Buying your Unaccompanied Child an Airline Ticket

By Christina VanGinkel

If you have decided that your child is old enough to travel to a relative’s house for a holiday, by himself or herself and not in accompany of an adult, and that the travel will require flying on an airline, there are additional factors that you need to consider. You will not only need to check the cost of tickets and flight schedules, but depending on the age of your child, you will also be required to find out any additional fees. There will also be additional steps for dropping off your child and for whoever is picking them up. While this all may be common knowledge to some people, to others like me, who do not routinely fly, or even at all, the fee aspect of it can be an unexpected expense, but considering what the fees cover though, I do not think that it is an unnecessary cost.

This all came about when we recently made the decision to allow our thirteen-year-old son to fly to his Aunt and Uncles house this upcoming spring. We checked the cost of tickets for around the dates we were interested in him going, and were actually pleasantly surprised at how affordable the round trip would be. That was until we went to make the actual booking. That was when we were notified that there would be an additional seventy-five dollar fee each way, for a total of one hundred and fifty dollars extra, above and beyond the cost of the flight.

What we soon learned though, was that this was not just some fair-weather fee added on to make parents think twice about allowing their young teenagers to fly alone. The fees are actually to cover the cost of making sure, than an airline employee is always aware of where your child is, especially during any layovers, where they will accompany your child throughout the layover. On the occasion that the layover is a lengthy one, an employee will bring them to a room at the airport where other unattended minors are, and where another airline employee is watching over the group pf them, making sure that they reach their connecting flights on time.

The fee is also to help cover the additional steps taken to make sure that the correct adult on the other end of the flight is retrieving your child. Jokingly, I called it a babysitting fee and considering what one can pay for a good sitter for an evening out, the fee is not that high. While most thirteen-year-olds would not normally require a sitter, considering the big world of airports and connecting flights, this is an exception when I would gladly pay for one. The airline will also make sure that your child is taken care of in the event of a cancelled or delayed flight. Most airlines will even arrange for overnight accommodations and meals in extreme circumstances, such as very bad weather causing massive delays and cancellations, and handle any rebooking issues that may arrive from such a set of circumstances coming up.

Airlines will also often pre board minors, introduce them to the pilot, show them where the bathrooms are located, and go over safety issues before the rest of the passengers are boarded. In essence, they will try to make the whole flight experience as un-stressful for all those involved, both the parent and the child.

While some airlines will allow you to decline these services for a child aged fifteen or older, unless they are by that time, seasoned travelers, or extremely mature for their age, I would recommend this service as money well spent. Just the knowledge that my child will not have to be in his connecting airport for any length of time by his self, or have to make sure that he reaches his connecting flight on time, again by his self, is well worth the additional one hundred and fifty dollars the total round trip flight will cost. If you are going to be allowing children to fly by themselves any time in the future, be sure to find out what the airline they are flying on does for you and them for the additional fees, and then be glad that they will not be all alone on their flight. I consider it money well spent.

The Sands of Virginia Beach

Visiting Virginia Beach, Virginia can be an exciting way to spend your vacation this year. You will find that the beach is much of the attraction in this city of about 40,000 people although there certainly is much more to offer.

There are a number of beaches that you should consider visiting on your trip. For starters, go to Chick’s Beach. It is the shortened name for the beach along Chesapeake Bay, one of the bodies of water that runs along this city. Chesapeake Bay has warm waters and mild surf most of the year, so this beach is a wonderful destination for people who are not so much into the wind and waves at the Oceanside beach. Instead you can sit back and read a good book or enjoy the sunshine without the hassle of a busy beach.

Sandbridge Beach is on the decidedly less touristy side of Virginia Beach. Sandbridge is the place where you will find many condos and rental homes instead of the typical hotel structures. There are three new apartment-like condominium complexes built on this side of the city, and you may want to see about a short-term stay in one of them.

If you are interested in leasing a timeshare or privately-owned house, then Sandbridge is the place for you. These houses range in size and price level, and you will find one of the comfort and amenity level you need, no matter what your desires. You also will be able to head out to the surf through the individual walkways leading you to the five miles of beach along Sandbridge. You can visit Little Island Park if you are having a family day at the beach. There you will find plenty of recreational activities and equipment, such as tennis courts and picnic areas with covered shelters and grills. This beachside location is one that the entire family can love.

If you want to know one of the best-kept secrets of the Virginia Beach area, then you should take a trip to the Croatan part of the beach scene. This out of the way beach area is far from the busy sections of town but has plenty of people. Those people are locals who consider Croatan to be their turf. They will not be bothersome, and the atmosphere can provide for a great day at the beach.

