Vacationing With Children

October 2, 2008

Vacationing with children can be a lot of fun, if you spend a little bit of time planning ahead. This will make the vacation more fun and relaxing for everyone involved.

Traveling with children will be a memorable event – the question is “What kind?” Your chances of a lifetime memory you will cherish increase significantly with some advance communication and preparation.

The book, Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever, outlines a five-step process you can apply to organizing any area of your life – including traveling with children of any age. Make the children a part of the trip by letting them help you plan. Your children will enjoy the trip more if they feel they have some say about the agenda. Get books from the library, or do an Internet search, on the area you plan to visit. Give them some options of what to do and actually use some of their suggestions. Who knows? You may enjoy their suggestions more than you think.

Here is a guide to vacationing with children, using the 5 steps:

1. Design your vision.

The first step to happy memories is good communication. Start scheduling family meetings to plan – the earlier the better. At the first meeting, ask each member of the family to describe what he or she would like to have in order to have a wildly successful vacation. It’s a great idea to put some structure into this discussion. Use a flip chart and have family members take turns recording answers. Subsequent meetings can be used to work out each of the next steps.

2. Eliminate your obstacles.

Mark Twain is credited with saying “Progress starts with the truth.” Certainly that applies in this situation. For example, some teens simply do not think it’s “cool” to travel with mom and dad. If you want your teens to enjoy their travel experience, make sure you understand what they like and dislike. With young children, keep in mind “less is more.” A swim in the hotel pool may be a much better choice than another two hours at the theme park.

3. Commit your time.

There could be several issues here. If your teens are working, they may resent having to miss work – or they may be delighted. In either case, find out their preferences, and see what you can do to accommodate them without jeopardizing your own needs. One of the issues likely to come up is the daily travel schedule itself. Young children need naps, teens may want to sleep late, while parents relish the idea of “getting an early start.” Compromise is probably the best solution here.

4. Select your tools

Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, one of the things my daddy taught me was “Half of any job is having the right tool.” While you may think it’s ridiculous to think about “tools” for a vacation, it is really essential. For example, if it is impossible to reach a compromise about the music on the car CD player, headphones for individual players could be a godsend!

Tools can also include systems for the way you handle situations. One of the major keys to success in organizing any activity is focusing on individual strengths – if one child is particularly adept at photography, make them the official family photographer, while another might be a great navigator.

5. Maintain your success

At the end of each day, take a few minutes for a “Check-In” session. What was the best thing that happened that day? Why? How can we make sure we have more like it? What didn’t work? Why? How can we eliminate the situation in the future? Make sure you use this process at the end of the vacation – make some notes and put them in your GO System File (LINK HERE to http://productiveenvironment.com/index.asp?name= GO%5FSEMINARS&new=true&leftnav=true&lid=66) for next year’s planning.

Here are some general tips you can use to ensure a great vacation:

  • Choose age appropriate destinations. This doesn’t mean every trip has to involve a theme park or sports event; it simply means keep the trip’s educational value at a level they can comprehend and appreciate. If your children’s ages span a wide range, have at least one activity geared to each child. Picking a hotel with a pool can make a big difference!
  • Lay the ground rules early. Before you even leave the house, make sure your children know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior on the road. As elementary as this may seem, if you don’t tell your children what you expect, how can they oblige?
  • Let the children pack their own suitcases as much as possible. Make sure each child has a small carry-on bag for which they are responsible. Include things they can do on the road or in the air–a walkman and tapes, comic books, handheld video games, etc.
  • Decide ahead of time about seating arrangements and make contingency plans in case requested seats are not available.
  • Establish a meeting place at each stop. Nothing could be worse that having a child get lost in an unfamiliar environment. Whenever you visit a location, identify a spot where the family can meet if you happen to get separated, or carry cell phones or pagers.
  • Carry current photos of your children. That way others can help you locate your lost child. If your child can tell time, make sure they take a watch!
  • Pack a first aid kit. Face it. Kids will be kids. That means scraped knees, bug bites, and cuts and bruises. When traveling with children, always keep a first aid kit handy.
  • Check for children travel specials. Pre-planning can save you lots of money. Many airlines, restaurants, and hotels offer discounts for children, whether it’s a “kids stay or eat free” deal or a “half-off children’s rate.” Let Internet-savvy children put their mouse to work for a happier vacation.

