10 Tips to Stress Free Holiday Travel

Jersey City Traveling Tips for Stress Free Holiday Travel

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! Yeah, that is unless you are traveling and your flights is delayed or cancelled, the airline loses your luggage or you run in to the Grinch.  I know some of you are going to be traveling or are still thinking about getting away for the holidays. So, I wanted to pass along some tips and information to make your holiday travel full of holiday cheer.

1. If you can, avoid peak travel days.

The busiest days to fly are those days immediately before and after the actual holidays. If you can, try to book your flights two days before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  However, you can actually save some money if you fly on the actual holiday.

2. Try to book a non-stop flight. 

At peak travel times, there is the  possibility of delays due to weather, air-traffic problems or even being bumped do to an oversold plane.  It is best to book a morning flight as these flights tend to be delayed less often than afternoon departures. If you have to book a connecting flight, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make the connection, expect delays.

3. Make sure to confirm your seats especially, when traveling with children.

Go to the airline website at least 24 hours in advance to make sure you still have the seats you requested.  Also, it is a good idea to call or check that your flight is still on schedule before you leave home.

4. If you are flying make sure to check in early.

First, make sure to check in online 24 hours in advance. You should receive an email from the airline as a reminder.  It is important to give yourself plenty of time to deal with the crowds at the counter, as well as trying to get through security. Remember for domestic flights you should arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure, and for international flights you should arrive three hours in advance.

5. Stay at an airport hotel the night before an early flight.

I know this is not for everyone, but it might be something to consider. A great added perk is that some hotels will allow guests to leave their car in the hotel parking lot for the duration of your trip and provide a shuttle to the airport.

6. Ship gifts or even your luggage ahead. 

If you do not send your gifts ahead, then do not wrap them before the flight. You can pack gift bags and tissue paper to be used as wrapping. Also, to make navigating the airport easier you can send your luggage ahead using Fed Ex or UPS.  Even better, Fed Ex has better tracking and will insure your belongings. Sometimes it can cheaper than the check bag fee for the whole family.

7. Load up on the entertainment. 

Make sure to load up on music, movies, apps and e-books for the entire family.  It will help to keep everyone occupied if there is a delay.  Don’t forget your battery charger as well.  My family loves the PowerTrip as well the Satechi Portable Charger . They both offer USB ports and can charge just about anything.

8. Load up a carry on bag when traveling with the kids. 

I pack my boys travel backpacks with lots of books, toys and snacks.  But when traveling with little ones over the holidays make sure to have EXTRA.  If you are delayed or miss a flight you will want to have a lot of snacks, special treats, toys, diapers or even a change of clothes. I have a great Airplane Survival Packing List when you sign up on my website for The Busy Mom’s Vacation Planning Kit. 

9. Know the new TSA rules. Here is the latest updates for the holidays:

  • Remember 3-1-1 for carry-on luggage for non-exempt liquids: 3 ounce bottle or less for all liquids, gels and aerosols; placed in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold all small bottles; 1 bag per passenger.
  • TSA recommends that passengers do not travel with wrapped packages. In order to determine if the contents of a package are a threat, a security officer may need to unwrap and inspect the item.
  • TSA allows small snow globes in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger’s plastic 3-1-1 bag. Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis-ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag as a passenger’s other liquids.
  • Food items such as pies and cakes are permitted, but may require further inspection. If travelers are not sure if a food item is considered a liquid or gel it is best to pack the item in checked baggage or ship it to a destination in advance.
  • Also remember that kids 12 and under do NOT have to take off their shoes when going through security.
  • Medically necessary liquids and gels, including medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are exempt from the 3-1-1 rules, and are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml). They are not required to be in a zip-top bag. Officers may ask travelers to open these items to conduct additional screening and passengers should declare them for inspection at the checkpoint.

10. Don’t worry, Be Happy!! 

If you are prepared for any delays that is half the battle.  In the crazy hustle and bustle of holiday travel keeping calm and trying to go with the flow will go a long way.







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10 Tips to Get Seats Together on Your Next Family Flight

For a lot families, I think flying can be the biggest stress of their vacation.
Adding to the stress is making sure you will all have seats and will be able to sit together. I recently had this issue.   Since our trip was last minute when I tried to find seats all that was left were middle or the “Even More” seats.   I know that the airlines are notorious for manipulating the seating chart to get people to pay for the upgraded seats.  I decided to take a chance and get seats together at the airport.  We were lucky and were given the “Even  More” seats and did not have to pay extra.  But on the way back, there was a snow storm which had caused a lot of delays and cancellations, so I did not want to take a chance and paid for the seats to sit together.  That meant an extra $105.

