Travel Safety – this summer

There has been a lot of talk lately about travel safety following certain incidents abroad – While we don’t always know what exactly behind terrible tragedies, this brings to question certain things we can do to best protect ourselves while abroad. Here are some of my tips..

1. Don’t always trust the mini bar – I have myself opened mini bar bottles and found someone had replaced the alcohol with another substance. Equally be careful with water and ice cubes.

2. Make copies and secure your valuables – share your itinerary with a friend or neighbor at home. Also make copies of your passport and your credit card and any other important documents. Let your bank know your travel plans as well. 

3. Tag your luggage – one way to stay safe is to use luggage tag covers or to put your office address on your luggage tag instead of your home address. And if you do decide to go for the carry on route, pack a few travel essentials in case of flight delays or such like a toothbrush and toothpaste. 

 4. Where you decide to travel is up to you, and while you cant always let stories like this change your generalized view of a destination, keep yourself up to date and educated as a traveler ALWAYS – especially about any local news or scams. Vet reviews of resorts and destinations to know your risks of traveling there.

5. Be adventurous but also sensible with what you ingest or drink in another country (especially medication) and if you have any doubts stick to what you KNOW is safe.

6. Check your health (get screened) before you go and understand fully any risks both from your own previous health conditions and anything that you could come into contact with when there. Check as well any banned prescription medication as you could find yourself subject to harsh penalties. 

7. Plan your arrival – especially if you are arriving late at night or have never been to this destination. You might want to consider a pre arranged transfer so as to avoid any dodgy cabs that could overcharge you or worse – get you lost.

Making summer travel easier for parents…some tips!

Let the kids help plan travel

It’s certainly one way to avoid problems – let the kids plan the family vacation. Have them decide where they would like to go and what to see. Maybe they would like to stay in a tree house, or see the world’s largest ball of twine. If you provide a map and a little information, you can let them have some input into planning a road trip. If you’re thinking of a beach vacation, most all-inclusive resorts have kids’ programs where they can learn to surf, snorkel or sail. This gives parents a little time to themselves.You can use a travel booking website to find deals and have the kids look through ideas with you online!

Time is key

When it comes to summer travel with family, time is your most valuable asset. If you’ve traveled 10-plus hours and only have a few days to explore, don’t try to do it all on your own via google, especially when you have kids. You’ll most likely end up in touristy areas, waiting in long lines or even worse: a big red bus with 85 other tourists doing the same thing. Instead, pay a little extra and find a local agency who can create experiences that save you time.

Choose easier destinations with a bit of everything

Look at destinations that aren’t as ‘wild’ but respectively have a bit of something for everyone; consider a resort or resort style city like San Diego (zoos, beaches, bars.) Choose places and are easily accessible from the USA or even within it. Less is sometimes more; Instead of trying to see the top 20 best sites in a city, focus on strolling the streets and picnicking in a park. Over plan meals and under plan the schedule.

Get finances in order

Plan well ahead, sometimes 9 to 12 months in advance to get the best rates and availability. Airline companies will run flash sales months in advance. Taking advantage of these sales will expand your budget for hotels and tours. Also, be clear about budgets especially when traveling as an extended family with different budgets. Work with a tour company or travel agent and ask to pre-pay for as much of your trip as possible. This will allow everyone to relax and be on vacation with no worries about compounding expenses.

Prep well and pack smart

Pack the bare minimum when you travel with kids because you can always buy what you need in your destination. Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear inside shoes. Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight. Encourage kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel skills. Select versatile and comfortable clothes and color-coordinated separates so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit. And pack bags with what is needed first on the top — a change of clothes for dinner, pyjamas, or what is needed during the day including a change of clothes in case of accidents!

ArtBar, Boston

Set on Cambridge’s Charles River, ArtBar is a hidden hotspot for an al-fresco brunch, bar-bite and cocktail, or even a romantic dinner. Attached to the Royal Sonesta, Boston, you might be suprised to find this little gem. ArtBar’s creative, seasonal, American cuisine includes ingredients that are native to the region and New England area. Dishes such as their (jumbo lump) Crab Cakes with spicy remoulade or their Lobster Roll with lemon aioli – set the tone for the best of Boston. 

Dishes are beautifully composed using both seasonal and regional ingredients, perfectly accommodating everything from a quick bite to a happy hour repast, a romantic dinner or a communal feast with friends. Surf and turf are both on the menu, but not to miss are the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with sunchoke puree, shaved radish, snap peas, pancetta crumbs and micro herbs. And did I mention they also have a vegan menu? Yup, serving everything from vegan tacos to burgers and desert (their Coconut Milk Ice Cream – with vegan peanut butter cups – is to die for!)

Prefer to visit for brunch? No problem; brunch is served Saturday & Sunday, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, where you can find everything from Eggs Benedict to Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast. 

ArtBar is proud to be named one of BostInno’s 50 Best Patios in Boston and was included in NECN’s Boston’s Best Patios segment. ArtBar was also named one of the best for outdoor dining in Cambridge by Zagat. It’s certainly worth a try if you are in the area!

Summer Escape on a Budget!

Summer is finally here! You’re deep into daydreaming about your next vacation away but before living out your fantasy, there is one daunting task ahead: settling on how much you can afford to pay during one of the most popular travel seasons.

If you are one of the 52 percent of Americans who are planning to take a vacation this summer, your budget is likely tight, according to a Bankrate survey. Those who plan to travel this summer expect to spend $1,979, on average, for a trip. But that kind of expense is tricky at best when considering another statistic: Only 40 percent of Americans said they would use their savings to pay for an unexpected expense of $1,000.

So if you are still trying to save for your vacation, here are some tips to consider….

  1. Determine how much you can afford to spend. First thing’s first: Establish your spending limit — the all-in number that you don’t want to exceed for your particular adventure. That is including your airfare, transportation to and from the airport, accommodations, activities. Keep the number realistic, so that you’ll have a firm idea of what your getaway will really cost.
  2. Be flexible on dates and travel destinations, and choose days wisely. If you’re flexible on specific dates and locations, you’re much more likely to get a decent fare than if you lock in a certain week or destination. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally the cheapest travel days, while Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive.
  3. Search for credit card points you haven’t used. If you’re on the hunt for a discount on a flight or hotel, log in to your credit card account. Next, search for the points and rewards you may have already earned but not used. If you have unused points, apply them toward your travel costs. Don’t log out of your account just yet. Next, check to see if your credit card company offers card-linked deals. Some issuers offer discounts on, say, Airbnb and other travel-related costs, within their online portals. To get the discount, select the deal and then use the card.
  4. Find the best deal on a flight. Prices for flights are down 7 percent compared with the same time period two years ago, according to May data from the flight tracking app, Hopper. To get the best deal, you’ll still need to do your research as the price for the same route can vary up to 5 to 10 percent within a 24-hour period. or vacation routes, such as New York City to Hawaii, book the ticket four to six weeks before your ideal departure; the flight prices tend to drop as the time to departure gets closer.
  5. Book your hotel earlier than you think. Hotel prices are like flight prices: They vary based on when you book them. To get the best deal, you want to book a room sooner than you think. Also, scout for new hotels in the area you’re visiting to find the best deals. A lot of times when a new hotel opens, it offers really great deals in the first two to three months of operation to try to get people in to get those reviews.