Welcome to the December 2008 issue of "Smart Traveler". The newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.

Tips on Traveling with Children

Family vacations can create long-lasting memories and fun learning experiences for parents and children alike. But traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness -- and of patience. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has created a list of suggestions to help make the sometimes daunting task of preparing for a trip with the kids manageable and fun for the entire family.


Create anticipation for the family trip by starting a countdown calendar with perhaps a photo or illustration of the destination. Let kids pack their own bags. Decide what type of clothing (preferably loose and comfortable), but allow them to choose their favorites and to pack a special toy. In a carry-on bag, pack some hard candies and gum, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers in a small, tightly sealed plastic bag and perhaps a surprise toy for each child.

Update immunizations for the entire family. If traveling abroad, check with public health authorities for advisable additional vaccines. Depending on the destination and duration of stay, the following immunizations may be recommended (although some cannot be given to infants and young children):

  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Typhoid vaccine
  • Hepatitis A vaccine
  • Immune globulin
  • Yellow Fever vaccine
  • Japanese B Encephalitis vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine

Allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last minute delays and confusion, especially with the new security regulations. Be sure to have a safety plan in case anyone gets separated at the airport. Discuss where to meet and what to do.

Review screening procedures with children before entering security checkpoints so they will not be frightened by the process. Every person, including children and babies, must undergo screening at security checkpoints. Also, all child-related equipment must go through the X-ray machine. To speed the process along, remove children from their strollers/infant carriers and collapse/fold the equipment so it may be examined or put through the machine. When going through metal detectors, with an infant, have one parent hold the baby and walk through the machine. Do not hand off the baby under the detector, or hand the baby to the screener to hold. Children who can walk should go through the metal detector independently. For older children, it is important to stress that the process should be taken seriously and that threats made even as a joke could result in law enforcement being summoned.

Bring a child/infant seat on board that meets current safety standards and is not more than 16 inches wide. The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that children weighing less than 40 pounds be placed in child/infant seats.

The best coach seats to have when flying with small children are the first row in economy class. There's a lot of legroom, and you'll be removed from most of the plane when the kids get cranky from the long flight. If the front row seats are not available, place children away from the aisle, preferably between responsible adults. Also, remember to get up, stretch and walk around with kids often during the flight, but do not allow children to walk around unsupervised

Getting your seat assignment in advance can help ensure families are seated together and that children and adults will be seated next to each other. If a flight is full and obtaining seat assignments in advance is not a possibility, advise the airline personnel at the airport. The airline may need to ask other passengers to change seats so children are not seated apart from parents.

Bring bottled water to drink and lotion to apply to skin to rehydrate during the dry flight; gum, pacifiers and bottles to reduce air pressure on the children's ears; and a variety of toys in carry-on bags to keep the child's interest from waning.

Make it comfortable by bringing pillows and blankets. Stop frequently at rest stops to stretch and make use of restrooms. Play games like "I Spy." Make sure the car is stocked with paper, pencils, plenty of engaging toys and tapes or CDs of their favorite songs or books. Most importantly, keep children involved in the vacation process. Save everything collected on vacation - brochures, napkins, ticket stubs - and have children paste them into a scrapbook.

Plan ahead with the rental company to make sure they offer car seats and installation. If not, you'll have to bring your own in addition to a collapsible stroller. If nothing else, a simple call to the rental car company may save you the hassle of bringing along one extra piece of equipment.

Have a daily schedule planned with some flexible, free time for each family member. Provide friends or relatives with phone numbers and addresses of hotels where the family will stay, transportation information and emergency contact information. If possible, each member of the family should have a cell phone or walkie-talkie to keep in touch at all times. Coming up with an emergency plan or meeting point is also a good idea in case family members become separated.

Put safety first by avoiding a myriad of possible accidents. Bring outlet protectors and make a sweep of balconies and bathrooms for any potential dangers. Hide away small objects, accessible medications and cleaners children could get their hands on. Familiarize yourself with the hotel's fire and emergency evacuation routes and procedures.

If your vacation includes a trip to a pool, ocean, water park or any other place involving water, the number one rule is to never let children venture off alone. Even if they know how to swim, children should wear a life jacket at all times. Also, it is important to know what is in the water, such as chemicals or jellyfish. Very cold temperatures, currents, and sudden drop-offs are all things to avoid, especially with children.

Always bring a hat with a wide brim and sunscreen of at least 30 SPF to shield children's skin from the sun's harmful rays. Sun poisoning can ruin any vacation.

It is important to bring along needed medications. Diarrhea treatments (although these should not be given to very young children), pain relievers, insect repellants, antihistamines and adhesive bandages are good staples. Consult your doctor about over the counter" remedies before using them. Bringing a doctor's number, even if traveling to a foreign country, is a good idea, as well.

