Enjoy Summertime and the Family Vacation

by Donna on May 20, 2012

Summertime is the time for family vacations.  That means lots of fun, right?  A few tips and preparation should keep it that way.

Traveling with the kids can and should be fun, but it takes preparation.  Even the youngest members of your tribe can enjoy exploring new locations, new people and different cultures.   In introducing them to the vast world around them, remember safety and distance, as well as budget are important considerations.

  • Pack medicines, toiletries, snacks, books and favorite music.  Keep it accessible or in a carryon bag if traveling by air.  If flying take an extra change of clothes or bathing suit in case the luggage is delayed.  Bring sippy cups for everyone.
  • Talk to kids about safety.  Seat belts are just as important on a plane as in a car.  IF they get restless while strapped in, have a flight attendant explain the importance of being in their seat and buckled up.  Young kids tend to respond to uniforms.
  • On flights take frequent walks up and down the aisles or make trips to the bathroom.  Try having an old favorite toy to whip out.
  • On car rides plan frequent stops to break up the day.  Give them an activity bag with new items like magnetic travel board games.  For older children, highlight your route on a map and let them help with navigating.  (Yes, paper maps still exist.  They do what a GPS cannot–show the entire area with mountains, surrounding towns, and sightseeing highlights.  they are a full geography lesson.)
  • Food is always an important part of travel.  Try putting one new thing on their plate at a time.  Or, if necessary, intersperse new cuisines with a trip to McDonald’s  Encourage new cuisines by pointing out how cool their Facebook page will look with a picture of eating crawfish or eggplant salad or goat stew.
  • Break up the day.  You can walk for miles visiting museums, but they cannot, or do not want to.  Take long lunches, plan free afternoons, and take ferries or boats or buses instead of walking.  Stay on schedule, but make it realistic.
  • Let the kids do some souvenir shopping.  Give each child an allowance and explain they can purchase what they want, but within the limit of those funds.  Encourage them to browse shops and talk to local artisans before they make their purchases.  It will be an experience they won’t get at home.
  • Whethr you are traveling to South Carolina, South Dakota, or South Africa check safety laws and standards.  Seat belt specifications can change.  Railings, stairwells, balconies, even cribs might not be regulated.
  • Disease can ruin the best planned summer vacation.  Make sure vaccinations are up to date.  Check the CDC website for health warnings.  If concerned, only drink bottled water or soft drinks (no ice!) and avoid undercooked foods.  Contaminated food is not limited to travel outside the US.
  • Remember to pack the sunblock and reapply frequently, especially if your children are in and out of the water.

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy.  It’s going to be a great sumer and for years you will be looking at those photos and videos of your special time together.

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