I find it very frustrating that as customers we have to jump through all these hoops just to get a seat, let alone to make sure we are sitting with our own children.  So, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks to help take some of the stress out of your next flight.

  • Try to book early, when more seats are available. Especially, if you have a large family. If your are booking  6-8 weeks out when prices are usually cheaper, you can usually find seats.
  • When pricing your flights make sure you add any baggage fees, but also think about budgeting for seats. This is for everyone in your party and in both directions.  If you choose an airline like Jet Blue or Southwest at least you will not have pay for checked bags.
  • Look at airlines that offer “open seating” like Southwest or that have more transparent seat-selection policies.
  • Check out sites like Seatguru for seating charts and advice on making sure you have the right seat for you and your family.
  • If there are not seats available when you are booking, get on the phone and call the airline directly. They have access to information that is not available on the internet.
  • Make sure to double check your seat assignments the week you are flying. There are times when the airline might switch the type of aircraft assigned to your flight. If this happens then all the reserved seats are re-assigned and you and your family might be split up.
  • Another reason to check the week you are flying is that usually the airlines will release seats that were previously unavailable.
  • Check in early. When you get your check-in email 24 hours before your flight make sure to complete your on-line check in. If not and you wait to get to the airport you might find that the airline has changed your seats.
  • Sign up for an airline credit card. Through your purchases you will build frequent flyer miles, but there are also perks like no bag fees, free upgrades, etc. Having this card puts you higher on the perks list making it easier to get seats as well.
  • Sign up for the airline frequent flyer programs. If there is a frequent flyer number attached to your reservation again this puts you higher on the perks list, even if you do not fly that often.  Also, make sure to sign up the kids as well.

Bonus Tip:

  • The final option if all the above has failed and you are not sitting together is to ask the kindness of a stranger.  I have found there is still kindness in strangers.  You might also a offer a Starbucks gift card or offer to buy them a snack or drink.

I hope you find these tips helpful.

Bumped From Your Flight – Now What??

You have been counting the days until your much needed vacation. You arrive at the airport 2 hours early to make sure you have plenty of time to check in and get through security. When you get to the ticket counter to check in the agent says your flight is oversold and you have been booked on a flight 2 hours later.  What??? How can that happen?

As the airlines are flying fewer planes and booking them to capacity this is happening more and more. In 2012, nearly 59,000 people were bumped from their flights. So what do you need to know about your rights as a passenger or even better how to make sure this does not happen to you.

1. Know your rights – If you are bumped from your flight through no fault of your own. The airlines must get you to your destination, as well as give you compensation for the delay.   You can check the official Department of Transportation rules on voluntary and involuntary bumping. It is even a good idea to have a copy of the rules with you when you travel.

2. Show Me The Money – If you are bumped how much compensation are you due?

  • If you are bumped from a domestic flight and will arrive at your destination more than 2 hours past your original scheduled arrival time, you can collect 4x the cost of a one-way ticket or up to $1,300 cash.
  • If you are bumped and arrive within 1 to 2 hours of your original scheduled arrival time you are due 2x the cost of a one-way ticket or up to $650
  • International flights have different rules, you are due up to the $650 for delays from 1-4 hours and up to $1,300 for delays over 4 hours.
  • If you are owed money it is best to get a check instead of a travel voucher (a free round-trip flight, for example),  because vouchers come with restrictions and can be difficult to redeem.

3. Book The Right Airline –  JetBlue and Virgin America have almost NO overbooking or bumping issues. In fact, JetBlue has NEVER oversold a flight. Another reason I love that airline.

4. Who Gets Bumped? – If the airline has to bump a passenger they will usually choose them in this order:

  • Last To Check In – This is why it is so important to check in online 24 hours in advance.
  • Paid The Lowest Fare – If you are like me and are a fare shopper, really there is not much you can do for this item.
  • Don’t have advance seat assignments – When you purchase your flights make sure to choose your seat.  This is even more important when flying with families.   At the very least when you do your online check in confirm or choose your seats.   If you do not have an assigned seat in advance of going to the airport, make sure you arrive early to get a seat or at least be at the top of the list.

5. Join Airline Frequent Flyer Programs –  This will at least give you some status in the pecking order for who gets bumped. Make sure your frequent flyer number is attached to your reservation.

6. Fly Early in the Day –  This helps to avoid those passengers who were bumped or cancelled earlier in the day.

7. Fly Direct – The fewer flights you have to take the less chance you have of being bumped.

8. Buy an Upgrade – If you have a coach ticket you can purchase a seat upgrade to make it less likely for you to be bumped. Coach passengers are the first to be bumped.