To prevent diseases spread by drinking contaminated water, use only bottled or boiled water to mix formula and juices, or simply go with pre-mixed liquid formula whenever possible, if an infant is not being nursed.

Maintain a good sense of humor while traveling to give your children a vacation to remember in spite of any unforeseen obstacles. Remember that problems do arise and accidents do happen, but being prepared and keeping ASTA's Travel Tips in mind may help avoid hassles and undue stress.

12 Peaceful Practices for less-stress Holiday Travel

Looking to bring the spirit of the holiday season to the airport with you? Follow these 12 practices for the holidays during your twelve days of holiday travel and enjoy the stress they release and the peace they bring to otherwise stressful travels. (They actually work well any time of the year.)

1. Say “Thank You” before you enter the airport - be grateful for the opportunity to travel.

2. Wish the airline employee, who is herding cats all day long at the ticketing counter and boarding gate, “Happy holidays!”

3. Grab a good cup of coffee and savor it.

4. Find a spot to enjoy 5 minutes of silence.

5. Let someone enter the security line ahead of you.

6. Find a crowded area and take a seat on a bench to do some people watching. Appreciate uniqueness.

7. Don’t contribute to the “Human Wall of Boarding” by standing too close to the gate before your “zone” is called to board (Thank you, Janice Hough)

8. Help someone on your airplane load their carry-on into the overhead storage bin.

9. On your flight, write a letter to someone in your life that you want to remind how important they are to you.

10. Sit still at the “ding” when your airplane lands. Don’t contribute to the madness – everyone has places to go.

11. Step back from the baggage claim so that everyone can see the bags when they begin moving down the carousel.

12. Hug your family members and friends and tell them you love them

Tips for holding down business travel costs

With fuel surcharges, baggage fees and rising ticket costs, flying employees around the globe is more expensive than ever. Here are some cash-saving tips for companies and road warriors:

• Confirm travel plans before booking; airlines often charge $150 or more for flight changes.

• Check as few bags as possible: Overnight delivery of presentation materials may be more cost-effective than checking an extra bag.

• Keep passports up to date and make sure you have all required visas for foreign travel.

• Check flights to all airports in a region, not just the one closest to your final destination.

• Coordinate car service or taxis to save on expense costs if several employees are traveling to the same place at the same time. Some companies now require traveling workers to share hotel rooms.

• Book flights for the lowest fares. Stay on top of hotel and airfare prices: If you see a price lower than the one you paid, ask for a discount.

• Extend a midweek trip over a weekend to cut down on airfare costs.

• Choose "offseason" destinations if the location is up to you — for instance, a group meeting in Las Vegas during the summer.


The Traveler's Medicine Cabinet

Dr. Richard Wenzel, an expert in infectious diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University, lists 11 items that should be in every tourist's first-aid kit.

Pepcid Complete
The drug eases heartburn by combining a stomach-acid reducer with an antacid. "But be careful mixing antacids and antibiotics—it can reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic," Wenzel says.

Band-Aids & Neosporin
"I bring a bunch of Band-Aid sizes on trips to treat everything from a blister to a banged-up knee," Wenzel says. And Neosporin keeps cuts from getting infected.

The ibuprofen in Advil not only reduces pain and fevers, it also can relieve inflammation of the muscles and tendons after a long hike—Tylenol doesn't do that at all.

Ultrathon Insect Repellent
Repellents with higher concentrations of deet protect longer against bugs. "Find something with 30 percent deet or more," says Wenzel. Ultrathon is a 34 percent deet lotion with a time-release formula that lasts up to 12 hours.

Dramamine helps prevent motion sickness when taken at least 30 minutes before traveling. "It also makes people drowsy," Wenzel says. "So don't take it before flying if you know you'll have to drive when you get off the plane."

Imodium A-D
When diarrhea strikes, Imodium can stop the symptoms within 30 minutes, unlike Pepto-Bismol, which takes up to six hours to kick in.

In addition to alleviating hay fever symptoms, this drug can be used to treat hives and an itchy nose or throat caused by food allergies.

Neutrogena Sunscreen
Many Neutrogena sunscreens are made with a formula called Helioplex, which the company says helps stop UVA absorbers from degrading too quickly—making the sunblocks last longer.

Wenzel says this prescription antibiotic is the most effective diarrhea cure—especially in places like India and Thailand where bacteria are becoming more resistant to Cipro. For quick results, he recommends taking four 250-milligram pills with Imodium.

Cortaid Maximum Strength anti-inflammatory cream contains 1 percent hydrocortisone, which is the highest concentration available without a prescription. The cream soothes rashes and bug bites.

Remember: Without a travel agent you're on your own

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