS HOTEL PRICES RISE.
Global Business Travel Association predicting room rates will rise
4.7 percent in the U.S.and 2.5 percent around the world

How to be the Perfect Passenger

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When to Power Down:
— When is cell use ok? To entertain or direct others in the car.
— When is it not ok? For lengthy personal calls, unless it’s urgent; in which case, politely ask the other passengers or driver if they would mind.
— Volume check? If someone is being too loud, say you have a headache.

Traveling with Children:
— Confronting seat kickers? If you’re in a car, suggest the child could be restless and perhaps stopping for a walk or to get a snack could be the answer. If you’re on plane, politely confront the parent saying you need rest, to continue your journey.
— Surviving a crying/ rowdy child? If you’re traveling by car, suggest a game or audiobook for the child. If you are on a plane, feel free to speak with the flight attendant and ask her to politely speak with the parent.
— What if that child is yours and you’re being berated by other passengers over it? It’s your responsibility to discipline your child; request to pull over if you need to do this privately.

That awkward moment when a Passenger is:
– Hitting on you? Ok so you cant escape like you can at a bar, but if they are persistent, feel free to kick em’ to the curb (not literally)
— Boozing? When your license is at risk, you have every right to ask you passenger straight up to wait until their destination to pop the holiday cheer.
– Falling asleep on you? Turn on the radio!
— Talking non-stop? Again…turn on the radio!

Get Comfortable, But Not Too Comfortable:
— When to go to sleep if you’re a car passenger? It’s fine to nap, but let the driver know as if your both drowsy, it can be dangerous. Also plan ahead checkpoints so they know what to stay alert for.
— When personal grooming crosses the line – i.e: toe clipping, nail clipping, perfume spraying, is make-up ok? It’s never ok to groom in public. Take your make-up bag into a rest area or toilet stop area if you must.
— Is it ever ok to go shoeless while traveling? Shoeless is one thing sock-less is another; the best option is sneakers of comfortable driving shoes… AND NO FEET ON THE DASH!

Watch What You Eat:
–Eating Smelly/ Messy Foods – Try and avoid these “in the car” as smells can last for weeks!

Driving Me Crazy (when you’re the passenger in a car):
— Diffusing Road Rage – Give em’ a stick of gum, turn on the radio or tell a joke!
— Confronting your speeding driver – When your life is at risk, or the lives of other passengers, you have every right to confront your driver & ask them to slow down; your’e life is more important than arriving at your destination a few minutes early.
— Confronting a distracted driver on phone or texting? Offer to assist or take over their communication so they can concentrate on driving. In fact don’t be afraid to INSIST; your life is more important than a text message!

Flexible Flying

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If you’re looking to fly but nail down the dates (for example for the birth of a grandchild) hesitation when shopping for plane tickets can cost you hundreds of dollars in fees and penalties. If you book a flight but have to change dates later, fee changes can cost up to $200 per ticket (American, Delta and United) and even more on international flights, plus any difference in the new fare. So what are the options?

Option #1: The 24-hour purchase rule may help. A Department of Transportation rule requires airlines to provide a grace period of 24 hours to change your flight, without a penalty.

Option #2: Lock in the fare. The Fare Lock program (offered by Continental and United) allows you to hold your flight for up to three days for as little as $7 or $8. American Airlines recently introduced a similar option called Extended Hold, which allows you to hold your flight for up to a week for under $15.

Option #3: Book on Southwest Airlines, which is proudly the only US carrier to allow passengers to change their flights free of charge.

Option #4: Become an elite flyer (with perks that can include waived change fees) Or consider buying flight insurance – but do not buy without reading all the fine print, as insurance will only do you good if it covers what you need it to cover.

Solution #5: Buy tickets on a budget airline like Jet Blue or Spirit, so if things happen to change and you have to rebook an entirely new flight, the initial loss won’t be extortionate!

The best options seems to be fare-hold BUT the preferable situation is to know the exact dates you wish to travel and stick with them. (Unfortunately, life doesn’t always come wrapped up in such a neat and tidy package!)

