You Need a Vacation

Forget the excuses. You need a vacation and for more reasons that it’s just fun to get away. Research shows that regular getaways may increase longevity by preventing heart disease. In fact, men in a nine-year study who took at least one vacation per year were almost 30 percent less likely to die from a heart-related cause compared with the men who kept their noses to the grindstone. 

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Family vacations are one of my best childhood memories. Being together away from the normal routines of life creates an atmosphere just right for bonding and for making memories to last a lifetime. 

If you can manage the time, I’ve got some tips and ideas to make it happen:

Be realistic about the cost. Consider the money you have first and then design a vacation that will realistically fit within that financial boundary. If you have a family of five and $500 to spend, don’t even think about a couple of days at Disney World. Read more

My Travel Buddy

Travel is not what it used to be. Having flown 1.5 million miles in the past 20 years, I’ve seen things go from enjoyable to downright challenging. I’ve had to learn a few lessons the hard way, but learn them I have.

Because of the things I’ve witnessed on airplanes, in airports, taxis, subways and hotels, I’ve gone from being a passive passenger to a purpose-driven traveler. 

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My purpose is to arrive at my destination safe, healthy and happy. That’s why I always travel with an assistant—a travel buddy. My Buddy Nok-Out weighs just 4 ounces and travels in my handbag*. Buddy is with me wherever I go.

I have come to assume that my space on any airplane is a germ pit, due to what I have observed over the years. I have seen people change dirty diapers on the pull-down tray table. I’ve seen sick children sneeze and smear all manner of bodily debris on the seat, armrests, and table.

I’ve seen people clip their toenails, gather up the bits and deposit them into the seat pocket. I’ve observed a seatmate using that throw-up bag for the purpose it was created, then stuffing it back into the seat pocket. Do I have your attention yet? Gross, disgusting! I’ve learned to never assume that a plane is cleaned and sanitized between flights. Never. Read more

With Kids, Travel Kit Can Save the Day

 

Whether it’s anticipating a backseat disaster, coming up with a quick dinner solution or keeping memories alive, our Readers have just the perfect solution.

TRAVEL KIT. I have a little kit I keep in the car. It contains gallon-size zip-lock bags, paper napkins, straws and antibacterial soap. It’s amazing how many times I use it. Once, my daughter became sick on the way home from an event. The zip lock bag and napkins came in very handy. Then there was the time my son had to pet a friend’s dog and then wanted to have a snack on the ride home. Antibacterial soap to the rescue. Having straws handy means I can keep my eyes on the road and take a swig of a can of soda at the same time. Mary Jo., Kentucky

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SHOO FLIES. I’ve learned that keeping fresh rosemary around keeps the flies away. A growing plant in a windowsill is a great idea. Bud M., email

ROLLS LIKE BOB’S. Sometimes I forget to buy dinner rolls to go with the entree I’ve made for dinner. Then I remember what they used to do at Bob’s Big Boy when I went there as a kid. They toasted split hamburger buns and served them in place of dinner rolls. If it’s good enough for Bob, then it’s good enough for my family. They love it, too! Jennifer B., Wyoming Read more

Strategic Packing Prevents Travel Misery

 

It’s happened to us more than once. We’ll arrive at our destination, but not so for all of our luggage. On one vacation to Pawley’s Island, S.Carolina, it was two full days before all of our luggage showed up. That was a miserable situation. The one bag that did arrive with us did didn’t hold much of anything we really needed. But never again thanks to today’s first tip. What a great idea!

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STRATEGIC PACKING. When traveling by air with a companion, be sure each checked piece of luggage has a change of clothing and some toiletries for both of you. That way if a bag gets lost or is delayed (chances are at least one will show up), you’ll both have at least one change of clothing. Cindy B., Indiana Read more

Factory Fun on Family Vacations

 

Planning a family vacation? Factory tours can make for great vacation fun especially when the company manufactures something kids like. Free samples can’t hurt.

Currently, more than 550 factories across the USA offer tours to show people what they do and how they do it. Most tours are free, however some require a small admission.

Photo via MrsGrossmans.com

MRS. GROSSMAN’S—Petaluma, California. This is the sticker company kids and scrapbookers know and love. Mrs. Grossman’s prints 15,000 miles of stickers every year! Your family can see what’s behind the fuss on a factory tour of the bright and colorful printing plant. The tour begins with a video narrated by the owner’s dog Angus and concludes with a sticker art class and a gift bag stuffed with stickers. A gift shop sells all of the company’s 700 sticker designs. Reservations are required. Admission: Adults $7; Youth under 12 $5; Children under 3 Free. Call 800 429-4549 or go to MrsGrossmans.com for more details. Read more

Feel Good About Vacationing

So, how are those summer vacation plans coming?

If things aren’t looking so good for you to get away from home this year, it’s probably not because you don’t have the time. According to a survey by Harris Interactive Inc. the American worker left an average of 9.2 days of vacation unused in 2012. That’s up from 6.2 unused days in 2011.

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More likely, you keep pushing a vacation to the back burner because you just don’t have the money. After all, a vacation can be very expensive. These days, you’ll spend thousands for a family trip to Disney World—plus airfare if you don’t happen to live in Orlando.

Of course, there are any number of ways to cut the cost of a vacation, but could you get that cost down as low as $150 per adult? You just might be able to pull it off if you change your expectations a bit and adopt a new kind of vacation attitude. Read more

Fantasy Vacation for Less

Dear Mary,

My husband and I have been saving for the past year to take a long-overdue romantic getaway, and we’ve narrowed our dream destination down to Aruba. Since staying there can be pricey, our travel agent suggested we consider one of those “all-inclusive” resorts. She said we’ll save money on drinks and meals, and won’t have to worry about having cash or credit cards on hand since everything will be paid in advance. But I’ve heard that you actually lose money with these “deals” because they pad the price of everything in order to make a profit. Now we don’t know what to think. Bonnie, New Jersey

Aruba

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Dear Bonnie,

I don’t know that ‘padding the price’ would be the best way to put it, but for sure in an all-inclusive plan you’ll pay for lots of things you’ll probably never use. You can be sure they’ve built in generous gratuities, many meals and a big bar allowance.  Read more