Consumer advocate, author and journalist Chris Elliott has found an effective strategy for securing refunds when your travels take a wrong turn.
Among the techniques he's developed through years of experience is called the three “P’s.” According to Elliott, it works great on refunds, including airline refunds.
For starters, advises Elliott, use credit cards to pay whenever possible, keep a paper trail if you submit a request for a refund and be ready to appeal your case if necessary.
Further, he recommends keeping these three things in mind.
Give the company at least a week to respond to your refund request, says Elliott, and two credit card billing cycles to pay you.
Don’t let months pass by without letting the company know that your money is still missing, he advises. If necessary, set a calendar reminder so that you don’t forget.
Angry demands for a refund and threats to take a company to court almost always backfire, suggests Elliott. The company may refer your case to its legal department, where it could linger for weeks or months.
Final advice: "Be nice!"
For more about this topic and how Christopher Elliott works to help travelers, visit his site here.
The freedom to explore the world around us is something to savor.
Here are five reasons that family vacations matter:
1. Travel broadens our perspectives.
Whether you travel to the next county or around the world, moving out of your comfort zone or everyday routine will enhance your family’s understanding of our world. Appreciate the language, dress, recreational and culinary differences and similarities of your fellow global citizens when you venture into new territory. Make an effort to see the view through the eyes of others. And observe how a friendly smile is welcome currency in nearly every corner of the world.
2. Travel builds character.
Travel provides parents and grandparents the opportunity to model what matters most. Will you exhibit patience when the line snakes around the corner, your hotel room is not ready or the restaurant server accidentally spills a drink on your table? Delayed flights, weather changes, poor service or a rocky road help all of us learn to live in the moment, share resources, manage unexpected consequences and see the bright side of the occasional travel mishap. How the adults respond to challenging scenarios will influence the developing character of young adventurers.
3. Travel serves up nature’s bounty.
A super moon rising over the mountain tops, eagles lofting in a barren tree, the gentle mist from a nearby waterfall, the crunch of the trail under hiking boots. Awe-inspiring experiences in the natural world are nurturing to the youngest of souls. Make time to travel to nature preserves, national parks, deep canyons and shimmering lakes, where dark skies allow the starry expanse to light your world.
Contact: NPS.gov; WildernessTravel.com; DarkSkies.org
4. Travel is inspiring and educational.
Feed your children’s natural curiosity through travel. Do they yearn to learn more about art, history or science? Is there a burgeoning chef, musician or engineer in your midst? How about a language immersion class? Are your kids curious about other religions, cultures or lifestyles? Whether you opt for magnificent museums, nature’s classroom or immersive experiences, expand their knowledge (and your own) by exploring new ideas together.
Contact: RoadScholars; GlobeAware.org; NationalGeographic.com
5. Travel enhances connection.
Leave the laundry, homework and to-do lists behind and reconnect in a cozy cabin, on a blustery beach or on a small ship at sea. Keep technology and the news of the day to a minimum and enjoy each other’s company and conversation. Take walks in the woods, listen to the birds sing, the owls hoot and the wind whistle. Remind yourselves that the best things in life are free. You’ll return home knowing your time well spent will last longer than the latest gadget or a trendy fashion item. Because time flies, be “glad you did” rather than “wishing you had.”
Traveling with multiple family members and friends can be fun and festive. Or, fraught with complications.
Proper planning can go along way toward keeping relationships and expectations intact.
Here are five tips to consider:
1. Choose wisely.
Give careful consideration to the families and friends with whom you choose to share your precious vacation time. Your favorite cousin is a great storyteller at the Thanksgiving table but are you game for an extended visit? Parents you know from the sidelines of the soccer field might show different colors in a holiday setting away from your hometown. Consider hosting a casual planning party to discuss specific destinations and details before making final plans.
Family groups often choose to share a ski cabin, beach house, or urban condo. That can mean divvying up expenses, transportation, room assignments, cleaning and cooking. Be sure to have a clearly defined plan before your holiday gets underway to avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated.
