Tuesday, March 02, 2010

USTOA Offers 10 Family-Friendly Travel Tips

(MS) -- The experts at the U.S. Tour Operators Association suggest ten tips to ensure a successful family trip and to help maximize quality time together:

* Make sure your expectations are realistic.

* Select the destination wisely and try to interest children in the destination before leaving on vacation.

* Keep kids involved in the decision process, getting everyone in the family to participate in selecting the destination and vacation activities.

* Know if the type of travel is suited to your family's needs. For instance, escorted tours are typically for adults, and parents should know whether their children will respond well to something like a river cruise.

* Pack light.

* Understand children's limitations and be flexible, especially with time schedules, when traveling.

* Keep children occupied. Take a DVD player with the kids' favorite movies -- great for plane rides or simply to relax after a day out. Give them an allowance each day so that they know what they can spend, and provide them with a journal and a camera so that they can record the vacation. Keep snacks and games on hand for motor coach rides and for travel in foreign countries.

* Don't leave children unattended.

* Let children know that behavior counts. When traveling with other people, be sure children are polite and respectful.

* If traveling significant distances to start a tour or safari, extra nights at the destination beforehand are recommended -- especially for families with younger kids, to acclimate them to their new time zone and get them back into a more normal routine.

When it comes to family travel, quality time together is the single most important motivator, according to an informal USTOA member poll. Respondents were unanimous in citing quality time together, echoed by a USTOA-commissioned consumer survey where time together was only second to affordability in terms of selecting a vacation.

For a listing of USTOA members with family-friendly tours and travel arrangements, visit www.ustoa.com or www.ustoa.travel. USTOA members have met the travel industry's highest standards, including participation in the USTOA Travelers Assistance Program, which, among other things, requires each member company to set aside $1 million security to protect consumers' payments in case the company goes out of business.

CAPTION: Thanks to some simple tips courtesy of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, more and more families are making the most of their vacation time together.

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