How To: Travel with Kids

I’ve often advised parents who ask how to travel with kids to include children in the planning of any family vacation. Last week I met a parent who, from the time their older son was in the second grade, actually made him the family trip planner. And every family with children can learn from his story.

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Travel Slogans

Quick, finish this statement: "What happens in Las Vegas . . . ." Or this one: "Virginia is for . . . ." Those are two of the classic travel slogans of modern times, advertising tag lines that have insinuated themselves into the lexicon and, not incidentally, colored how you and I think of a particular destination.

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Bringing Home Wine From Overseas

Maybe, like me, you’ve traveled to, France or Italy or New Zealand or Australia and wanted to bring back a case or two of the local wine. But you didn’t because you thought you’d have to pay U.S. Customs a stiff fee for carrying more than two bottles of alcohol into the country. Well, don’t deprive yourself any longer.

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Madeline Island

“It’s like the Hamptons without the fancy restaurants and celebs,” I said on the phone. 

“There’s a lot to be said for that,” answered Catherine, who has homes in Paris, San Francisco, Florida and Washington, D.C., and knows quite a bit about see-and-be-seen restaurants and celebrities. “Where is it again?” 

“Northern Wisconsin, on Lake Superior. It’s called Madeline Island.” 

“You know,” said Catherine, “that’s a whole part of this world I know nothing about.” 

And, until I moved to Minnesota nearly six years ago, I didn’t know anything about these parts, either.

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Last-Minute Passports

Let’s say you’ve never been out of the U.S. but a sudden opportunity arises and you’re caught without a passport. It can take Uncle Sam six weeks or more—depending on how busy the U.S. passport office is—to get you that all-important document through regular channels. But there are other options.

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Hotel Room Upgrades

I have a friend who never accepts the first room she’s given when she checks into a hotel. She always has a bellman take her to her room, and no matter how nice the digs, she’s sure there’s an even nicer room to be had. She asks the bellman to call the front desk.

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Premium Credit Cards

Is there any reason other than vanity to carry a credit card that comes with an annual fee of $400 to $1,000 dollars? Believe me, a big part of those pricey credit cards is all about vanity. If you’re a guy on a first date, would you rather pull out a platinum card or a run-of-the-mill, plain vanilla card to pay for dinner? Why else would a print ad for the new Visa Black Card quote Kim Whitman, an executive producer of online yoga videos, saying, “I like the feel of carbon—it’s unique.” What does carbon feel like anyway? For $495 a year, Visa will answer that question.

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Farmers Markets

Throughout the last couple of decades, one of the great joys of summer has been the explosion of farmers’ markets in urban areas. And if you’re a traveler, I’d strongly recommend you seek them out while on the road. Just as it’s great fun to visit markets (and even supermarkets) when traveling overseas, so, too, can a visitor to cities as disparate as Los Angeles and St. Paul, Minn., find markets where regional farmers ply the freshest of products.

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Medical Help on the Road

If you happen to pass through the historic city of Khiva, Uzbekistan, give wide berth to the guy with the camel in the center of town. The camel’s name is Catherine, and taking a short ride on her last week is why I have a broken collarbone today. But my experience may save you some anguish if you know what to do if you’re injured when on the road.

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Rental Car Savings

The car rental business has experienced the same downturn in business the last eight months as every other segment in the travel industry. Which means there are deals out there. Today’s primer is on how to save money when renting a car.

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About Rudy Maxa

Rudy Maxa

Rudy Maxa is host and executive producer of the public television travel series, Rudy Maxa's World. The 78 episodes he has hosted have won numerous awards, including a 2008 regional Emmy for his episode "Rajasthan." He's a contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine and has written for a host of national travel magazines and newspapers. For nearly 15 years he offered consumer travel commentary on public radio's business show Marketplace as "The Savvy Traveler," which was also the name of a one-hour, coast-to-coast weekend show on public radio that he co-created and hosted for four years. Prior to his career as a travel writer and broadcaster, Maxa was an award-winning Washington Post investigative reporter, magazine writer, and columnist for 13 years, during which time his reporting was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He was a senior writer at The Washingtonian magazine and Washington, D.C., bureau chief of Spy magazine. The author of two non-fiction books, Maxa lives in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.