Going on Vacation With Your Grown-Up Kids & Their Kids

Guest post contributed by Joyce Evans

Going on a family vacation when the kids are small is one thing, but going on one when they are grown up and have their own families is another matter entirely. It can be great fun getting three generations together on vacation, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure it all goes to plan.

Decide Who’s Paying for What

Budgeting for your vacation is the most important thing to keep in mind when you start planning. Don’t leave this up in the air because it could cause problems later on. Is the vacation your treat? Will you pay for accommodation and someone else pay for food? Or will all the families split the costs of everything? Make sure everyone knows what’s involved in advance so you can all plan properly.

Another sensible option could be an all-inclusive holiday. That way you can all split the cost at the start and then forget about it so everyone can budget for the vacation in advance and avoid disagreements.Granny and Grandpa

Choose a Location Suitable for Everyone

Spend some time searching for a location that has things to do for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. A skiing holiday could be a great option because it will have lots of things for everyone to do. Somewhere like Park City could be ideal and you can easily find suitable Park City lodging.

Also think about the distance you will need to travel to arrive because the journey can be the most stressful part of all. 12-hour car journeys are never fun, especially when lots of people and kids are traveling in a group, so you may want to choose somewhere that is easy to reach. Hold a family meeting to come up with ideas, and get everyone involved in the process.

How Much Time Will You Spend Together?

Staying together the whole time may sound like fun, but what happens when you want to do different things? You may want to go to the museum while the kids just want to go to the beach every day.

Make sure you know what you want to do, and get your children to decide on the things they want to do as well. Then you can make a plan of the things that you want to do together and the things you want to do separately.

If you do want to do different things during the days, make sure you work out the transport situation. Will each family rent a car, or are you staying in a location where you can walk to the attractions?

Book a Vacation Home Instead of a Hotel

Choosing the right accommodation is essential. Hotels are not ideal for large parties because you will all be staying in separate rooms and it can also work out as more expensive. Staying in a vacation home has many benefits because it is more fun, and it is often more affordable and practical.

Share the experience together by finding somewhere that provides enough space for everyone. This could be a large vacation rental, or you may want to rent two places next to each other.

Start Planning Your Perfect Vacation

Vacations with the extended family are great fun, but you want to make sure you get some proper planning in beforehand. The more planning you do, and the earlier you start, the more likely you will be to enjoy a great time and avoid potential disagreements. So keep these tips in mind, make sure everyone is involved in the planning, and have a great time on your next family vacation.

Joyce Evans is a seasoned vacation consultant. She aims to provide handy tips and advice online to help your travel plans run smoothly. You find other articles written by her on various travel-related sites.

Free Things to Do in Orlando

More than 75 million people visit Florida each year, and many of them visit Disney World in Orlando. Planning a trip to Orlando can be expensive, especially if the vacationing parties plan to visit areas of high tourism. A family can take alternative measures by participating in some free activities that Orlando has to offer. Frugal customers can discover that Orlando has much more to offer than Disney World.

The following are some suggestions for free activities and for saving money on an Orlando trip:

Visit the Children’s Library

children_books_library_public_orlando_downtown
Families can always stop by the children’s library if they would like to take their children to partake in a free event. The Orlando children’s library has a wide variety of events in which children can participate. The library’s Kid Connect program has programs and events such as mascot games, crafts, gaming and other fun events. Parents can take their children to the library just to read books, as well, since it’s always a good idea to plan a chill out day in the middle of your holiday.

Stop at the Flea Market

The largest flea market in the United States is located near Orlando, Florida, and people refer to it as Flea World. Visitors can pick up a wide variety of inexpensive clothing, food and goods from more than 1,700 vendors.

There’s also the Winter Park farmer’s market if they want to experience more than one flea market. The Winter Park farmer’s market offers a haven for foodies, and families who want to eat well, despite being on holiday.

Walk Around in the Gardens

Harry-P-Leu-Gardens-22724

One of the best things about vacationing in Florida is that the state contains a great deal of beauty. Visitors can stop by the Harry P. Leu Gardens, which is a huge park that offers beauty as well as historical components. Access to the gardens is free, but the area is only open between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on the first Monday of every month of the year.

