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The Smart Family's Passport

The Smart Family's Passport

5.0 1
by Nina Willdorf, The Readers Of Budget Travel, Budget Travel Editors

The Smart Family’s Passport is a collection of 350 of the best family travel tips you’ll ever read, compiled from the pages of Budget Travel magazine. Topics include:
     •  In-flight infant-management tips
     •  Vacation planning with the kids


The Smart Family’s Passport is a collection of 350 of the best family travel tips you’ll ever read, compiled from the pages of Budget Travel magazine. Topics include:
     •  In-flight infant-management tips
     •  Vacation planning with the kids
     •  Making the most of a Disney visit
     •  7 handy uses for Ziploc bags
     •  No-fail road-trip games
     •  Staying safe and sane—wherever you are

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Creative suggestions for travelers.”—USA Today

“It takes a village to raise a child, and at least as many to entertain one on an airplane. With that in mind, Nina Willdorf, editor in chief of Budget Travel, collected travel advice from her readers for a handy new book, The Smart Family's Passport: 350 Money, Time and Sanity Saving Tips.”—Chicago Tribune

Product Details

Quirk Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2010 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59474-448-8

Chapter One



CHEAT SHEET If you get brochures from a family-travel outfitter, stash them away-even if you don't plan on taking one of the trips. The literature usually includes great ideas for hotels and excursions that will come in handy later, when you plan your own vacation. Chris Barker, Kingsport, Tenn.

ALL-INCLUSIVE ITINERARY To get my teenagers excited about a trip, I ask each of them to research where we're going and to come up with some group activities. Along the way, we've been treated to a tour of a Civil War battlefield and a cannonball contest in the pool. Deb Kushnick, Marietta, Ga.

ACT OUT In the weeks before my husband and I took our children, then ages 4, 8, and 14, on a three-week tour of Europe, we played banker and pretended to exchange dollars for euros and pounds (great math lesson). We also staged theme dinners, and when I attempted to make paella, we spoke only Spanish at the table. Ashleigh Briant-Hodges, Orinda, Calif.

CARD TRICK When planning a big family trip, I first research the location; then I write detailed info on index cards about possible things to do, sites to visit, and places to dine. I include addresses, hours, pricing, and highlights. We then lay out all the cards on a table and choose our top picks. I bring one good guidebook that I leave at the hotel for reference. When we're out and about, all I carry are that day's cards, plus a few extras with backup ideas. Lynn Anderson, Phoenix, Ariz.

THANKSGIVING TAKEAWAY We love to travel during Thanksgiving week. It's low season in some parts of the world, so it's cheaper and less crowded. Instead of turkey and football, my kids will always remember eating snake in Vietnam and warthog in Botswana! Dave Schickling, Orange County, Calif.

FORWARD THINKING We show our preschoolers pictures of our destination, but we wait until a day or two before our departure; otherwise they'll get confused. On the day we actually travel, we explain the next three things we'll be doing: We will get in a car, go to an airport, and then get on the plane. Each time we knock an item off our list, we add another till we get to our destination. It makes the trip manageable and suspenseful. F. P., New York, N.Y.

FAIRER FARES When booking flights online for your family, compare what it costs to purchase multiple tickets versus individual ones. If there aren't enough seats in one fare base, the group price sometimes defaults to the next-highest-priced ticket. When I searched for four tickets from Tulsa to Miami, each one was $309. Then I looked for individual tickets and found three for $279 and a fourth for $309. I saved $90! David Bykowski, Broken Arrow, Okla.

DAY PLANNERS We like to divvy up vacation research among family members, allowing each person to schedule the events for a day however he or she wishes. It's a great way to get everyone involved in where we're going. We've found ourselves looking into everything from a city's best ice cream to how to rent paddleboats. Catherine Murau, Ann Arbor, Mich.


Our teenage son is an only child, and for many years we've let him invite a friend along on our vacations. It's more fun for him if he has a companion, and that makes it easier for us. His friends family usually pays for airfare and some of the pricier excursions, while we cover food, lodging, and incidental costs. Debby Schlesinger, Granada Hills, Calif.


Whatsonwhen.com covers more than 36,000 happenings and celebrations in 166 countries and lets you search by month, destination, or theme, so you can organize your trip according to your interests, whether blueberry festivals or children's theater. Ray Alvarez, Anchorage, Alaska

YOUR OWN ACTION ADVENTURE! My son loved the 2004 movie National Treasure, so I organized a vacation around the sights shown in the film. One stop was the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. We also hit the National Zoo, the National Air and Space Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery. I've never seen a child happily take in so much history. Best of all, pretty much everything we did was free. James Dodsworth, Jensen Beach, Fla.

