Planning a Family Vacation: A Chance to Get Together


family vacation tips


Multi-generational travel is one of the largest-growing segments of travel.  According to the Travel Industry Association, at least three generations are traveling together. Every year, over 5 million three-generation families are going on vacation together.  Unfortunately, this presents those planning the trip with a huge challenge.  How do you cater to everyone?

Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can create the perfect multigenerational vacation.  And, you’ll definitely be rewarded for your efforts. The benefits of family vacations range from spending quality time together.  Additionally, parents having a break from the kids.  So, use our tips for planning a family vacation.  Here are our top tips:

Make Sure Everyone’s Involved

First, make sure everyone is involved in the decision-making process.  They’ll feel more invested in the trip because they’ve had an input into the overall decisions.  Before you book anything, hold a family meeting to discuss ideas. You can set up an online chat so you can all throw ideas around.

Choose the Right Accommodation

Furthermore, vacation rentals are often a much more affordable option for large groups. They allow you to choose the right accommodation that caters to everyone’s needs while also getting the privacy you’ll be looking for from your trip.

The goal of a vacation together is to spend quality time.  However, it’s still important to make sure people can have some time out. For example, you might want to look at places with individual units instead of a large villa.  Furthermore, those who don’t want to party late or need to escape from crying babies can go to their unit.

Just as important, it’s also worth booking everyone into airport hotels like the BWI Airport Marriott. When you’ve got a large group of people traveling together, organizing everyone to be on time can be difficult. So opting for an overnight stay at the airport reduces any risks of people missing the flight.

Spend Time in Groups

It doesn’t matter where you’re heading, there are going to be groups of people who want to do different things.  When you’re planning your family vacation, remember some people will want to go off and do their own thing.  That’s great.

Discuss what activities everyone wants to take part in.  That way, you can arrange small groups who can go off and do separate things.  While this is occurring others can babysit or relax by the pool.

When planning a family vacation, mix and match your quality time.  Set up activities with different members of your family. For example, grandparents could head off to do some sightseeing during the day.  Mom and Dad can go out a night and leave the grandparents to babysit the kids.

Other things to consider include self-catered accommodations. With different meal schedules and preferences, it can be difficult to find restaurants that cater to everyone. Plus, eating in gives you the chance to relax as a family.  Most importantly, it also saves money.

Making sure everyone on vacation is happy isn’t hard.  When you’re planning a family vacation, remember it takes a little planning, consideration, and flexibility.  You and your family will be enjoying the trip of a lifetime!

What Not to Wear for a Passport Photo

passport photos

Have an international trip coming up, and you need a passport photo?  First, obtaining a passport photo is a major step to getting your passport.  Second, not following the State Department’s rules will certainly qualify you for a returned application.  So, before you head to the photo store to obtain a passport photo become knowledgeable.

Don’t count on the photographer knowing the rules.  Most don’t, so educate yourself before you leave home.  I had to have my passport photo retaken because I wore a headband.  I was so glad the photo shop was close to the passport application office.  However, it was frustrating and time consuming to have it done twice.

Here are a few tips:

Hats – No baseball caps, fedoras, straw hat, cowboy/cowgirl hats or any other head covering is allowed.

Head Scarves – Scarves worn for religious purposes are allowed.  However, scarves worn for fashion are not.

Headband – Avoid anything that will obstruct your hairline.  This includes headbands and/or scarves.

Glasses – Glasses are not allowed.  This includes prescription or sunglasses.

Uniform – Military, scrubs, police or security guards and/or pilot uniforms are not allowed.  Religious clothing is allowed.

A Smile –  As of 2016, the State Department does not allow passport applicants to smile in their photos.

Electronic Headgear – This includes earphones, Bluetooth or other electronic devices.

The State Department requires that an applicant’s picture not be older than 6 months. Why, because the State Department wants the photo to reflect your current appearance.  Furthermore, your photo must be 2 x 2.  Therefore, wherever you have your passport photo taken, they should return to you in the correct size.  As a result, it will need to fit into the appropriate area on your passport application.  You will want to implement the following too:

  • The background of the photo must be solid white
  • The photo must be in color
  • Photo paper should be glossy or a matte finish
  • Lay infants on a white sheet or infant blanket.  Next, place the white sheet or blanket in the carrier or on the area provided.  Most importantly, your child should be able to look into the camera, and their eyes must be open.