Visit Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park. July 1999.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is another place that a family can visit free if they visit during the month of September. The park provides free access to anyone who shows up with a library book – although it doesn’t say which library, so you could probably take your books from home too! The park offers a natural history museum as well as outdoor activities.

Additional Ways to Save Money on an Orlando Trip

Planning ahead can make travel more affordable too. Here are a few tips:

  • Use social media to see what’s hot and happening around where you’re going.
  • One thing that savvy travels do well, is to compare hotel rates in Orlando before planning the rest of their trip. Affordable hotels in Orlando all appear on comparison sites that will show a hotel’s prices as compared to other hotels in the area – and helpful reviews to help you make your decisions too. The Hipmunk site is an example of one website that provides a side-by-side comparison of hotels.
  • Another tip for saving money on an Orlando trip is to search for package deals, coupons and promotional codes. Promotional codes can offer discounts on rental cars and other accommodations, saving often hundreds on your travel. Credit cards and special membership cards may provide you with access to discounts too.
  • Start planning your trip to Orlando at least 60 days in advance to maximise the savings too,from your local trainfare to the airport, to your flights and accommodation.

This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a complete travel platform that allows you to do everything from comparing charter flights and train rides, to finding the best resort hotels and Airbnb rentals.*

Next Stop: Tenerife?

We’re just home from a week on the Jurassic Coast line of Devon – I haven’t even unpacked all our bags yet – and here I am browsing the internet for our next holiday. I don’t know about you, but knowing there’s a trip to somewhere new in my future pretty much changes my outlook on everything. Hanging up laundry seems less tedious, hoovering the floors is exercise for that *cough* bikini body *cough*, whatever it is, knowing there’s a trip on the horizon just makes everything brighter.

tenerife

This year we’ve swum in the Indian Ocean, and the North Atlantic Ocean and since the Southern Hemisphere is a bit far for a second visit in one year, I’m turning my attention to a beloved holiday hot spot for UK holiday makers: Tenerife.

Now, I’ve never been to that part of Spain, which is all the more reason to go – especially since it has such a distinctive ‘top half’ and ‘bottom half’ split, where we can disappear into natural beauty, and still never be far from activity, fun and entertainment.

On our recent week away we only went onto the beach once because it was a pebble beach, which is just something I can’t get used to, and don’t particularly love, so I think the sandy beaches of Tenerife look rather perfect too.

Of course where you are and where you’re staying are only part of what make a perfect holiday perfect, so I’m quite drawn to the range of things to do in Tenerife too – from an aquarium to waterparks and shows, there’s something for everyone, really!

I’ve been spoiled this year with two beach holidays already, so I guess it’s a bit cheeky to be dreaming of a third, but like I said – the thought of spreading my wings and needing a passport colours the normal days.

So tell me, where will you be jetting off to this summer?

Three Tips For Senior Travels

One of my favourite memories and photographs of my grandmother is of her crawling on all fours in a camp site after a 7 month old Aviya. Every birthday my gran has had since I was a kid was her 100th birthday but  if I had to hazard a guess, I think she was around 75 when this picture was taken.  Since then she has done two long haul flights to Australia, shared a house with 3 grand children and 2 great grand children, driven in a combine harvester, and a whole bunch of things that most roughly 80-year old’s just don’t really do.

Capture

Travel can be a huge undertaking, but if you go through a provider like Saga Travel you should be well taken care of, leaving you with a worthwhile vacation you can appreciate every step of the way.

Shop Around

It is essential to shop around and compare prices for the best travel deals before committing yourself. Whether you are considering a budget cruise for the family, a traditional package holiday or a group tour by coach or rail, discounts are often available. Early birds can often take advantage of discounts of up to 30% while those who have the flexibility to pick up last-minute bargains often get the best bargains of all. Look out for deals on extras such as airport parking and car hire; holidaymakers can save money by booking these items in advance and shop around when it comes to your insurance – on our recent trip to Australia we found annual travel insurance for the whole family to be cheaper than a single trip insurance!

