Travel Tips

from: Trip

Q: My husband and I will be taking a cruise with our 2-year-old daughter. We want to have dinner at the ship’s adults-only restaurant, so we need to use the cruise line’s in-cabin babysitting service. Should I tip the sitter on top of the fixed hourly rate? And what will she do after my daughter goes to sleep? Our sitter at home watches TV in our living room, but we’ll be in a tiny inside cabin, and my daughter’s bed will be close to the TV.

A: Check with your cruise line, but in my experience on Royal Caribbean, we paid the sitter’s hourly fee in cash and just added the tip to that. I’d give her a few dollars extra per hour– more if you have more than one kid.

Our sitter was watching TV on low volume and had a dim light on when we returned, and our kids were fast asleep. They’re not particularly light sleepers, but even in your daughter’s case, I wouldn’t expect the sitter to just hang out in the dark. For one thing, that sounds like a potential safety issue—those inside cabins get pitch black with the lights off. And besides, you’ll need some sort of light when you come in. If you’re concerned, why not have the sitter put your daughter to sleep in your bed, so she’s a little farther away from the TV or the light? Then you can transfer her to her bunk when you go to bed.

Q: Would it be rude to use walkie-talkies on our family vacation in Europe? We bought them for a cruise we took last year, and they were fantastic… but then again, lots of other families had them. I’ve never seen anyone wandering through London or Paris using a walkie-talkie and don’t want to offend anybody!

A: It’s more than rude—in many countries, it’s illegal to use walkie-talkies you bought in the U.S. Different countries have different rules about how you can communicate over the radio, and the walkie-talkies you bought here may be on a frequency you’re not allowed to use abroad. I’d buy a couple of cheap, pay-as-you-go cell phones when you arrive and use those to stay in touch.
Q: On intercontinental flights, I just want to sleep. I don’t understand why they do such a late dinner service. Can I tell a flight attendant not to wake me up?

A: Sure, as long as you’re nice about it. But intercontinental flights are generally on big planes with several flight attendants, so you might not talk to the one who’ll be pushing the food cart. A better option would be to leave a note on your tray table saying, “Thanks for letting me sleep through meal service.” I’ve even heard of people pinning a note like this to their blanket. It might look a little odd, but you’ll get your sleep

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