Tips for a Successful & Fun Family Vacation

A Well-Planned Trip

Production Editor Heidi Balaban is her family's travel agent. Her tips:

Read about hotels at tripadvisor.com and travelpost.com. Keep in mind what matters to you -- complaints about kids running around, for instance, might be good news.

Book flights online. Balaban checks Orbitz.com and hotwire.com, as well as sites that comb other sites, like mobissimo.com, sidestep.com, and kayak.com.

Travel while school is in session. Having preschoolers means you can go when rates are lowest.

Plan far ahead. The year, Balaban's family went to South Africa, so she got passports months in advance.

Hotels We Trust

  • Best Western: While individually owned, they generally have clean pools, friendly staff, and affordable prices.
  • Omni Hotels: They offer family packages, while Omnis in Texas have suites decorated by Pottery Barn Kids.
  • Beaches Family Resorts (in the Caribbean): They give you face time with Elmo and Cookie Monster and have Crayola Art Camp.
  • Hyatt: Resorts all have kids' camps (for ages 3 to 12) and family-friendly pools and restaurants. But you'll appreciate the adult amenities so you can also treat yourself.

New Passport Regulations

Now, even newborns need a passport to travel aboard, even to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In 2008, everyone will need passports for cruises as well. To get a passport for a baby, Mom and Dad have to apply together, in person, at a post office or a FedEx Kinkos store.

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