GATHER YOUR FACTS Google Notebook, a service that allows users to clip information from many different Web sites and compile it all onto one Web page, is invaluable. I can log on from anywhere to view my Notebook and share my page with family and friends. A number of users have chosen to make their Notebooks public, which means you can search for, say, "Bay Area restaurants" and come up with a list of someone else's favorite spots. Carli Entin, Hoboken, N.J.

TEEN CHOICE AWARDS To make a California road trip exciting for our sons, who were 14 and 16 and big skateboarders, we had them research skate parks to visit along the way. More than 10 years later, it's a trip we're all still talking about. And, yes, we also got in visits to Venice Beach, Hearst Castle, and Alcatraz Island. Pat Stewart, Maumee, Ohio

BRIGHT IDEAS Print your itinerary details-including all confirmation numbers, telephone numbers, and the like-on colored paper. When you have to dig up specifics, it's easy to locate that piece of paper among other items you're carrying. Beverly J. Rettus, Los Gatos, Calif.

SEE FOR YOURSELF To get a feel for a potential travel destination, I check out YouTube. Lots of people post videos from their trips, and you can get a real sense of what a town or beach looks like. Rhonda Hingle, San Diego, Calif.

NOW THAT PRICE IS RIGHT I was booking tickets online for an upcoming flight to Europe from the East Coast. One particularly attractive fare was offered on a U.S. airline as well as on its foreign partner airline. Same plane, same flight, same base price. But it was more than $100 cheaper per ticket to book with the foreign airline versus the U.S. one. We saved more than $400 for four tickets! Lori Uhl, Glenville, Pa.

POLITICAL ADVANTAGE If you're planning to spend time in Washington, D.C., always write in advance to your state's congressional representatives, requesting free maps, brochures, passes to attend sessions of Congress, and even discounted tour tickets. J. Morrill, Alexandria, Va.

BARGAIN OF THE MINUTE If you want to find out where the U.S. dollar goes the furthest, go to the Office of Allowances page of the U.S. Department of State Web site (aoprals.state. gov). Click on the Foreign Per Diem Rates link. The site lists the maximum rates of hotels, meals, and incidentals in more than 1,000 locations around the world. Barbara Zalot, Rocky Hill, Conn.

EARLY BIRDS We always try to book the first flight out in the morning because those planes often arrive at the airport the night before. You won't have to rely on an incoming plane, which could be delayed or canceled due to bad weather elsewhere. George Glover, Brunswick, Maine

LOOK BOOKS I like the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides because they're filled with great pictures. Before we take a trip, I show them to my kids and have them highlight or flag the things they think we should see. Jacki Barber, New London, N.H.


For $12 a year, anyone can join the Girl Scouts of the USA and receive access to the World Centers that the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (wagggs.org) runs in Mexico, India, England, and Switzerland. I staved at Pax Lodge in London for $79. Alison L. Bentley, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

RESERVATION INSPIRATION OpenTable (opentable.com) is a free service that lets you make restaurant reservations all over the United States. It has a points system that allows you to earn free meals. Most reservations are worth 100 points, but some are worth 1,000. If you choose those, it's easy to rack up 5,000 points, which entitles you to a $50 gift certificate to any of the site's restaurants. Lisa Silverman, Valley Village, Calif.

PICTURE THIS Before a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I went to the photo-sharing site Flickr (flickr.com) and searched for images of the island. Just going through people's snapshots helped me decide what we wanted to do on our trip. And once we got there, it was fun to see familiar sites. Debbie Morantes, San Antonio, Tex.

HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE If you're traveling to Great Britain, you can save a considerable amount on lodging by accessing the UK Web sites of hotel chains. For example, travelodge.co.uk has a section for offers and competitions, with rates starting at $27 per room. Amy B. Cochran, Fort Edward, N.Y.

ON THE METRO BEAT When we're planning to visit a city that has a subway, I like to review the transit map in advance to familiarize myself with the system. Amadeus.net makes this easy-just click on Trip Tools to access the maps. Alan Brill, Staten Island, N.Y.

DISCARDED DISCOUNTS You can save big by purchasing coupons and gift certificates on eBay. I've found great prices on airline and Amtrak tickets; car rentals; entrance to amusement parks such as Sea World, Disney, and Universal Studios; as well as overnights at many hotels. For example, I bought a $30 savings coupon for SeaWorld for only $1. Simply search for your destination and then type in "coupon" or "gift certificate." Nathaniel V. Greenwood, Hummelstown, Pa.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS My family travels with a notebook in which we all write down the one thing we most want to do on our trip (it has to be an activity we can all participate in). At breakfast, we peruse our lists and plan our day. We carry the notebook and use it as a journal. It makes a rich, and often hilarious, record. Cynthia Johnston, Omaha, Nebr.

