Hassle-free Family Travel

Recently, ParentingToday.TV conducted an unscientific poll asking the question:  "What is your favorite childhood memory with your parents?"   Overwhelmingly, the answer was some form of vacation, whether a big trip like Disneyland, or weekend trips to the beach or camping.  As you plan your summer vacation, remember that you are making memories your children will hold on to their entire lives.  Here are some tips to keep your family vacation memorable, and hassle-free:

Have a Plan.  First things first, get your kids involved in the planning.  Have them do a little research on their own and become an expert on something specific to the place you are visiting.  For example, if you're traveling to Yellowstone, have one child find out everything there is know about Old Faithful.  When you see it, your child can act as "tour guide" for the family.  Another child can learn about the wildlife or history of the National Park.  If you're traveling to a major theme park, download a map and have them figure out where and when to hit the best rides.

Travel Time.   When booking your flights, or timing a road trip, factor in crowds and traffic.  When flying, travel on the least busy days of the week (Tuesday-Thursday).  When driving, try to time your departure before or after rush hour, and schedule the bulk of your drive time when the kids are most likely to nap.

Be Prepared.  You don't have to over pack to be prepared.  A few snacks and a game or toy could avoid a major meltdown.  Carry fruit snacks or crackers in your bag or glove compartment to squelch those cranky moments.  And, nothing keeps kids occupied like a new toy.  It doesn't have to be anything big, even a new matchbox car or mad lib game can do the trick.

Downtime.  Even older kids get tired and cranky, so be sure your schedule isn't too packed.  Schedule some downtime to just relax and everyone will be happier campers, including you!  If you have young children, try to stay on somewhat of a regular schedule with nap times, meals and bed times.

Be Flexible.  Let the kids know you're taking a leisurely road trip, and you may stop to see interesting sites along the way.  At the airport, prepare them for lines and long waits.  If you're being patient and in a good mood, it will likely rub off on your kids!

Do you have a travel tip?  Share it by posting a comment!

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