9. Avoid The Rush – Try to avoid peak travel days.  Best days to travel are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.   Beware of holiday travel. The day before Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday periods can also be called “bump season”

10. How Do You Get Rebooked? – Once your original flight has left then work with the gate agent to get you booked on your new flight.  As well, the gate agent is usually the person who needs to process your compensation for being bumped.

11. The Exception To The Rule – There are a few exceptions to bumping rule and how you are to be compensated:

  • If an airline must substitute a smaller plane for the one it originally planned to use, the carrier isn’t required to pay people who are bumped as a result.
  • Flights on an aircraft with 30 through 60 passenger seats, do not owe compensation if you were bumped due to safety-related aircraft weight or balance constraints.

Of course, it is best to do all you can to avoid being bumped in the first place.  But if you are bumped make sure to know your rights and make sure you are compensated.

Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com

Lake Placid – A Gold Medal Family Destination

Packed Car 
Since our boys are in summer school this year we have been staying close to home.  However, I can’t stay put for too long, so we decided to hit the road and take a long weekend up in Lake Placid. We had never been this far north, so we were excited to check out a new destination close to home.
So we packed up the car and headed North up Interstate 87. Once you exit off of 87 you begin to drive the 28 beautiful and scenic miles in to Lake Placid.  I would suggest making sure to drive in during the daylight hours to be able to really take in all the beauty.  There are many areas along the road to stop for photos, check out the river that runs along the highway or even take a little hike to stretch your legs.

Lake Placid is an idyllic small town, which is actually on Mirror Lake.  The downtown area is full of wonderful local shops and restaurants. The kids favorite was the candy store, A Pinch or a Pound. I found some amazing olive oil and specialty salts at Saratoga Olive Oil.  As well, you can check out the Olympic Center  “Home of the Miracle on Ice” and the  Lake Placid Olympic Museum. The Olympic center also offers you an opportunity to see Olympic figure skating hopefuls and past Olympians perform every Saturday night during the summer.

Alpine Mall  Concert Downtown Lake Placid lake placid starbucks    ​
Where to stay 
We stayed at the wonderful family owned Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort.  It could not have been better.  The Holderied family has owned the resort for over 40 years.  You certainly see and feel the pride and attention to detail that the family has put in to the resort. This resort is the only one with an actual beach and access right on to the lake.

golden arrow beach and lake     boats and canoes at Golden Arrow   

The resort has 26 different types of rooms and suites, so there is certainly a room that will fit every family.  We were lucky enough to have suite on the 5 floor. So that meant amazing views.  The boys were happy to have their own room.  I was happy for the Keurig machine in our room and the relaxing jacuzzi tub.  This resort is also pet friendly, so feel free to bring your dog along for the ride.   I have many more photos of this great resort, so check them out on my Pinterest page.

Suite Golden Arrow     Santorini Suite Golden Arrow

Santorini Suite Bathroom    
What To Do 
Being up in the mountains and surrounded by the beautiful lakes you can of course hike, bike, swim, ski and more.  If you are an active outdoor family then you will not be bored.  As well, if you want other activities you will have plenty to fill your days and nights.

Olympic Sites Passport
The best way to see and experience many of the sites and activities around Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain is to purchase the Olympic Sites Passport.   It is a great bargain at only $32.  The passport allows you one time admission to the Olympic Sites, as well as a 20% discount on the shows and activities at the sites.

Whiteface Mountain
Along with amazing skiing, hiking and mountain biking there is so much to do here:

Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride at Whiteface Mountain  (Admission included with your Olympic Passport)
We took a ride to the top of the mountain.  I have to say it was a little scary at times, but it was worth it when you saw the view from the top. 

    Boys and Little Whiteface     View from top of WhitefaceCloudsplitter Gondola Ride
Airbag Free Fall at Whiteface Mountain
This is a fun activity for the future stunt man or ski jumper.  You can choose how high you want to go and then take the leap.  You can get 20% off with your Olympic Passport.
Air Bag Free Fall

Adventure Zone at Whiteface Mountain
Even more fun to be had at Whiteface mountain.  The kids can enjoy a Spider Climb, bouncy house, slides, the Bungee Trampoline and a slack line park.  My boys loved it.   It is an additional cost, but you get 20% off with your Olympic Passport.

spider climb and slide     bungee trampoline

Veteran’s Memorial Highway
After you leave Whiteface mountain, then take the 8 mile drive up to the 5th highest peak in NY. Along the way you will see 9 marked areas to stop and take in the view. This highway is only open during the summer.  If you get hungry at the top you can visit the Castle Cafe There is a fee to drive the highway, but again it is free with your Olympic Passport.

