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Planning Your Family Winter Getaway

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 1:27pm
Kathleen Fellinger

It's that time of the year when we all could use a break from the snow and cold of winter --  especially this year with record breaking snowfall.   It's a time when hotter temperatures are beckoning us and we dream of a beautiful hot sandy beach in a tropical destination.  Where should you go with kids?   When travelling with little ones, sometimes you end up needing a vacation from your vacation.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  In order to get some sound travel advice for your family-friendly vacation, we recruited CAA Senior Travel Consultant, Rachel Souster, and asked her some questions to help plan your next family getaway.

 

KB:  What is the most popular family vacation - destination requested?

RS:  For families with school-age children – Disney. Disneyworld, Disneyland and Disney Cruise lines. For families with more adult children, all inclusive vacations, like Mexico, Jamaica, etc. Somewhat overlooked family vacations are to Europe as the flights are more expensive. Companies like Trafalgar Tours, for example, have a brochure specifically for Family Travel. There are not many places that you would go that you cannot find anything for the kids to do.
 

KB:  How far in advance should we be thinking about our family vacation and planning for it?

RS:  Usually 6 months to a year in advance you can start your planning. Especially if you have a larger family with 3 children, we want to choose accommodation appropriate to your needs. Some hotels will only allow a maximum of 3 to 4 persons in the room and it’s not always possible to guarantee connecting rooms. Also if you are looking at a holiday vacation like Christmas, Feb. break, or Easter to name a few, you must book earlier or you may be disappointed that your choice is not available or you end up paying more than you wanted too.

 

KB:  Is an all-inclusive resort or package deal cost effective for kids too?  Are there trips/deals where kids can go for stay/fly for free?

RS:  Some hotels offer Kids eat, or stay free. At times, there can be promotions where your children can also fly free (but pay the taxes). Unfortunately, for flights within North America, children age 2 and over pay the adult fare. Children under age 2 fly free and are “lap babies”. They do not get their own seats or luggage, but you can bring essential items like a stroller or a play yard. Most airlines do offer child rates when flying overseas, for ages 2 to 11.

 

KB:  When is the busiest season for family vacations/travel?

RS:  Anytime the kids have holidays, but then some schools in North America take their breaks at different times.  We usually say Spring Break lasts from mid-February until Easter.  Then summer can be very busy as well, but a lot of families go camping or visit family.  CAA Members have access to free maps, tour books and campground books for North America as part of their membership.

 

KB:  Can you save if you pull the kids out of school to go at a less busy time to travel?  

RS:  If you are able to travel at a “less busy” time, you may be able to save some money. The month of January tends to be more cost effective for packages south to Mexico or Caribbean. Hurricane season usually runs from June to November. Going on your Disney Vacation in the fall (September to early December is more of an off time for us in Saskatchewan). Europe can also be better pricing for Travel during the winter months; Christmas markets in Germany, Tulip time River Cruise in April, Eastern Europe in the fall, rather than the busier season of summer.

 

KB:  What do kids need to travel internationally?

RS:  A passport is required for all travel outside of Canada when flying. Please see www.ppt.gc.ca for the most up-to-date regulations on passport requirements. The passport office will begin issuing 10 year passports for adults as of July 1, 2013. Parents please note as of Oct 2012, you now need the “long-form” birth certificate to get your children’s passport. In order to book anything for travel outside of Canada, we do require your birth date and full name as it appears on your passport, so please have these handy when you come into the office.

 

KB:  Do you need proof of health insurance for your family to go across the border to the US?

RS:  No, proof of insurance is not required, but it is definitely recommended. Your Saskatchewan health card on its own is not sufficient coverage if you become ill outside of Canada and sometimes out of Province. Some of you may carry health insurance through your employer, please be aware of the conditions of your coverage and how to contact them in an emergency. At CAA, we offer Medical and/or Cancellation insurance options to suit your needs.

 

KB:  Rachel, do you have a favourite family trip that you took with your family?  If so, where was it to and what was the best part of it?

Maui Ocean AquariumRS:  When our baby girl was 7 months old, we flew to Maui with my parents for a week. She did so well on the plane and slept like an angel, it was almost unreal. The weather was great while we were there. We stayed in Kihei and took her into the ocean and the hotel pool. We brought an inflatable infant float for her in the pool and just pushed her around. We took her for walks in her stroller and played with new toys brought by Grandma and Grandpa in the hotel room. We visited the Maui Ocean Aquarium for the day. They have a room with a big viewing area with sharks, sting rays and all sorts of fish, even a tunnel to walk through with the fish all around you. She loved looking at everything. I would love to take her again, but I think the next family trip will be a week at a cabin this summer.
 

KB:  Do you have any travel plans coming up?

RS:  Myself, I will be departing on a “Tulip Time” River Cruise with AMA Waterways just after Easter out of Amsterdam. I can’t wait to experience the ultimate all inclusive, small ship, personalized service that is River Cruising!

If your family is still looking for “last minute” travel, you may visit our website, www.caask.ca, under Travel>  Vacation Packages, then > Hot deals, you can search out packages that are still available. Our website can also guide you through all of the advantages of being a Member of CAA. Such as towing, fee free flying, insurance including medical, home and auto, car sales and repair and many other services.

 

Rachel Souster - CAA Travel Consultant

Rachel Souster is a Senior Travel Agent with CAA Travel and a dedicated Mom.  She has been a Travel Consultant for 13 years and has had the privilege of traveling to many fun and interesting destinations, some of which include DisneyWorld, Mexico, Caribbean and Greek Isles cruises, and several destinations in Europe including the beaches of Normandy.

All CAA Travel Consultant's, including Rachel are CTC’s (Certified Travel Consultants), which is an important designation with testing requirements.  If you would like help with planning your next family-friendly vacation getaway; please contact one of CAA’s knowledgeable Consultants!

Rachel Souster, CTC - Senior Travel Consultant
CAA TRAVEL
2510 East Quance Street
Regina, SK S4N 6EH
Telephone:  (306) 791-4333
email: Rachel.souster@caask.ca

Photos Courtesy of CAA Travel & Rachel Souster