The Secret Is in the Planning


Warming weather and long, looming chunks of vacation time mean families are going places for special times and relaxation.

If you are the parent of school-age children, you probably want the vacation to include opportunities to strengthen family bonds and renew your relationship with the kids no matter where you travel.

“With the emphasis on families, more and more parents are choosing to take their children with them, not just to see Grandma, but even on international vacations,” says Cheryl Hudak, the president of the American Society of Travel Agents. “Parents crave meaningful time with their children and a vacation is a way to build that time no matter where they go.”

What are some ways to make sure travel and play with the family is a happy time? Experts in vacation travel say the secret is in the planning.

Whether on the road or in the air, the American Society of Travel Agents recommends the following:
· Before you leave, create anticipation for the family trip by starting a countdown calendar with perhaps a photo or illustration of the destination.
· Let kids pack their own bags. Decide what type of clothing the kids will wear (preferably loose and comfortable), but allow them to choose their favorites and to pack a special toy. In a small bag, pack some hard candies and gum, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers in a small, tightly sealed plastic bag and perhaps a surprise toy for each child.
· If traveling by car, make the journey comfortable by bringing pillows and blankets.
· Stop frequently at rest stops to stretch and make use of restrooms. Keep the kids occupied by playing car games such as “I Spy.” Make sure the car is stocked with paper, pencils, plenty of engaging toys and tapes or CDs of their favorite songs or books.
· If traveling by air, allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last-minute delays and confusion, especially with the current security regulations.
· Be sure to have a safety plan in case anyone gets separated at the airport. Discuss where to meet and what to do.

No matter how you travel, keep children involved in the vacation process. Save items collected on vacation — brochures, napkins, ticket stubs — and have children paste them into a scrapbook.

Camping remains one of the most popular and least-expensive options for families who want to spend enjoyable vacation time with one another.

One of the most important things a parent should remember is the old adage “don’t bite more off than you can chew,” says Ben Pearson, a senior product-line manager for sporting goods with L.L. Bean and seasoned family camper.

“Going outdoors with your kids shouldn’t be a forced march, but a source of plenty of good times,” Pearson says. “It’s better to do a few things enjoyably, like build a fire and cook some marshmallows, than cram the agenda. Kids just want to have fun outdoors.”

Pearson says that not adequately preparing for “sun, bugs, weather and water” are the normal “fun killers” when outdoors with school-age children. He suggests the following:
· Adults should bring extra water for kids to drink, as well as ensure that every child has their own water bottle. “Bring more water than you believe they will need,” he says. “They will drink unbelievable amounts when they are active.”
· Carry plenty of insect repellent. A DEET-based lotion repellent is the best defense against mosquitoes.
· Also, carry plenty of sunscreen. “Get in the habit of applying sunscreen on the kids in the morning, then reapplying it at lunchtime,” Pearson says.
· Make sure that the kids have raincoats and warm clothing with them, even on sunny days. Weather outdoors changes quickly.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Kid-Friendly Music Festivals in the Carolinas

Regional music festivals offer fun for the whole family.

Must-See Holiday Light Shows Across North Carolina

’Tis the season for dazzling light displays. Here are our top picks of holiday light show extravaganzas across the state.

Applying to NC Colleges? Take an Inside Look at 16 NC Public Schools

These profiles detail everything from student-to-faculty ratios to acceptance rates and the percentage of students who successfully graduate in four years.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for kids and families in the Triad by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!


Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The all-new 2015-2016 Education Guide is packed with everything parents need to know to navigate more than 500 education options and resources in the Triad, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

It's your complete family guide to Triad living. Parents are busy and on the go. Use this guide to help you explore all this great area offers for families in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and surrounding communities.

Exceptional Child

For parents of kids with special needs, finding help and support can be challenging. We've compiled valuable resources for Triad parents in our latest annual publication, Exceptional Child, which is also available as a digital guide.