The most important thing to remember – flexibility. Traveling with children of any age is always a challenge. Spend more time enjoying the precious memories you will be creating and less time fretting over what could go wrong. Keep your sense of humor in full swing and happy traveling.

© Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger’s Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at www.ProductiveEnvironment.com

Traveling with Kids

October 2, 2008

by Susanne Myers

A little preparation will make a big difference in how enjoyable traveling with your kids can be. Use some of our tips and ideas below, whether you and your children are traveling by car or plane. After all, this is the time of the year when we are ready to relax and rejuvenate, not stress about how to get to our favorite vacation spot while listening to “Are we there yet?” every 10 minutes. Outlined below are some ways for you to make sure both you and your kids are comfortable while traveling.

Dress everyone in comfortable loose clothing and pack a spare outfit for everyone where you can easily reach it during your trip. Pack a small pillow and a light blanket for each of the kids, as well as their favorite stuffed toy or doll to snuggle up with at night or during naptime. These not only work great on the plane or in the car, but will also make your kids more comfortable once you arrive at your destination.

Whether you travel by car or by plane, pack some drinks and snacks for the kids, so you don’t have to rely on rest stops, kiosks at the airport or the meals that are served on the plane. We usually give our daughter only water in the car. It’s not nearly as messy as some of the fruit juice or sports drinks if it gets spilled. To make plain water a little more interesting and to keep it cool, fix an insulated zippy cup or sports bottle with ice water. And believe me, they will spill it sooner or later, even if the cup claims to be spill proof. Some good choices for not-so-messy snacks are trail mix, pretzels, teddy grahams, dried fruit, fresh apple slices (drizzle them with a little lemon or lime juice to keep them from turning brown), mini marshmallows, and baby carrots. Come up with some snacks that your kids love and put them in individual zip-lock bags.

The zip-lock bags also come in handy to pack up some crafts supplies like crayons, stickers, blunt scissors and glue sticks, for the artists in your family.

To keep your little one’s entertained, you may also want to pack some coloring books, picture books, or pack a child friendly novel, like the Harry Potter books to read aloud in the car. Audio books and music CDs or tapes also come in handy.

For some great travel games you and your family can play, take a look at Car Travel Activities for Kids.

If you are traveling by car, plan in frequent stops and let the kids run around. You may want to pack a jump robe, ball or Frisbee to make moving around more fun. If you are driving through the night, plan a longer stop an hour or two before bedtime so the kids can wear themselves out and release all this build up energy before going to sleep.

Instead of eating lunch at a fast food place or restaurant off of the interstate, try bringing a picnic. You can cater to your family members tastes and it is bound to be cheaper, better and more healthy than what you would be able to find fast food place. Your kids will appreciate not having to sit still again and the sunshine and fresh air will do wonders for all of you.

If you are traveling by plane, bring some small toys, picture books, coloring books etc, to entertain your child in the seat. Depending on your child’s age, bring some gum, hard candy, zippy cup, bottle or pacifier to have them suck or chew on something during take-off and landing to equalize the pressure in their ears. You may also want to pack a sweater for your child, since the air temperature in the plane can be quite chilly.
To keep your kids excited on longer trips, make up some small goodie bags for them. Collect some Kids Meal Toys for a few weeks, or purchase some inexpensive toys at the Dollar Store and put them individually in some small brown paper bags, or even wrap them. Tell your kids that as long as they are being good, they will get a new goodie bag every 2 hours or so. You’ll be amazed how well behaved they will be, and you will keep them from being too bored on a long trip by giving them something new to play with.

We Recommend:

Snappy Travel: A Magnetic Fun Book

A great book for the car or plane ride because it’s all about travel and has magnetic pieces to move around as you flip the pages. This makes to book very interactive and keeps things interesting, since the story is slightly different each time. Very cute!

Rubberneckers- The Ultimate Car Game

The objective in this game is to look outside and find certain things to receive points. It’s a great way to keep older kids occupied, and younger kids interested and distracted from the travel time!