Finally, you may also like How to Obtain a Passport in 5 Easy Steps.

How to Obtain Your Passport in 5 Easy Steps

how to obtain your passport

Do you have a destination wedding on the horizon or plan to travel internationally?  You will need to obtain a US passport.  No worries, here’s 5 easy steps on how to obtain your passport quickly:

Complete Your Passport Application –  You can fill out Form DS-11 Application for US Passport on-line and print it.  You will need to know dates of marriages and/or your date of divorce as well as your spouses or ex-spouse’s birthday and address.  Sorry, I’m just delivering information.

Obtain Passport Photo – You will need to get a passport picture.  I had mine taken at CVS.  However, Wal-Greens, Fed-Ex, UPS, Rite Aid, 1-Hour Photo Shops, Costco are a few places who offer services too.   Your local Wal-Mart may offer the cheapest service.

Before you have your passport photo taken, familiarize yourself with the rules.  For example, you can’t wear glasses, a hat, or obscure your hairline.  I learned that lesson the hard way.  So, I wore a headband for my initial photo.  But it was not allowed.  You can’t hid your hairline.  Obviously, the lady who took my picture at CVS didn’t know that.  She just knew how to use the camera.  The lady who took my passport application questioned it.  Back to CVS I went.  Fortunately, it was close by.

Obtain a Copy of Your Birth Certificate – You will need a copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal.  A copy of your birth certificate will not be allowed.

Make a Copy of all Documents – Make a copy of your documents before you hand them over.  You may need the information if you have to make an inquiry about your application.

Find a Location to Take Your Application – The Post Office and the library accept applications in my area.  There is a $110.00 application fee for adults and $80.00 for children under 15.

It takes approximately 30 days to obtain your passport.  However, allow sufficient time to obtain your passport and to have any printing errors corrected.  They printed M instead of F for my gender.  Correct any printing errors, otherwise, you risk being allowed to board the plane or get through customs.  You will need to complete Form DS-5504 to have any errors corrected.

Finally, we hope that our tips on how to obtain your passport has been helpful.  You may also like Using Travel Checklist to Organize Packing.

Using Travel Checklists to Organize Packing


travel checklists


Going on vacation can be exciting and at the same time stressful.  Having travel checklists to ensure that you have items that you need can remove some stress.  I place my travel checklists on a clipboard and just leave it on top of my luggage or close by.

I start using my lists at least a week in advance of my trips.  Why, because I’m still dealing with running my household and everything that goes along with life.  As a result, I don’t trust myself to remember everything that I need to take or do. So, I use a travel checklists to help me remember.  Stress can cause temporary memory loss or forgetfulness. At least it does for me.  There’s nothing worst than reaching your destination, unpacking and realizing you forgot a bathing suit, PJs for the kids or a pair of sandals.

Furthermore, I have created a travel checklist for my grandchildren.  What a lifesaver!  It’s hard enough packing your own luggage.  When you have to pack for the children and you add gathering documents, hotel reservations, and securing transportation on top of it, it can be stressful. Having a checklist for the children can reduce that stress and possibly save money by not forgetting items.

travel check lists

Since I have a granddaughter and grandson, I tried to make the Kid’s Travel Checklist neutral.  Too many lists can be as stressful as not having any.  Furthermore, for the most part they need the same items.  I would suggest placing their luggage side by side, and placing the items on the list into both suitcases.  For example, they both need underwear, PJs, swimsuits, shorts, and tees/shirts.  Gather the items for both, and check them off the list.   I also suggest that you start placing a few items at a time into the luggage.  This keeps you from becoming overwhelmed because you’re trying to pack everyone’s bag the night before.

travel checklists I use the travel checklists above.  I figure out the activities or possible activities that I may participate in and make notes.   For example, I purchased a flowing skirt with an off the shoulder blouse to wear on trip to Mexico.  It’s perfect for dinner or a theme party.  I do this for other events as well.  If I’m traveling for business, a family reunion, wedding or whatever.  When I’m packing, I make sure that I pack what I want to wear along with accessories, shoes etc.  I hate having to purchase items that I’ve forgotten when I’m traveling.

