Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Break and Travel Memories

Spring Break is fast approaching at our house. We don't have any super grand plans, but we do have a couple of ideas on things to do. Unfortunately, I can't take many days off, because I have some training I need to do for work. But, with the time I do have off, we want to make the most of our Spring Break. We are planning to take one afternoon and head to the movies. The kids would like to see the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. We likely will couple that with a special meal out. Then, on another day, my sister-in-law, nieces and my mom are planning to visit. We will spend part of the day playing with my nieces and then when they head off to a friend's house, we will fill our afternoon with play. Hopefully, it will be nice enough to head to the park for part of the afternoon.

Someday, I would like to consider taking a getaway vacation on spring break. We had talked about using this year's spring break to make the much anticipated first trip to Disney World. Unfortunately, my husband's spring break at college didn't align with my son's spring break - so one of them was going to miss classes. Then, as we talked to others, we decided that it might be rather busy this time of the year (not that it isn't always busy, but figured spring break time could be busier than normal) and decided that it would be a better idea to wait until later in the year to go to Disney World.

When I was a child, I don't know for sure what we did most years on spring break, but I am sure that we enjoyed them since it was a break from routine. We did a couple of getaway vacations that stick out in my mind as more memorable than the other years. I remember that my Sophomore year we went to Disney World (although, as I type that, I find myself wondering, was that on Spring Break or in the summer? - guess I am getting old and not remembering like I once did). One of my memories from that trip was being worried about losing a contact while riding on Space Mountain, so I rode the ride with my eyes closed.

Then, my senior year of high school, we flew out to Arizona for the week of spring break. We drove in a big circle around the state, taking in many sites like the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest and even found a few off-the-beaten-path places to check out. I remember eating some of the best Mexican food on that trip. Of course, back then, there weren't many Mexican restaurants in Ohio. Now, we live in a town where the local Mexican restaurant is owned by some men that moved here from Mexico, so maybe the Mexican in Arizona wouldn't be that much better. (Total tangent, I know!)

A lot has changed travel though from when I was a kid. I feel like air travel has gotten a little more challenging for a family (and car travel a little easier - I couldn't watch shows in the car). Not only are there increased security requirements for air travel and the resulting longer waits to go through security, but things that used to just come with your flight are no longer included - things like checking a bag, blankets and pillows, meals.

On my most recent business trip, for the first time I experienced check luggage fees. I guess I had always managed to have a short enough trip that I could pack everything that I needed in my carry-on bag. I generally packed all those pouch samples that I get from the shampoo/conditioner and body wash companies, so that I don't have to fill my quart size bag with the larger travel size bottles. As a result, I was generally able to pack all of my liquids easily in that one quart size bag that you can carry on. This trip was a week long and because of the agenda for the meetings, I needed more outfits and multiple shoes to make it through the week. I paid one from home, when I printed my boarding pass and the return flight one at the airport when I checked the bag.

Also, on that same trip, my travel days happened to fall such that I flew down in February and back in March. Conveniently enough, the airline decided to stop offering complimentary in-flight snacks effective March 1. So, on the way there, I could have my little cookie (love those things) or the pretzels or the nuts - whatever the option was, but on the return flight they were no longer available, not even to purchase. They had snack packs to purchase, but you couldn't even purchase the cookie or pretzels - they simply weren't an option. Instead if you needed a snack, you had to purchase a snack pack which came with more food than a person needed and at quite a premium. I guess on a positive note, the snack packs could feed a few people, as long as everyone agreed on what part of the snack they wanted.

There are ways to save fortunately. I know that I generally bring a granola bar in my purse when I travel, in case I don't have time to catch a meal. Going forward, I will definitely make sure that I have a couple of munchies available in my carry-on and if I travel with kids, I will make sure that I have a number of kid friendly snacks. This way, I won't have to purchase a snack on the plane.

One way to "save" on checked baggage fees this spring is to participate in the IHG Check if Free promotion. Intercontinental Hotels Group is running a deal through April 30th, where they will give you a $100 Visa Check Card if you book a weekend stay at any of their hotels worldwide. You can read more about it on their press release . You can read the full terms on their website, but note that you need to pay for your room with your Visa card and submit a rebate form, along with your receipt for your checked baggage fee to get your $100 Visa Check Card.

Another way to potentially save is to simply drive. Of course, there are trade-offs of spending hours driving to your destination, but remember life is also about the journey, not just the destination. When I was younger, we did most of our vacationing by car. I think that Disney World during my sophomore year of college might have been my first flight (of course, now I'm wondering if we drove on that trip to Disney World and Arizona was my first flight. I know that I flew to Disney in college for sure).

Every year, the family would pile in the car and drive to Myrtle Beach. I'm not sure exactly how long that drive was, I just know that my parents would do part of it at night to make it easier on them and us. I can remember the thrill as we would enter each new state. I can remember the excitement of going through the tunnels in the mountains - in fact, if we were driving through at night, my parents would wake us up so that we wouldn't miss them. I remember the vacation where my brother got the chicken pox. I rode home between two car seats in our friend's car, so as to limit my exposure to the chicken pox. I still got them, but it was a memorable trip regardless. When I was younger, my family also did trips where we flew to our destination and then drove miles to experience the area - like our trip to Arizona and our trip to Europe.

No compensation was received for this post. Information about the promotion were provided by IHG. All opinions expressed are my own.


NeedANap2 said...

You might want to read a review (parents guide) of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie before you take your kids to see it, I didn't think it was as kid-friendly as the first one.

Samual said...

Really great Blog. Stress is one of the worst culprits. The reason we suffer more when travelling on an eastward flight is because the human biological clock lengthens its cycle, so that we can cope better with a longer day.

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