Does traveling with kids seem nearly impossible? Are you tempted to forget the trip and stay home? If these thoughts have crossed your mind, you’re not alone. Most parents feel this way at some point in time. However, if you take some time to prepare, and include your children in the plans, your next vacation could produce fond memories for a lifetime. Here are some tips for making family vacations more fun and less stressful:
- Plan shorter trips. The frequent phrase, “Are we there yet?” only gets worse when you travel. It’s best to break trips into shorter segments. Then you can tell the kids that the next stop is the state park in two hours, for instance—and not Grandma’s house in two days.
- Include rest stops in your travel plans. Many states are blessed with great roadside parks that are perfect for running off some energy. Plan enough time for your kids to run races, play ball or just explore the surroundings before moving on to your destination.
- Include your children in the vacation planning. Give each child five wishes for what he or she would like to do on the trip. The final choice is yours, of course, but you can accommodate at least one or two of each child’s wishes on your vacation. If possible, make room for spontaneity. This makes travel a bit more adventurous.
- Spend some time alone with each child during the trip. And don’t overlook the needs of the youngest member of the family. He or she often gets forgotten or overruled on family vacations.
- Plan ahead with activities for the car or plane, as well as for restaurant times and rainy days. Create a simple art pack with colored paper, pencils and postcards and use it as a tool to keep your children occupied during these times.
- Do a safety check when you arrive at your destination. Whether you’re staying at a motel or the home of a relative, be sure to remove dangerous or breakable items (with your host’s permission, of course).
Remember that children are inherently adaptable, open-minded and enthusiastic, and they can be wonderful, upbeat traveling companions. Take advantage of this by properly preparing for your summer vacation, and you will create wonderful memories for the whole family.