How to Cut Down Airport Security Wait Lines

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Long lines, lengthy security procedures (involving baggies and mini bottles) & grabby TSA agents are just some of the frustrations that travelers have complained about in recent years. Now, given that the TSA are announcing new security changes this weekend, travelers are worried things may get tougher. If you’re willing to put up a small amount of cash, programs like “CLEAR” or TSA Pre Check are designed to speed you through the security checkpoints.

How do they work?
1. When you subscribe to either program, you receive a card in the mail, which you bring to the airport.

2. As a CLEAR member, you present this card at CLEAR stations in the airport where you are physically scanned (using either your thumbprint or an iris scan) which will allow you to together.

Which is worth getting?
1. It depends on how often you fly, how many are in your traveling party and your most frequented airport e.g.) CLEAR is only presently offered at 13 airports in the US, versus Pre Check which is offered at 133.

2. CLEAR doesn’t earn you anything special beyond speed; you still have to remove belts, laptops, and so on, versus Pre Check which eliminates this.

3. For international travelers, the BEST option may be Global Entry, which for $100 combines both bypassing customs lines and includes a Pre Check bypass the line to the metal detector.

3. As a TSA Pre Check member, you do not have to remove shoes, coats or belts or take your laptop out of its case when passing a security checkpoint.


How much do they cost?

1. CLEAR costs $179 per year, making it a considerably bigger investment than TSA Pre Check which only costs $85 for five years.

2. With CLEAR, however, you can refer a second person to receive a rate of $50 per year, and users may take children under 18 with them through the system for free. They are also currently offering a FREE 2 month trial (subscribed to online.)

3. While CLEAR and Pre Check aren’t affiliated, in airports where they both exist, they work together informally.

Making the Most of Your Air Miles

Big Three Airlines: American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines
Overview: The major American ‘legacy’ airlines have revamped their Frequent Flyer Programs in 2015. The main change is how members earn miles. Instead of earning miles for miles flown, members now earn miles based on money spent. For example, if one passenger spends $300 for the same flight another passenger spent $600 for, the higher priced ticket would earn double the mileage.

The amount of miles earned per dollar spent also depend on which level of membership you belong to. For example, at Delta Airlines, general members earn 5 miles / per dollar spent while their highest level, Diamond Medallion members earn 11 miles / per dollar spent.

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Programs
American- American AAdvantage
United- United Mileage Plus
Delta- Delta Skymiles

How should the average traveler optimize on this situation?

– Choose an airline with hubs located near their home and have destinations they’re interested in.
– Sign up for an airline rewards credit card which awards bonus miles for signing up, making everyday purchases (e.g. like the American Express Delta Sky Miles Credit Card, which gives you 30,000 bonus miles after $1000 purchases in your first 3 months aka a free ticket) and also and use partner companies such as rental car companies, hotels, and restaurants!
– Get your significant other to sign up as well to earn double points
– Card’s such as the American Express Platinum, typically have an annual fee but you can often get it waived for the first year by taking advantage of a online deals.
– Get ahead of the game and Download Apps like MileBlaster (which tracks your miles and alerting you whenever your points are about to expire) or Trip It.

What changes do we see in the future?

– Airlines have promised to make redeeming miles easier, reserving more seating for frequent flyer passengers, and loosening restrictions on when and where miles can be redeemed.

Labor Day Weekend

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My Labor Day Weekend Top Spots!

#1 – Savannah, Georgia:

– Beautiful architecture, amazing southern comfort food & classic southern hospitality

– Notable events over Labor Day weekend, such as Tybee Island’s Labor Day Beach Bash

– Historic B&B’s such as “Planter’s Inn.”

#2 – Las Vegas:

– America’s playground year-round but hosts some of the hottest parties and events over Labor Day – see vegas.com for a full list. Affordable package deals can be found on kayak.com.

#3 – Miami Beach, Florida

– While typically known as a “winter sun” spot, prices tend to be lower to visit this time of year.

– Soak up the Latin flavor on the infamous South Beach for as low as $500 per person (two nights, flights included) over labor day weekend found on Expedia.com.

4# – Montauk (on the tip of long Island)

– Long stretches of coastline & beautiful beaches offer a range of activities for families and young professionals alike

– A list of local B&B’s can be found on hotels.com, but my recommendation is the Montauk Beach House for a guaranteed fun Labor Day scene!