Chapter Two


FAMILY BAGGAGE When our son and daughter were younger, we bought wheeled nylon duffel bags in a different color for each person. Having colors made it easy to do a last-minute check to confirm that everyone's bag was loaded into the car Angie Matkins, Monroe, La.

HANDS-ON APPROACH I found a fun way to identify our luggage at baggage claim. I bought red, blue, and yellow fabric paint from a crafts store and had my kids cover each bag with their handprints. Kim Pilsbury, Woodstock, Ga.

READY TO WEAR Pack your children's (and your own!) complete outfits-shirt, shorts/pants, underwear, socks-in gallon-size reusable Ziploc bags. Each morning, instead of tearing apart the suitcase to find various items, all your child has to do is grab a bag. Kim Thompson, Long Lake, Minn.

WALK THIS WAY Unless you're traveling with an infant who is too young to sit up, try to make do with only an umbrella stroller-one that folds up easily and compactly. Most airlines allow you to check it at the gate, and it'll be conveniently waiting right outside the plane door when you arrive. Helene Honeybone, Dallas, Tex.


I bought my sons fanny packs to use as toiletry bags. When they need to brush their teeth or comb their hair, they just grab their individual packs. This tip comes in especially handy when you're vacationing at a campground. Debra Kushnick, Marietta, Ga.

MINE AND YOURS Distribute everyone's clothes throughout all the family's suitcases. If you're flying and a bag gets lost, at least everyone has some of their things. Plus, if you're on a road trip, you don't have to take out all the bags at every stop. Jan Ecklund, Conneaut, Ohio

LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER I keep a master packing list on my computer for my daughter and me. Whenever we travel, I update the list and print a copy for my daughter. She feels very grown-up packing her own things, and I feel less pressured. On big trips, I bring the checklist to review and make sure we don't leave anything behind when we're heading home. Laura Sueoka, submitted at BudgetTravel.com

FISHERMAN'S CATCHALL Rather than filling our bags with batteries, memory cards, asthma inhalers, and countless other small items, I now wear a fishing vest while on vacation. The vest has lots of small pockets to hold all the things we might need throughout the day, and it leaves my hands free. Better yet, at airport security, I don't have to empty my pockets. I just put the vest through the scanner, walk through the X-ray, and head to my gate. Doug Brokeman, St. Louis, Mo.

BLANKIE STATEMENTS Bring along a comfort item from home. Both of our kids are allowed one stuffed animal and one blanket; that seems to make the transition to new places much easier. Laura Schaefer, Pittsburgh, Pa.


If you're packing a container that has a pump or a cap-such as the bottles that hold lotion or sunscreen-replace the top with one from a 20-ounce soda bottle. It's almost always a perfect fit, and you won't have to worry about leaks. Emily Butler, Mechanicsburg, Pa.


I hate having to rummage through a suitcase to find something, so I group similar items in clear plastic bags-all the socks in one bag, underwear in another, and so on. It's like a filing system for suitcases. Diana Graves, Crested Butte, Colo.


Excerpted from the SMART FAMILY'S PASSPORT by NINA WILLDORF Copyright © 2010 by Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Nina Willdorf is editor in chief of Budget Travel magazine, the most trusted travel magazine in the United States. More than two million people read every issue. With an emphasis on real travelers, the magazine and its Web site, BudgetTravel.com, are the go-to sources for anyone interested in smarter, easier, and more affordable travel.

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The Smart Family's Passport 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RJozwiak More than 1 year ago
Before you go on another family vacation you must pick up a copy of The Smart Family's Passport by Nina Willdorf. Quirk Books sent us, at kidlantis.com, a copy of this book for review and it is something that we'll be referencing before (and during) our next family vacation. The book is broken up into logical chapters with clever titles like Prepare For Takeoff: Planning a Family Trip, Airports and Airplanes: Flying with the Young and Restless, Planet Amusement Park: To Disney and Beyond, and Tech Talk: Electronics to Go. The book includes 350 tips compiled from Budget Travel magazine and best of all, they were submitted by real parents like us, so you know they've been tested! Whether you're going by car, plane or boat, whether your kids are big or small, whether you are a experienced family traveler or new to the adventure you most definitely will walk away from this book learning a new thing or two! Enter to win your own copy (until June 8, 2010) on kidlantis.com.