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:  

Adventure travel.

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. ”

Contact: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/)

Hotel stays.

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.”

Contact: www.AHLA.com; www.StRegisaspen.com.

Airport travel.

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.”

Contact: www.GlobusJourneys.com;  www.monograms.com .

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.

Published in Plan

School breaks mean more kids are on the move.  Whether heading to camp, to visit family or connect with friends, solo flights often become part of a family’s travel plan.

Here are five tips to consider when putting your child on a plane:

1. Is your child ready to fly solo?

Consider your youngster’s maturity, travel experience and ability to handle new situations when making plans. Will he or she be comfortable taking direction from airline representatives? How will your child manage during take-off, landing and down time while in the air?  Should weather or other unpredictable events cause a delay, will your child be able to cope? Consider a practice trip to the airport if he or she has little air travel experience.

2. Airlines and age restrictions.

When checking flight options know that policies, prices and possibilities vary by carrier. Children as young as five typically may fly as “unaccompanied minors” (UMs) on direct flights.

Those eight to 14, depending on the carrier, can fly on connecting flights. Again, depending on the airline, young people 12 to 17 need not fly with assistance, although it is available upon request. Some carriers will not allow an unaccompanied minor to travel with a connection on the last flight of the day, in an effort to avoid issues should delays occur.

3. At the airport.

Bring proper ID for you and your child as well as information about who will meet the young traveler at the destination. Most airlines will provide a form requesting all necessary information. You’ll be able to get a gate pass to accompany your child through security and into the gate area and even on to the plane. Arrive with plenty of time to solve any last minute problems and provide reassurance before departure.  Be sure he or she is familiar with the itinerary and feels comfortable asking questions when necessary.

4. On the flight.

Your child may be aware of the unusual incidents that have garnered publicity on recent flights. Before departure day, spend time with your child explaining what to expect onboard the aircraft. Talk about seating, bathroom breaks, and how to ask for assistance. Explain that a flight attendant will check in, but will not be their designated travel companion. Send snacks, a sweater or jacket and in-flight entertainment tucked in an easy to access carry-on. If possible, include a cell phone loaded with appropriate contact numbers. Otherwise, send a paper list of contacts, flight and travel details and emergency numbers.

5. Upon arrival.

As an unaccompanied minor, a flight attendant will accompany your young traveler off the plane and make the connection with your designated family member or guardian in the gate area.  A photo ID will be required and matched with the information provided on the unaccompanied minor form. Ask your child or the person meeting him or her to let you know when the

With proper planning, a child’s solo travel experience can be a positive and enriching adventure.

Resource: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-tips

Award-winning photographer and FamilyTravel.com contributor Chase Guttman, enjoys traveling with his family and capturing special memories with his camera. Here, he shares tips that may inspire the budding shutterbugs in your clan.

1. Be adventurous.

“Veer off the beaten path. Take the road less traveled,” advises Guttman, who has visited dozens of countries and 45 US states. “Try to compose images that portray the essence of the culture you're experiencing. By thinking outside the box, you can put a fresh spin on a frequently photographed subject or destination. Don't be afraid to stretch out of your comfort zone and experiment.”

2. Get closer.

When you create a feeling of intimacy and connection with your subject, you’ll capture stunning portraits,” advises the New York City native. “Every face tells a unique story. Wrinkles map out a life of hardship and piercing eyes offer a peak into a person’s emotional state. In essence, portraiture allows you to unveil your subject's world for all to see.”

3. It's in the details.

"Zero in on essential details that will tell a larger story about the people or destination you're capturing. Be aware that what you leave out of the frame can be as important as what you include,” advises Guttman. "With focus, you can effectively squeeze an exciting visual experience within the rectangular shaped frame.”

4. Head towards the action.

As illustrated in many of his favorite images, Guttman explains that “By diving into the middle of the action you’ll capture an array of energy and emotion. Local markets, sporting events, and festivals offer unique insights into people’s daily lives."

“No matter what camera you have in hand," he adds, "you can paint dynamic and visually arresting action shots by clicking the shutter while moving your body at the same pace as the moving object you're trying to capture.”

5. Plan ahead.

It helps to be in the right place at the right time,” advises Guttman. “Early morning conditions offer unique advantages for photographers. Wildlife is more likely to be active and visible. A tranquil atmosphere makes water reflections more pristine, and you'll have a better chance to capture dawn’s magical mist and dew. Also, early morning and evening lighting provide the best opportunities to create stupendous landscape and cityscape shots.

Chase Guttman 

Chase Guttman has a long list of awards associated with his work including Young Travel Photographer of the Year, a Grand Prize in National Geographic’s International Photography Contest for Kids, and an Emerging Photographic Talent by the Young Photographer’s Alliance. to name a few  His work has been exhibited at the Royal Geographical Society in London and he was included as a Top Ten Travel Photographer in the New York Institute of Photography's latest book. Check out Chase's amazing work and his book on Drone photography! at ChaseGuttman.com

Published in Travel Tips