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Family Travel, Over-Easy

May 18, 2006
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Summer family trips are a time-honored tradition. From a cross-country drive to visit the grandparents to a trip to a national park, for many folks, the season just wouldn’t be complete without the annual vacation.

As any parent knows, traveling with kids can be wonderful, sharing their excitement as they explore new places or reconnect with distant relatives. But it does take its toll — schedules are disrupted, so both kids and parents may be tired and cranky; you may not be eating the food you’re accustomed to; and hours cooped up in a car, train or plane getting to your destination can be taxing on everyone.

Here are some ways to make the trip more enjoyable:

• Bring Healthy Snacks. No matter what your mode of travel, make sure you take along a selection of good nibbles. Cereal bars, fruit, and packets of cheese and crackers are good choices. If you’re traveling by car, take along bottled water or juice boxes; if you’re flying, opt to buy drinks at the airport instead of lugging around heavy bottles.

• Plan Some Entertainment. Before the trip, invest in a new book, or a few inexpensive portable games or toys, to keep kids entertained as you travel. For some, a portable DVD player or handheld computer games can be a sanity-saver on extended trips.

• Get Up and Stretch. It’s hard for kids to be confined for long periods of time. If you’re driving, make sure to plan plenty of stops along the way to let the kids run around, blow off steam and especially use restrooms. If you have an airport layover, take a brisk walk through the terminal, checking out planes as you go.

• Pick the Right Hotel. When traveling with kids, a pool is a must. A quiet room that allows everyone to get a good night’s sleep is another necessity. You don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn when the person upstairs starts the shower or walks by the door. Likewise, you don’t want to worry that your kids are making too much noise for the people in the room next door.

• Stick to the Sleep Schedule. Try to work in time for naps in between sight-seeing or visiting with relatives. If you get to bed late, let the kids sleep in the next morning. Bring along a special pillow, blanket or stuffed animal if it will help your child sleep better.

• Create Memories. After all, that’s what family trips are all about. Give kids a disposable camera to snap photos during the trip. When you get home, turn the pictures into a scrapbook. You can also share copies with people you met or visited on your trip.

Courtesy of ARA Content.

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