If you sense close quarters could be uncomfortable, suggest staying in a resort or hotel where individual rooms will provide each family more time on their own.
3. Bring reinforcements or research local options.
With a covey of kids under roof, bringing along helping hands can save sanity. Your favorite neighborhood teen might jump at the chance to help out in exchange for a few dollars and the opportunity to experience your chosen destination. Trade time off during the day for evening duty, so that grown ups can enjoy a quiet dinner or a night on the town. Check with your resort or the local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for reliable childcare recommendations.
4. Style matters.
Not everyone’s vacation attitudes and parenting styles are in sync. Before departure, consider discussing issues ranging from bedtime and use of technology to strategies for handling mealtime and clean up with the other adults. Then share expectations with your family before the fun begins. If your children typically make their beds, minimize TV time and eat what they are served, it can be awkward if their travel pals are watching cartoons while waiting for a parent to create a custom waffle and squeeze special orange juice.
5. Plan private time.
Where will you go in the year ahead?
So many options.
Plenty of time.......If you plan now!
Traveling with the grandkids?
Check out these options from our Grandparent Travel Collection.
Looking for the year's hot spots?
Then have a look here.
And some vacations are simply epic and have earned a spot on your bucket list.
When the school bell rings, must family travel plans come to end?
Here are five ways to keep your family vacation dreams on track while school is in session.
Know your options.
Scan the school, sports and activity calendars to assess windows of opportunity. Will your children participate in multiple sports, school theatre productions or volunteer activities? Pair those results with your work and personal calendars for the best picture possible.
If you have multiple children in different schools, do their holiday and other school vacation times match up? Do any family members have milestone birthdays, reunions or anniversary celebrations in the works that you won’t want to miss?
Once you’ve reviewed commitments and calendars you are ready to plan.
Research reveals that by planning ahead, more families will actually take much-needed and longer vacations and thus reap a multitude of personal and professional benefits.
Taking time to create a thoughtful bucket list can make it easier to plan for meaningful vacations, those that are a deliberate reflection of your values, hopes and dreams. So before you begin listing desired destinations, ask yourself what aspects of the world - geographically, spiritually and culturally - you want to share with your family.
By crafting a strategy in advance and executing early, you’ll have more flight options, your pick of tour departures, the best cabins on a cruise ship and more options in popular resort areas.
A day here. A week there?
It’s no secret that holiday weeks and Spring Break in popular destinations can be pricier than at other times of the year. So does it make sense to snag a few days from the school calendar to learn and experience the world outside the walls of the classroom?
That’s a decision only parents can make given the requirements of individual schools, the temperaments and needs of each child and the cost benefit analysis of each opportunity. If you do decide to travel while school is in session, you’ll find fewer crowds, better prices and expanded options.
The vacation mindset.
The true value of a family vacation has less to do with boarding a snazzy cruise ship or checking in to a faraway resort. It’s more about the quality of a shared experience. So when time is short, make the most of the hours you do have available and put your plan on the calendar.
Go fishing, hiking or horseback riding for a day. Visit a water or theme park. Spend the night at a nearby hotel. Camp in a state park or even your own backyard and enjoy the mini- getaway.
A family sabbatical.
For those who would like to travel deeper, learn a new language, immerse in a culture or simply see the world with the kids while they can, a longer adventure may fit the bill. Consider spending the months ahead planning a lengthy holiday – weeks, months or even a year - with the kids. Consider an adventure that may involve road schooling, financial reconfiguration, the disposition of some belongings and some rigorous map study. Many who have chosen this path, report that the transformative experience was well worth upsetting the family apple cart.
Tipping can be an important line item in a family vacation budget. Travelers are often eager to show appreciation for exceptional service. But how much and when to offer this symbol of gratitude can be perplexing.
Consider this input from travel industry experts:
On any adventure tour, a good guide can make for a great trip. “I like to tell guests that if you feel your guides played a major role in your enjoyment of the trip, you should direct a gratuity to the trip leader. He or she will distribute it fairly and evenly to the crew,” advises Karen Johnson, a manager for Holiday River Expeditions. “An average tip is $10-$20 per guest, per day.”