Atlantic Avenue is the lifeline of Virginia Beach. It is the street that lines the busiest of the city beaches. There are shops galore along Atlantic Avenue. You will find plenty of tourist digs, including t-shirts proclaiming local sayings, straw hats, sunglasses, suntan lotion, disposable cameras, and more. You also can find restaurants along the Atlantic Avenue side of the city. They range from fast food chain restaurants to nice local restaurants, so there is something for you with the kids and something for Mom and Dad when the sun goes down.

Atlantic Avenue also is host to the majority of the hotels in the area. You can find your basic, inexpensive family motel along with nicer resort-style hotels. Because most people who visit Virginia Beach stay in this section of town, you will find plenty else to do as well. There is a state boardwalk that boasts about famous Virginians. You can walk the boardwalk while you are touring the area. You also can visit the 24th Street Park, where you can walk along walkways and have food from vendors, see entertainment, and watch the ocean. There are miniature golf, basketball, and all of the other low-key forms of entertainment you may expect to find on a day at the beach.

Virginia Beach does not have the acclaim that other beaches around the United States may have. It is not crazy during spring break like Panama City or Daytona. It is not a haven for bikers, the wealthy, or families with small children. Instead this beach is a mix of everyone, and it is far less crowded and thus less expensive than many other beaches. In fact, even if you are not big on the beach, there are plenty of places you can find to keep you busy from museums to art centers. Whatever you want, Virginia Beach has it.

By Julia Mercer

A Virginia Beach Vacation: More Than Ocean

Virginia Beach has a number of exciting places to visit besides just the ocean and bayside. One of the best parts about taking your vacation in Virginia Beach is that you can visit so many interesting places.

The first place you should stop if you are remotely interested in religion or philosophy is ARE. Edward Cayce, a mystic, founded this center, and it exists today as one of the leading places to find information on seminars and religious enlightenment. People who visit ARE can find seminars and interactive exhibits that will guide them through the beginnings of spiritual journeys.

The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is another possible location for people who are visiting the area. This aquarium is really neat because it has 800,000 gallons of water! This water has fish and other marine life of all types. It also has a huge aviary, or bird sanctuary, where you can watch birds flying around overhead. The Marine Science Center has a number of interactive exhibits as well so that you can get a feel for various parts of marine life.

One of the neatest things in the area near Virginia Beach is the Virginia Air and Space Center. It is located in Hampton, which is not far from Virginia Beach, and it has the command module for Apollo 12 as well as other artifacts from the American space race. The artifacts are housed there because it was one of the original places for training astronauts and studying space. The city school system in Virginia Beach also has its own planetarium, and there are public presentations available many nights throughout the summer.

The Atlantic Avenue area of Virginia Beach is home to a number of restaurants and shops that will be perfect for your trip. In addition, you can find all of the typical vacation activities located there. You can bowl, play miniature golf, visit an arcade, or go to the movies. These activities are mundane, but they are often needed on a fast-paced vacation. You will find that after spending a few days on the ocean, everyone needs to relax, and these games are just the thing that will help you rejuvenate for the rest of your trip.

If you are into water sports, then Virginia Beach is the place to be. There are scores of local outfits offering jet ski rentals for ocean riding as well as skiing over the bay. You also can take a kayaking tour of the area. This tour is something that the family can do together. The tours last only a couple of hours, so you are not committing yourself to being out on the open water all day. You will be able to see the water up close on these beginner-friendly kayaks. Some of the companies even specialize in getting you up close and personal with the bottlenose dolphins that are often seen near the banks in Virginia Beach.

There are two areas, the 17th Street Stage and the 24th Street Park, that offer a wide variety of entertainment. These areas are a bit low-key, but they are definitely local hot spots. They have little walk-offs where you can hear concerts or see thespians performing. You also will be able to just walk along and have an ice cream cone from one of the local vendors along these walkways.

If you visit at the right time of the year, you can find ethnic festivals going on. Diversity is important in the Virginia Beach area as there are people representing a variety of nationalities. They show their cultural roots throughout the summer months with weekend festivals and periodic concerts and celebrations. To find out about these festivals, contact the Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce to see when they will be held.

Virginia Beach provides so much entertainment that you find fun for the whole family. Be sure that you look at the schedule ahead of time to see what will be there when you are. You may just find that you have such a blast that you will return again and again. My family has vacationed in Virginia Beach twice, and we are looking forward to our next trip. I know you will feel the same.

By Julia Mercer