Road Trip – The Ultimate Guide To The American Teen Dream

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Road tripping is the best way to explore the United States, hands down. As a student, I once dreamt about the day that I’d be able to pack up all of my clothes in a car and head out on the open roads to explore all of the corners of the US that I’d always wanted to see. When I graduated, I got the money together and actually did it. A friend of mine and I planned out a route on Google Maps and over the course of 2 months, we made our way around the country exploring everything we possibly could.

Obviously, not all road trips are as long as the one we embarked on, but the basic principles still apply. I’ve done my best to compile everything I learned about planning and going on a road trip that I could so that other people can hopefully enjoy the “amazingness” that is the open road. (Amazingness is totally a word).

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3 Great Travel Adventures That The Whole Family Can Enjoy

With summer holiday time looming, many parents are spending their hours frantically flipping through resort brochures or clicking through web-pages in an aim to find that one elusive Holy Grail of travelling; a holiday abroad that can satisfy the disparate demands of the whole family.

Sure, it may be tempting to play it safe and opt for your typical two-week beach holiday, and for weary parents the thought of a relaxing time spent lounging by the pool doesn’t sound too bad at all. But remember, however much you may enjoy simply kicking back with a cocktail in hand, the kids may just want something a little more stimulating, and they will NOT be shy in letting you know about it.

So if you want to avoid two weeks spent desperately trying to shut out that timeless mantra of ‘Mum… We’re BORED!’, while you try to catch up on the latest Jackie Collins, why not try one of these more adventurous trips?

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Why Kids Love Iceland and Why You Should Oblige Them

Photo courtesy Brynja Eldon

When talking about Iceland, many people’s responses are only a few degrees above luke-warm. Some complain about the mosquitoes in the summer, the cold in the winter, some about the whaling, others about the ever-erupting volcanoes and their pesky ash… And yet in reality it’s a destination with incredible variety and plenty of fun outdoor activities for family vacations.

You can’t help but feel like you’re in symbiosis with nature and the elements here, because of the Earth’s crust constant (and very visible) evolution. As the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson says, “The moment you start to move the mountain starts to move.”

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Air Travel Hacked – The Definitive Guide To a Safe and Happy Air Journey

Traveling by air is probably nothing new for many folks, but there are probably quite a few things that you don’t know about air travel. The history of air travel goes back about 100 years when the Wright Brothers were the first ones to take to the skies with their makeshift aircraft.

While the idea of air travel had existed before the Wright brothers, no one had ever attempted to build a device that had wings instead of just a balloon or something else that could become airborne.

Air Travel Statistics

Although air travel seems commonplace for most of us, you may be surprised to learn that only about 42% of people took a trip by plane in the last year. That number is a bit higher for business people who travel on a weekly basis. Business trips were had by about 48% of the population.

You may also be surprised to hear that over 41 million trips were missed in the past year because of frustrations with the airline industry. Whether they were caused by bad weather or poor service remains to be unseen. One thing is certain though, and that’s the fact that people generally hate traveling by air.

Here are some basic statistics –

Domestic Air Travel in India

Vacation Deprivation Key Statistics From Expedia

Air Safety

Generally speaking, air travel is by far the safest way that you can travel these days. Compared to the number of accidents with cars on the road, you have much less chance of a mishap happening to you while in the air than while on the ground. Let’s take a look at some numbers.

In the year 2,000, there were 83 casualties across the entire airline industry. That may sound like a high number, and that’s because it is. 2,000 was a bad year for the airline industry. The three years prior to 2,000 (1997-1999), there were 12 recorded fatalities in the air. That doesn’t mean that on average there were 12 deaths per year, that means that there were 12 total deaths in the entirety of the time elapsed. During that time period there were over 11 million flights that recorded time in the air. So, as you can see, the odds are definitely in your favor in terms of how safe air travel is.

How safe is air travel you ask? Well, you have a 1 in 11 million shot of dying while in the air. Those are pretty good odds in anyone’s book.

If you compare that to driving, you are 22 times safer in an aircraft than you are on the road. Far more people are killed each year because of car wrecks than those that die in the air.

Air Travel Restrictions

It’s probably no surprise to hear that there are plenty of air travel restrictions out there these days. Everything ranging from what you can and can’t take onboard the aircraft for security reasons, to what seat you get to pick out depending on your age.

When you’re packing your bags, remember that bringing sharp objects or weapons on board planes is against the law in almost all countries. If you’re making an international flight to the United States, you’re no longer allowed to bring liquids on board the aircraft. Remember to throw out that water bottle before you make it to the security checkpoint!