“At Austin Adventures, we encourage guests to tip what they feel is appropriate given a guide’s performance on a tour. We offer $15 to $25 per day, per guest, as a guideline,” explained Austin founder, Dan Austin. “We also note that tips are a significant part of a guide’s income.” When booking an adventure trip, ask in advance for tipping guidelines and determine whether cash is required or credit card payments are possible.
Contact: www.BikeRaft.com; www.AustinAdventures.com
Small Ship Cruising.
“Typically, at the end of a cruise there is an opportunity to provide gratuities to the guides and crew,” explains Todd Smith, Director of AdventureSmith Explorations. “Gratuities aboard small ships are often pooled among crew members. Tip pools sometimes include officers and guides, while others do not. Some ships will take credit cards while others prefer cash or checks. Check to see if gratuities are included in the price of the voyage. If not, 5 to ten percent of the rate paid is an average amount to consider setting aside to show gratitude for superior service. ”
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) recommends offering the bell staff one to five dollars per bag when escorted to your room. Leave a tip of one to five dollars each day for the housekeeping crew (or more if the kids have created a little havoc). Need something extra? Offer two dollars for one item delivered or five dollars for more. No need to ante up for the replacement of a broken hairdryer or a missing light bulb. In the restaurant, tipping servers 15 to 20 percent is the norm.
“Tipping the concierge $20 and up, depending on their level of service is good practice,” suggests Richard Wales, Director of Operations, at The St. Regis Aspen Resort.
“They are the ones who will be able to get you the most coveted dinner reservations around town.”
Experts suggest offering car rental shuttle drivers $2 to $4 per bag if they provide bag assistance. Plan for $2 to $5 for help from a Skycap, offering the higher amount for heavier bags or late arrivals. Should you or someone in your party need wheelchair assistance, consider a tip of $10 to $20, depending on the time and circumstances involved.
Traveling in Europe.
“Tipping has become commonplace for hospitality service around the world, and is a universal sign of appreciation for good service” says Steve Born, Vice President of Marketing for the Globus family of brands. “As a guideline, we suggest the equivalent of two dollars in the local currency for our Monograms tour guides per outing, per person. For other services, like restaurants and taxis, we suggest rounding up the tab by the equivalent of a few dollars. Typically in Europe, restaurant tips are left in cash and not added to the credit card.”
Your fishing guide.
It is customary to tip your professional river fishing guide or boat Captain. And like many other services, a 10-20% gratuity is most common.
"Most fishing guides are dedicated teachers and fish freaks who would rather be on the water helping you than most anywhere else," explained Joe Dilschneider, the owner of Troutstalkers, a Montana-based fly-fishing outfitter. "A vast majority of them will work hard to help you have a successful outing. Just remember; success isn’t always narrowly defined by your catch!"
But like any service-oriented profession, personal rapport and compatibility matter and there is definitely a broad spectrum of personality types and talent out there in the world of fishing guides.
"If you feel that your guide put forth a solid effort to help you have and enjoyable and successful day, then tipping them generously will feel good and they will usually show you their gratitude and welcome you back in the future," explained the Ennis, Montana-based pro. "A connection based on shared adventure, and a love of the game is after-all what most guides really want from you. That's where the real payoff is. If however you are disappointed with your experience, then you shouldn't feel obligated to give a generous tip. Your guide will certainly notice if your tip is unusually small... or big. Hopefully it will encourage them to consider their own professional performance and always strive to improve!"
Note: When unsure of how much or when to offer a gratuity, it never hurts to ask. Many tour and cruise operators provide suggestions and guidelines in pre-trip planning documents.
Considering an extended road trip? A global adventure? A train trip? Or an RV outing with the kids or grandkids? There is no time like the present to explore the world with your family!
Here are a few family travel trends to consider as you tinker with your plan:
Multigenerational travel continues to strengthen.
