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Traveling solo or with a partner or even a group of friends is easy compared to traveling with little kids. This week we'll be posting some insights and tips from the family travelers of the Jaunted crew. Today Mark Johnson, founder of Jaunted, HotelChatter, and VegasChatter gives us his tips for how to survive the inevitable theme park vacation with kids .
Got kids? If so, it is more than likely you will eventually have to take a family trek to a theme park, if not many theme parks around the world. While theme park vacations are a sure hit for delighting the youngsters they are just as well known for driving adults over the edge. Many parents are quoted as saying "we went to Florida for spring break, but it wasn't a vacation for me, we spent the week at a theme park."
With any luck these 8 Tips for Surviving the Family Theme Park Vacation will help you enjoy your family vacation, or at the very least help you survive. Oh, and by all means, please go ahead and add your own theme park survival tips below
7. Rides Are For The Young: Have you seen the Modern Family episode where Phil Dumphey is at a theme park and suddenly realizes all the twists and turns of these rides no longer agree with his forty-something body? Hasn't happened to you yet? Just wait, it will. Even the most ardent roller coaster riders reach an age where it is time to dial it back, know your body. You can try sea bands, and excuses, but your kids will see right through this. Instead, here is an easy tip that will save your back and still allow you to be a theme park hero -- ride only the newest, most modern roller coasters. Yup, that's right, even though at Disney World, Everest is bigger and scarier than Space Mountain it is a much smoother ride. Furthermore, the surest ride to leave adults feeling queasy is the Tilt-a-Whirl, or any variation that involves all that spinning. Instead, impress your kids by joining them on Universal's Doom Drop which is tamer and shorter than many thrill rides.
6. Rides Are Not Always For The Young: Here is the crazy thing, the Dr. Seuss ride is more likely to scare young children than the Jurassic Park ride, in our experience. Why? Many kids have sensory issues and dark, bright lights, loud noises and jerky motions can set them off in crazy ways. What to do? Have an alternate plan and if your youngling starts freaking out, the exit the ride as quickly as possible, or at the very least stop trying to force the youngster to ride more dark, loud rides, no matter how cute and innocuous they seem to you. Yes, you paid plenty of money for that 5-year-old to enter the theme park, but instead of forcing the youngster on rides, try finding some walk around characters, or if that doesn't work…
Family Travel Week / Family Travel / Teen Travel / Chanize Thorpe / Traveling with Children / → All Tags
Traveling solo or with a partner or even a group of friends is easy compared to traveling with little kids. This week we'll be posting some insights and tips from the family travelers of the Jaunted crew. Today, HotelChatter editor Chanize Thorpe talks about traveling with some tough critics--teenagers.
The key to a successful vacation with teens boils down to one word--compromise. Gone are the days where you can demand little ones to do your bidding while on the road. No, these youngsters have grown up and have their own opinions and agendas. Ignore it and you may find yourself on a holiday fraught with tears--and they'll probably be your own.
Hoteliers are beginning to understand that the 12-17 market have needs too, as they are too old for traditional kids clubs, but too young for the bars or nightclubs at many resorts and hotels. So they are now getting more inventive with attractions and activities for this hard-to-please age group. I've been traveling with my 21, 17, and 14 year old daughters since they were the tiniest of tots and have seen the changes in the industry. My two youngest can still travel with me because I keep the following tips in my head and pick places like these that guarantee they have a good time:
· 1.Decide if you want to fight the electronics battle.
You have this dream of a tech-free holiday, where everyone plays car games and has sing-a-longs. Aw, that's sweet. But know this--most teens are going to balk at forced-family fun. They want it to happen organically. Besides, their cell phones will be your friend when it comes to organizing meet up times. And those iPods? A godsend during long drives, unless you want to hear their god-awful music? A resort that embraces 21st-century toys is Grand Velas Resort & Spa in Mexico's Riveria Maya region. Their Teen Lounge has Xboxes with Kinect and PS3s with special seats that have built in speakers for enhanced gaming, and individual cubicles with 40” LED TVs. Four 55” LED TVs project current sports programs and music videos, while Apple TV lets them connect their iPhone or iPads. In the evening, the dance floor lights up and has surround sound for karaoke nights, where there's 45,000 songs in multiple languages to choose from.
Traveling solo or with a partner or even a group of friends is easy compared to traveling with little kids. This week we'll be posting some insights and tips from the family travelers of the Jaunted crew. Next up is our sister site, HotelChatter.com who lists some of the best hotels for families.
Families make up 30 percent of the adult leisure travel market, according to US Travel Association. Breaking that down further, the Family Travel Network says 100 million to 115 million trips per year involve children. But where will they all stay once they survive the plane flight (or car ride or train trip)? We, of course, have a few suggestions. Here are some hotels that have wow-ed us in the past year with their kid and family-friendly amenities and services.