Some of the most common air travel guidelines to remember are those that require you lock your bag before sending it through the security checkpoint and ensuring that you don’t have anything in your bags that will get you stopped at the security checkpoint. Knives and guns are obviously a no-no.

When traveling domestically within the United States, it is required that you lock your bag with a TSA (Transportation Security Authority) lock. All of these locks are designed so that they can be opened by TSA when your bag is getting screened in customs or at security checkpoints. While you’ll be the only civilian with a key to open your bag, all TSA approved locks are able to be opened by a TSA agent with ease. If you use a lock that isn’t TSA approved, they’ll have no problem simply cutting the lock to get inside to take a look.

Air Travel Rules/Regulations

While the obvious ones were listed above in regards to what you can and can’t bring on board a flight, there are some lesser known rules that you should be aware of before booking tickets and getting to the airport.

There are limits on how heavy your baggage can be. Check on your airline’s website to see how much you can cram into your bag before you get slammed with huge overage fees at the check-in counter of the airport. If you don’t have a scale at home to weigh your bag before going to the airport, you can make a quick trip to your local post office to get an accurate reading of how heavy your bag actually is.

There are also age restrictions on board many domestic US flights. Children under the age of 18 aren’t allowed to sit in an exit row seat. When you’re booking your tickets, ensure that you don’t pick an exit row seat for your family if you have a child with you. They’ll be asked to move.

The check-in time for flights in a minimum of one hour before your departure time. Many times airlines will close their check in counter about an hour and a half before departure time to prevent people from sprinting through the airport and through security to try and make their flight. Just be early! Although it may sound crazy, about 2 to 2 and a half hours before your departure time is a good time to arrive at the airport.

ID Required?

Do you need an ID to travel on board a flight? The common answer is “yes.” To make it easy for both you and the airport officials, having an ID ready when you go to check in is a good idea. Although the airports say that you need a driver’s license or passport to board an aircraft, it’s technically not required by law.

There are ways around having to carry an identification card (if you’re willing to sit in an interrogation room while they verify your identity). To make things easy for yourself, try and buy a travel wallet that allows you to carry both your tickets and your ID card all in one location. That way when you make it up to the security checkpoints or the boarding gate, you’ll have all of your information ready to go.

Air Travel Deals

We all want to be able to get the best air travel prices around, but many people don’t know where to look. With air travel sites popping up every day, it’s often hard to keep up with which ones are the best deal for the money and which ones are a total scam.

If you’re trying to book your flight early to snag cheap air travel tickets, check out sites like Kayak.com or Travelzoo.com. Both have built up a great reputation in the travel industry for providing the cheapest fares. They work by scanning many different competitor’s websites so you don’t have to. You can scan all of the airlines going from one airport to another in one search to see which airline brings back the cheapest price.

The best days to book flights for low cost air travel are Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the best day to get online to book flights are at the start of the week. Airlines bump up their prices on Wednesday’s and Thursdays because they know that people are now booking for flights for the following week. Business travelers generally fly out on Monday and back home on Friday, making Tuesday and Thursday the best days to book flights for.

If you’re looking to grab a last minute air travel deal, Expedia.com is the best place to go. Expedia works by allowing you to bid on a flight that you’d like to go on. Airlines wait until the last 24 hours or so to see how much money they can get out of potential passengers. If there are still empty seats available on a flight, they’ll begin considering the bids of people on Expedia and similar sites to try and fill those empty seats.

Although this is a risky method of flying, people have been known to get some of the cheapest air travel deals they can by using this method.

Booking very early and very late are the best ways to save money.

Air Travel Booking

When you’re trying to book air travel, there are a few ways to go about it. You can either go directly through the airline’s website to book exactly the flight that you want, or you can use some of the sites listed above to aggregate data across many different airlines to try and get the best price you can. The latter of the two options is the most preferred among frequent travelers as it provides the best prices you can get.

Another, and probably least common route to take is to call the airline directly. The airline will be able to take all of your information from you over the phone and mail you or email you a copy of your tickets. Although it may seem “antiquated,” if you don’t have access to a computer, you can pretty quickly order tickets over the phone. Give it a try sometime. You’ll probably be surprised at how easy it is.

Air Travel Coupons

Although you can use travel sites to book extremely discounted air travel, getting some coupons to help with the deal can’t hurt. Although many airlines don’t release coupons for their out flights explicitly, you can often get coupons on third party sites (like those listed above) to get some additional savings during promotional periods. Cheap-o Air (cheapoair.com) often has deals for customers who want to save $10 or $15 off of their next flight. Although it may not sound like much, every little bit helps.