While technology may make it easier for modern and mobile families to stay in touch, there is no substitute for building sand castles on the beach, snuggling with the grandkids on the porch swing or giggling through game night around the table.
That’s why an increasing number of extended families choose to spend long weekends, holidays or “milestone moments” together in a vacation-style setting. Destinations, resorts, cruise ships and even theme parks continue to add programs and packages that make it easier to plan a grand getaway.
Short-term rental properties, complete with kitchens, multiple bedrooms and space for kids to play are also popular for large family groups.
There's an emphasis on experience.
From backcountry challenges and wild river runs to history-rich walking tours and cultural immersions, the trend toward outings that deliver a meaningful and memorable experience continues. Look for travel brands to offer more personalized, transformative experiences, intended to inspire even the youngest adventurer and his or her parents. Expect more opportunities to learn from, dine with and hear songs and stories from locals in your next destination.
Contact: https://www.broadmoor.com/the-wilderness-experiences; www.Oars.com; www. Intrepid.com; www.UrbanAdventures.com.
Whether you travel deep into a national park where the signal soon fades or simply close the lid on a technology box provided by the resort, families are voting to turn off the tech and tune in to each other. While the idea may cause short term consternation, reports from families who have gone cold turkey on tech are encouraging.
Once liberated from the lure of Insta stories and sports scores, the generations are free to converse about the adventures at hand. Whether you journey to Siberia, a nearby resort, or your favorite backcountry escape, connecting with nature and those you hold dear will provide a healthy does of energy for the year ahead.
A family of foodies.
More families are making food part of the fun on family getaways. They are shopping at farmer’s markets, picking apples in the orchard, tasting local honey at the beekeeper’s shop and seeking fresh, palate-pleasing options for each meal of the day. They are introducing young explorers to distinctive local fare and encouraging the kids to sample new tastes and textures. Expect more cooking classes for every age group.
Young families will increasingly seek out cities like Tucson, recently designated North America’s first UNESCO World City of Gastronomy, where hometown resorts take pride in their on-site, organic gardens and serve up fresh and thoughtful fare at every meal.
More and more parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends are embarking on adventures with their favorite young people. Expect more cruise ships, tour operators, resorts and ranches to extend the welcome mat to adults traveling with kids on their own. Be on the look out for group family tables, "family cocktail parties", special departures and the waiving of single supplements.
Now is a good time.
Family travel is no longer relegated to a few weeks in the summer or the official Spring Break. Expect more families with pre-school age children, homeschoolers, parents with flexible and location-independent work options and those who consider a family trip the best kind of education possible, taking to the road when the timing best suits them. Off peak travel provides the modern and mobile clan the option to find better deals, fewer crowds, more availability and that most satisfying, serendipitous experience that often manifests on the road less traveled.
When I think about what makes my heart sing, it's travel.
And the best kind of travel are those trips where my loved ones are part of the journey. As a child growing up in the Midwest, our big summer vacation meant a visit to see my grandmother and other family members on the east end of Long Island. Now, I understand why we never complained. They live in what is currently referred to as The Hamptons.
We also camped, spent Spring Break in Florida and in time, began taking ski trips to the West. (I was the oldest of five, so my younger siblings probably did less camping and more skiing.) The sibs, and the next generation, still gather in places far and near and it continues to be a source of joy for all of us.
It was clear, the West was calling my name and I didn't waste any time moving to the land of big skies, deserts, mountains and rivers. My children have been raised living in Arizona, Washington DC and Montana while spending as much time as possible exploring the natural world.
And we traveled.
We skied in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. We hiked, biked, fished and rafted throughout the West. We trekked along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, explored the deep reaches of the Amazon, floated through the Grand Canyon, snorkeled in Maui and fished for bones in the Bahamas. We've spent time on golf courses, in National Parks, on horseback and in the backcountry.
We also toured the Big Apple, climbed a 14er, spent time in London, Paris and beyond and each one of us feels like we are just getting started. We've stayed in some fancy places, in resorts, ranches and on cruise ships. We've camped under the stars and spent the night in a few places we won't recommend!