Travel Light

Consider how you will manage your luggage at the airport. A wheeled suitcase avoids the need to carry heavy bags. Packing only the essentials makes sense for seniors as it is much easier to manage a small bag than a large one. You will also save money by avoiding having to pay for extra bags. Many seasoned travellers avoid baggage charges altogether by packing just one carry-on bag. Roll rather than fold clothes, buy miniature bottles of toiletries and seal in a zip lock waterproof bag, and take an e-reader rather than heavy books. Consider wearing the bulkiest items that you will need on your holiday while travelling. Also using air lock bags (those that you suck or roll the air out of to compress the contents) mean you can pack more into a small space. And don’t be ashamed to ask for wheelchair assistance at airports – that way you don’t have to carry anything!

Look After Your Health

Travel insurance is an essential for many destinations, and seniors with health problems should protect themselves from expensive medical bills with a policy that covers pre-existing conditions. Make sure that you take a good supply of any regular medications and pack these in your hand luggage. Travel can be tiring, so if you are not usually very active try to gently build up your levels of exercise in the weeks before you travel. Also, travel insurance for seniors can be exorbitantly expensive, so make sure you both factor the extra into your travel budget and make sure to shop around!

A little planning and preparation should help you make the most of your travels and hopefully the memories you make will transcend generations.

Great Sources of Secret Travel Tips

Travelling is, in general, exciting. People love it. We love it. But have you ever gone away and returned home seeing nothing more than the top five, ten, fifteen things in the tourist brochures? The things every tourist sees in the same place?

Have you ever wondered how people find out about gorgeous secret locations? How other people seem to find the best breakfasts, or know what’s happening in town as it happens.

Here are our top three tips for finding hidden doors to ‘local’ gems:

  1. Search Blogs

Blog

Do a search for blogs on your location

This is the most obvious one, but make it less obvious. Look for ‘Must see attractions in Paris” sure – you should at least see the Eiffel tower up close once or twice – but then Google the unusual “hidden bars in Croatia”, “Best beaches in Perth” and so on. Be specific, and seek out the headings that attract your attention. Gloss over them and find all those ‘hidden gems’ those in the know often seem to struggle to keep hidden.

  1. Pinterest

    Pinterest

    Seek out ‘secret PLACE NAME’ on Pinterest for amazing images

Pinterest is a place of beauty. Almost every picture is exquisite, almost every destination looks heavenly – and pretty much every place on the map has had someone visit it. Start a pin board where you list all the beautiful and unusual, off the beaten track places that others have written about. Some you’ll get to, some you wont, but it’s a great way to find especially natural spectacles that you will probably never find in most travel guides. (Click on the Pinterest link, and replace ‘Isle of Wight’ with your destination.)

  1. Instagram

    instagram

    #hashtag your destination on Instagram for up to the minute information

Hashtags are your friend. Often when we find ourselves in a place we’re unfamiliar with, once we’ve done the ‘what’s on in XYZ’ and found ourselves uninspired, I’ll go on Instagram or Twitter and search by the name of the place we’re in. We’ve found festivals, outdoor concerts, and all sorts of entertainment – often free, too – this way.

It’s also helped us discover some fabulous places to eat – say someone says they’ve found the best milkshake ever, then we know the place they’ve tagged is a good place to try out. And we’ve rarely been disappointed.

Use your Instagram and Twitter hashtags. You’ll find many a holiday-making moment that way.

  1. Guide books

booksOkay, for all that about guide books, there are a few that are actually great. We have 1000 Places To See Before You Die, which has some of those you’d expect – but also many that you wouldn’t always think of first.

There are also many specialist books – if cream teas are your thing try AA Britain’s Best Afternoon Tea, if you want to follow in the footsteps of stars, The Ultimate Hollywood Tour book will make sure you don’t miss anything, and so each country and many interests are catered for – but don’t forget your web searches, and your hashtags.

 Great sources of insider travel tips

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London – A Great Day Out In London

Ameli and I spent a day out in London today, with a visit to Hamleys Toy Store (more on that later), lunch at Planet Hollywood, and then a first-for-us visit to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Ripley was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist, who created the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, radio show, and television show which feature odd facts from around the world. He himself explored  over 120 countries of the world, collecting the weird, the wonderful and the down right bizarre.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! certainly contains a collection of eclectic things, from the portrait of Brad Pitt made entirely out of cigarette ash, to the somewhat disturbing picture of Kennedy made out of butterfly wings, to the really clever snake effect portrait of Mrs Obama, made out of bottle tops.Ripley's Believe It Or Not! London

Read more on our new travel blog Giving Up Normal

Disclaimer for reviews

5 Travel Essentials For Children

As the summer holidays start and everyone heads off on their vacations, I want to share with you the wisdom gained in four years of travelling with children. As my (almost) four year old has been to 20 countries, I feel particularly qualified to say something on this topic, and feel especially smug that I’ve never resorted to drugging any of my children for any part of any travel – call me judgey if you wish!