If you’re looking for much bigger savings, there’s a promotion that happens within the airports that many travelers never hear about. If a flight you’re on is overbooked, many times the airline will offer some sort of compensation to travelers who opt to travel at a later time during the day. If you think a flight you’re going to be on is overbooked, approach the flight counter and ask if you can be booked on a later flight in exchange for a travel coupon.

These travel vouchers that the airlines issue are usually a few hundred dollars in value, so if you can afford to be a few hours late, take the money! The travel vouchers typically last for a year or so and can be used to book flights through the company’s website.

Last Minute Air Travel

We already listed one site, Expedia, for last minute travel deals. However, there are also plenty more options available online that will allow you to wait until the last few hours before you need to head out to try and get the best deal possible on your flight.

Hotwire.com is another popular option to investigate for last minute deals. Unlike Expedia, many times you won’t be able to bid on flights, but instead only get the best last minute travel deals that are available. You’ll have to accept the fact you won’t have too much control over where your flights are headed, but who can pass up $100 flights to Cancun or Toronto?

Student Travel

Another great way to save cash is to fly as a student. StudentUniverse.com is by far the best resource on the web to fly as a student, as it’s able to get flights for travelers under a certain age. In addition to searching for student only flights, Student Universe is also able to search the popular sites like Expedia and Hotwire to find other great deals that students can utilize.

They also have a number of different travel guides for students looking to study abroad or attend other high education programs across the ocean. These guides can be an invaluable tool for students who have flown very little in their lives, as they’ll tell you exactly what you need to bring and what to watch out for when it comes to airline control.

First Class Air Travel

Ah, the luxury of first class. First class is the section of the plane reserved for luxury travel. First class passengers enjoy almost twice as much legroom as is available in coach; bigger seats, better meal selections, and in flight entertainment that is generally not available in the rear of the plane. You’ll pay big bucks for first class tickets, as the amenities aren’t cheap for the airline to provide, but if you have the money, the tickets are well worth it. Being able to recline all the way back in your seat when it’s time to take a nap or sleep through the night is an amazing benefit.

Air Travel Tips

Although flying is commonplace, many folks don’t know how to tackle it properly. These tips should help make the process much simpler and smoother for both yourself and the family that’s traveling with you.

Disinfectant Wipes: Although it’s disgusting, airlines rarely (if ever) clean the tray tables or head rests on board their planes. Bring a few disinfectant wipes on board with you so that you can wipe down the area where you’re going to be eating, as well as the headrest where your head is going to be resting for the next few hours.

Free Samples: Because of the restrictions on the size of the liquids you can bring on board the flight, try to get free samples from the cosmetics counters or from hotels as you travel around. These travel friendly sized bottles are a great way to keep stocked up on the essentials without having to refill tiny bottles yourself.

Air Travel Pillow: Always bring your own pillow onto a flight. The pillows that are provided are reused and disgusting, and are generally uncomfortable.

Bring a Blanket: Similar to the pillow tip, the blankets provided by airlines are often useless. Try and bring a big sweater or portable blanket to keep yourself warm and comfortable on board a long flight.

Lounges: If you are a frequent flyer or have $50 to spend, you can take advantage of your airline’s travel lounge in the airport. These luxury lounges are a great place to get free food and drinks while you relax and wait for your flight. The staff within the lounges will notify you when your flight is ready to depart as well.

Room Service: Not really related to actual flying, but if you’ve just landed in an airport and are on your way to the hotel you’re staying at, call ahead for room service to be delivered to your room when you arrive. Calling 20 minutes before you arrive at the hotel can ensure that food is waiting for you when you arrive and you won’t have to sit around waiting for it to come.

Charge your Laptop: With many domestic flights now offering Wi-Fi on board the flight, having your laptop charged before you get on board a flight will ensure that you’ll be able to do some sufficient time killing on the web.

Packing For Air Travel

Although you have your tickets booked and you’re ready to go, there’s still some packing to do. Packing is daunting no matter which way you look at it, so pack smart and avoid the hassle later.

Remember that airlines often have restrictions on how much baggage you can bring on board. Generally speaking, you’re allowed one carry on item for free per passenger.

Airlines charge for baggage, so be smart and try and consolidate all of your luggage into one suitcase if you’re going as a family. If you’re going on holiday, rewear clothes while you’re there, meaning bring one pair of jeans for every two days of travel. You don’t get THAT dirty while you move around during the day. Clothes can be reworn.