· For breastfeeding moms: The Hard Rock Chicago has released a Nursing Mothers Amenity Program in partnership with Medela, a well-known brand to new moms and moms-to-be alike. For an extra $30 a night, nursing moms can use hospital grade Symphony breastpumps and Medela accessory starter kits which include the Quick Clean™ Micro Steam™ Bags, Quick Clean Wipes, Pump and Save™ Bags and Disposable Bra Pads. The guestrooms will also be specially prepped for mama and baby with microwaves, mini-refrigerators, ice packs for transportation and mini-cooler bags. (Just remember, never heat the breastmilk in the microwave!) Room rates start around $229 a night.
· For the fashion-conscious parents: The stylish Mark Hotel on NYC's Upper East Side has paired up with MacLaren strollers to create The Mark Hotel Baby Stroller that's done up in the hotel's signature black and white stripes. There's no cost to borrow the stroller for your shopping jaunts but do know that rooms start at around $550 a night.
· For when you forget the tear-free shampoo: Last year, Fairmont Hotels introduced Ollie, their toiletry mascot and their complimentary kids toiletries which include complimentary amenity kits that include an Ollie the Otter stuffed animal, no-tears hair wash, cleansing soap, toothbrush & paste, bubble bath and gentle lotion. Most Fairmont Hotels, if not all, can easily accommodate family requests from cribs to strollers, diaper pails and babysitting services.
Family Travel Week / Animals / The Adventures of Travel Cat / Delta / Pet Travel / Cats / DTW / LGA / Airline Fees / Flight Reviews / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
Traveling solo or with a partner or even a group of friends is easy compared to traveling with little kids (or pets!). This week we'll be posting some insights and tips from the family travelers of the Jaunted crew. Today, Cynthia, editor of Jaunted shares her experience of flying with a pet cat.
Dogs on planes. So over it. They're seemingly everywhere, from First Class on a transcontinental to the last row of economy on a puddle jumper. Where are all the kitties?! If you enjoy travel, then perhaps your pets will as well. We recently put this theory to the test and picked up new tips by traveling with our own cat on flights from New York to Detroit and back.
About our travel cat: "Jetson" is a one-year-old mackerel tabby cat, who is very social and very curious. We rescued him as a tiny kitten, and he's been on short road trips, in the NY subway, and on one previous flight. He doesn't require any medication to be calm on flights, but will occasionally meow.
Flight price: $248 from New York to Detroit and back for one person, booked by calling Delta reservations (a requirement when traveling with pets). Plus $125 each way for the cat. Total: $498.
Traveling solo or with a partner or even a group of friends is easy compared to traveling with little kids. This week we'll be posting some insights and tips from the family travelers of the Jaunted crew. Today Juliana Shallcross, managing editor of HotelChatter.com and VegasChatter.com doles out her tips for flying with babies and toddlers, of which she currently has one of each.
For a lot of us, flying is one of the most nerve-wracking things to do in these modern times. But flying with a baby is a hundred times harder than flying alone. First, there's the gear that you have to bring. Then, there's the limited space issues. And then, there's the baby itself. Will she or he sleep? Will she or he cry? Will your seat mates understand or just give you dirty looks? Worst of all, you can't even take your usual Xanax or down two glasses of wine before the flight takes off because you need to be fully "in the zone" to deal with whatever may happen during the flight.
And I used a sports saying here because that is pretty much how I approach flying with children now. I even dress the part, wearing workout gear such as stretchy black pants, sneakers and a hooded sweatshirt with pockets. (Gotta have pockets so you can stash important items closeby.)
In the past year, I've made a total of three transcontinental trips with two babies and three short jaunts from LA to San Francisco. While the California flights are much easier to get through because they are shorter, they are no less nerve-wracking. Here are 10 Tips for Flying with Babies and Toddlers, that I've learned over the past two and a half years. I'm sure you have some of your own so please share them in comments below.
10. Pack What You Need and Then Some: I once heard about a family with a baby getting stuck on the tarmac and running out of milk and diapers and ever since then, I've always packed enough food, snacks, toys and diapers in case we get delayed either coming or going. Yes, this will make your diaper bag bulkier and heavier than you'd like but do you want to hold a screaming baby with an overflowing wet diaper on the tarmac? No, didn't think so. This reminds me, you should also pack an extra pair of clothes, especially if you have a toddler as there will be at least one major spill while in-flight.
9. Bring A Dish Towel: Speaking of spills, when I first started flying with a baby, I would bring not just my own big pack of baby wipes but also a few sheets of paper towels in case of major spillage and/or blow-outs. (Not the straight hair kind.) But I've since upped my game and I carry a dish towel from my kitchen. It proved especially useful on our last flight from New Jersey to Los Angeles when my 2.5-year- oold vomited up yogurt-covered blueberries just before landing. Don't worry, Virgin America gave us a special biohazard kit so that we could clean up the mess on our own. I have to say, when I was done scrubbing and sanitizing the rug, the spot where she threw up was sparkling clean compared to the rest of our row.