castle top of Veterans Memorial Highway
Olympic Sports Complex
Summer offers horseback riding, and mountain biking and in the Winter you can enjoy cross country skiing.  But through out the year, you can get a “real”Olympic experience by doing the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience.  It was closed during our stay, but I am going to do this for sure next time we go back.  Also you can get 20% off with the Olympic Passport.
Olympic Jumping Complex
Summer is really “jumping’ here.  We were lucky to be here on a Wednesday to see “Wet N Wild Wednesdays” show.  It was so great.  The show consists of past and futures Olympians showing off all their ski jump skills.  The complex hosts camps during the summer for ski jump training.  I was amazed at the talent and skill.
  wet n wild wednesdays
Also at the complex you can take a chair lift and an elevator ride to the top of the ski jump.  You get to go to the edge to get a feel of what the athletes see right before they take off.   Then if you want to get in on the action you can do Extreme Tubing.  You can go down the 20, 48 or 90 meter hill.   There is an additional charge, but you get 20% off with your Olympic Passport.
Lake Placid Ski Jumps     ExtremeTubing
While there is so much to do and see right in Lake Placid, you can also check out these other family friendly attractions that are in the areas as well:

Adirondack Scenic Railroad
My boys love trains, so we had to check this out.  There are several different stops and trips you can take with this train. As well, depending on when you come there are also themed rides like a Train Robbery or the Halloween Train.   You can catch the train right in Lake Placid or one of the other stops. Make sure to check out the site for times and events.

lake placid train station

The Wild Center
The center is a short drive from Lake Placid, close to Saranac Lake.  It is filled with so many great hands on activities, information and even some very cute otters to check out.  As well, there is The Pines a natural play area for the kids to climb and explore.

Wild Center Main  wild-center-otter

Adirondack Carousel
When you make your way to the The Wild Center then you should also make a stop to visit the carousel. The carousel was created by a local artist and a team of volunteers.  It really is beautiful.  The kids can have fun and you can support the arts.  The carousel operates between June and October.

adirondak carousel
North Pole, NY – Santa’s Workshop
On the way up the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway you will find the fun little amusement park.  There are rides for the kids, shows, a petting zoo and more.  We got to see baby reindeer at the zoo.  It is a little dated, but my boys had a great time.   Yes, we did get to see Santa!
North Pole Show   the North Pole
north pole train

High Falls Gorge
On the way to Whiteface Mountain you can take a stop to visit this very beautiful spot. It is a bit of a climb, but the paths and bridges are well done and make it an easier climb.  The climb is certainly worth the view.

As you can see there is so much to do in and around Lake Placid. It really is a year round destination. We were only there for 2 days and it was just not enough time to do it all.  We are certainly planning a trip back soon.   Sometimes we are so quick to get “away” when we vacation, we miss all the beauty, fun and experience that is in our own backyard or a short road trip away.
Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com

Don’t Get Stuck Paying ANOTHER Airline Fee!

 Since airlines introduced the “Check Bag Fee”, many of you have been packing light or trying to stuff it all in to your carry-on bag.   Well, recently many of the airlines introduced new size restrictions for carry-on bags.  That means if your bag does not meet the new size restrictions then you will have to check the bag and pay that $25 fee.  Even, worse if you have already checked 1 bag you might have to pay an additional $35, $40 or even $100, depending on where you are flying. It is CRAZY.

The biggest change is the width of the bag. It is now down to 14 inches, but most carry-on bags are 15 inches. So, as we approach the big Summer travel season I wanted to make sure you know the new rules so you can avoid being charged another fee.

Here is a break down of the sizing and fees:

American Airlines 

What can I bring onboard?    You are allowed 1 small carry-on and 1 personal item. For travel after June 11, 2014, the personal item does not have specific size requirements, but must be smaller than your carry-on bag and must fit under the seat in front of you.

What are the Carry-On Dimensions?    The new dimensions are 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall. Baggage may not exceed 45 linear inches in combined length, width and height, including any handles and wheels.

What are the Bag Fees?      The 1st checked bag is $25 or Free.  The 2nd checked bag will be $35, $40 or $100. All fees are based on where you will be flying.

Delta Airlines

What can I bring onboard?    You are allowed 1 small carry-on and 1 personal item.

What are the Carry-On Dimensions?  The new dimensions are 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall. Baggage may not exceed 45 linear inches in combined length, width and height, including any handles and wheels.

What are the Bag Fees?  1st checked bag is $25 or Free. The 2nd checked bag will be $35, $40 or $100. All fees are based on where you will be flying.

