Vacations - Are we there yet?

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Vacationing with children can be fun! There are many things you can do to make your trip more enjoyable:

1. Tell them what to expect.

As you plan your vacation you'll know what to expect based on your past experiences. Kids don't have much history to rely on, so they need you to prepare them for what's going to happen. Let them know what the travel plans are, how long the journey will take, where you'll be stopping along the way, how many Ding Dongs they'll get to eat. The better prepared they are, they less they'll nag.

2. Plan ahead.

Even if your heading for the tropics there's always the chance that the rains will hit and you'll be stuck in your hotel room. Even if the sun shines the entire vacation there will be times when you want the kids to be quietly entertained. Bring along as many light weight/small sized games and activities that you can. A few good ideas are: puzzles, clay, drawing materials, balloons, stickers, Silly Putty, Legos, travel-sized games, activity books, and hand-held computer games.

3. Travel smart.

Many a train, plane or car trip is ruined by bored kids anxious for the fun to begin. Be a smart parent and make the trip part of the fun. Bring along "fun baggies" full of new activities. (See the examples above.) Have some favorite snacks available even if food is provided, since they probably won't like what's served. Bend a few rules, such as allowing the kids to chew bubble gum or enjoy a long-lasting sucker. If you're traveling by car, give the kids their own map and colored pencils and let them log the miles and sights. Dress the kids in comfortable clothes and allow them to remove coats and shoes. Find time to let them stretch their legs to combat seat-fatigue. Bring along a soccer ball and stop along the way for a quick game to help the kids release all that restrained energy.

4. Try camping!

There are lots of reasons that make camping an excellent family choice. The kids get to live in their play clothes, and nobody cares if they get dirty. You don't have to worry about disturbing people through paper-thin hotel walls. You don't have much to keep clean. There's always enough room for running around. And the kids will eat anything cooked over an open fire!

5. Brush up your skills!

Before you even buy the tickets, pull out your favorite parenting book and review the important discipline skills you'll need to maintain a peaceful, enjoyable environment. Decide in advance what rules and routines will be followed while you're away. Talk with the kids about what behavior you expect from them. Tell them that you'll all have more fun if they follow the rules

Credits: Elizabeth Pantley

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