Here are my top five travel essentials for children:

1) Trunki

A Trunki is a travel suitcase with wheels, handles and a pull-string which is suitable as hand luggage for all airlines I’ve come across. It is a fantastic invention. The Trunki is a hard case, suitable for your toddler to sit on as you pull them through the airport, which is such a relief from carrying them. It’s not really easy enough for a small child to open, so you won’t have the contents strewn across your mode of transport when you’re not looking, but as they get older, they can get their travel accessories in and out themselves. The Trunki holds loads too. Enough for one child on a 20 hour flight, certainly. You can keep a change of clothes, activities and whatever else you feel you’ll need for the trip.

Trunki Review

There is a scooter-variety on the market, but a lot of the space needed for carrying stuff is taken up by the scooter handle, so that’s futile in my view. There are also ‘fake’ Trunki’s on the market – I wouldn’t buy those, simply because your child is going to want to use the Trunki as a ride-on: you don’t want the wheels coming off.  (See the range of Trunki designs from Littlewoods for a good idea of the multiple options available.)

2) Sticker, paint and colouring activity books

In your Trunki, put loads of new books – they’re easy to get at a Pound shop or similar. Sticker books, colouring books, activity books and even books with the paint pallets on the pages themselves are ideal for travel and will keep your little explorer occupied for ages.

3) Snacks

Most of us eat more when we’re bored. Have a variety of snacks available for your child. It will make for a much happier trip. Things like nuts, dried fruit, bars, flapjacks and the like are easy to prepare ahead and package individually, in snackable sizes. Airplanes and airconditioned cars will also dehydrate your child, which will lead to difficult behaviour from them. I don’t tend to buy juice boxes regularly, but I find the already-thinned-with-water juice varieties are great for trips.

4) Something from home

A blanket, favourite story, loved teddy bear or familiar night light or lullaby player is also a godsend on trips away from home. It reminds your little one of the stability they may be missing when travelling, and can be very reassuring. We carry a Winnie the Pooh projector night light along with us for just this reason.

5) You

Travel is hard on everyone, children especially. Back in the day I would board a plane, fall asleep and not wake till breakfast was served an hour or so before landing. Travel was blissful. Now I spend the entire trip sticking stickers, licking paintbrushes for on-the-page-pallet books and reading stories to keep my children happy. It’s exhausting, but people always compliment me on the children when we’ve been flying.

If you’re driving, have a repertoire of games up your sleeve. “I spy with my little eye” can be about colours, about ‘something starting with the letter… ‘,  about shapes. It doesn’t have to be boring and frustrating. You too can have fun with your child in cramped quarters.

What is your must have travel essential for travelling with children? 

5 Important Things To Have In Place When Travelling Abroad

As regular readers will know, I’m currently in Australia tending to my terminally ill mother. Our initial plan was to come out for three months, with the possibility of extending to as much as six months depending on her treatments and the ongoing changes in prognosis.

When you pop out the country for a week or two, it’s all pretty easy: travel insurance, let the bank know you’re travelling, ask a friend or neighbour to feed your cat and water your plants.

When you’re going for a longer period, however, – we were in South Africa for six months in 2010/2011 too – things differ a bit. Here are a few things to take care of before you go:

Travel insurance

It’s one thing to have annual travel insurance that you can depend on when you pop in and out the country or go for short trips through the year, but when you’re going to be away for more than 90 days – some policies say 30 days , so check – you have to take out extended travel insurance. I didn’t in South Africa and at 127 days ended up hospitalised with no health insurance. I had to get a diagnosis at great personal cost, and then go home and suffer in silence because I couldn’t afford to stay in hospital. It was frightening and I came very close to losing my life.

