Summer is on the horizon. Plan now for a trip the whole family will enjoy and remember. Consider these options:
- 1. Road Trip. Plan to hit the open road with the kids in tow. But before you go, take necessary safety precautions. Get the car tuned up. Check the oil and tires. Replace worn windshield wiper blades. Guard against losing valuable gas due to a leaky gas cap. Worried about gas prices? Check online for the location of the lowest prices near you and along your route. Then relax and enjoy the ride. Contact: www.AAA.com; www.GasBuddy.com; www.ScenicByways.com.
- 2. Flight Time. If your travel plans include air travel, book your flights early for the best prices and availability. Print boarding passes the night before and plan to arrive at the airport early. Know your air carrier’s luggage policy and make sure your bags are properly labeled with your contact information. Don’t forget your IDs. Encourage the kids to pack their own backpack or roller bag and to include snacks, books, music and games to enjoy during the flight. Remember, you cannot move through security with liquids and gels in quantities greater than three ounces. Check your airline and the TSA web site for the most up-to-date travel information. Contact: www.TSA.gov.
- 3. International Travel. Headed for a multi-country cruise, an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or a high-mountain lodge in Canada? Traveling outside their home country is a great opportunity for kids to learn about other cultures. But, if border crossing is on your agenda be sure your family’s passports are in order. Check the U.S. State Department web site for updated information for Americans traveling abroad, including travel warnings. Short on time? Services are available that can provide expedited passports and visas. Contact: 1-877-487-2778; http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html; www.CIBT.com.
- 4. Package Pricing. With airfares on the rise, it is worth checking on packages available for the destination of your choice. Even if you choose not to use the hotel rooms or other components in the bundle, the pre-negotiated air can be cost less than a fare purchased independently. Consider last minute options and travel to off or shoulder season locations. Contact: www. Travelocity.com; www.Travelzoo.com.
- 5. Rail Travel. Avoid cramped seating, luggage restrictions, bans on liquids, and tired drivers. Enjoy relaxed family conversation, beautiful views and tasty food enroute to your destination. Look for discounts available for AAA members, military, seniors, and students. Consider routes that are part of Trails & Rails, a partnership between Amtrak and the National Park Service, to learn more about the natural world while on board. Contact: (800) USA-RAIL; www.Amtrak.com; www.RockyMountaineer.com.
Photo copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes 2011 Maui.