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Monday, July 19, 2010

Top Ten Tips for Vacationing With Kids

Our friends all know that if you're doing something with us, we're going to bring the Minions along. While they were growing up, Sam and I never so much as went out to dinner without them. Our anniversary was a group thing. We went with another couple for a short trip to Key West, missed the children like crazy, and came straight back and planned a trip back to the Keys with the kids. We consider ourselves to be a package deal.
Along the way, we've gotten pretty savvy at traveling with them.
I'm not sure how many vacations we've had, honestly. I know we've been to Disney World 22 times, and there were trips to Washington DC, Colonial Williamsburg, the Keys, the Gulf Coast, Universal Studios, and Busch Gardens to name a few. That's a lot of traveling. And here's how we survived it:
1. Make a master packing list, and then hand an individual list to each child. Have them set the contents of the list on their beds for you to inspect and double check, then allow them to pack their own suitcases. Use pictures for non-readers. This works in reverse when you're packing to go home.

2. Give each child a small notebook and a budget. They can then write down souvenirs they see and the store they were at. At the end of the week, they can choose the goodies they really want that fit their budget. This will eliminate the "Can I have thats?", help them learn to plan, and teach them budgeting.

3. Skip the DVD player and instead, make a list of topics to talk to your child about, such as what's your biggest talent? What are three things you'd like to learn to do? Where are the best places to live when you grow up? What's the hardest thing to draw? What's the number one thing you're looking forward to on this trip and why? Use this time to get closer and to get to know your child better. You're all unplugged.

4. Make a tub of a healthy snack mix, like Cheerios, Goldfish pretzels, yogurt covered raisins and honey roasted peanuts and take zip lock bags to avoid the junk food fillers on sight seeing or amusement park trips.

5. Hit the outlet mall before you go for souvenir T-shirts, or make your own! $4 at the outlet beats $15 at Disney any day, and my crew was just as delighted with matching tie dye shirts that we made a week before the trip.

6. Canteens!  We still use them, even on day trips. This cuts down on those expensive bottled waters while you're out. We allowed a sugary lemonade with meals only.

7. Let your kids do some of the photography. You'll be amazed at their perspective, even if they're toddlers. We gave the children disposable cameras starting at age three. I will admit that Thom took a lot of pictures of Stitch's butt at MGM Studios.

8. Sketch books are a great way for your brood to record their vacations. We'd look for "art opps" along the way no matter where we were. In fact, my three still take their drawing supplies along. This is also a chance for you to sit down and take a breather.

9. Take an extra small sketch book to theme parks for autographs. Have each child write their favorite thing from that day on a page as you're winding down in the evening.

10. Let the kids in on the daily planning. Have them each pick something they want to do that day, then make a big deal out of, "Okay, we're going to do Savannah's pick now!"

Bonus: Pack your bag with a splinter kit, a first aid kit, sunscreen, lip balm, mosquito wipes, and baby wipes. Hit the dollar store for sunglasses and make sure you have spares.

So there you have it, that's how the Pritchard-Torres clan rolls. What are your vacation lifesavers? Do share!



Anonymous said...

You always have great advice! We don't have kids yet, but someday I'll need these tips. Sounds like you guys had great vacations. :)

Heather{Our Life In a Click} said...

Great tips! You should write a book!! We are pretty much a package deal too and try to take a few trips a year together. I highly recommend getting away just the two of you too!!! We only did it because they were hub's incentive trips for work but I'm so glad we did it.

My only tip: when they were younger, I'd buy a few activities and special snacks for each child and give it to them on the plane. Always a nice surprise and kept them busy.