I hope these travel checklists will be beneficial to you.  Feel free to download them here.


How to Save on Vacations: We Have 20 Tips


money saving tips on vacatins



While travel is not a household’s biggest expense, family vacations are expenditures that many families care. We have great tips to show you how to save on vacations. Getaways can also be expensive.  Particularly when traveling with kids. Even so, here are 20 ways to push through your vacations and save at the same time.

1. Be Flexile on Flights 

Save big money on travel by flying during less popular times, such as early in the morning, late at night, or midweek. When booking online, use the flexible-travel-date feature that lets you compare fares for days on either side of your target date.

2. Book early

Book trips between 27 to 114 days in advance saves a significant amount of money. The prices of airfares, according to, fluctuate until about 14 days out, when they reach their maximum.

3. Carry-ons

Avoid paying huge checked-bag charges by making sure that several of your suitcase adheres to the standard carry-on size (9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches). You can carry these bags on the plane and place them in the overhead bins.  Pack several large or a large suitcase for family clothing and toiletries.  Be sure to pack light.   

4. Hotel rooms

Call potential hotel rooms in your vacation destination and ask about discounted rooms.  AAA rates and any other specials can help cut cost. Do this before booking your hotel room.  Reservations can be made on-line.  Be sure to get a confirmation number and ensure your discount has been applied.

5. Vacation homes/condo

Consider booking a vacation home or condo rather than at a hotel. It will usually cost less and is more comfortable for the kids.  They also full or partial kitchens which can be used to cook some of the meals or house snacks.  

6. All-inclusive resort

When traveling outside the U.S., consider an all-inclusive resort, which includes meals, drinks, and entertainment. All-inclusive resorts offer maximum value while making budgeting for vacation easier.

7. Special promotions

Find online promotions related to your vacation. Attraction tickets are often less expensive when bought online, especially during certain days of the week.  If you don’t know where to start online, consider hiring a travel agent.  These agents work on commission and won’t charge you.

8. Coupons

Search the Internet for coupons you can use once you reach your destination. There are many sites that will show you how to save on vacations. Family deals are often offered when purchasing multiple tickets. Special Internet offers are also available when buying tickets online.

9. Deals

Find discounts and deals for your destination by using Groupon or Living Social. Also, check your destination’s local newspaper for specials and discount coupons. You can find special deals on How to Save on Vacations in local newspapers or the hotel you will be staying in. 

10. Transportation

Check to see if your hotel or resort offers shuttle service. You can eliminate car rental fees.  Use taxis or Uber, which can take you to outlying locations at a cost lower than a rental car.

11. Car rental

If you need to rent a car, go with a local car rental company instead of renting one at an airport location. Local car rentals help you to avoid high airport rates and fees.  Check to see if  they offer service to and from the off-site location. 

12. Car seats for kids

If you are using a rental car you may need a car seat.  Renting a car seat can set you back more than $5 a day. Save on car seat fees by bringing your own car seat for your kid. 

13. Supplies

If you are driving, pack plenty of drinking water, bread, cold cuts, healthy snacks and other supplies. This helps avoid stopping and buying on impulse. Once you reach your destination, shop at the local grocery store for supplies. 

14. Vacation essentials

Bring basic vacation items such as sunscreen and water bottles. Bringing your own essentials is far cheaper than buying them in hotels and amusement parks.

15. Packed lunches

If possible and when you can, prepare bag lunches each day for adults and for kids,  This can help avoid spending more, particularly on fast food chains.

16. Travel needs

Buy water, snacks and everything you need for a trip at a grocery store instead of purchasing them at the hotel, which usually sell overcharged items.

17. Eating locally

Eating at local restaurants is not only less expensive but also makes the trip more of an adventure. Ask for suggestions from your hotel’s front desk or from your vacation home’s contact.

18. Rewards points

When booking your airfare, hotels, or rental car, use points you have earned from credit card purchases or loyalty programs. Also, use credit cards that offer extra bonus points when used at supermarkets.

