Single Parent Travel Tips

Single Parent Travel Tips

Traveling with kids can take some planning and more so for the single parent, especially during these constantly changing times. With no one to share the load, single parent travel may cause some trepidation. Although most of our family travel was enjoyed together (myself, my husband and our two sons), there were plenty of times, due to work schedules, I ventured abroad alone with my two boys. When my older son went off to college, my younger son even tagged along on some “blended” business/leisure (bleisure!) trips to London and Spain.

There is no reason for any parent to feel overwhelmed – some simple advance planning can help eliminate unnecessary stress and lead to a very memorable vacation whether you are traveling stateside or out of the country:

Use a Travel Agent:
That’s me! A travel expert will help you to put all the pieces together in advance and forecast the pitfalls, so you are not caught off guard. Of course, there are always unforeseen events that happen during travel (weather, flight delays, illness), but why not try to control the things you can control?

Survey your documents:
Besides checking passports for ample expiration dates, check if you need travel consent from a co-guardian. These are all things that should be worked out well in advance of your trip. If you’re traveling to Canada, for example, you must have your child’s passport, birth certificate, and a letter of authorization from any co-parents. Your vacation plans may abruptly end at the airline check in desk if documents are not in order.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Testing and vaccine requirements:
Vaccination status and negative COVID testing will be the key to entry to many countries, cities, tourist sites, and restaurants. In pre-COVID times, vaccine requirements have always been on the books for many destinations, for example Yellow Fever vaccinations. As a Travel Agent, I provide clients with resources to verify requirements for vaccination, testing, and health declarations.

Purchase travel insurance:
“Hope for the best, plan for the worst,” and that includes trip delays, cancellation, or illness before or during traveling which can be covered by travel insurance. My kids have visited doctors (for thankfully mostly minor issues) in many corners of the world, including a trip to the ER in Australia for some stitches, so having travel insurance is definitely a necessity. Now, many countries require travelers to purchase specific policies in advance of travel that cover COVID related issues.

Include the kids:
Everyone has an opinion, even the little ones. The more invested they are in the trip, the less likely they will complain. Help kids prepare for travel by engaging them in a little research. Planning a beach vacation with snorkeling? Purchase a waterproof Fish Identification Card to study local sea life prior to the excursion. Heading on a hike? Download a trail map to pick out trails that match your family’s experience level. Sightseeing? I always scoped out museum websites in advance to seek out exhibits that would appeal to my boys. They loved archaeology and Egyptology, so when visiting London’s British Museum, we went straight to the Rosetta Stone to catch a glimpse before the crowds converged.

Consider dietary needs:
Are the kids on special diets, are there allergies to consider? Check out menus and make reservations in advance – OpenTable is a great resource. Including healthy eating habits while traveling is something that can easily be embraced. Read my article on how to Eat Healthy on Vacation for plenty of tips.

Move more:
My recent article on how to Stay in Shape on Vacation includes suggestions on how to keep kids active. Walks, hikes, biking – there are many ways to tire them out. Besides National Parks or UNESCO sites, there are also State or County Parks to explore and those will most likely be less crowded and smaller scale which is perfect for younger travelers.

Get up early:
Starting early is always the best way to avoid crowds no matter where you go. If you are traveling west to an earlier time zone, your body clock will still be on your local time so take advantage of early rising. Traveling to a hot weather destination? Mornings are usually cooler which is a great time for strenuous activities.

Fight jet lag:
Flying across several time zones is never easy but try not to take the easy way out by crashing at the hotel as soon as you arrive. For an overnight or red-eye flight, I book hotel rooms for my clients for the night before so they can access their room first thing in the morning. Take a quick shower, leave your luggage and head out for some easy afternoon walking, exploring, or beach time. Enjoy an early dinner, and try to get to bed close to normal turn-in time. Jet lag will slowly dissipate each day.

The power of pools:
We have taken our kids around the world and one thing we always tried to look for, especially during a city trip, is a hotel with a pool. After a full day of sightseeing, there is nothing better to cool even the crankiest of travelers than an afternoon swim.

Include some down time:
On vacation, don’t expect family members to spend every waking moment together. Everyone can use a good afternoon nap no matter his or her age. Schedule some quiet/alone time – adults included!

