Highlights gives you tips for making family travel easy.
While there's no magic formula for having a stress-free vacation with kids, there are some things you can do to make your travels more enjoyable for the whole family:
Involve Kids in the Planning.
Playing an active role in planning your vacation will help your kids feel like engaged participants. Share maps and information about your destination, and ask them to help with choices about what to bring, what to do and where to go.
Focus on the Journey.
Before you leave home, think about how to keep kids engaged while traveling. DVDs and video games are fine, but be sure to include activities you can do as a family like license plate games, sign spotting and storytelling. Hands-on activity books and magazines are helpful if you're traveling by plane, especially during takeoff and landing when electronic devices must be turned off.
Plan Activities for All.
Young children may not get excited about visiting a historical landmark, but they are likely to be more tolerant if it is followed by a visit to the children's museum or a few hours at the hotel pool. Try to balance your itinerary with activities that will appeal to each family member.
Slow Down and Stay Flexible.
Don't go overboard with too many activities, particularly if your kids are younger. Allow extra time for inevitable delays and unexpected opportunities. (A stop for a hand-dipped ice cream cone, anyone?) You and your kids will be less stressed if you're not constantly rushing from place to place.
When You Get Back.
Help your kids turn some of your vacation photos into a book. Print out the photos, paste them on cardstock, add captions and then share your book with family and friends.
Remember, you are not just taking a trip, you are making memories your kids will keep for a lifetime.
-Kathleen Hayes is Editor of Highlights High FiveTM and Highlights HelloTM magazines. For more parenting tips from Highlights, please visit blog.highlights.com.