19. Apps

Download money-saving apps that you can use for gas, sites along a route, local diners, and accommodations. Save them in your phone during the planning stages of your trip.

20. Off season

Consider traveling during off-peak times. It will be cheaper and is less crowded than traveling during popular dates. Many vacation destinations offer reduced rates during the off season.

We hope that you find our tips on How to Save on Vacations beneficial.  You may not be able to or need to implement them all, so just implement the ones that will save you the most.

About the Author:

Stephanie is a freelance writer who resides in Gilbert, Arizona.  She is co-owner of  How Much Is itAside from spending time with her family, she also enjoys hiking, biking and scrapbooking

Pre and Post Vacation Cleaning Tips

tips for a clean house after vacation


Taking a vacation once a year is very relaxing. It helps you unwind and take a break from your busy schedule. By the time you resume your official duties, you feel fresh and energized. However, if not planned well, the last days of your vacation can be stressful as you try to run errands and do cleaning chores. Here are useful tips to help you manage the situation with minimal effort.

  1. Plan for your return even before you go on your vacation

Take care of some of the monthly routines before you leave. Pay any outstanding bills. If there are any utility bills that may fall due when you are away or soon after the vacations, contact your service provider and pay in advance. This will eliminate any anxiety due to late payments when you come home. It will also free time to do other things once you are back.

  1. Clean your house before you leave for your vacation

You do not want to be welcomed by a foul smell of dirty dishes or stinky trash.  Wash all dishes and put them away.  Empty the trash cans and keep them clean.  Throw out any food in the refrigerator that will expire while you’re on vacation.

  1. Tend to your lawn

You do not want to find overgrown grass when your return.  Mow the lawn and trim it before you leave.  You can return from vacation with a feeling that you don’t have to immediately attend to the lawn.

  1. Turn all the water taps off before leaving

Make sure all taps in the house are turned off. Especially, during winter when taps are susceptible to freezing. Also, make sure there are no running toilets or water leaks.  This will ensure that water does not spill and destroy your household items while you are away. Things can get messy and cause you unimaginable loss if your valuables get soaked in water.

Post-Vacation Cleaning Tips

You can travel peacefully knowing that you will have lesser issues to attend to when you return home. After enjoying your vacation, plan to travel home several days before you return to the office.  Always give yourself time to rest and get over jet lag.  It is unwise to return to work immediately after your vacation.  Especially if you have traveled a long distance.

Once you get home, unpack and relax. Sort the laundry and do a load when you can without pressure.  If you have pick up and delivery service for your dry cleaning, call your service provider.  If they do not pick and drop services, plan when you will take the laundry to them. Treat yourself to maid services to assist with the cleaning if you can afford it. This will allow more time to rest.

Use your extra time to catch up with your family and friends. If you bought gifts, visit and share the items. Tell them your stories about your vacation and allow yourself to enjoy the memories. Sharing your memories will  lift your spirit and leave you happy and emotionally strong.  Be sure to attend to any matters that could require your time before you return to work.

I hope these pre and post vacation cleaning tips will help you the next time you decide to head out for a little rest and relaxation.  What pre and post vacation cleaning tips do you have to share?

About the Author:  Beverly Jenkins is proud of her staff at The Tidy Maids house cleaning service in Raleigh, NC. She has 24 years of experience in house cleaning, customer service, and business operations. She knows all the tips and tricks and do-it-yourself hacks when it comes to cleaning and her clients’ homes are the best proof for that.


Second Honeymoon Travel Tips

tips for a second honeymoon


How do you picture your perfect honeymoon?  Do you day dream of walking hand in hand on a tropical beach?  Maybe you’ve always wanted to visit Europe? Or perhaps you both want to pack your hiking books and head to Morocco?  To help couples worldwide, we at have put together 8 essential tips to help you plan a first or second honeymoon that you and your loved one will reminisce about for years!

Set a Budget

Every project needs a budget.  And your honeymoon planning isn’t an exception.  You can use a honeymoon-budget sheet to help you keep track. Start with a general budget and then drill down by categories.  If you prefer apps, use Expensify to keep track.

