Finally, the summer is approaching. The sun has even revealed its warmth and brilliance for the better part of this day. Before this moment passes, I feel the urge to let my freshly painted toes bask in the ultraviolet rays. It seems like everyone else has the same idea. It was like an episode of Prison Break — folks everywhere, enjoying the rare sunshine.
The change in weather also means that it won’t be long before school is out and summer break is in full effect. There is nothing more fun than a well-planned family vacation with loads of adventure. Now, if you are a last-minute Annie, this is an excellent place to jump in. Here are eight action steps that will have your family ready and set to go in no time.
Step 1: Determine who is traveling.
I love being around my family, but for others, too much family interaction can be tough. Ask who is on board for the family trip. Some older kids may not be available due to summer job schedules. Will the grandparents come along? What about the pets? The spring months give way to loads of discounts available for the entire family. Check in with AARP, Groupon and even your local newspaper to save yourself some money.
Step 2: Set the destination.
You know your clan — their likes and dislikes. What’s preferred? Will it be the beach resort along with the 41 percent of millennials traveling with children, or will you head to the big city for exploration on new turf? Nevertheless, be aware that the number in your party may cause the rates to vary.
Step 3: Advanced booking.
To avoid long lines and price changes, you’ll want to pay in advance for activities, meals, hotel accommodations and more. Paying in advance will prevent the disappointment of overbooked or sold-out events, unexpected charges and delays. If you beat the rush, you’ll have access to everything your destination offers so that you can patiently pick your add-ons instead of scrambling at the last minute. Plus, you’ll look like a hero to the kids when you breeze by the hour-long line at the waterpark.
Step 4: Plane, train or automobile.
Regardless of how you decide to travel, if the car seat is necessary for your little one, take it. If flying, make sure the travel documents for the whole family are in order. Give yourselves extra time to get through security or apply for TSA Precheck. That way, the entire family can pass through security hassle-free and all together. Before you leave home, check the status of your flight so you will know what to bring to keep the kids occupied if there is a delay for whatever reason. Download movies, games, videos and eBooks so there is plenty of en route entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
Step 5: Call for a family vacation meeting.
Before embarking on your big adventure, remember to share the overall vision of the trip with the kids. Be very specific in explaining your trip destination and travel plans. Don’t forget to discuss the behavioral expectation upon arrival. Allow the kids to help with selecting activities. Implement safety rules such as “no dangerous selfies,” or the buddy system when walking around at night. Know that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, so make sure you prepare a plan B in case of a rainy day.
Step 6: Pack the essentials.
It’s a vacation, but let’s keep it real, you will still need your go-to comfort items. Bring the kids’ favorite things too. Grab blankies, toys, board games, electronic devices and chargers, sunblock, bug repellent, disinfectant, air freshener and wipes. Don’t forget your first-aid kit, and you can even include prescription meds or over-the-counter meds like Children’s Cold and Flu or Tylenol — just in case.
Step 7: Snacks.
Nothing quiets our children faster than delicious snacks, right? Put the green smoothie and kale salad aside for a few days and break out the chocolate, and chips and dip. Compile a list of the family’s favorite treats and bring plenty for everyone. If you must make your conscious feel at ease, balance the snacks with fruit the kids regularly eat.
Step 8: Upon arrival.
Once you reach your destination, scout the land. Make it a point to show your kids the lifeguard shacks and police patrol booths. Choose a common area or even a landmark where everyone can meet in case of an emergency. If the older kids will separate from you to do their own thing, make sure they have proper identification and that they keep in regular contact with you.
In most cases, our kids can be just as stressed out as adults. A relaxing vacation is a period of leisure and recreation that everyone will appreciate, especially if spent away from home. Give your family the break that you all deserve; make your next family vacation the highlight of your summer with these eight simple tips for traveling with your kids!
Marnita Coleman is an author and radio host of The Marnita Show, a parenting radio broadcast. Contact her via www.TheMarnitaShow.com.