Spring Break for Families – 2 Ideas That Benefit Parents and Kids

Spring break is coming up and you need to figure out what to do with the kids.  The typical choices are either A.) take time off from your job to babysit them yourself, or B.) pay someone else to babysit them for you.  As much as you like at-home family time, that’s either burning precious work leave or shelling out $$ for a babysitter.  Since either option has you taking leave time and spending money, I present to you option C.) take a family vacation where everyone gets to have fun!

The next issue is how to have a family vacation where the parentals actually get to have some fun AND find a little time to rest.  Fear not, I have the solutions!

A family all-inclusive beach vacation is the way to go to maximize fun and value.

Solution 1 – All-Inclusive Beach Vacation:  Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica have some amazing beaches, amenity-filled all-inclusive resorts, and value-for-your-money that can’t be beat!  Add to that regular charted flights from major U.S. gateways like Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas, and the package savings and value are incredible.  There are a ton of family-friendly all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean that include activities for the kids so parents can spend time on their own to unwind and soak up some sun.  Everyone wins!

River cruises with Adventures By Disney take all the planning and guess work out of your overseas family vacation.

Solution 2 – Vacation Overseas with Adventures by Disney: Disney vacation options are so much more than Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland in California.  And, let’s be honest, you don’t want to do the Disney parks scene during a major spring break when everyone and their cousin is there too.  Instead, take the family vacation overseas that you’ve always wanted but with none of the hassle.  Adventures by Disney include family-focused escorted tours all over the world and on the rivers of Europe.  Adventures by Disney takes care of all the details so the parentals can do their own thing and relax, the kids get some amazing culturally immersive activities, and the whole family will experience an international destination that will keep everyone smiling!

How are you going to spice up your family’s spring break?

-Chad

Show Me the $$: Navigating Foreign Currency Exchange

Let’s be honest: dealing with foreign currency is a hassle because math is hard (or at least it is when you’re on vacation . . . well at least for me it is). So what are the best ways to prep for spending money on your trip without getting fleeced?

Best Way: Use a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees
Currency exchange rates change daily and the best way to keep up without having to think too much is to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Call your credit card company to see if they offer this on your current card. If they don’t, sign up for a new one immediately otherwise you’ll be hit with a percentage fee of each overseas transaction you make and that adds up quickly. I personally use Chase Sapphire Preferred and I LOVE it.

Bank
Order money from your bank prior to departing and be sure to see if they have partnerships with overseas banks to avoid ATM fees.

OK Way: Get Foreign Cash from your Bank Before You Depart
Most banks keep popular foreign currency on hand (such as Euros and British Pounds) or they’re available to order on their website and pick it up at your local branch. This is super convenient as the bank will debit the money from your account and then let you know when it’s ready for pickup. The big drawback is that the bank’s “exchange rate” typically doesn’t match the market rate because they use the rate from the market’s close the previous day and then add their own hidden fee “mark up.” Still, it’s a good way to have some cash on hand when you land so you don’t have to deal with . . .

The Most Expensive Way: Airport/Hotel Exchanges and ATMs
If you can avoid it, DO NOT exchange money at the airport or hotel – the rates are abysmal and you will lose money. You know how items at a corner store are more expensive than they would be at the grocery store? It’s the same idea with exchanging money at the airport or hotel: you’re paying extra for the convenience. Sure, they work in a pinch but you are getting less for your money. ATMs are a crap shoot as you will likely be charged a fee by the bank ATM and your bank. Some larger international banks have partnerships with overseas banks that will allow you to avoid fees so be sure to ask your bank prior to departure.

Sometimes There’s No Need to Bother
If you’re going to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean, you really don’t need to bother exchanging money as resort staff will be happy to accept U.S. currency for tips. Bring a stack of one’s and tip a couple dollars with each drink and leave some on the table after eating in resort restaurants.

-Chad

How to Cash in Your Woefully Underused Vacation Time

Say this out loud: “I deserve a break!” Yes you do! I know you work your tail off day in and day out! Sooooooooo . . . why do we Americans leave 51% of our eligible paid vacation time sitting on the table?

Despite being stressed out of our minds, we are working more hours and taking fewer vacation days. The reasons for this vary with some people saying they don’t want to deal with the mountain of work that awaits them upon returning from vacation. Others simply don’t think that anyone else can do their job while they are away. Unsurprisingly, some are intimidated by a cutthroat office culture where everyone is eerily silent about the fact that no one seems to take any vacation.

Leave-Office
You can spend your weekend here, or you can spend it drinking mai tai’s on the beach. The choice is yours to make.

Therefore, the first question really is HOW to cash-in your paid time off. The answer: Be a long-weekend-warrior.

We fine Americans have the blessing of geography on our side. A few hours plane ride to the south is lovely Mexico and a gorgeous string of Caribbean islands that offer sun, surf, and sand with all-inclusive resorts at very reasonable prices. You can take a Friday and a Monday off to maximize the weekend days, and trot off to Punta Cana, Montego Bay, or the Mexican Riviera Maya for a long weekend of sipping frosty beverages while soaking in the sun. Even if you have to take some work with you (ugh), the resorts have Wi-Fi and doing a little work by the pool beats your cramped cubicle or office any day. You can even use your time waiting on the concourse to get these ‘lil tasks out of the way.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Iceland is only a 5-6 hour flight from the East Coast and you can pack a lot into this tiny island-nation over a long weekend. Any time of year is fine since Icelandic winters are very mild, the shorter days make for prime-time Northern Lights viewing, and the geothermal hot springs are toasty all year ‘round.

Iceland's Blue Lagoon hot spring will melt away the work stress over a long weekend.
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon hot spring will melt away the work stress over a long weekend.

The second question, which seems generally obvious, is WHY you should cash in your paid time off.

Did you know that people who travel to places with different cultures or run in the same circles as other travelers are more likely to come up with creative ideas? It’s true! A smarty-pants study from Adam Galinksy, a management professor at Columbia Business School says so! So, go on vacation, get the creative juices flowing, and wow your boss with oodles of new ideas when you get back! Not to mention that breaking away from your day-to-day routine resets your mind and body to give you better perspective and renewed vigor. Plus, you’ll be the envy of the water-cooler convos as you’ll be the only one in the office who’s tanned, rested, and ready to go.

So, whip out that calendar, block off some long weekends, and use up your vacation time, people!

Say it one more time with me: “I deserve a break!” Yes. Yes, you do.

-Chad