All-Inclusive Resorts: Why or Why Not?

September 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A few years ago, I went on my first all-inclusive vacation. I just wanted to get away and have the luxury of not thinking about anything once I arrived. Mission accomplished! It was nice knowing all my meals, my drinks, and my activities were covered by the package deal.

The Tamassa All-Inclusive Hotel is an example of one of the all-inclusive resorts in that part of the world.

The Tamassa All-Inclusive Hotel in Mauritius

Some people question whether all-inclusive resorts are a good value or not. If you’re trying to keep costs manageable, they actually can be. According to the Family Vacation Survival Guide, you can save up to 25 percent by choosing resorts for your vacation, compared to paying for lodging, meals and activities as you go.

Consider the following trip expenses that are included when you choose a resort vacation:

  • Transportation. Complimentary shuttle service to the property from the airport is often part of the package, and if you want to leave the property for a nearby destination, you may be able to use the resort’s shuttle service or hire a cab.
  • Tipping is usually factored into the cost, eliminating the need, especially in a foreign country, to carry and calculate local currency. While I found this awkward, I was assured repeatedly that gratuities were not expected by the staff. Be sure to check before you go, so you don’t feel uncomfortable because you didn’t know the resort’s policy.
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Pending Queuemageddon Makes TSA PreCheck Worth The Price

June 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a leisure traveler, perhaps you’ve heard about the TSA PreCheck and thought it wasn’t enough of a value for you to plunk down $85 to get special clearance for five years. I guess that means you like standing in line. For a long, long time.

No? Hopefully you have comfortable shoes, because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) estimates the summer travel season will cost travelers at least an hour in the security line.

TSA PreCheck signAt least.

Would you rather stand in line for an inestimable amount of time and potentially miss your flight or pay $85 and jump the line? If you’re like me, you’d like to jump the line.

Business travelers, still not convinced PreCheck is worth the money? Consider this: is your time worth $30 per hour? Take your total salary and divide it by 2000 working hours a year, and you’ll know how much you make an hour. If you make $60,000 per year, your time is worth $30 per hour.
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Bring This, Not That: Huggies Wipes Versus Purse Tissues or TP

July 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

How do we put this delicately? There are times when you need. . . personal hygiene items. Maybe you have babies and toddlers who need to be cleaned up during a diaper change. Or maybe you’re going to be out in the wilderness for several days. Or you’re one of those moms who’s über-prepared for everything, and your purse holds so much stuff, it should have been in a Harry Potter movie.

So the question becomes what should you carry? A small packet of tissues, moist baby wipes like Huggies wipes, or even a small roll of toilet paper?

There’s really only one choice: baby wipes.

English: Wet wipe (2 Thai models)

Wet wipe (2 Thai models) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every young parent knows about the importance of baby wipes. Not only are they great for wiping up baby, but they’re really useful everywhere else. Most parents we know swear by Huggies brand, but there are plenty of other great brands out there too.

My wife and I have a daughter, and we always have some wipes on hand, which we use for a lot of things. We can wipe down tables and chairs when we go to a restaurant, and I’ve used them to wipe up spills on our clothing.

I know someone who used to go to Canada on week-long fishing trips, and he said they would pack a box of Huggies wipes, rather than a lot of TP and paper towels. They could clean anything, especially food stains on shirts, plus anything else they might need them for.

Even if you don’t have kids or if your kids are older, the wipes are still worth carrying, because they can be used for so many different purposes while traveling. Anyone whose gotten used to having wipes available knows their usefulness goes way beyond cleaning up a dirty child.

When space and weight are an issue, wipes are a good choice. They’re more compact, they’re already moistened and they can clean a lot of things. And if you need regular tissues, a small pack in your purse or briefcase make a great backup.

What do you carry for personal cleaning? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

New Family Travel Association Works to Help Family Travelers

May 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in USA Today discussed a new organization fighting for the plight of families traveling with children. The Family Travel Association is a new industry association that seeks to inspire people with kids to travel and to educate them on the positive impact that traveling has on both children and adults.

“Now, the industry is joining forces to present a clear and unified message — that travel with kids can be transformational, not just recreational, and that there are things you can do with your children that you may never have dreamed possible,” said Rainer Jenss, president of the FTA, said in the article.

Jenss said the goal of the FTA is to lead the industry toward making travel easier for parents with children since many surveys indicate that parents often come home from trips more frazzled than when they left.

English: PBair female flight attendant at work...

Female flight attendant at work on board of a ATR 72 (Thailand). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The FTA plans to promote kid-friendly companies, including airlines and hotels that tailor services to families with kids. The fact is, many businesses are either unaware of how to make things easier for families or are sometimes downright unwelcoming.

The article even mentions a mother who always flies with a print out of each airline’s rules for traveling with children, since flight attendants are often unfamiliar with the facts.

Since travel is both beneficial and difficult for families, the FTA has a lot to offer if they can make things easier for parents shepherding their children through the pleasures and perils of vacationing.