United Airlines 

What can I bring onboard?   You are allowed 1 small carry-on and 1 personal item.

What are the Carry-On Dimensions?   The new dimensions are 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall. Baggage may not exceed 45 linear inches in combined length, width and height, including any handles and wheels.

United also had size limits for your Personal item, The dimensions are 17″long x 10″ wide x 9″ tall. As well, it must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

 What are the Bag Fees?  1st checked bag is $25 or Free. The 2nd checked bag will be $35, $40 or $100. All fees are based on where you will be flying.

Southwest Airlines 

What can I bring onboard? You are allowed 1 small carry-on and 1 personal item.

What are the Carry-On Dimensions? The dimensions are 24″ long x 16″ wide x 10″ tall. Baggage may not exceed 45 linear inches in combined length, width and height, including any handles and wheels

What are the Bag Fees? The 1st checked bag is FREE. The 2nd checked bag is FREE.

Jet Blue 

What can I bring onboard?   You are allowed 1 small carry-on and 1 personal item.

What are the Carry-On Dimensions?  The dimensions are 24″ long x 16″ wide x 10″ tall. Baggage may not exceed 45 linear inches in combined length, width and height, including any handles and wheels.

What are the Bag Fees? The 1st checked bag is Free. The 2nd checked bag is $50.00

For most all of the airlines these items do not count as personal items. You can bring these on in addition to your carry-on bag and personal item

  • Outerwear like coats, hats and wraps
  • Pillow and blanket
  • A jacket or umbrella
  • Food or drink purchased after clearing the security checkpoint
  • Duty-free merchandise
  • Strollers and or child restraint seats
  • Book or newspaper
  • Diaper Bag
  • Assistive devices fro passengers such as wheelchairs, walkers, portable oxygen concentrators and CPAP machines, etc.

So make sure to get out the tape measure and double check the size of your carry-on bag before you head to the airport.  Don’t get stuck paying ANOTHER fee.

If you need a new carry-on  I have found great bags as stores like TJMax and Marshalls. Also you can find some great deals at Ebags or Amazon to find some good deals.  I am a big fan of the Spinner bag. When I am trying to make my way through the airport with me, luggage, kids and all, it is so much easier to just push my bag.

Happy Travels!

Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com

Why a Cruise is a GREAT Family Vacation Option!

I think cruising is a GREAT vacation option for everyone, especially families.  Also, in the last few years cruise lines have been making great strides to appeal to families and their many needs. 

While there are many fantastic cruise lines I think the best cruise lines for families right now are DisneyNorwegianRoyal Caribbean and Carnival.   
Here are some of the reasons why I think a cruise can make a family vacation one to remember:

1. Budget Friendly   
Cruises are a great value because, these are vacations that include just about everything you will need to have an amazing vacation.  Your cruise vacation will include food, accommodations and round the clock entertainment.  The cruise lines also offer great deals throughout the year where you can get upgrades, discounts and even “Kids Sail Free” sailings.

2. Great Destinations and Only Unpack Once
Cruising offers you the opportunity to see the world with all the destinations that are offered. Of course, the most popular family destinations are the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska.  When traveling as a family it is great to be able to wake up almost every day in a new destination and you only had to unpack once. This is one of the big reasons I think cruising is a great way to introduce your children to Europe.  

3. Complimentary Kids and Teen Clubs
I think this is a BIG perk of choosing a cruise. Many all-inclusive and hotel destinations offer kids clubs, but many of them will not allow kids to participate until they are 4 or even 5 years old. Most cruise lines cater to kids 3 and up. As well, Disney and Royal Caribbean offer babysitting and activities for the 2 and under crowd. There are also separate teen clubs. The teen clubs offer activities, entertainment and a safe place to hang out and make new friends.  The best part of all the kid and teen clubs is that they allow Mom and Dad to have a night out, relax and reconnect.

4. Staterooms
Long gone are the tiny cabins. All the major cruise lines have added more space and special “Family” categories of staterooms to make sure families have what they need – more space, connecting staterooms for larger families and bigger bathrooms.  Some cabins also come with actual bathtubs which helps when you have little ones.

5. Dining Options
Along with all the great dining options that are included in your cruise, the cruise lines offer many family friendly specialty restaurants.  My boys love the Hibachi restaurants.  Some of the cruise lines are now also offering dinner shows. Norwegian’s dinner shows offer a circus or magic theme. You will also find special kids buffets and seating areas. Royal Caribbean and Disney both offer a “Family Dining” option where the kids have a family dinner and then head up to the kids club, leaving Mom and Dad to enjoy the rest of their meal.