When considering your carry-on bag, we suggest packing all of the essentials that you’re going to need during the flight into a gallon sized Ziploc bag. This means that you should put your book, gum, and ipod all in an easy to find location that you can just pull out of your bag and plop onto your seat as you’re boarding the plane. That way, instead of having to fuss with all of the stuff in your backpack, you have a bag with everything you need already at your fingertips.

Air Travel Weather

The weather for flights is pretty unpredictable. Air travel delays are not uncommon because of bad weather, which not only means an inconvenience for you, it also means an inconvenience for the entire flight. If you’re on your way to the airport and the rain is belting down, try calling your airline directly to rebook your flight. By calling ahead instead of waiting until you get to the airport, you’ll avoid the lines and grouchy representatives (who are grouchy from having to deal with so many flight rebookings), and will be able to relax once you arrive instead of having to sit in long lines trying to get yourself onto a different flight.

It’s always a good idea to have a number for your airline’s customer support center on hand at all times. You never know what can go wrong when you start your travel.

Traveling With Children

Pregnancy: Air travel during pregnancy is probably one of the roughest things an expectant mother can do. If you’ve been checked out by your doctor and are on track for a healthy pregnancy, flying shouldn’t be an issue at all. However, after your 36th week of pregnancy, many doctors recommend that you stay planted firmly on the ground. The pressure of the cabin after this point in the pregnancy can cause complications at birth.

Although, after the 36th week is the typical cutoff point, It’s always still a good idea to talk to your doctor about your health and how well you’d do up in the air. There’s nothing worse than finding out after the fact that you shouldn’t have flown with a child on the way.

Infants: If you have a small child that you’re traveling with, things may get a bit rough from time to time. Travel experts recommend this quirky tip to make traveling a bit easier for the both of you. If you have the means to do so, bring your child’s car seat on board the air craft. If you’ve paid for a seat for them already, why not use it? Because your child is used to his or her carseat, placing it into the airline’s seat as well can help relax and calm the child down.

Air travel with an infant can be tough, but if they have a relaxing environment that they’re used to, chances are they’ll scream much less than if you were to just plop them down and tell them to shutup for the flight.

Children: Finally, we’ll cover air travel with children. Utilizing a tip we covered earlier, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for trips with children. Take a gallon Ziploc bag and help your child pick out things that he or she may need on the flight. Pack up the Nintendo DS, a book, and maybe a bag of Goldfish all into a big bag so that your child has access to everything they’ll need for the flight.

This not only helps them stay organized, it prevents your seat neighbors from getting annoyed every time you want to get in and out of the seat to fetch a new toy or gizmo for your child.

Air Travel With Pets

We all want to be able to bring our furry little friends everywhere we go, but many times that’s not possible because of restrictions with airlines. If you’re looking at options for air travel with dogs, this website has you covered:

http://www.dogfriendly.com/server/travel/airtravel/airpettravel.shtml

They carry a comprehensive list of all of the airlines who are pet friendly and what their pet travel policies are. You can book your tickets with airlines who allow small dogs on board the plane as opposed to in the luggage compartment down below.

Talk to your airline before you book tickets to see what their policies for pet travel are and how much it will cost to bring your pet on board the flight. Because rates change often, it’s good to get an estimate the day you’re booking your ticket, as variances can often happen every day.

Domestic Travel/International Travel

For those that don’t know, domestic air travel is when the flight that you’re on doesn’t leave the country. It stays within the borders of the country you departed from and requires no additional paperwork upon arrival. International travel is of course when your flight leaves one country and arrives in another.

Many times you will need a passport and a visa to enter foreign countries. However, because the United States and similar countries have provinces outside of their country’s borders, visas and passports are sometimes not needed to enter these places.

When booking flights that are “direct” and “non-stop,” be aware that these terms are not interchangeable. These terms often appear on domestic air travel tickets as a way to indicate to customers how the flight is being handled.

A direct flight is one that may make stops at other airports along the way, but you won’t have to get off of the aircraft to continue your journey. Direct flights are popular with airlines who don’t necessarily have enough business in one area of the country. They’ll start a flight there and move to a larger city where they can fill the flight up before continuing onwards to the destination.

Non-Stop flights are flights that go directly from your point of origin to the destination. They don’t stop.

Domestic flights are generally cheaper than international air travel, as they’re generally over shorter distances and on smaller planes with smaller costs. However, if you plan ahead as was discussed earlier in the article, you can book flights for relatively cheap rates to just about anywhere in the world.

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