Keep it fun!
As you think about making your future travel plans, even sightseeing focused trips can include some unique activities no matter your destination. In London hop in a Mini Cooper tour, in Paris indulge in a chocolate making class, in Madrid take a tapas tour, and in Portugal, you can even take surfing lessons.

Mix it up:
This idea comes from my client, Kenneth Traficante, a certified Financial Planner with Equitable Advisors, New York City. I recently planned a vacation for him and his two teen daughters to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. Ken wanted to introduce his girls to the juxtaposition of two contrasting experiences: the exciting and over-the-top man-made city of Las Vegas verses the grandeur and natural beauty of the Grand Canyon. “Opposite experiences” keep vacations interesting – consider ways to enjoy both city pursuits and more nature focused activities. Ken’s itinerary included Cirque du Soleil shows, Grand Canyon hiking and star gazing, and a Sedona Pink JEEP tour. He loved that it gave his girls an appreciation and an understanding of the diverse world we live in – a perspective we could all use a little of right now!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s never TOO early to plan your next adventure. Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, for assistance and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers regardless of credit card membership.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email. For more information on my trip planning services, for assistance with Amex “Pay with Points” and Amex Fine Hotels & Resort Hotels, please click HERE

Seven Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Seven Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation

My recent article, “Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation,” helped you kickstart and maintain your fitness journey while away. Incorporating an active lifestyle into any vacation can lead to unique ways to really explore a new destination. Another key ingredient of memorable travel experiences is savoring local cuisine. Whether it’s diving into homemade pasta and olive oil in Tuscany or indulging in hot chocolate and crispy churros in Madrid, you want to delight in the diverse local cuisine while abroad without sacrificing all those healthy habits you may have curated during your recent downtime. Enjoying a vacation with healthy goals intact should not be unobtainable.

This week, I am pleased to introduce guest blogger, Wendy Bonilla, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Founder of “Well Balanced with Wendy,” she empowers her clients to create a healthier relationship to food through one-on-one coaching. Here are Wendy’s “Seven Ways to Eat Healthy on Vacation”:

Scope out options ahead of time:
The great thing about travel today is that internet access is readily available, therefore there’s plenty of access to restaurant menus right from your phone. Before heading out to dine, check out what’s offered and decide what to order in advance. It’s much easier to be less tempted and stick to those healthy choices if a decision is made beforehand. Do some research BEFORE the trip to scope out restaurants, cafes, and food tours that have more healthy options on the menu. 

Eat a nutritious breakfast:
Breakfast doesn’t have to be early in the morning, but make sure to have a meal before embarking on your day. Studies find that people that wait TOO long to eat end up feeling hungrier than people who start the day with a healthy, filling breakfast. Make sure breakfast includes plenty of healthy fats and proteins. Pancakes are delicious, but they are filled with sugar and will leave you feeling hungrier sooner. A nutritious breakfast will supply the sustainable energy needed to take on the day’s activities. 

Watch portion size and eat what you want:
Sampling local cuisine is a big part of getting the full experience out of your time away, so don’t deprive yourself! One way to enjoy without guilt or missing out is to eat smaller portions. When eating buffet-style, be mindful of how much food you put on your plate. Take less than what you think you want to avoid overeating. If the food is served to you, check in with how hungry you are after a few bites – most likely, you’ll find you aren’t hungry anymore and you will not need to go back for seconds. 

Eat mindfully:
Take time with each bite. (People who eat slowly tend to eat less). Enjoy the local fare and slow down and focus on all the flavors, ingredients, and textures for the most fulfilling experience.
 
Eat more vegetables with every meal:
Try to make vegetables at least half of what is eaten at each meal. This trick works especially well at buffets, where there are often WAY too many options. Choose a couple tasty-looking veggie sides, and already, you’ve filled most of your plate.

Pack healthy snacks:
Packing snacks in advance can be key to curbing cravings while traveling. Staving off a sudden surge of hunger can lead to healthier food choices throughout the day preventing a frantic binge on less nutritious foods. Some good options to bring along are fruit, trail mixes, and protein bars – pack some individual snack packets in your carry on, or you might even be able to grab a few portable items from the breakfast buffet at your hotel or cruise ship. [This tip is especially helpful if you are traveling with children – of all ages!]
 
