Enjoy traveling with your teenagers

As a parent of a child who’s caught in that difficult, confusing period known as adolescence, you know that certain essential parental responsibilities just aren’t going to be a walk in the park. It’s totally understandable, but it can still be frustrating. This means that going on vacation can be an ordeal – if you let it turn into one- but that doesn’t have to happen.

Avoid journey-related stress
During the car – or plane-ride itself, it can be tempting to try and court their attention. But if they want to listen to music or play games on their phones or tablets, why not let them, as long as they use headphones? You’ll get nowhere trying to impose. They’ll probably be more receptive later if you cut them some slack on this.

Don’t be overbearing
Within reason, you need to let your teens have some time to themselves. If you trust them at all and are vacationing in a safe spot, there’s no harm in leaving them alone to chill at the hotel for a few hours in the morning, or letting them go to the beach on their own for a bit. Also, pack a prepaid phone card, so they can make affordable calls to friends if they want to.

Be reasonable about expenses
You have to compromise on this one. Don’t be stingy, but ideally if they’re old enough they’ve earned some money of their own in a summer job or as an allowance. Strike a balance between money you offer them and money you expect them to have.


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Preparing for the best and worst as a modern traveler

Vacations are, of course, perfect opportunities for you to forget about the troubles and stressors around you, both in your personal life and in the world at large. However, you can’t always afford to put your toes – and head – in the sand and ignore certain considerations when you travel, whether it’s for business or pleasure.

This doesn’t mean that you should be worried the whole time, or be convinced that something will go wrong during your vacation. Yet, as the Huffington Post points out, circumstances like political turmoil and urban unrest can happen anywhere at any time. So you need to strike a balance in your travel preparations and habits. Bring everything that you need to have fun, but don’t forget to cover all essential planning bases and bring items such as international calling cards and other useful accessories.

Avoiding the obvious
The source states that places where unrest is actively occurring should be – and probably already are – taken out of your considerations, as should places that are at all dangerous on any regular basis. It would be wise for you to use the U.S. Department of State website’s international travel section. It features detailed information on the safety issues of all nations in the world. Everything from concerns regarding crime and political instability to details on natural hazards is included.

Consider enrolling in STEP
The State Department also offers a valuable resource in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service provides those who sign up for it with regular, automated updates about the countries they are visiting. Not only do you receive this information throughout your whole trip, but you are also on the database of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you’re visiting. According to State Department statistics, the agency helped 15,000 American citizens who were caught amid the political turmoil in Lebanon during 2006, and evacuated 16,700 people after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Bring accessories and just-in-case money
It’ll be wise for you to pack a prepaid phone card, so you can make emergency calls if you have to, whether your phone is equipped for international use or not – or if you somehow lose your mobile device.

The Huffington Post also recommends having backup forms of identification in addition to your passport. Finally, pack at least $100 in cash in small denominations that can be exchanged for foreign currency in a pinch.


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Ensure that traveling with grandchildren is fun and easy

While much is talked about regarding the traditional family vacation, what about the times when grandparents would like to have a bonding experience with their grandchildren in the form of a quick excursion? Doing so can be a great opportunity for family members of two generations to connect in a great way. Going on this sort of trip, however, does involve taking a number of considerations into account – far beyond simple things like remembering to pack the right travel accessories, such as international calling cards.

Parents have the final say
Arguably, the most important thing to do is to make sure that all parties involved – kids, grandparents and parents – are on the same page. As Forbes states, parents know their children better than anyone else does, including the grandparents, so if they have any concerns or demands, respect and follow them to the letter.

Let children help plan
Additionally, children need to have some say in the planning process. While parents and grandparents alike have to assert ultimate authority over the situation, youngsters should be taken seriously when asked for their destination picks. Forbes recommends reading children’s books with them that are set in foreign countries to help stimulate their imagination.

Making proper travel and flight preparations
As a grandparent traveling with a kid (or kids), you need to make sure you’re meeting your own needs as a senior as well as theirs as children. USA Today recommends considering factors such as flight times and seating arrangements. If traveling with younger kids, it may be wise to pick the times that they’re most likely to fall asleep. Regarding seating, make sure there’s at least one aisle seat, so it’s easy for everyone to get to the restroom with no fuss.

Finally – and perhaps most importantly – carry all legal documentation. For kids who have any medical issues, get a pediatrician’s letter outlining their allergies, medications and other information just in case. Also, various foreign countries will require you to have a letter of permission to pass through customs if you’re traveling without your grandchildren’s mother or father.


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Tips for traveling as light as possible

Anyone who’s ever flown to go on vacation or any other trip for an extended period is familiar with the hassle that can easily come up when dealing with a significant amount of luggage. While it’s not guaranteed that going through the baggage claim process at the airport will be miserable, problems happen often enough with it that it’s certainly not something anyone happily anticipates.

So with that in mind, why not look to avoid it if you can? If you’re not going to be staying for more than say, a week, there’s no need for you to bring any sort of heavy suitcase. With a little bit of strategy and creative finesse, you can fit everything you need – clothes, toiletries, essential gadgets like phone chargers or prepaid phone cards and everything else – into one bag that’ll easily meet the restrictions of an airline’s carry-on rules. If you’re particularly adept at this, you might even get it all into a large backpack.