8. Buy Extra Legroom: If you can afford it, buy the extra legroom. It makes holding a lap child sooo much more comfortable. Not to mention, there's more room on the ground for your bulky diaper bag. You can even lay the baby down on the ground too (with a blankie down first.) And while by airline regulations, children are allowed to sit on your lap until they are two years old, we suggest buying a seat for your kid if they are over 1.5-years-old, especially if it's a longer flight. That way they can sit in their own seat, play with their toys, and if you're lucky, take a nap.
Family Travel Week / Family Travel / Charles Ogilvie / Diaper Changing Tables / Airplane Lavatories / → All Tags
Traveling solo or with a partner or even a group of friends is easy compared to traveling with little kids. This week we'll be posting some insights and tips from the family travelers of the Jaunted crew starting with Charles Ogilvie who we got to know when he was director of in-flight entertainment at Virgin America back in 2006. Today he's an aviation consultant...and a dad to two lap children, 15-month-old, Chris and 2-month-old, Pete. Here, he looks at the quality of transcontinental flights today and how they can be improved for families.
Flashback: Transcontinental – Seat 9A – 2004
United launched its p.s. Premium Service product in 2004 using completely refurbished Boeing 757s. At the time, I was working for Virgin USA in New York, but travelling on transcons fairly frequently to California. The Virgin USA and ultimately, Virgin America team was trying to build a better way to travel, something that would push the entire market to think it deserved better and could do better. United was ahead because they had aircraft already flying. (VX was actually born six years ago and shared their product with the flying public on inaugural flights on 8/8/2007.)
By “chance”, my seatmate (he had 9A and I had 9B) on one of my first United p.s. flights was Davis Masten who, at the time, was the Chief Catalyst at Cheskin, a brilliant company that he and Christopher Ireland later sold to the WPP Group in 2007.
In any event, the story isn’t about Davis or how we chatted for hours and went on to become friends, but instead it is about knowing your customers.
For those who know him, Davis likes to work things in reverse or in unconventional ways to try to unearth solutions. From some deep conversations I’ve had with him, I feel his mantra could partially be summarized that the better you understand your customers or the market, the better chance you can plan for something you might otherwise have forgotten. He understands that both problems exist to be solved and dialogues that are focused using the right tools can sometimes be the best tools to tackling a problem or at least getting to ask the right question. He is up there with many thought leaders in my mind and I’d say I’ve learned a lot from my interactions with him over the years.
What Consumers Want From Transcon Flights
So, since early United p.s. days, the bar steadily been raised and is so high in the Transcon flight segment (frankly, as it should have been long ago) that it is getting closer to what was once dubbed “international experiences”.
Despite improvement, some problems remain with US domestic transcons. Consumers now not just want more, they expect more and they expect consistency. WiFi, entertainment, and decent tasting food are now requirements. Without them, many could perceive a deteriorated experience.
The broader focus and attention towards in-cabin product we see nowadays should be applauded and is really a great thing for both the passengers traveling, as well as the airlines themselves as they are learning what products can help achieve higher yields, improved passenger satisfaction metrics and, ultimately, retention of loyal passengers for repeat purchases. The fact that the industry association concerned with airline passenger experience operates a successful blog is great for passengers and airlines.
For those of you who fly these routes frequently, you probably are already aware that the major transcon players (JFK-LAX/SFO) with non-stop offerings are: United, Delta, American, Virgin America and JetBlue.
There was a pretty good summary done of the state of things recently (I personally disagree at the implication that Virgin America’s IFE is mediocre J, although I do concede it “has aged”. Has Atari 2600 or NES aged or would you call it mediocre?...you get my point! ) by the wandering aramean.
Flashforward: Transcontinental – Row 11 – August 2013
So, my most recent p.s. flight (just a few days ago this month), I had opted to fly United p.s. with my family. Having two infants (one is 2 months old – Pete and one is 15 months old – Chris), I wanted enough space in the overhead as well as the ability to gate check two strollers and a car seat.
Parents with young kids know that there is a lot of planning from initial packing to the choreographed unpacking of short-term and longer-term flight necessities like formula, powder, water, sleepsacks, etc., and all of that is easier done in the lull that occurs right before the general boarding gates are opened. I have status on United, so it seemed like a no brainer to buy two tickets and two infant lap tickets.
Well, the flight was great and the crew couldn’t have been nicer! My Million Miler status on United doesn’t get me free WiFi like Southwest’s A-List Preferred does, but it was a good flight.
But, there was a key miss on the p.s. aircraft the flight attendants pointed out when I asked where I could find one: a changing table for infants was nowhere to be found.