Stay hydrated:
Our bodies sometimes confuse thirst for hunger, so it’s important to stay mindful of water intake. Carry a refillable water bottle and take a few sips every thirty minutes. Feeling a burst of hunger? Drink at least eight ounces of water, then check in with your body to see if the hunger has subsided. 

Looking to continue on the road to healthy eating? Wendy Bonilla can support you in taking control of your food cravings and emotional eating habits, so you can feel confident in your body and show up more radiant in ALL areas of your life. For more information, connect with Wendy on Instagram or Facebook.

It’s never TOO early to plan your next adventure. Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers regardless of credit card membership.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email. For more information on my trip planning services, please click HERE

Photo credits: Ella Olsson, Jane D, & Anna Pelzer

Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation

Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation

With Covid-19 vaccinations on the rise and Covid restrictions gradually lifting, travel is slowly starting to resume. Being stuck at home for months combined with the closure of many gyms has caused some unwanted “Pandemic Pounds.” There’s no reason a vacation has to contribute to this problem. Rather, it can be an opportunity to kick start your fitness journey. This week, I am pleased to introduce Guest Blogger, Jason Rodriguez, a New York-based fitness professional and founder of Fitness Journeys, a personal training and corporate health and wellness company. Here are Jason’s Ten Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation:

PLAY SOMETHING
You might not be a kid anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun playing a sport or a silly game. Anything that involves moving your body is beneficial: volleyball, tennis, pickle ball, water polo, and throwing a football are all great options. Plan on playing golf on vacation? Walk between holes instead of driving a golf cart. (Supposedly, Mark Wahlberg sprints between golf holes, and he looks pretty good!)

SAMPLE LOCAL FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Let’s face it, eating is a big part of a vacation, but the focus doesn’t always have to be on high calorie meals and rich desserts. Some of the most delicious (and healthy) produce can be found and enjoyed while on vacation. [On your next trip, include a visit to a local greenmarket or farmers market — kids will love picking out their own healthy snacks.]

Granville Island, Vancouver


GO DANCING
No matter where you travel, there should be a place where you can “let the rhythm take you.” Whether it’s watching a live band or visiting a local club, dancing is a fun way to get in some exercise and see how the locals “get down.” You’ll have a blast, get your heart pumping, and maybe even learn some new moves to bring home with you. 

TAKE THE STAIRS
Wherever possible, choose the stairs. While on vacation, don’t be in such a rush to get everywhere. Instead of an elevator or escalator, take the stairs for a quick workout. If you want to have some fun, race your friends or children up the stairs once in a while.

Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu, Hawaii

WALK MORE
Try to plan some activities or restaurants that are walking distance from your hotel. Taking a walk instead of grabbing a taxi or Uber allows you to explore the local area and burn some calories in the process. 

BE A MORNING PERSON
Maybe it’s just me, but I love watching the sunrise while on vacation. It’s a beautiful way to start the day. If you get an early start, you’re also more likely to fit in that morning workout and finish breakfast before the rush. 

GO ON A HIKE
If you haven’t been hiking before, you’re missing out on this excellent exercise opportunity. There’s nothing like a hike to connect you with nature, relax your mind, and explore new scenic destinations. There are hikes for all fitness levels whether you’re a beginner or seasoned veteran looking for a challenging course.

DRINK IN MODERATION
I’m not saying don’t have a drink, but there’s no reason to overdo it while on vacation. It’s much better to be clear and aware of your vacation in order to create those fond memories of your trip that will last a lifetime. 

DO SOME BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES
If the hotel or resort doesn’t have a gym, you can still do some body weight exercises in your room or on the beach: push-ups, crunches, squats, lunges, and planks can keep you looking great, feeling fit, and ready for the pool. 

MEDITATE
Vacation is the perfect time for self-reflection. Download a meditation App like Calm, Insight Timer, or Headspace and take five to ten minutes each morning to meditate. A simple technique is to sit in a comfortable position with your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your stomach; breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth; breathe in gratitude and breathe out negativity and stress. After all, mental health is just as important as physical health. 

For additional information and hear more tips on working out, virtual workout classes, and nutrition, reach out to Jason Rodriguez at fitnessjourneysnyc@gmail.com, or check out his website, FitnessJourneysNYC.com.

Ready to plan your next ACTIVE and HEALTHY adventure? Would you like to maximize the redemption of your American Express Points? Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers regardless of credit card membership.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box, enter your email address, and then respond to the follow-up email.