It’s very beneficial to be able to get away with your family. In fact, our Vogue line is intended for the family traveler, so this association is something we’re very interested in following and seeing how it turns out.

Would you use it or not? What are some of the difficulties and joys you’ve had traveling with your family? Leave us a comment below or stop by our Facebook page and share your thoughts.

How Young is too Young to Travel?

March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A CNN article in March discussed some of the challenges associated with traveling with young children and how to determine when your child is old enough to travel.

We were intrigued by the idea but it also made us think about the benefits of traveling with young children. Some families travel with their kids to give them a new experience. Even young children, around three or four years old, are traveling with their families to Brazil or China. Those kids are experiencing different cultures in a way that many of us never will.

Lars Plougmann via Compfight (Creative Commons)

We’re not sure exactly what the right age is for kids to really learn something from travel. If they’re too young they may not get much out of it. But what’s that age limit? On the one hand, they may pick up some appreciation for different cultures and foods. On the other, they may learn patience just from sitting still in a car or plane for several hours.

My daughter is three, and I’m not sure she’d learn a lot from international travel, but I think it would be fun and good for her to expose her to different cultures. It just depends on how she would handle it. On the other hand, a colleague says she wouldn’t take her sons to restaurants at three.

It really depends on the temperament of the child and the patience of the parents. You have to make the call yourself on what is the right age for your child.

It’s a great idea if you have the means and the time to do it, but we don’t think there’s a magic age when it all happens because it’s so subjective and depends so much on each child.

Another important factor the article mentions is that you can make travel easier by choosing to drive or to schedule flights at times that are best for your child. We know someone who would drive from Indiana to Disney World by leaving at 10:00 pm, when his kids were asleep, so they would sleep through most of the drive. Of course, he was wiped out by the time he got there, but it was much better than dealing with unhappy kids during the daylight hours.

What age did you (or would you) start traveling with your children? Leave a comment below or post something on our Facebook page.

6 Tips for Making Solo Travel Amazing

March 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve all heard that we should be careful when traveling alone, and we sometimes worry that this keeps people from traveling at all.

The whole “you need to be comfortable with yourself” philosophy aside for the moment, we think it’s possible, and even enjoyable, to travel by yourself.

We recently read an article in Women’s Health about traveling alone. Although the article is aimed at women, men could benefit from some of the tips as well, such as dressing more conservatively than you would at home, especially if you’re going to visit a country where the culture is very different from your own.

Also, avoid dressing like you’re going to Home Depot on a Saturday morning. Try to fit in more with the local fashion, if only to avoid being identified as a tourist. Keep your gadgets, if you have them with you, hidden away in public places in order to avoid scrutiny and increased security.

If you want to meet people while traveling, go on a group trip as an individual. This way, you can meet people without having to make too much effort as it’s a lot easier to make new friends within such a group. Going somewhere as a volunteer is another great way to meet new people because in most cases, you will work together with others as a team to accomplish something meaningful.

We also liked the advice “be unapologetically selfish.” When you travel alone, you get to see only the things you want to see, so you can skip the collection telegraph pole photographs just because someone else wanted to see them. And you don’t have to visit the museum everyone else says you “have to” see.

One of our employees is a woman who has traveled extensively for business. She said these tips apply for business travelers too, because she tries to make some time to see the sights. She strongly recommends having a game plan in mind for what you want to see. This is especially important if you’re traveling on business, because your free time will be fairly limited.

She says she has a hard time taking the “Be unapologetically selfish” advice in the article to heart, but was intrigued by the idea. She thinks that both women and men should make an effort to have some down time just for themselves while traveling.

What special things do you do for yourself, or special precautions do you take, when you’re traveling alone? Do they work more for personal travel or business travel? Leave a comment below or post something on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Art Supplies for Kids

March 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Do your kids drag their art supplies everywhere they go? Do you head over to Grandma’s house with backpacks overflowing with pencils, pens, markers, scissors, and different types of paper?

If so, you’re probably excited that they’re excited and that they’re doing something other than playing video games or looking at a screen. However, you may be less excited at the thought of dragging a mountain of art supplies with you on your next vacation.

2 woodless graphite pencils in plastic sheaths...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Think about how much downtime your kids will actually have while on the vacation. If you’re flying to Disney World, their schedules are probably going to be jam packed. If you’re driving to Oklahoma, though, you may want to pack more extensively.

Think about how much storage space the supplies are going to take up and how much you actually have. Again, if you’re flying, space will be more limited as opposed to driving, where you and your kid may be able to spread out and bring everything but the kitchen sink.

In either case, keep in mind the fact that if you pack too much stuff, your kids are more apt to lose something. If you’re changing hotels or locations, things may get forgotten, so focusing on just a small amount of art supplies can be helpful. Keep an inventory of what they have so you can make sure that certain items don’t get left behind as you travel.