6. Mom and Dad Time
OK, this is a also a BIG perk of cruising. The amazing kids clubs, allow Mom and Dad to know the kids are safe and having fun.  So that means Mom and Dad can enjoy time together.  There are many options, like having a great dinner, taking in a show, heading to the Casino or maybe even a couple’s massage.

7. Characters
If you sail on Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and now even Carnival, the kids will not miss out on hanging out with some of their favorite characters. Characters like; SpongeBob, Mickey and Kung Fu Panda. The ships offer meet and greet times to get autographs and pictures, character breakfasts, parades and more.  You can even have a special SpongeBob or Barbie room experience package.

   8. Amazing Entertainment
The ships offer something for everyone. They have added Broadway shows like Chicago and Rock of Ages. Most of the newer ships now have 3D theaters and offer first run films. Disney is big for showing new films on the ship.  As well, both the Disney and Norwegian Breakaway have fireworks.

9. Family Time
While I have mentioned all the activities that allow Mom, Dad and the kids to have some “alone” time, wanted to say cruising also offer so many family activities. Everyday, a newsletter will be delivered to your cabin with all the activities that will be happening throughout the day. The ships offer classes, shows, behind the scenes tours and more.  There are so many activities to choose from I am sure you can find something to do together, even if it is just hanging out at the pool together.

It is the ease of being on the ship and having your room in walking distance that allows you to just take it easy and enjoy each other, hang out and make great memories. 

As you can see there are many perks to taking a cruise.   I love cruising as an option for families.  It offers a great trip for any budget and if you are lucky and live close to a cruise port you don’t have the added cost of flying to your vacation.  

Are you ready to sail away?

Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com

Travel Tips To Save You Money and More!

I am always looking for ways to save on my client’s travel, as well as my own.   When I think about saving money, I put value at the top of my list. I believe it is best to not just see the total price, but to really look at what is included in that price.   A great example, my husband and I going to Cancun at the end of the month. Since we won’t have the kids we are OK with having a stop in our trip if it will save us money. But in the end saving $50 did not make sense when we can fly non-stop each way.

But, in the end I know we all want to save when we travel.  So here are some tips on how to save while you are away.   As well, tips that will take the stress and hassle out of travel as well.

  • Best time to buy plane tickets – Tuesday Afternoon. Tuesday andWednesday are great days to check for cheaper rates. Airline sales agents will see what sold over the weekend and adjust prices on Monday, to be put in place on Tuesday.   Also, prices usually will be the cheapest 6 weeks out from your travel date.  I also use the fare tracker on Kayak or Yapta to try to catch that great deal.
  • Best days to travel – Tuesday and Wednesday are usually the cheapest days to depart and Monday the best day to return.   Weekends will most always be the most expensive days to travel.
  • When should I book my plane ticket – one to three months, and 6 weeks being the best.  If you wait until 2 weeks before you are going to risk paying top dollar.  This is if you are flying domestic.
  • Fly Non Stop – Especially when traveling with a baby or toddler, if the cost is mimimal take the leap and save the added travel hours, possible loss of luggage or missing a connection.  It can certainly be worth the extra cost.
  • Stop for Snacks –  Have your driver/taxi make a stop at the local grocery store to stock up on water, juice and snacks.  The few extras dollars on the taxi meter can certainly save you a lot at the resort.   Remember you can also bring water on board your cruise as well.
  • Best Time of Year To Cruise –   September and October, but to really save look for when the cruise lines open pricing for the next year, you can really save, or book at least six to nine months in advance.
  • Bring a Water Bottle – I suggest bringing a water bottle for everyone in the family, as well one with a built in filter.  If you like a little flavor in your water, then pack some drink packs of Crystal Light, Hawaiian Punch or Snapple. I have seen boxes of these in the $1 bin at Target.
  • Save on your Rental Car – Along with comparing rates on sites like Kayak.  Make sure to search for coupons and additional discounts. A quick google search can find you some great savings. Also, if you are open to it, find a rental location away from the airport.
  • Bring Your EZ Pass – If you are renting a car, you might be abel to use your EZ pass.  I have used mine all the way to Florida and also to Chicago.  The rental company will charge you a daily fee for the pass. 
  • Go With The Flow – Remember you are on vacation. Do not over plan your trip, be open to going a different direction.  When traveling with kids they may be having a bad day, so be open to changing your plans or maybe just hanging at the pool.  

Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com


Book It!! Best Times to Buy Air


I have been doing a lot of airline research lately for my clients.  Prices seem to be out of control with no end in sight.  I have seen $400-$700 fares from NYC to Orlando for Spring Break travel,  when in the past I have traveled for $200-$250.  Basically, if you want to travel at peak times the airlines want you to pay peak prices and charge you a service fee!