There’s no reason to cut corners on your honeymoon planning. After all, there are ways to honeymoon for less. This includes staying closer to home or choosing an affordable honeymoon package.  You can also save by booking your honeymoon online or by using your miles to get a cheaper flight. On top of that, you can try alternative means of transportation.
If you are renewing your wedding vows, be creative and set-up  a “Travel Fund”.  Set a travel date and start looking for more ways to save.  You can sell things or take on a few odd jobs to help raise the extra funds.
The best part is that you don’t have to lower the expectations. There are ways you can still have an amazing time and not spend a fortune or go in debt!

Look For the Most Suitable Destination

Easter Island or the Maldives sound like amazing destinations for a honeymoon on the island. However, do you know how far these places are from where you live?

Here is some information:
• it takes 17 hours to fly from New York to Easter Island
• it takes 21 hours to fly from Los Angeles to the Maldives
If you only have less than a week to spend on your honeymoon, you don’t want to be on a plane for almost two days.  A better idea is to look for destinations closer to home. If you live in the US, a honeymoon in the Caribbean can be a great choice.  Just remember, you don’t want to be on a tropical island during the hurricane season.
When picking a honeymoon location, think about the weather. While being stuck inside with your spouse can be exciting, pick a place where there are interesting seasonal things to do when you’re ready to get out and about.
If you choose an early summer month, Southern Europe is a good idea. You can decide to go on a honeymoon destination in Italy or maybe choose a honeymoon package in Greece. When budget is a concern, consider a less popular time to travel.  Europe in the summer is expensive, but not in the winter. The Caribbean is always cheapest in August -September.  Find a destination to match your budget rather than the other way around.




Choose a Good Airline

Flying business class for your honeymoon may sound good, but it can be a very expensive affair.  Save money either by using miles to upgrade or by simply booking economy and choosing seats with extra leg room.  Don’t be afraid to choose a low-cost airline. They have new fleet and are affordable.  Consider the leg room when choosing your seats.

Book In Advance

Book your honeymoon package six to eight months prior to the event! This window gives you a good chance to find affordable airfare and availability in the resort of your choice. If you want to stay at a certain resort or do something specialized, you may want to push that booking date back to a year if possible.  Sign up for fare alerts for the flights you are interested in.

Avoid making changes to the airfare or accommodation after you book. Changing the date on your plane ticket or accommodations could lead to paying penalties.   
Buy Travel Insurance
This is something that many people tend to overlook, but make sure you have travel insurance. Why? Because the right kind of insurance can protect you against a lot of things: from delayed flight to lost luggage or stolen goods.  And not to mention that it can save you a lot of grief during emergency situations or medical issues.   Lisa, blogger at Playa del Carmen agrees: “If any time should be stress-free, it is your honeymoon! It is worth the peace of mind.” Make sure the insurance you choose covers the activities you plan to enjoy (eg. scuba diving).

vacation packing tips for women


Travel Light

You really don’t need to pack half of your closet.  However, you don’t want to go to a fancy restaurant and not have anything for the occasion, either. Pack smart and think layers.  For a honeymoon on the beach, consider packing a lightweight dress and a pareo or cardigan for the evenings.  You may want to leave your high heels at home if you plan to visit Europe, with its old, cobblestone cities. Also, it’s worthwhile to consider packing that ultra-light waterproof jacket no matter where you’re headed.

The less stuff you carry with you, the more flexibility of movement you’ll be able to enjoy. Also, get a bag with wheels and don’t strain your body! Your energy should all go towards enjoying your trip with your loved one.  Roll your clothes to maximize the space in your carry on.

Share Your Travel Itinerary 

You should share your travel itinerary with at least a person you trust.  Things do happen and it might be useful and even life-saving if your loved ones know how to find you when necessary.

Relax and Enjoy Your Honeymoon

Make sure you plan for a balanced mix of activities and down time. That means allowing yourself to enjoy it. You’ll get back to the real world eventually – but you only get one honeymoon. Relish it.

About the Author – Cris Puscas is a contributing writer at the best place to book memorable honeymoon travel packages. She is a hopeless romantic, equally passionate about discovering new places to explore and writing about them.