Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Ten Tips from Daisy for Family Travel
Tip: Know your limits. Budget and plan accordingly.
These tips change as families get older. Chuck and I have traveled by train across the country from East to West, and along the East coast from Miami to Washington, D.C. Had we done this twenty years ago, we could have gone in coach the entire way. Now that we're both 50 and, well, mature travelers, we prefer beds at night, so we paid a bit more for the Amtrak roomette. It was worth it.
Tip: Acknowledge that each family member has different taste, and respect each other's tunes.
When our kids were younger, we'd bring our own music and take turns choosing what to play in the vehicle's CD player. Now each person brings their own headphones, earbuds, and music player - MP3, mainly. Well, that is, each person except the driver.
Tip: Have enough cup holders. Seriously.
Cup holders are awesome. Each traveler should have his/her own. Mine, of course, will hold my morning coffee. Chuck, La Petite, and Amigo? Most likely Mountain Dew. We all have our chosen vices.
Tip: Travel eco-responsibly as much as possible.
Whenever we hit the road, I feel some guilt for not being as green as we are at home. Instead of cloth napkins, we'll use paper. We'll pull out disposable wet wipes for convenience. There is room for compromise, though. I often bring my own water bottle or travel coffee mug. Many places make it easy to recycle; go ahead, do it. And when all is said and done, don't beat yourself up for not being perfect.
Tip: Pack light.
Somehow, dirty clothes seem to take up more space than clean clothes do. Pack with room to spare. And then there are the souvenirs; leave room if you plan to buy anything at your destination or along the way.
Tip: Choose souvenirs wisely.
Did I mention souvenirs? My favorites are those that are useful and fun reminders of the trip. Coffee mugs make great purchases; so do t-shirts and sweatshirts if you wear them. On our last trip, we picked up a lovely hand-made wicker basket. It became an additional carry-on for the trip home, and now it lives next to my recliner with my lumbar pillow and recent magazines in it. This lovely yet simple basket will always remind me of the trip.
Moving on a bit more quickly, here are a few tips for traveling families:
Tip: Bring pillows or blankets. My best travel-related purchase ever was a horseshoe pillow. I use it in the car, on trains, and on airplanes. These supplies are almost always cheaper at home than on the road.
Tip: Bring reading material. Last trip I packed two books, read them both, and left them in the Bed & Breakfast's bookshelf for future travelers. One of my favorite reading tips? Buy a local paper.
Tip: Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst. If your plane is delayed, what will you do? If the car gets a flat tire, do you know how to change to the spare? If you're stuck in a traffic jam at lunch time, do you have snacks to prevent starvation and (worse) crabbiness?
Tip: Look for simple pleasures. Scenery. Sounds. Plants. Animals. Regional foods. Time together to talk and simply enjoy each other. The best memories of the trip aren't always those that cost a lot of money. After all, the key word in Family Vacation is Family.
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