11 Expert Tips to Better Family Travel
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PowerPoint Presentation Brought to you by: & 11 Expert Secrets to Better Family Travel 01 GET QUIRKY Come up with a family travel tradition you can revisit with every trip. The quirkier the better. Search for the silliest postcards, then paste them in a scrapbook with a note about where (and why) you bought it. Take a funny photo at each destination (same pose, different background; same outfits, different background, etc.) Make a game of looking for places with the most unusual names. Bucksnort, Tennessee, anyone? How about Bug Tussle, Alabama? When you spot a town that fits, stop for food or a bathroom break and pose for a family photo in front of the sign. It makes for great photos and fun memories. 02 DONâT DO IT ALL YOURSELF Even relatively young children can help plan the family vacation. Let them make small choices: Should we go to the zoo on Tuesday or wait until Wednesday? Older kids, meanwhile, can be in charge of planning a day or an outing, then becomes the leader for the day. (Just be sure to set some limits and give them a budget.) Letting kids take the lead teaches them responsibility and takes some of the pressure off of you. Best of all, you donât have to take all of the blame if something goes wrong. 03 BE NICE You might be surprised at how much mileage you can get out of a well-placed âpleaseâ and âthank youâ or a sympathetic word to a harried front desk clerk. If you would like that ocean view room or are hoping for an upgrade to a junior suite, your chances increase exponentially when you ask nicely rather than demand rudely. Besides, youâll be modeling polite and empathetic behavior for your kids. 04 MAKE KIDS PULL THEIR OWN WEIGHT Even preschoolers are used to wearing backpacks these days. Have them pack their own backpacks with toys and games they will use to keep themselves busy during the trip (subject to your oversight, of course). Children as young as 4 likely can pull or push one of the new light-weight 4-wheeled spinner roll-aboard suitcases. Take the kids with you when you buy your suitcases and have them give the bags a test push. This also is a good way to teach kids to pack light. And it will save you from: A) figuring out how to pull ALL of the bags yourself, or B) paying $25 or more per suitcase to check the bags at the airport. 05 BUY A BOX OF ZIPLOC BAGS Ziploc bags (or the cheaper store brand) are your best friend in travel packing. There are tons of ways to use Ziploc bags, but the best is for parents of little ones still in diapers. Pack several smaller zip-top plastic bags with one diaper and several wipes each. Pack another large bag with the diaper changing accoutrementsâchanging pad, powder and ointments. When you have to change the baby in one of those impossibly small airplane lavatories, you wonât have to drag the entire diaper bag, just two Ziplocs. Then, before tossing the dirty diaper, zip it and its nasty smells into the empty bag that held the clean diaper and wipes. Your fellow passengers will thank you. 06 DONâT WAGE ELECTRONICS WAR Unless you only plan to vacation in some remote area that is so far away from cell service that no one can hear you â ever â just give in and accept the reality that kids (and adults) will not want to give up their electronics altogether. So donât fight it. Instead, get everyone to agree to a certain time each day when the devices get turned off and everyone tunes into family. That might be during an afternoon hike, over dinner, or between 3 and 4pm every day. Whatever works best for your family and your travels. (If you think this will be easy, watch this Mom vs. Electronics video to see just how challenging it can be.) 07 MAKE THE MOST OF MEALS OUT Travel means eating out, which can be a challenge with little ones. Make some practice runs before the big trip. Head to your family-friendliest local restaurant so you can teach the kids how to stay seated while eating and why itâs important to use their inside voices. Then tip big and get out quick. When youâre on your trip, make a reservation for a larger table in the corner (book the reservation for 6 even though there will be only 4 of you eating). That means youâll have plenty of room to park the stroller and spread out with crayons and paper while you wait for your food. Before you go, read all 8 tips for eating out with kids. 08 GET APPY What did we do before we had smartphones? Travel must have been much more challenging. These days, thereâs an app for whatever travel challenge you face. Are you driving? Download Gas Buddy so you can find the nearest gas station and cheapest gas. Managing a complicated trip? TripIt will keep all of that info in one easily accessed spot. Traveling with little ones? Get 123 Ninja - The First Numbers Slicing Game for Kids to keep them busy and learning while you drive. Check out this full list of travel apps recommended by travel bloggers. 09 DO YOUR HOMEWORK Kids will get more out of a trip if they know what to expect before they go. Go online or head to the library to find books about your destination. If youâre going someplace with a strong historical claim to fame, learn something about that history. If youâre going to a big city famous for architecture, learn about the architect who designed one of the buildings that dominates the skyline. If youâre going to a Caribbean resort, learn about the ocean and the fish you can expect to see while youâre there. After you get home, head back to the library to rent movies that were shot on location in the place you visited. Itâs always fun to see places in reel life that you have seen in real life. Youâll be able to say, âI was there!â 10 KEEP TRACK OF THE KIDS. Few things are more terrifying than losing sight of your child in a crowd. To make it easier to spot your kids in a crowd, dress them in bright colors such as neon green t-shirts. Snap a photo of them each morning so you have an updated picture that shows exactly what they look like and what they are wearing; if the worst happens, you can share that photo with the authorities. Securely attach a luggage tag to a childâs shoe. If the kids are old enough, show them a designated meeting spot where you can meet if you lose one another. Check out more tips for keeping kids safe in crowded places. 11 DO THE FREE STUFF This might be the best-kept secret in travel. Every place has great, free, family-friendly things to do. From a fab museum to a season full of summer concerts, there are free things to do wherever you go. How do you find the best free things to do with kids? Stop at a playground in town. While the kids run around, ask the other parents for their recommendations. They can tell you where to find free things, which restaurants are affordable and kid-friendly and what you shouldnât miss while youâre in town. Or you can check out this map of free things to do in all 50 states. About the Author Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as Editor-in-Chief of TravelingMom.com. Sheâs been traveling with her kids, now college students, since they were tiny tots. She and the 68 family travel experts who make up the TravelingMom Writers Network know that not everything goes right when you travel--especially when you travel with kids who complain, get crabby, barf, hit one another and sometimes screw up the plans you made. Sign up for our newsletter so we can help make your trip better. Thatâs because we live by our motto: Weâve Been There. Visit TravelingMom.com Today! Save Time with Free Online Sign-ups! Free online sign-ups make it easy for busy moms and teachers to organize everything! 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