This is the fourth blog in a series on Travel Tips & Tricks. Today’s topic is on VACATIONS WITH CHILDREN. Before you even think about heading out the door on vacation this summer, plan, plan and plan. You will be very thankful you did. A huge key to organization is in the planning stage. Here are 15 bullet points to think about as you get ready to go:

  1. Workaround their natural biorhythms by keeping their sleeping and eating times as close to normal as possible. Adults might want to consider sleeping pills depending on how and where you’re traveling to.
  2. Pack your own snacks and beverages. It will be healthier, cost-effective and you can put that insulated bag in your kitchen to good use.
  3. Stop at the library and dollar store before leaving town for those new items for the kids (therefore entertaining); books, movies, tapes and travel games.
  4. Choose hotels that have pools, playgrounds, game rooms and even programs for children. Arrive with enough time to settle in and play before a meal and then bedtime.
  5. Don’t forget that your children have ideas too. So if your daughter loves animals; make sure one of your vacation days you get to a zoo. If your son loves baseball, get tickets to a local team. Involve them in the planning and they will have a vested interest.
  6. Have Road Rules. For example, give the family a budget, pass out individual envelopes for each person with a certain dollar amount in it and when it’s spent that’s it.
  7. Help your children and yourself choose activities over possessions such as going dolphin watching instead of acquiring a new Mickey Mouse watch.
  8. If you are traveling by plane make sure you have gum and lollipops for going up and coming down and enough activities to distract them from crying or complaining.
  9. Having children keep a travel journal is educational and self-entertaining for young ones. For older ones they can work on a digital photo journal and when they arrive home can make a photo album or scrapbook.
  10. Consider your travel time together an opportunity to deepen your relationships. Most of us don’t have much “captured audience” time together anymore with activities constantly stretching our time management. This is a perfect time for heart-to-heart chats.
  11. It’s also an outstanding time to set goals if you like. Take notes and when you get home, type up your notes and hang the Family’s Summer Goals 2012 on the refrigerator. Then set dates and times to follow up and encourage your family to be successful.
  12. Yet another advantage while traveling together is to review the kid’s chore chart and see what could be improved upon, deleted or added too as the children are now out of school with more time on their hands to help out around the home.
  13. In your car, keep a roll of paper towels with a rubber band around it so it doesn’t unravel and stuff a few plastic bags inside for instant garbage cans. And wipes aren’t just for kids; the grown-ups can make quite a mess of their coffee spills too. Of course, you should have a fully packed first aid kit as well and always keep the gas tank full.
  14. Train travel is fun for kids. They are able to remain active, use the facilities anytime they need and make new friends.
  15. Relax around your children and don’t have high expectations, live in the present with them.