Sydney, Australia - Opera House

Not every fare deal warrants attention on a family travel oriented blog, but in this case, Delta has good summer availability from many US cities for $1200 to Australia.  While that is by no means cheap on an absolute level, it is an excellent fare from the US to Australia, especially so during summer vacation season.  I just wanted to give it a brief mention and point over to one of my favorite sites, The Flight Deal, who posted this well ahead of me.  Click through for the details and how to book.

Starwood / MasterCard 20% off Weekend Nights

A potential good deal for the weekend family travelers.  Starwood and MasterCard are running a promotion offering 20% off the nightly rate when booking two weekend nights. The usual fine print applies – not all hotels participate and the rate is prepaid/non-refundable.  Although it isn’t entirely clear from the title, the 20% off appears to apply to all nights in your reservation as long as two weekend nights are included in the stay.  This promotion is valid for stays booked between May 15 –December 31, 2014 and completed by March 31, 2015. Still, there are a wide range of participating Starwood hotels in the Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien families.  I tested the new Westin Harborview here in Portland, Maine, and sure enough, most weekends are available – even now during [...]

Portland International Jetport

The first time your baby ate solids, you didn’t throw a bone-in ribeye in front of her.  You started small.  Same here.  To the extent that your geography and schedule can allow for it, choose a friendly airport, depart at the optimal time and do it on a plane that can seat you comfortably.  Let’s break this down after the jump. Introduction The Itinerary Flights and Seating Packing The Airport Arrival The Finish Flight and Airport Choices That first time out is ideally a short flight – maybe an hour to ninety minutes in the air.  No connection.  To the extent that you can manage it, starting or ending the trip at a smaller, slower airport is quite helpful. Let’s take, for example, the calm scene at Portland International Jetport (PWM): [...]

This Facebook post by Mike Rowe is making the rounds this morning.  I found it as I was working on my next “first trip” installment regarding aircraft and seat choices.  I think Mike has beaten me to the punch on explaining why you probably don’t want that first trip to be on a CR7 (spoiler alert!), and it’s just beautifully worded.  I mean, really top notch stuff here. I’ll limit myself to a short paragraph here so that you can get to reading it. Image Credit:  D-ACPF by ABF. (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Heads up that Capital One 360 will hold it’s annual Independence Day sale from June 30 to July 3, 2014. The offers for this year are not yet known, but 2013 offers included – $76 Bonus for 360 Savings Account $100 Bonus for 360 Checking Account $176 Bonus for Capital One ShareBuilder Account $576 Bonus for Capital One ShareBuilder IRA $176 Off Capital One ShareBuilder 401(k) Plan $76 Bonus for Refer A Friend Program I don’t currently bank with Capital One, but $500+ to open an IRA would be tempting if it happened again this year. Hat tip to debentureboy at FWF.

I certainly won’t forget my daughter’s first trip.  Not because things went spectacularly wrong, either.  Somehow, things went spectacularly right, so I hope I can reach some parents on the fence about giving it a try. Let’s step aside for a second and recall those magical pre-parenthood trips.  Maybe you packed the night before, or maybe you just stuffed the contents of your dryer into a carry-on and went straight to the airport.  You probably arrived with enough time to clear security and maybe hit the lounge or at least grab a coffee on your leisurely stroll to the gate.  You got on the plane, sat down, had that pre-boarding Glenlivet, fell asleep and woke up at your destination.  If you clicked the link, you know where this is going [...]

I promise to my fledgling readership that I do have a substantive family travel series kicking off soon.  In the meantime, I wanted to quickly share a program of which I only recently became aware – AmazonSmile. Simply put, AmazonSmile is the same as the Amazon site you might already shop, but with 0.5% of the sale going to a charity of your choice. This is a nice opportunity to support organizations of your choice with a transaction that you might already make.  If you wish to learn more, click through to About AmazonSmile.

Hat tip to Gary Leff for posting this first. An Ebay seller is offering a $30 upgrade to HHonors Gold status.  A tremendous value if it pans out, but in my opinion is likely too good to be true.  I am not personally aware of any mechanism to sell or gift HHonors status, and this does not appear to be coming from Hilton themselves. For those still interested, the additional risk beyond Hilton revoking your status or the seller not being able to deliver is that the completion itself relies on sharing your HHonors username and password/pin. HHonors Gold normally requires 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 earned base points in a calendar year. Benefits include – 25% bonus points on stays 5th night free on award stays Late check [...]

For a limited time, Amazon is offering a $15 gift card with the purchase of $50 worth of select Household Essentials.  The selection is not incredibly large, but it does include the types of paper products that kids tear through quickly. Have a look here and see if the deal makes sense for you. Please note that at this time, I am not an Amazon Affiliate due to my state of residency and am therefore not compensated for anything you purchase by clicking the above link.  I have provided the link without any embedded referral code.

Of our friends and family, we were not the first to have a child, but it is a safe bet that we were the first to attempt any significant travel with our little one.  Living in Maine has been a great experience, but when our closest relatives are in New Jersey and most distant in San Diego, we realized early on that we would have to get back in the air quickly. For those that have children and will admit to remembering the pre-birth experience, you may recall all of the planning that went into having a child.  Especially as a dad-to-be, I was very concerned with everything from preparing the nursery to the optimal route to the hospital.  Sure enough, those plans went into action and nine months plus three [...]