Tim Richards, a travel writer for Stuff magazine, observes what he calls “the rule of three” for packing clothing on short trips. This involves including three shirts (one of which is collared for more formal occasions), three pairs of underwear and three pairs of socks, along with two pairs of pants (one casual and one formal), a hat and a jacket. Richard states that this covers all situational bases and allows you room for essential accessories – smartphone and/or tablet, chargers, headphones and adapters for foreign outlets. Then you can top off your packing list with a folder for travel documents, like your boarding passes and passports, as well as sunglasses – always a wise travel choice – and bathroom items.

Additionally, the Huffington Post reports that one of the ways you can avoid over packing is by doing it reasonably well in advance – at least a few days – of your trip. Set everything out that you absolutely know you’ll need, pack slowly and carefully and then look at how much room you have (or don’t) for extras, and go from there. The source also recommends using compression packing bags to fit more items into smaller bags that go in your overnight duffel.

If you end up needing a suitcase, always be mindful of your airline’s carry-on restrictions. Every carrier differs, but a safe solution is to ensure it weighs less than 20 pounds fully packed and is 20 inches long or less.



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Being prepared for travel

Remember to pack basic travel accessories

Whether for business or pleasure, preparing to travel involves getting a whole lot of important ducks in a row. Everything from getting flights and hotels booked to (potentially) converting your currency will be at the forefront of your mind, so it’s understandable that you might forget about smaller things, like travel accessories.

However, a lot of these small things will be quite handy – and even essential – in various travel situations, ranging from mobile phone or tablet apps to travel-size bathroom necessities. Go over the following checklist and see what you’re lacking and could benefit from before your next trip.

Essential toiletries
For summer vacations or warm destinations of any kind, certain body care products are must-haves. Reliable sunscreen is the most obvious of these, and the Daily Herald recommends picking up one with an SPF between 35 and 50. Those with particularly sensitive skin may need to go even stronger. Additionally, because sun and salt water can damage hair, shampoos and conditioners infused with essential oils and moisturizers are helpful.

Gadgets and luggage
In addition to a suitcase or overnight bag, a small case to organize your toiletries is also helpful. After all, it can be easy to lose small things in unfamiliar settings. Such an item also serves as a place to stow the essentials of any gadgets you bring along – chargers, cords and so on.

Additionally, consider packing a sound machine to supply ambient noise if you have trouble sleeping in unfamiliar settings.

Travel apps
According to TechNewsWorld, certain smartphone or tablet apps can be particularly beneficial for travelers. Some, like LiveTrekker and HipGeo, use GPS to help you trace the path of your trip, store information about stops along the way and share the info with friends and family.

Others, like TripIt, allow users to create shareable itineraries and store lodging, flight and rental car information in one place, so you can stick to an efficient plan during your travels.

Also, be sure to refill or purchase new calling cards before leaving. This ensures that you are able to check on friends and loved ones back home.


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Stay healthy on your next excursion

There’s no question that a vacation is meant as a time to relax, enjoy yourself and leave as many of your real-life concerns behind as possible. However, there are some things you can’t afford to ignore. Staying healthy is absolutely one of the top priorities you should focus on when you’re traveling – it’s arguably the most important.

When you’re making your travel preparations and picking up your essential accessories, such as luggage and prepaid phone cards, don’t forget to bring some semblance of a first aid kit with you. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an actual kit – just be sure to have certain items like bandages, basic over-the-counter medications, a thermometer and other commonly needed medical supplies. Also, consider how you’ll be traveling and where you’re going, and act accordingly in terms of the preparations you make.

Air travel health tips
Many vacations involve traveling by plane. Unfortunately, a commercial flight is one of the easiest places for people to get sick. AARP notes that because of the long gaps in air circulation that occur when planes are grounded, the air is frequently dry – a perfect breeding ground for various viruses. If just one person is sick, you and the rest of the passengers could be in for it.

Be sure you have hand sanitizer in your carry-on bag, and use it frequently while at the airport and on the plane. The source also recommends running the vent and bringing your own pillow.

Stay relaxed
While you’ll want to engage in as many activities as possible during your vacation, get as much sleep as you can. You don’t want to burn yourself out and defeat your vacation’s purpose.

Get vaccinated
Some countries put you at risk for infections that you wouldn’t encounter in America. Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website to match your destination with any vaccinations you’ll want to get taken care of before you leave.


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Ideal websites for travel planning

For those getting ready to go on a vacation, advance preparation is essential. You can’t decide you want to go on a vacation – other than perhaps a quick day trip – the day before you want to embark on it and expect to not experience more than a few headaches. Going about it that way would, in the long run, be more trouble than it’s worth. Take the time to determine as many steps in your journey as possible in advance, ranging from your choice of hotel room to your purchase of a prepaid phone card for checking in with friends and family at home.

According to Mashable, many web-based startups have arisen in recent years to serve the many wants and needs of travelers. Some help you find inexpensive or particularly comfortable flights and accommodations, while others are based around allowing you to find great activities once you arrive at your destination.

By partnering with a number of different vendors, Peek helps travelers arrange activities such as romantic getaways and tours of historic landmarks, at their destinations. The website offers discounts as high as 30 percent.

​While flying is often necessary for an international vacation; a bad flight is an excruciating experience for any traveler. Routehappy can help you find flights known for having particularly comfortable and enjoyable seating, amenities and experiences. Overall airline ratings are aggregated based on ratings of those and other pertinent metrics, and the service is available as an iPhone mobile app.

​Many travelers love to document their vacations with photographs, as anyone with an active Instagram or Facebook account can easily see. Triptease takes this a step further, combining high-quality photos and short but descriptive write-ups of destinations, restaurants and other attractions to form interactive travel reviews that can be far more enticing than a standard account of a getaway.


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