I know with families it can be hard to plan a trip far in advance, but if you want to make sure you do not use all of your travel budget on airfare, then here are some tips and information to make sure you save money.

Domestic Tickets

  • Best time to buy a ticket? Research shows 6-7 weeks before departure is the best time to purchase your tickets, but that can change depending on when and where you want to travel.
  • Best day to search for air? As I have said before, it still looks like 3pm on Tuesday is a great time to search. As well, around midnight most other days.
  • Is it best to book early? You can sometimes book too early.  Airlines on average start to mange their domestic flights about 3 months in advance of departure dates.  This is the time they will start to release cheaper seats. On average flights 6 months before departure have shown a 20% higher price then fares 3 months out.

Europe and Abroad

  • Is it best to book early? Yes, if you are leaving the United States then start your search early.  Research shows the best average prices can be found 9 months to 6 months out from departure.
  • Will there be a sale on fares? Depending on when and where you want to fly, fare sales to International locations will start appearing between 5-2 months from departure date.
  • How can I try to get a great deal on air? Get a gauge of prices by searching at least 6 months from you travel date. Then make sure to sign up for a fare watching site, like AirfarewatchdogFareCompare or Yapta.

Holiday and Peak Travel Flights

  • Europe for Summer – Research shows that the lowest average fares are around 31 weeks from departure. But, really you should start researching air 5-6 months before your departure dates.  So for summer travel that means January or February getting air locked in.
  • Winter Flights to Caribbean and Ski Destinations –  Since these destinations are so popular during the Winter it will be hard to find a good deal.  Again, it is best to plan ahead and start your search 4-5 months before departure.
  • Holiday and School Break Travel – The airlines know these are BUSY times to travel so prices are going to be high.   If you know you want to travel for Christmas or a school holiday like Spring Break then you need to plan early. Early means at least 6 months in advance.  So, if you are going to travel at Christmas then you should be researching or purchasing your air in June.

Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com

Flight Canceled?! What Do You Do?

Well, as I am sure you have seen on the news over these past few weeks the airports have been closed, flights canceled, delayed and many passengers were stranded.  The snow and freezing canceled over 20,000 flights.  Jet Blue actually closed services at 4 airports for over 17 hours, canceling over 1800 flights.  All of this means passengers were stranded and need to be rescheduled or even worse, having to cancel their travel plans all together.

So what do you do when your flight is canceled and how do you prepare for this situation in the future?

1. Call your Travel Agent

This is one of the big reasons to use an agent. We are here to be your advocate and to help fix problems when they arise.  As well, we can advise on the best plan of action.  If I know I have clients traveling I am watching the weather to try to avoid you being stuck at the airport.

2. Get in Line and on the Phone

If you are already at the airport when your flight is canceled, then get in line at your gate or go to the help desk. At the same time you should be on your phone to the airline. This way you have 2 options to fix your situation.

3.  Get Online to Rebook

If you flight is canceled you can try to rebook through the airline’s website. Once you are rebooked you can go out to the airport check-in kiosk and print a new boarding pass.  If your bags are already checked in make sure you check with an agent as well to get your bags re-routed.

4. Twitter and Facebook

Follow and Like the airline, then you can see any updates or information that the airline might be posting. As well, make sure to tweet or post about your situation and make sure to add a # with the airlines name in the post. Airlines are really following social media these days and you may get a response. You can even send the airline a direct message via Twitter.

5. Know Your Rights

Airlines are not obligated to compensate you for canceled domestic flights.  There is Rule 240 which states that for non-weather related cancelations or delays the airline must put you on the next available flight, either on their airline or a competitor. If it is a weather cancelation then the airline must still put you on the next flight, however they do NOT have to put you on a competitor airline.

6. Buy Travel Insurance

I think when traveling with families and small children it is ALWAYS a good idea to buy travel insurance.  As well, if you are going to be flying in the winter or taking a cruise during hurricane season then I really think it is worth the cost.   In the end, spending a few $100 can save you $1000′s.

7. Avoid Layovers and Connecting Flights

I realize this is not always possible, but if you are traveling in the winter, it is especially a good idea. You don’t want to get on your first flight then be stuck at the connecting airport, especially since you will have NO baggage. If you do have to have a connecting flight in the winter, then try to route yourself through a southern airport to help avoid the bad weather.

8. Know Your Phone Numbers

Make sure to have easy access to the phone numbers for the airline, travel agent, hotel, etc. I keep a list in the notes section of my smart phone.  This is really important if you are somewhere and there is no Wi-Fi to be able to look up the numbers.

