Taking the Kids and Traveling Smarter
So what if gas prices are crazy high. Memorial Day kicks off the summer vacation season and that means we’ve got to figure out where we’re going to take the kids without busting the budget or going crazy in the process. That’s because traveling with kids is just like raising them—messy, aggravating and expensive. Did I say wonderful?
Believe me, I know. I’ve traveled with my three kids and a gaggle of other young friends and relatives from national parks to major cities, diving in the Caribbean and climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, bycruise ship and sailboat, plane and minivan. We’ve had plenty of adventures and missteps along the way that invariably lead to the best memories.
Here are 6 ways to travel smarter this summer:
1. AVOID FAMILY FEUDS: Vacations increasingly include multi generations and are a great way to stay connected when we live so far apart but they can be fraught with difficulty if you don’t plan well. Who is paying for what? Exactly how much is grandma willing to babysit? Are there enough bathrooms?
2. PARENTS MAKE MISTAKES TOO: A big mistake parents often make is not consulting the kids in planning the itinerary. But when they do, the kids are far more cooperative with others’ choices. Whether you are in Orlando, a top summer value vacation pick, or a big city like San Francisco make sure everyone has a say in the itinerary each day. Each day, a different family member should get his pick first. Before you leave, wherever you are going, discuss everyone’s “must-see, must-do” for the trip—and make sure they are accomplished.
3. STAY PUT: to save on gas whether in a national park or a major city. Use public transportation whenever you can. Consider taking the train. Kids up to 15 travel for half price on Amtrak.
4. KEEP THE LITTLE COSTS FROM CATCHING UP WITH YOU: Souvenirs can add unexpected expense when t-shirts can cost $30 and sweatshirts $50, not to mention cuddly animals, sparkly tiaras or baseball caps. Before you leave home, discuss with the kids exactly how much they have to spend. How much are you giving them? How much do they have to supplement from birthday money or babysitting? Encourage collections—pins, patches, stickers for their reusable water bottles.
5. SKIP RESTAURANTS: Even if you can afford it, no one wants to eat out three meals a day on vacation with kids. If possible, book a place with a kitchen so you can at least eat breakfast. Have pizza by the pool. Picnic for lunch—even at the theme parks. You don’t want to wait in long lines when the kids are hungry. Always pack snacks and reusable water bottles (slap stickers on them and they become instant souvenirs.)
6. ALTERNATE pricey excursions with time at the pool, beach, playground and hotel. Remember, you don’t need to be on the go every minute. Seek out local parenting websites and newspapers to find out what is happening for local kids when you visit. Wherever you go, be ready to leave when the kids—and you—have had enough.
Most important, RELAX. You are on vacation, not doing a marathon. You don’t have to see and do everything.
source: Taking the Kids and Traveling Smarter (and Saner) This Summer by Eileen Ogintz
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