The price of a cocktail, ice-cold beer or delicate glass wine can be on the spendy side when you’re on your next vacation. Understandably so, any alcohol provider whose lot in life it is to charge tourists for booze, in my opinion, should make as much money as possible. Supply and demand, you know? But you fastidious novice vacation thrill-seekers may be tempted to bring your own sweet spirits with you on your next adventure. My advice? Don’t.
Granted, if you are road-tripping, then sure, it is perfectly acceptable to bring your favorite spirit for when you get settled in to your hotel/resort or camping area. But even then, some hotels frown on this practice for a couple of reasons. First, they want to sell you their booze with their mark up, of course. But they also are particularly interested in your safety and the safety of their other guests. Unless they search everyone’s luggage upon check-in, hotels have no way of knowing what each guest is bringing onto the property and into their rooms. Remember, not every hotel guest practices common sense like you and me. Therefore, check with your hotel in advance and at the very least know their BYOB policy. Then you can decide if you want to bend or break the rules a bit on your trip.
Airlines are another story. While you are free to bring alcohol in your carry-on, it is usually against the Airlines’ policy to consume it during flight. In addition, TSA has strict liquid rules and bringing a bottle of wine (or any other type of liquid over 3 ounces) is strictly prohibited and enforced. Learn more about TSA’s liquids rules here. I suppose you could pop a bottle of your liquor of choice into your checked luggage. Airlines do permit this but why are you taking an unnecessary risk? That bottle would need to be bubble wrapped and heavily padded to prevent breakage. And at that point, wouldn’t it just be easier to pop into the liquor store upon your arrival?
Cruise ships are also not big fans of you bringing your own alcohol on board. For a lot of the same reasons hotels frown on this practice, cruise ships are very serious about the safety of all the passengers and crew. Again, I would check with your cruise line for their liquor policy. Or better yet, leave your booze at home.
In general, I love a good cocktail when I’m on vacation. But it’s also worth noting that excessive drinking can be problematic for a myriad of reasons. So, I tend to be a little more strategic, take a few extra precautionary steps and limit my alcohol consumption on vacations. It’s better for my health, safer, cheaper and a lot less hassle.
The bottom line here: While carting around your personal supply of Ketel One on your vacation to save a few dollars may seem like a good idea, upon further research, it simply isn’t. So in my opinion, resolve to paying a little more for each cocktail wherever you’re headed for your next trip. Of course, you could always skip the alcohol all together when you travel. What? I think I was tipsy when I wrote that last sentence. But in all seriousness, always remember to consume responsibly at home or on your next great adventure.
Are we there yet?
Those four words make any parents’ shoulders rise and their molars grind. Whether they're still in the car seat phase or not quite a teenager, taking your youngsters on trips can be tricky. I have two girls, five and eight, and I've been traveling with them since before they could walk. Over the years, I've found that the key is to keep them entertained. Follow these steps, and with a little luck, the vacation will go smoothly…for EVERYONE.
Let Everyone Have a Say
At all cost, get in the planning process early. Not only is it important to pick a destination the drivers will enjoy, allow the little ones to have a say too. Narrow the search down to three options, preferably the favorites and then make the final decision. This way everyone is happy.
Birds of a Feather
The next step is to stress the importance of sticking together. Now, I'm not suggesting having family shirts made. You know, the ones that are color-coded and have the last name at the top like a football jersey (unless your family is major sports fans). Instead, I like to take the ‘wolf pack' approach, clarifying that mom and dad are the leaders, but no cub goes unnoticed.
Food, no matter what age your kids are, is essential for any trip. Smart meal options can lead to saved time and money. Stopping at a grocery store when you first arrive at a destination is a good rule of thumb. Purchase what I like to call "cry snacks," (don't we all get upset when we're hungry?) like granola, gold fish, cereal or even yogurt.
Book a Hotel with Breakfast Included
The Grand Floridian is a great example of a family-friendly hotel, which worked well for my family on our last Walt Disney World vacation. However, if it's a smaller trip, I'd suggest looking for a Holiday Inn option, where breakfast is included. Essentially, it was killing two birds with one stone since I was able to earn more IHG points, while also having the expense of breakfast covered before even departing for the day.
Tips to Keep Kids Engaged
Keeping kids engaged while sightseeing has a lot to do with getting them involved early in the planning. Highlight a few points of interest either before departure. This way, you can make a checklist of items that you know they will see on the trip. If your children are anything like mine, they usually love seeing new things that I get excited about, therefore include spots that appeal to you too.
One thing that helps keep my kids more occupied are the small notebooks I bring along. Decoration is encouraged and so is a list of attractions they liked to see at each place. This way, they can actively cross out the things we've seen. The notebooks can also be used to write down things they would like to buy. Instead of just "buying the souvenirs to keep them quiet," I say that there will be many items they'll want to buy, but set some limits. I give them a daily budget. For the things outside of their price range, I suggest they just write them down. This way it's easy to keep the items in mind for the next holiday or birthday (which I promise is right around the corner).
Traveling with Teenagers
The only thing different about traveling with teenagers is the additional ‘slack’ parents are willing to give. Even though my girls aren't at that stage yet, my friends who do have teens say they want more free time to explore on their own. Society considers them young adults, so parents should keep the "embarrassing" moments to a minimum. If you can gain approval points from the older ones, you can bank on more precious Kodak moments in the years to come.
Bottom line: plan, plan, plan! I can't say it enough and with the holidays fast approaching, a "Clark Griswald" persona is always appreciated, just make sure to not go overboard.
1. Browse Online
The World Wide Web is a great resource to get the “lay of the land” on who's offering what car and for what price. I tend to stick with rentals from the larger companies because of the flexibility in selection and streamlined process. Not to say you can't find a good deal with a smaller company, it's just my preference. Here are few deals from some of the big companies:
2. See a Rate Online? Call Them
Pick up the phone and ask the representative if they can beat the online price you're looking at. In addition, ask them about special promotional codes or discount programs they are offering.
3. Book Direct
Not to offend the aggregator websites or the packagers, I just like as few middle-men as possible. This especially comes into play should anything go wrong with your reservation.
Get your confirmation emailed to you. Print it out and bring it with you. Also, let them know if any drivers also need to be registered as well. They will have to be there when you pick up the vehicle.
5. At The Counter
Have your confirmation email page handy. Choose the “I'll fill my own tank” option. Some places will allow you to bring it back empty (usually for an additional fee), but I fill it up before I bring it back.
Get only the insurance you need. Be sure to check with your auto insurance agent before your trip to find out what coverage you may already have. Also ask about your auto rates if you get into an accident. In addition, check whether or not auto insurance is offered with any of your credit cards. If so, it's probably only good if you use that card.
7. Yes, Look At It
Take a good look at the car (with a rep handy if possible) and look for scrapes, dents or other body issues that may come up when you return it. It's worth looking into before so it doesn't pose a potential problem later. Before you get in, secure your luggage and make sure both the trunk and the hood are closed properly. You don't want a little “unlatched hood surprise” when you're zipping down the interstate.
8. Lots of Switches and Buttons!
Before you leave the lot, get an idea of how to operate some key switches and controls. These are the functions you take for granted in your own vehicle but are most likely a little bit different in your temporary means of transport. Check for the lights, windshield wipers, rear-view mirrors, defrost, horn and cruise control just to name a few.
9. Road Side or Anyside
If any issues come up, call the rental car agency immediately. Don't wait. I also bring my GPS with me (or rent one from them).
10. Return On Time
Car rental agencies LOVE to penalize you because of your poor planning or execution of your plan. Gas it up and return on time or perhaps face another day's rental.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!