Planning a getaway with family or friends this spring break? Here are a few travel tips guaranteed to spring you in the right direction.
- Be prepared –
Take a lesson from the Boy Scouts. It happens to the best of us, you get excited or overworked, losing sleep before leaving on your trip thus dragging down your immune system and making you prone to picking up more than just your luggage while travelling. Don’t wait to get to your destination before trying to decipher unfamiliar bottles of medication at the local “farmacia.” Pack your own mini-medicine cabinet before you leave: Gravol, Tylenol, Aspirin, cold medication, Imodium and any other medication you or family members occasionally use such as Tums, nasal sprays or inhalers. Having medications with which you are familiar and dosages of which you are certain are safer, especially for children, if and when someone falls ill. If you have kids, you will have to pack adult and child medication. One last reminder, keep any medication that you need to take on a daily basis in your carry-on luggage.
- Get educated –
Okay, so you have finally decided to take the kids to Disney World, but what is the plan? The Magic Kingdom itself is massive and you probably don’t even know the names of all of Disney’s parks, never mind the other cool attractions in the area. Maybe you want to take a day-trip to the beach, go air boating or shopping. Are you going to pick up brochures at the airport or ask the front desk? Why not arrive ready to hit the shops or shake Hagrid’s hand? Get everyone involved in making a trip outline of things you would like to do along with a couple of rainy day fall-backs. Look up activities and their proximity to your hotel; maybe you can squeeze two things in if they are near each other. You may not do everything you had planned to do or may change your mind once you get there, but it is better to be armed with a list of fun activities to keep you busy than arrive and wonder where to start.
- Expect the unexpected –
Not everyone is from Friendly Manitoba; many thieves prey on visiting tourists so be conscientious of your valuables. Use the hotel safes, keep your doors locked and think like a thief. Don’t keep large wads of cash in your wallet. Try putting smaller amounts in several different pockets, preferably interior pockets or ones that zip closed, or wear a money belt. Don’t visit ATMs in dodgy areas or remove money with suspect people nearby. Take photocopies of your travel documents before you go and leave them with a family member.
- Keep everyone safe –
No one expects bad things to happen but you’ll feel better when you’re ready for them if they do. Know where the fire escapes are located and have a meeting place. Designate a meeting area at attractions or malls so if you get separated you can find each other easily. Instruct children on who to ask for help if they get lost and give them a note with your cell, hotel address and everyone’s name. Keep a photo of your child with you. If you have a cell phone take a photo of them before you leave that morning, then you will even be able to tell people what they are wearing.
- Stay true to your roots –
It is no secret we Winnipeggers love a good deal. Sometimes the best things in life are free, or discounted. Don’t just sign up for costly tours and trips. Look for free activities at parks, beaches and gardens. Pack a lunch and go on a picnic or go for a walk. Check online for discounts before you go, or inquire about discounts before you book, you just never know.
- Don’t forget to purchase travel health insurance –
No, it’s not just a ploy from insurance companies to get your money, but you need to be diligent about what you purchase and know what you are and are not covered for when you book travel insurance. Nothing ruins a trip faster than an unexpected crisis that drains your pocket book for months or years to come.
- Party smart –
Whether it’s your first trip without the parental figures or an afternoon at the pool bar while your spouse has the kids, be careful. Pace yourself and don’t get too crazy; drunks make easy targets for assault or theft. Just because you are on holidays doesn’t mean you have the right to do what you want. Be respectful, and for Pete’s sake don’t do anything illegal. Be cautious. This is not your city so be cognizant of where you go to party and with whom you are partying with, keeping an eye on your drink at all times and pre-arranging your ride home. Make “go out with your friends and come home with your friends” a rule.
- Marinate before baking –
The effects of the sun can be more powerful in other parts of the world, especially if you are feeling unwell from the previous evening’s party or are just plain ill. Stay hydrated and in the shade otherwise the sun can make you feel even worse. Apply sunscreen religiously – at least 15 SPF is recommended and use it frequently, paying special attention to the face, ears and neck.
- Splashing around –
Dangerous situations can arise faster than you think. Keep a constant eye on children around water, pools, oceans, or lakes; it only takes a few seconds for you to lose sight of them or for something to happen. If you are swimming in the ocean, read the flags. Most hotels and public beaches put up flags to warn swimmers about water conditions. Understand what they mean: red is ‘danger’ – stay out of the water as there may be riptides or undertow; yellow flags mean ‘swim with caution’ – there may be some undertow and riptides are possible; a blue flag indicates the water is calm but swim safely. Swimming areas are cordoned off for a reason other than to annoy you. The buoys keep boats and powered watercraft out and you safe from areas with known riptides, drop-offs, rocks or other possible dangers. If you do get caught in a rip current, don’t try to swim against it as you will just tire yourself out. Swim parallel to the shore until the rip passes and then make your way to shore. Swim with a buddy.
- Have fun –
Commit these tips to memory and make the most of your vacay. Have fun with family and friends and explore and enjoy your time away.