Lewis N. Clark Li’l Lewis Kid’s Travel Pillow

Finally, a travel pillow just for kids and it comes in 15 different animal shapes from alligator to hippo, so your little one will find his or her favorite animal and enjoy using it.

Don’t forget to take lots of picture and have them developed through Snapfish. Sign-up and get your first roll of film developed for FREE! Plus, your photos are placed online for FREE to share with family & friends.

Traveling With Babies

October 2, 2008

By Linda Jenkinson

If you start baby travel slowly and plan wisely, both you and baby will enjoy first-class comfort. Begin with baby steps and you’ll find that soon you and your little one will be able to walk, ride, or fly in the fast lane.

Day Trips

Introduce baby to travel starting with a few day-trips to a local relative or friend. Basic equipment will be a packed diaper bag, a stroller or pram (if you’ll spend some time outdoors), and a car seat. Most modern car seats easily detach and convert into a baby carrier.

Be sure to pack your diaper bag with a diaper for each two hours you intend to be away from home. Pack 2 nipples for each bottle you pack, two to three receiving blankets, and an extra change of clothing for baby and an extra shirt for you. Cut down on diaper bag weight and keep things easy to find by using Ziploc bags to pack extras like nipples, wipes, and pacifiers. Pack one large, empty Ziploc for soiled items.

Overnights

For baby’s first overnight trip, you’ll need to extend your day-trip plan with a couple of extra receiving blankets and extra sets of clothing for baby. Even if your overnight trip is to Grandma’s house, remember that nighttime sounds and perceptions may be different from those during daytime hours. A good pram with wheel locks can double as a bassinet, helping baby feel right at home and enabling everyone to sleep more comfortably through the night.

If overnight travel is a frequent part of your regular routine, consider investing in a Graco Pack ‘n Play Classic Care Center. This excellent piece of baby travel equipment is a bassinet, changing table, and playpen in one portable unit that folds into a handy tote bag. There are 22 models of the Classic Care Center. With prices starting at under $50.00, you’re sure to find one that’s right for your little one and your budget.

Extended Hotel Stays

Many hotels stock products and equipment especially for travelers with babies, but they may not stock the brands you and baby prefer. When you make your reservation, ask for specific information on product brands and the equipment you’ll need to make baby’s stay comfortable. If you opt to use a hotel crib or bassinet, be sure to pack a couple of baby’s own blankets, a familiar mobile, and/or other “security items”.

Although your inclination may be to pack up your complete nursery, in some cases, an extended stay may allow you to pack even less than you would for an overnight trip. For instance, it would be impractical to pack a week’s worth of bottles and nipples. Pack only enough for a day and leave time in your itinerary for clean-ups. When packing baby clothes, include two or three one-piece outfits that can be quickly hand washed when soiled.

You’ll also want to be sure to bring along a stroller. Most contemporary strollers are lightweight and easily collapse for transport or storage. Some models are equipped with multi-position reclining seats so baby can sight-see or nap as he or she chooses. In addition, many have features like tray attachments, sun canopies, attached toy bars, and “parent” trays for your little extras.

If part of your vacation will put you in a crowd, consider a baby backpack or sling. The Baby Bjorn Carrier holds baby safely to your chest, increasing baby’s sense of security as he maintains eye contact with your familiar face.

From day trips to cruise ships, how you travel with babies depends chiefly on your destination and length of stay. However developing a basic plan and adding to it as the situation warrants will quickly make seasoned travel companions out of you and your little one.

Linda is mother and grandmother of two, she is author of the Baby Strollers Guide and the Baby Products Guide

We Recommend:

Don’t forget to take lots of picture and have them developed through Snapfish. Sign-up and get your first roll of film developed for FREE! Plus, your photos are placed online for FREE to share with family & friends.

Dimple Dolls Dimple Doll Special-Yellow

These snuggly little baby dolls have bells inside their bonnets. They make the perfect travel companion for your baby. They are small enough to stick in the diaper-bag, so you can bring them anywhere.

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Save $10 when you spend $50! Offer valid until July 31st, 2004.
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