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Are We There Yet? Family Travel Tips
by Rachel Webb, Copyright 2001

After returning from Disneyland one summer a friend of mine remarked that it was NOT, "The Happiest Place On Earth" when traveling with a horde of young children. I laughed, and proceeded to take our family vacation to Disneyland at Christmas only to find that it was not, "The Merriest Place on Earth", either!

What made the trip so terrible? We learned that "getting there" is not always half the fun! Luckily family vacations tend to be like delivering a baby - give it some time and you seem to only remember the best part of the experience!

Still, there are lessons I learned from our vacation that could benefit other would be family travelers ready to embark on their perfect trip. First, there is no perfect trip! Do not expect kids to act any differently than they do at home. In fact, the opposite may be true. Some children do not handle change well, or may not get enough sleep from the excitement and act out on vacation. Here are some tips to help the travel part of your vacation be more enjoyable for the kids and the parents too.

TRAVEL AT NIGHT
Notice I did not merely say - travel when the kids are sleeping. If it is daylight outside you run a much higher risk of them waking up. Not only that but during the day there are activities you can take time to enjoy. Instead of rushing to your final destination, scope out several interesting places to see along the way. Saadi said, "A traveler without observation is a bird without wings"!

WHERE'S THE ENTERTAINMENT PACKAGE?
If children are entertained, parents are much more likely to hear "Are we there yet"? 50 times - instead of 1000! Try these travel games and ideas:

  • Pack a box of small wrapped packages and allow each child to open one per hour of the trip. Wrap up activity books, hand held travel games, treats, puzzles, books, music cd or gum. Kids might also enjoy playing a guessing game to figure out what is inside the presents before being allowed to open them.

  • Buy a sheet of window clings for each child and let them decorate the car windows. Or try giving each child a travel container of baby wipes and miniature colored soaps and let them draw pictures on the windows.

  • If it gets too noisy in our van my husband always says, "Order in the court, the skunk wants to speak"! That sentence guarantees blessed silence for at least 5 minutes giving parents a much needed sanity break.

  • Prepare a list of words often found in songs titles. Pick one, and then everyone shouts out all the songs they can think of that also has that word in the title. The last one to think of a song title for that word gets a point and chooses a new word. This song works well for most all age groups.

  • Have a family band! Give everyone a kazoo, cowbell, harmonica, spoons, maracas - any unusual instrument coupled with a familiar song and the kids will be entertained for as long as you can stand the noise.

  • After you have driven through a city let everyone guess the population. Find the answer on the map to see who is the closest!
Vacations allow families a much needed change from daily routines a regular activities. Sharing new experiences with each other and strengthening your family values. Not only are building and making these memories important but as Thoreau put it, "traveling is good which reveals to me the value of home, and enables me to enjoy it better."

Author Rachel Webb designs large and decorative write-on/wipe-off magnetic fridge calendars made entirely out of heavy-duty magnet! Guaranteed not to slide off when the kids slam the fridge door! E-Mail Rachel@Note-ables.com for a $2.00 off coupon. http://www.Note-Ables.com

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