It’s also not a bad idea to invest in a “travel only” set of art supplies to use while in transit. And then have a few more things packed away in the luggage to use while at your destination.

When you’re on vacation, we at TravelPro always think it’s best to get the most bang for your buck as far as packing space goes. The best option may be to limit your kids to just a pad of paper and one set of pencils. Talk to your kids about nomadic art and the fact that some professional artists carry only a small notebook and a pencil to make sketches on the go.

What do you do when your budding artists want to take their entire studio with them? Do you have any go-to supplies or favorite items you have to take? Any tips for parents of new artists? Leave them in our comments or on our Facebook page.

Important Travel Documents For Traveling With Kids

February 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling with your children isn’t like running down to the grocery store with them. Just like you need your own passport and other travel documents, you need to have certain documents with you when you travel with your kids.

The Huffington Post has an extensive and helpful list they suggest you carry with you when traveling internationally with your family.

Air Canada planeObviously, a passport isn’t going to be a necessity on domestic trips, but HuffPo suggests you bring physical copies of the following: your child’s birth certificate, a signed permission slip if there’s a parent who isn’t traveling with you, vaccination certifications, travel insurance, emergency contacts, telephone numbers for healthcare facilities at your destination, emergency first aid instructions, a list of your child’s allergies, and your full itinerary with contact information.

The list makes a lot of sense, although it may be a little too thorough. Be aware that carrying all that paper documentation can be a security risk. (Think about what happens if that information were stolen.) But you can keep a lot of it on a cloud-based app, such as Evernote or Google Drive, which you can download to your phone or tablet as needed.

On the other hand, what if your phone charger is damaged or you end up in a remote site with no service? With Evernote, you can download documents to your phone’s app, and then lock it with a security code. Otherwise, you could end up with a huge phone bill if you need to access another country’s wireless network to access the information.

Be sure to do your research before you travel and know what you need. You may not need everything on this list for some of the places you’re visiting, so it’s better to determine it in advance.

Photo credit: Caribb (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Bring This, Not That: Packing for Older Children

December 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

How and what should you pack for older children? When packing for children, the rule “less is more” is always true. Don’t pack for every contingency, plan for the worst and pack for that.

Once your kids get to be 7 or 8, they should be responsible for packing and carrying their own bags. However be sure to inspect the packing process or do a check after they’re done. If you leave it up to them, you may end up with a suitcase full of Legos or stuffed animals, and the wrong types of clothes for the climate you’re visiting. Have a conversation with your child about what he or she thinks they need. It can be a fun way to teach them to plan ahead.

Children's SuitcaseYou can also leave the carrying of the suitcase up to your child while you’re traveling. Don’t go overboard. Make sure your 7-year-old gets some assistance putting her carry-on in the overhead bin, but make sure she takes responsibility for knowing where it is. Again, you want to make sure she’s taking care of business, but having her keep track of her bag will give her a sense of responsibility.

For the flight itself, you can pack light. Bring some healthy snacks and perhaps one toy or book. And if you have a tablet device — iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle Fire — load a few movies, games, and favorite music to keep them occupied.

At this age, kids love entertaining themselves with video games, so sneak in some learning while you’re at it. Load some educational games and books and puzzles to keep your kid’s mind sharp.

Don’t forget that wi-fi may get spotty from time to time or not be available on your flight, so make sure you’ve downloaded the electronic goodies, rather than relying on streaming services. This way, they can switch between activities during the trip.

What else do you recommend for kids? Any other tips or suggestions? Leave a comment or comment on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: (Creative Commons)

Bring This, Not That: Packing for Young Children

December 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many new parents are often tempted to pack almost the entire bedroom when planning to travel with their kids. They want to make sure they’re prepared for every contingency, every situation.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Your kids just don’t need as much stuff as you think they do to survive a flight — you only need the key essentials. There’s often a tendency by new parents to overdo it, because they want to have everything and anything they need.

English: A typical baby's diaper bag, over-sho...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dragging an enormous diaper bag around the airport, in addition to everything else you have, is just going to exhaust you, and you’ll end up not using most of it anyway. Pack what they need: enough diapers, formula or snacks, one change of clothes, and a small blanket. Everything else you need can be checked in your regular baggage.

The other big concern when traveling with small children is keeping them entertained. The very little ones don’t need much at all, maybe a toy and a rattle. Your best hope is that they fall asleep on the flight, so try to arrange your schedule to make that happen.

Toddlers generally need more to keep them occupied, so a tablet can come in handy. If you don’t currently have an iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle Fire, we recommend getting one for traveling with children. You’ll get to enjoy it as well, so it’s a win-win situation.

Load your tablet with your children’s favorite movies, and some new ones, some games and puzzles, and a few of their favorite tunes. With this setup, you could keep your toddler occupied for the entire trip.

If your child has a favorite toy or blanket they’re emotionally attached to, you absolutely must bring it along. Otherwise, the pain of separation will be loud and heart wrenching to you, your child, and everyone seated nearby.

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