Tips for Traveling with Kids

When planning a family vacation, there’s a lot you can do in advance to prepare for the comfort and enjoyment of you children before you set off. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has provided this great list to help you think of all the little details you’ll need to make sure your next family vacation is fun and runs as smooth as possible. Then, all you need to do is just relax, enjoy and make great memories. Don’t forget the camera!

Before You Go
Get the kids excited and involved. A “Days Left Until Vacation” chart or calendar with a photo of your destination is a great start. You can even go online and learn more about your location to tell them what you plan to see when you arrive and get them involved by asking what activities and attractions they might like to visit. Let them decide what to pack in their suitcase (of course you’ll have the final OK to make sure they’ve got enough shirts and the right kind of clothing (long sleeves in winter, shorts in summer). And let them choose a special toy to come along. Don’t forget to immunize the entire family if traveling abroad.

If You Fly
Allow for extra time at the airport. Give yourself as much time as possible to allow for check-in getting to gates for connecting flights. Create a “safety plan” of where to meet and what to do in case someone gets separated from the group (ie. Find a uniformed airport employee and ask them for help). Make sure your kids know what to expect at the airport regarding baggage screening procedures and security checkpoints so they are not confused or frightened during the process. To save time, make sure to remove young children from their strollers or infant carriers before reaching the checkpoint, and fold the equipment so it may be easily passed through the x-ray machines.

The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that children weighing less than 40 pounds be placed in child/infant seats. Before you go, make sure your seat meets current safety standards and is not more than 16 inches wide. If your flight allows, get seating assignment in advance to make sure you are sitting together. If this is not an option and the flight is full, ask the airline personnel if other passengers can change seats so your children are not seated apart from you.

Road Trip
If you’re going on a road trip, you want to bring pillows and blankets for maximum comfort. Be sure to use the rest stops frequently for bathroom breaks, stretching your legs and running the kids around. Play games in the car (ie. I Spy, or License Plate game for group involvement) and bring along toys (such as Doodle Pads and Electronic games) for self entertainment. Playing their favorite music will help the time pass quickly for them as well. Keep fun trinkets along the way: brochures, napkins, ticket stubs - and create a scrapbook when you get home, or bring some glue and a notebook and keep a live diary. If you are renting a car, confirm ahead of time that they offer car seats with proper installation, or, bring your own. Don’t forget the stroller for younger children.

We Made It
Once you arrive at your destination, don’t over pack the day with activities. Plan for some down time. Bring your own outlet protectors for the room and check balconies and bathrooms upon arrival for any potential dangers (even if staying with family). Familiarize yourself with the fire and emergency evacuation routes and procedures. Whether flying or driving, have a tote / carry-on bag packed with snacks, hand wipes, tissues, books, gum, paper, and markers or crayons (in a sealed plastic bag to avoid the mess). You could even buy a special toy to surprise each child along the journey.

And, if you need a great solution for quality accommodations that are ideal for a family vacation, look into renting a timeshare. Timeshares come equipped with kitchens, so, instead of eating out at each meal, which can be costly, you can prepare meals in your unit, with just a visit to the local grocery store to get you stocked up on your family’s favorite foods. Plus, with the extra room a timeshare provides, kids and parents can have separate bedrooms, providing privacy for adults when the kids go to bed early and privacy from adults for your older children (those teens need their space too). There are typically in unit laundry facilities, and separate bathrooms, not to mention entertainment amenities designed for kids and families, and all at a price that’s less than what you’d pay on a travel web site for a smaller hotel room. You’ll find timeshare resorts near the best themed kids attractions in the top cities across the country. Rent or buy a timeshare and see what you vacation’s been missing.
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