Keep your international banking telephone number handy – not in your wallet

If you contact your bank before you go, they’ll keep a note on your account that there will be international activity happening for the next 90 days. After that you’ll need to ring them and let them know you’re ‘renewing’ that note otherwise you’ll find your card blocked and yourself at a checkout with a line of people behind you and ‘not authorised’ flashing on the screen in front of you. Fun times. Don’t keep this number in your wallet either, because if you have to report it lost or stolen, you don’t want to have to search for numbers first.

Forward your mail

This is a tough one, but vital. The post office will forward your mail to another address for a small fee – around £10 or so a month, per name. You need to have it go to someone you trust as you need them to open your mail. You can change your bank statements to electronic, so no need for those to be forwarded, but other letters should so that you can know what’s going on at home. For example I called my phone provider and told them I wanted to put a ‘hold’ on renewing my phone as I’d be out of the country, but didn’t want to pay for a contract I wasn’t using. They put a ‘hold’ on my account and I went on my merry way. Except, when I arrived back home there were six months worth of legal letters because although at the customer service end they had frozen my account, the message hadn’t filtered through to accounts, and they were still charging me, but since the account had been stopped at the bank, they weren’t receiving money. I had to get a blacklisting lifted, which I did, but it would have been easier to just know about it as the letters arrived over the six months.

Legal Cover

Depending on where you travel, it can be a really good idea to have a number, if not a contact, for legal cover. Some travel insurers will offer you legal advice too, but not all do. Save the number for legal advice on your phone so if you do find yourself in a difficult situation and you need legal advice, you have that on hand.

Keep Electronic Copies of Important Documents

This is good to do anyway, whether you travel or not. Scan all your birth certificates, passports, residency permits, drivers licences and other important information and email them to yourself at an email address you can access from any computer connected to an internet. That way, if you do lose your documentation, you can go to your nearest embassy or consulate with your copies and you should find your applications will be processed more easily.
I say this is valuable anyway, because you never know when something happens – a burglary, fire, or flood – and you lose all that stuff anyway. Tracing copies when you have exact information, like a birth certificate number – is much easier than waiting for it to be done without that information.

Take plugs

This is sort of unrelated, but if you’ve ever stood at immigration trying to remember the street name of the place you’ll be staying, and you can’t find the piece of paper you wrote it down on, you’ll know how important it is to have just one bar of life on your battery. You’ve just arrived after hours of travel, you want to start settling in, now is not the time to have to run around looking for converter plugs. If it’s the last thing you do before leaving the country, buy a plug for the country you’re heading to.

If you’re traveling long term for business or pleasure, to help someone out or start anew, making sure you have crossed all the I’s and dotted all the t’s removes a whole lot of pressure and prevents any nasty surprises when you least expect – or need – them.

A Reader Asks – Tips For Travelling With A Baby

You had done so much traveling with your daughter by the time she was 12 months old I am wondering if you have time to share any advice with me?

(Jane no longer co-sleeps, but still breastfeeds her 10 month old who does not use a pacifier.)

 

We are planning on traveling to London from Australia for 2 weeks and I fear the plane trip incase she can’t sleep and the disruption her new routine will cause to her as she will be required to adjust to a new time zone and surroundings. I fear putting her through something she doesn’t have to go through if we just stay at home.  How did you travel and incorporate 2 naps at 12 months? My daughter has not slept in the pram since beginning of our summer when it became too hot so she is only familiar with sleeping in her cot but she has slept in a portable cot that we will take away with us.
Read more: A Reader Asks – Tips For Travelling With A Baby

On Traveling With Children – Matt Rudd

I’ve written some pretty deep and serious posts over the past couple of weeks, so I thought today would share something a little lighter with you. If you’re a Sunday Times reader, you might recognise the name Matt Rudd. Well, today Matt has written a guest post for me on one of my favourite topics – traveling with children. You only have to peruse our travel section to see that it’s something we do A LOT, and Matt’s (slightly abandoned) blog made me smile – I don’t know that many people who road trip around Europe with children! Matt was once the Deputy Travel Editor for the Sunday Times, and is a pretty seasoned traveller himself, so you can see where we have things in common. A major difference between Matt and I, however, is that he is funny! I can’t write funny, but he does. I hope you enjoy his post! (By the way, Matt has written two novels about family life: William Walker’s First Year of Marriage and William’s Progress, two children and a wife must be great inspiration!)
Read more: On Traveling With Children – Matt Rudd