That dreary winter feeling’s inevitably arrived, and with it, the urge for a warm-weather vacation.


Once we decide where and when, purchase our tickets and secure our lodging, anticipation and excitement becomes all-consuming. And away we go — bathing suits and sunscreen at the ready, delight on our faces at the prospect of several days in the sun. Our first hurdle: The airport. Whether they’ve lost your booking, separated every member of your family’s seats, or run out of meals on board, there’s always something that goes amiss.


But it’s no big deal if you’re prepared. Have a copy of all your travel documents on hand, even if you have an e-ticket. Always ask your travel agent for a confirmation letter, or print it out online. And bring snacks, both for you and the children. If need be, ask your fellow passengers to switch seats — most people will happily help parents sit with their children.


You’ve finally arrived at your destination. The warmth of the sun, the feel of the sand, the smell of the ocean — and the sound of the freeway?!? Sometimes “rooms with a view” mean something other than what you would assume at a beachside resort.


When booking, ask for a photo, or where to see it on the website. Ask all the necessary questions, including some you may take for granted. Again, get a confirmation report and bring it with you when checking in.

On my most recent vacation, the airline separated my husband from the rest of us, and had no special meal on hand for me, even though I’d pre-ordered and confirmed 24 hours prior to departure. When we arrived, in the dark, at our inn, the cabin advertised as “just steps from the beach” was on the side of the highway, so that all night long, my toddler asked, “What’s that noise?” (An 18-wheel truck!)

Of course, I’d asked if the place was baby-friendly, and was reassured it was, but when we awoke to daylight, there were open sockets (no faceplates) at exactly finger height, a leaking gas oven at the foot of the bed and no crib.

We complained, we were moved, we weren’t happy — we switched hotels without any extra cost.

The key to hassle-free travel lies within yourself. There will always be something that isn’t up to your expectations, including the wea­ther. Know your rights since, after all, you’re the paying customer. Have back-up proof of what you paid for and what you were promised and bring your most positive, resourceful attitude along.

If it rains every day while in Florida, catch up on the latest movies; if the winds howl while in Jamaica, drive into the hills and meet local artists; if it’s so cold in Mexico you can’t swim, curl up and read some books.

Rest, relaxation and a change of pace are really what everyone craves from a vacation — teach your children to make the most of a not-great situation, and you’ll be teaching them an important life lesson.