Traveling with children is a wonderful way to spend a family vacation, but it can also present unique and challenging situations that you should be prepared to address.
Here are some tips for traveling with your children this holiday season:
Keep planning simple
Traveling with kids in tow involves many details. To make the process easier, consider using a travel agent who can recommend vacation destinations tailor-made for your family's interests and budget, find great deals on cruises, airfare and hotels, and fill you in on the latest airport security news.
Make getting to your destination fun
Use time traveling together for zany sing-a-longs, family storytelling sessions and scavenger hunts. Parents can draw up a list of things children might expect to see from a car or plane, such as two-toned cows, a car toting a Christmas tree or a man wearing a red hat, then have the kids vie to see who spots the items first.
For the ultimate treat, splurge on a portable DVD player and watch a new holiday movie in transit. The just-released "A Very Merry Muppet Christmas" is a good bet this winter. Chevy Chase's "Christmas Vacation" promises to keep them entertained for awhile.
Pack a fun bag
Assemble a bag for each child containing stickers, paper and washable markers, figurines (that don't have a lot of pieces), magnetic games, puzzles and a pillow. If you use these particular bags for trips only, they'll remain novel, and kids will look forward to the journey.
Break up the trip with frequent stops
Playgrounds, indoor fun centers and family restaurants are good bets. A GPS system can help you travel safely, efficiently and also help you find specific activities and rest stops along the way.
Make a memory box
Bring an empty shoebox along to store items you'll collect along the way, such as seashells, rocks, funny postcards and marked-up road maps. When you get home, label the box with the trip destination and date, and you'll have a great souvenir of your time together.
Getting there fast vs. a more leisurely pace
The Interstate highway system is an incredibly efficient and convenient way to traverse the country in the minimum amount of time.
However, if you have a couple of extra days to spare, consider the secondary roadway system that will get you to your destination but that will also provide you with a much more "up close and personal" road travel experience.
Quaint towns and villages, exquisite landscapes and other unique images are just off the Interstate highways and will make your road trip much more interesting.
If traveling by air
Be patient and expect delays and some level of frustration during the peak holiday travel seasons. There is little, if anything that you can do to change the impact of delayed or cancelled flights, poor weather or less-than-courteous airline customer service at times due to the overload.
Some of the tips above can easily be applicable at airports to make the time go by more quickly for the younger ones. And a little tip to keep in mind: holidays are a good time for all of us to remember that airline customer service agents are human and they, too, face incredibly frustrating situations when such events unfold; realizing that will help everyone work through some of the obstacles that arise during the travel rush of the holiday season in a calm and resilient way. Try it. The end result might surprise you.
Looking for a memorable holiday vacation? If your budget allows, cruising probably would win hands down, as the experience would be great for all members of the family no matter what the age category.
Traveling with grandparents, parents, teenagers and toddlers?
Don't let that worry you, as the cruise companies have mastered the art of entertaining all age groups for the total cruise experience.
There is truly something for everyone, whether you wish to be active or laid back. Children's programs are at a premium now on all cruise ships, as the cruise ship companies quickly realized that making it fun for the kids would be a sure way to get the entire family to come on board.
The enjoyment abounds at all hours of the day for all age groups, not to forget the late night hours of Vegas-type shows, karaoke bars, piano lounges for total evening relaxation, sports bars and even game rooms for the young-at-heart.
Ready to leave the stress of the holiday season behind and find the perfect getaway for the entire family to start the year off right?
Call your favorite travel agent and let he or she find the perfect destination for you and your family. You won't be sorry you did.
Geraldine Blanchard is a travel consultant with Global Tours and Travel at 559 W. Eau Gallie Blvd. Melbourne. She can be reached at (321) 676-6040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information, visit www.globaltours.com.