Sunrise photo courtesy of Zac Durant

Travel Trends 2019

Travel Trends 2019

The recent New York Times Travel Show drew record crowds and participation: more than 32,000 attendees visited over 560 exhibitor booths and cultural displays representing 107 countries from across the globe. An annual weekend event, this public show packs in plenty of travel tips and inspiration to keep your wanderlust fulfilled far into the future. Here are some of the major takeaways and travel trends gleaned from the show’s industry seminars hosted at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center:

New York Times Travel Show

What are the top destinations in the U.S.?
Not many surprises here, but plenty to put on your bucket list: Hawaii, Honolulu, Florida Keys, New York City, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Hilton Head, and Austin *

Top international destinations?
London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence, Barcelona, Dublin, Amsterdam, Madrid and Toronto *

Top hotel brands?
Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hyatt *

Have children, will travel
Thirty-one percent of all trips taken include children. And, their opinions count! Among these traveling families, 77 percent say that their children influence the planning and 68 percent say their kids pick the destination. So, listen to those little ones.*

Heading to the U.K.?
Plan your trip around popular events like Glasgow’s Celtic Festival, a winter music festival featuring artists from around the globe and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world. For the sports minded, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will square off at London Stadium in June — the series is part of a two-year plan to play across the pond. **

Bound for Berlin?
November 9th marks the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Events focusing on the history of division, the struggle for freedom, and the process of reunification will occur throughout the year. **

New York Times Travel ShowFancy a trip to France?
June 6th marks the start of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, with plenty of opportunities to celebrate peace, liberty, and reconciliation. Plan a trip to follow in the footsteps of the “Greatest Generation.”**

Original Eats
No matter where you go, get off the beaten track and take the road less traveled to unique or off the radar restaurants — not just what’s featured on social media. A few gems: Al Pompiere and La Taverna dei Fori Imperiale in Rome and the Bras Group of restaurants in France. In Venice head to the islands of Lido or Burano to dine. In Amalfi, visit the bathhouse/restaurant at Fornillo Beach, located just outside of more populated Positano. **

Ready for a river cruise?
AmaWaterways is adding a new larger ship to its Danube cruises. And, their new itinerary in Portugal’s Douro Valley will bring you up close to this region, famous for its wine tasting. +

Big on Bleisure
More and more people are blending business with leisure activities on business trips. Piggybacking on a business trip itinerary can help save you money and time and is the best reward for your hard work.+

Small is BIG
Small cruise ships can visit smaller ports and take you to unique destinations. These itineraries also feature more intimate excursions often with VIP access or after hours visits that are blissfully crowd free providing for an experiential and meaningful vacation. +

New York Times Travel ShowThere’s an app for that
Technology can improve the guest experience by creating moments of delight and helping travelers use time more efficiently. The AmaWaterways app sends picture postcards home and keeps track of ports and last-minute itinerary changes. The Princess Cruise app is the new “walkie talkie” – it keeps families in touch while on board. (Plus, you can even order a pizza and have it delivered to your cabin!) The MY TSA app tracks airport security lines (And, check out their entertaining Instagram for pics of outrageous items found in carry-on luggage). But, while on tours, put the phone away, turn off devices, and take time to meet the people around you. This is the time to soak up experiences and escape from life’s fast pace.+

What matters most? Travel!
People give up on other things before they will give up on travel. Collect experiences, not things. We all want to escape the harsh realities of life and travel is just the ticket.+

And the most important takeaway of the Travel Show?
Travel Agents will save you time! Click here to see why.

Need help putting together your bucket-list trip or dream vacation?
Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers.

SMART PHONE SUBSCRIBERS: to view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link: uniquefamilytraveler.com.

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Herricks Travel American Express/Altour

*Data provided by James Shillinglaw, Insider Travel Report
**Data provided by Kier Matthews, Classic Vacations; Celina Tavares, Tourismo de Portugal; Wanda Radetti, VisitCroatia; Elizabeth Minchilli, EatItaly App
+Data provided by James Shillinglaw, Insider Travel Report; Christine Duffy, Carnival Cruises; Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways; Jenniver Tombaugh, Tauck; Jackie Freedman, Nexion Travel; Lindsey Uuberroth, Preferred Hotels
Header photo courtesy of Valentin Antonucci; all others courtesy of New York Times Travel Show