All this to say, that if I can help sort through some of the many choices for you, it would be my pleasure.
Here's to happy traveling!
All the best,
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes
PS: We continue to explore the world and our tribe continues to grow. We now have two amazing daughters-in-law and three adorable grandchildren.
Multigenerational trips are now a priority!
According to U.S Travel, more than half of American workers leave unused vacation days on their company’s board room table. Meanwhile, the research shows that by planning ahead, more families will actually take much-need vacations and thus reap a multitude of personal and professional benefits.
Here are five ideas to consider:
Make planning a priority.
Whether you begin by tossing up a tent in the backyard or strategizing to experience a safari in Africa, there is no time like the present to begin planning a family vacation. As children and grandchildren get older, their schedules become more complicated by their own commitments making it more difficult than ever to plan time together. With dates on the calendar, you’ll feel less stress at work, knowing you’ve provided the boss and coworkers with plenty of notice about your plans.
According to research, 75 percent of those who plan ahead were more likely to take a full week or more of vacation in a single stretch. By crafting a strategy in advance you’ll have your pick of departures, the best cabins on a cruise ship and more options in popular resort areas. While you are at it, scan the year ahead and be the first to claim vacation days around existing holidays and school breaks, creating a longer stretch for relaxation and enjoyment. Knowing good times are on the horizon, you’ll have the added benefit of anticipating the getaway.
Taking time to create a thoughtful bucket list can make it easier to plan for meaningful vacations, those that are a deliberate reflection of your values, hopes and dreams. So before you begin listing desired destinations, ask yourself what aspects of the world - geographically, spiritually and culturally - you want to share with your children, grandchildren and perhaps other friends and family members. As your ideas take shape, know your list will evolve over the years. Therefore, think about which destinations you hope to visit while your children are in the nest and which might best be saved for later. And, when it comes time to involve the children in creating the bucket list, remember that kids don’t know what they don’t know. Certain theme parks and resorts will likely be on their radar screens. But they may not be aware of the glories of Yellowstone or Yosemite or the historical significance of Gettysburg or Montpelier.
Celebrate milestone events.
Geographic spread, busy careers and school and sports schedules make it more difficult than ever to spend time together. Therefore, planning ahead to celebrate birthdays, graduations and anniversaries can be an important touchstone and meaningful part of a family’s legacy. With plenty of advance notice, you’ll increase the odds that more family members will be able to take part in the fun. Ask your clan to save a date and then get to work creating a gathering that will be a lasting memory for all.
Reap the benefits.
In-depth research indicates that Americans who take time to plan their vacation time in the year ahead are happier than their come-what-may counterparts. Planners are happier with their health and well-being, their financial picture, their personal relationships and even their overall mood, according to the research. Further, an overwhelming majority of American workers report that time off helps them relax and recharge, and offers the opportunity to pursue personal interests Nearly two-thirds of employees say their concentration and productivity at work improves with time off. Business leaders echo this sentiment. Of those surveyed, 91 percent believe employees return from vacation recharged and renewed—and ready to work more effectively.
Ready to make a plan? Find out how we can help or check in with our FamilyTravel.com Vacation Planner!
Take advantage of National Plan For Vacation Day. #TakeFamilyTime
A unique resource for this rapidly growing sector of the Family Travel market, the Grandparent Travel Collection provides grandparents and parents a trusted one-stop shop for discovering experiences and adventures ideally suited for grandparents eager to make memories with the younger members of their family.
While the trend toward multi-generational vacations (creating legacy moments) continues to increase, a subset of that phenomenon is also on the rise.
Expect “skip-gen” vacations, when grandparents leave their own grown children behind and embark on an adventure with the youngest members of the clan, to increase in the months and years ahead.
We are ready to help you take full advantage of this trend!
We think you'll be excited about our new and growing Collection of resorts, experiences and trips that you'll find here! Check them out now!