Thursday, December 9, 2010

Being a Tourist in Your Own Backyard

One way to make those lasting memories with your family without some of the stresses of traveling a long distance is to play tourist in your area.  You can do this by using your home as your "accommodation" or by camping nearby or by staying in a hotel suite.  The first two options are the least expensive of the three obviously, but we have tried all of these and enjoyed aspects of all three.  Spending even one night in a hotel in your own town or in a neighbouring town can actually feel like a little holiday and most kids delight in the excitement that spending a night in a hotel (especially one with a pool) brings!  We have found some incredible deals by booking at the last minute, being willing to go on a weeknight in low season, and asking directly for a large discount.  We have stayed in local hotels in their family suite, which usually has a themed bedroom for the kids within the room.  Whatever accommodation option you choose for your stay-at-home or stay-near-home holiday, there are some important things to remember to make it a success.

It is imperative that you treat this as a holiday by giving your family your undivided attention.  This may mean switching off the phones, powering down the computers, and turning off the TV.  Also be sure to leave the worries of your job or life circumstances for the time of the vacation.  By doing things differently than you normally do, this will already set the tone for making this holiday a success.

Visit your local Information Centre and pick up brochures of the activities in your area.  They may also have free maps that you can take.  Be sure to talk to whoever is on duty at the centre, as they will be able to tell you some of the hidden gems within your community.  No matter how long you have lived in your town, there will probably be things that you were not aware of and it can be fun to re-discover your community by seeing it through the eyes of a tourist.  Even in very small communities, there are so many things to explore and enjoy.  Examples of these are nature preserves, bird watching, berry picking, local farm experiences, art stores, museums, bowling, live plays at high schools or community centres, festivals, historical landmarks, churches, hiking trails, horseback riding, gardening centres, swimming, ice skating, golfing, cultural centres, lakes, and bed and breakfasts.

If saving money is the main goal of having your vacation from home, then think of creative ways to create those special memories such as packing a picnic lunch and taking it out to a nature area or park to enjoy together.  You can also make your house feel more like a hotel by trying fun ideas such as swapping bedrooms among the family members or serving breakfast in bed and pretending it's room service!  You could also try a night of camping out in the living room.

Staying at or near home can be just as much of a vacation as going far away, can save you money, stress, and time, and can still create lasting family memories.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Travel Immunizations for Your Family

Vaccinations are a personal choice and I am in no way advocating one way or the other, but when traveling with children, researching the types of illnesses common to the region you will be traveling to is essential.  If you are against vaccinating, you may need to adjust your travel plans if there happens to be an outbreak of say, typhoid, in the area you had originally planned on visiting.  Travel clinics can be very informative as it is their job to keep updated on the latest conditions in the countries in question.  
Even for someone who believes in immunizations, there are considerations to be taken when traveling internationally with small children.  Some vaccines are not available for babies.  As an example, Hepatitis A vaccine cannot be administered before 12 months of age and the typhoid immunization cannot be administered before the age of 2.  Some of the malaria medications are also not safe for young children, so these are considerations that do need to be taken seriously.  Having your child become seriously ill in a foreign country is something no parent wants to experience.

A health care provider or travel immunization clinic should be consulted 3 months prior to departure for the trip in order to allow sufficient time for immunization schedules to be completed.  This health care provider or travel clinic may also provide prescriptions for medications to take in case of contracting illnesses that are specific to that region.  

Immunizations can be very expensive, especially for a large family, so be sure to check with your health plan to see if they cover some or all of the cost for vaccinations.  Some health plans will only cover the cost if pre-approval is granted, so be sure to consult with them BEFORE your scheduled immunizations take place.


One thing that is very important to remember to carry with you along with other travel documentation such as passports and travel insurance is your immunization record.  Some countries restrict travel to those who are not immunized for certain things such as yellow fever, though exceptions can be allowed for allergies or health concerns that prevent the safe administration of such immunizations.  In these cases, a letter from your primary physician may be required for entry. 

Another thing to take note of is that the most frequent health concerns experienced during international travel are not preventable by vaccines.  Even in getting all the recommended vaccines for a particular country or region, an individual must still take precautions when it comes to things such as coming into contact with contaminated food and water.

Hopefully this information will help to keep your travel as safe and fun as possible!