9.  Make a Change Before you are canceled

During this recent storm many of the airlines allowed passengers to rebook in advance with no additional fees as long as they were traveling on listed dates or through specific airports. Check the airlines website for dates and information.  As well, if you do not have any flexibility in your travel dates the airline might let you cancel your flight and receive a refund.

10. Get a New E-ticket number

If you have been rebooked on a new flight or different airline, make sure you get a new E-ticket number along with your boarding pass. This will make sure you have a flight and don’t get stuck.

11. Sign Up for Flight Notifications

Make sure to sign up to be notified for any and all flight changes, delays, gate changes or updates. These services are fast and up to date.

12. Get a Hotel Room ASAP

If you’re canceled flight means you have to stay the night make sure to get a room booked ASAP.  Don’t wait for the airline to get you a voucher or book you a room.  Most likely you are the not the only person needing a room, so don’t get stuck sleeping at the airport.   Of course, first call your travel agent; if you did not use an agent then a great app is Hotel Tonight.  But, you can also try Kayak or Hotels.com

13.  Be Prepared

Make sure you are loaded up with movies, books, music and more.  When traveling with children it is always a good idea to have extra diapers, formula, food, etc.  Also, if you have to check your bags make sure to bring a carry-on with extra clothes, medication and anything you will need.  If you don’t have toiletries don’t worry, most hotels have extra toothbrush, toothpaste, combs etc. that you can get from the front desk.


It can be hard when you are stuck in the middle of the situation, but it will serve you well. Just know that everyone is doing his or her best to accommodate everyone.  As well, being nice and polite to the airline agent will certainly get you help faster than being nasty.

Here is to safe travels and being prepared.

Kimberly Milnes is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families’ plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com


The Gift of Travel – A Gift that Lasts a Lifetime

gift of travel

I remember a few years ago my husband surprised our family on Christmas with a trip to Atlantis.  Even better, he included my Mother and his Mom, as well.  He made special cards and handed them out on Christmas morning.  Needless to say there were a lot of smiles that morning. It was an amazing gift and one we were all able to share and look forward to for months.   We had a wonderful trip and I will always cherish the memories we made as a family.  

So in honor of the holidays I thought I would share with you some of my favorite family destinations for 2014 to give your family the Gift of Travel. As well, now is the time to start thinking about booking your Winter and Spring Break travel.

1. Disney Cruise
I think a cruise is a great vacation choice for a families and Disney Cruise line was just named “Best Cruise Line for Families”. If you have always wanted to take a Disney Cruise, then this is the time. Disney is offering up to 20% off rates for specific sailings in January and February. These are 3 and 4 night cruises from Port Canaveral. This is a great opportunity to get a sunny winter get away and save money too!
mickey castaway cay 2

2. Vista Verde Guest Ranch
Vista Verde Ranch is a Luxury All-Inclusive resort located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Vista Verde offers great food, diverse activities, luxurious accommodations and personal service in a spectacular setting.  This resort is beautiful.  It is a great place for the family to unplug, reconnect and get outdoors.  In the Winter you can ski, tube or in the Summer you can bike, hike and more.
vista verde ranch     Vista Verde Ranch

3. Azul and Generations
I really love these properties and all they have to offer to families. Located in Cancun, Mexico these Gourmet Inclusive resorts and are great for families with young children. They are  boutique-style resorts, located right on the beach with great family suites, as well as a partnership with Fisher Price. Kids even get their own private check-in with a yummy fruit smoothie made just for them. There are 3 Azul properties so you can find the right resort to fit your family.  Azul Fives have 3 Bedroom Sky Suites which are perfect for large families.  As well, Generations are all suites resorts  where each guests has their own personal nanny and butler.

4. Beaches 
I think the Beaches properties are a great value.  Beaches are located in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. Since Beaches resorts are all-inclusive, you are not going to end up with a surprise bill when you check out. They offer amazing kids clubs and activities with Elmo and the Sesame Street gang.  What I also love is that Mom and Dad can get a little vacation as well.  They offer the Red Lane spa, golf and certified nannies so Mom and Dad can have a long over due date night.  As well, the new Key West Village  in Turks and Caicos offers amazing villas that are perfect for a family reunion or multi-generational trip.  Also, they will be opening Beaches in Barbados in 2015.



Where are you headed in 2014?  

Kimberly  Milnes, is a mother of 2 boys and owner of Adventures By Kim.  She is a Family Travel Expert and professional sharing family travel tips, and information as well as helping families plan amazing and hassle free family vacations.  Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] or www.adventuresbykim.com