Renting a Vacation House with the Kids
Last week we took our first real family vacation (i.e. going away with our 15-month-old son somewhere besides a relative or friend's house). We decided to rent a house for a week in the Catskills and enjoy some fall fun. Which was easier said than done.
My husband and I had very different feelings on what type of house we should rent. I was intrigued by 1800s farmhouses with overstuffed couches and country kitchens. But his number one pick was an ultra-modern house with Scandinavian furniture and stainless steel appliances. I turned my nose up. Until I saw the gate at the top of the stairs.
Turns out the couple that owns the house have two small children (the youngest just a couple months older than our son) and the house was completely baby-proofed. Score.
It never even occurred to us that renting a house from a family with children made the most sense. But in hindsight it's such a no-brainer. In daily life parents worry about outlet covers and locks on cabinets. But those are no less important when you are renting a house with young children (just because you are on vacation doesn't mean your kids won't want to find out what happens when they stick a finger in an electric socket or what bleach tastes like). Going beyond those basics, we were glad to see locks for the doors to the fireplaces plus a lack of breakable objects on low shelves. And not only were there gates on the stairs, but also a net edged with steel wire on an open banister to prevent falls by little climbers. Phew.
Another bonus? Less gear you have to drag with you. We knew there was a crib and a child carrier for hiking when we booked, but they also had a baby monitor already set up and an umbrella stroller available (which would have freed up a lot of room in the trunk). We packed our son's favorite books and some select toys. Not surprisingly he had way more fun with the books and toys that were already in the house. Many of his didn't see the light of day until we got back to Brooklyn.
Have you ever rented a house with your whole family? What tips do you have?
Traveling with children under the age of two isn't always easy from a logistics standpoint, but it is economical. Airlines let them fly for free on your lap and they usually snooze in hotel rooms and laze by the pool at most all–inclusives for no extra charge. The one exception to this rule is cruising, where everyone on board pays, no matter what. Fares for children under 18 aren't typically the same as for adults, as long as they are sharing a cabin with two adults (they are considered third passengers and pay a percentage of the full cruise fare). Norwegian Cruise Lines used to be one of the cheaper options, since the line charged a smaller percentage if the child was under two (it's not like they are gorging themselves at the midnight buffet). According to a report by Travel Weekly, the cruise line has discontinued the policy and all children, regardless of age, pay the same rate. This policy is also in effect on Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruises. Keep in mind that infants under six months of age are not permitted on Norwegian cruises (which is standard for most cruise lines, except for long–haul trips like TransAtlantic cruises, where the minimum age is higher). Disney Cruise Line is (not surprisingly) one of the only lines that discounts more for children two and under. A four–night Bahamas cruise in December costs $632 per adult, and $282 for an infant under the age of 2. If your child is 3, the fare would be $564. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 10 Common Cruise Myths—Debunked 12 Top Tips from the World's Best Cruisers Your Top 5 Money-Saving Cruise Questions—Answered
Give Dad the Gift of Travel this Father's Day
We recently asked readers and the staff here at Budget Travel where they would take Dad for Father's Day. We say get Dad a travel gift certificate and make that dream trip a reality. Airlines like Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines offer cards applicable to flights anywhere Dad would like to go, whether it's visiting the grandkids or going on a golf getaway with his buddies. He'll need somewhere to stay in that case. Good thing gift cards are available from hotel chains like Best Western, Marriott, and Hyatt. If you would rather help Dad finally go on that grand vacation to China, India, or Australia that he's been talking about since you were a kid, many tour operators sell gift certificates as well. Gate 1 Travel offers certificates in denominations of $100 with no expiration date. Globus sells certificates for $50, $200, or $500 towards land/cruise trips, and you can get a gift certificate in any denomination from American Airlines vacations for air/hotel packages to destinations around the world. Wrap these up and then tip Dad off to our Real Deals section to save him even more money. You're guaranteed to be the favorite child this Sunday. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Do You Work on Vacation? How Do You Pay For Your Vacation? Forget Apps! What Are Your Favorite Old-School Travel Planning Tips?
Senator Steps In So You Can Sit With Your Kids On The Plane
In April, we told you about the Seat Assignment Shell Game that airlines seem to be playing, making it hard for families to get seats together on flights. Now the government is getting involved. If you've booked a flight recently, you may have noticed that more and more fees when selecting your seat, even for the aisle or window. Meaning if you are flying with someone—even a small child—and want to sit together, you'll have to pay for the privilege. The Associated Press reported that it would cost couple and their four–year–old daughter and extra $114 in fees if they paid for seats together for a flight to Orlando. We first brought this to your attention back in April, and now the government is stepping in. New York Senator Charles Schumer is leading the charge to get airlines to waive these fees for families. “Children need access to their parents and parents need access to their children,” Schumer said in a statement. “Unnecessary airline fees shouldn’t serve as a literal barrier between mother and child.” The attitude from the airlines themselves seems to be that families may be able to get seats together by seeing the gate agent before the flight, or by asking other passengers to switch seats once they are on the plane. This is not the first time that Schumer has used his position to fight airline fees. In 2010 he successfully convinced the U.S.'s largest airlines to promise not to charge for carry–on bags. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Southwest is Going International ">Alaska Airlines to Passengers: Tag Your Own Bags Lesser Known Ways to Max Out Travel Rewards
4 Creative Ideas for Family Reunions
Organizing a family reunion can be a logistical nightmare. But coming up with fun activities that everyone can participate in and cute mementoes doesn't have to be stressful. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for making the most of the moment—and making those memories last long after you've checked out of that timeshare or returned that RV. 1. Matching shirts can be a bit kitschy or, at best, good for only one wear. But custom-made, well-designed ones are a tasteful twist and can remain a vibrant part of your wardrobe after you get back. Find these wearable works of art at Kin Shirts. Designed specifically for family reunions, these stylish tees come in a number of patterns, such as "[Your name here] Family Circus" under a retro big-top tent or a customizable design that transforms your number of family members into the world's longest tandem bike. 2. For a hands-on activity, create a family tree right from your fingertips. Artist Elizabeth Ventling provides the tools your family needs with her keepsake product. Start with an 11x14 tree illustration, which you can then decorate with inks and signature pens. Each family member adds their green-inked fingerprint to create the "leaves" of the tree, which they can then sign. 3. If your roots stem from one specific state, check out Etsy artists Mandy England's "Place I Love" prints or Tiny Owl Studios's typographical posters. These one-of-a-kind artworks are great gifts for the sub-families of your sprawling tree. 4. After the big event, collect the entirety of the family's photos, scattered across various digital cameras, Facebook posts and Instagram feeds, onto one shareable site, Pictarine. From here you can share slideshows, comment, and download others' captured moments onto your own computer. And it wouldn't be a family reunion without a group portrait! Add an unpredictable touch to the typical photo by incorporating colorful props such as lollipops, balloons, hats, or ice cream. This adds extra elements to the photograph, compositionally, while incorporating spontaneity and charm. —Whitney Tressel SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 12 Most Beautiful Paths 11 Surprisingly Lovable Airlines 12 Great Memorial Day Getaways
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