Traveling with your kids: Are we there yet?

Vacation. The time for many of us to leave our work and worries behind and finally get a chance to relax. This idyllic picture is soon shattered when five minutes into the trip, your children are asking, "Mommy, are we there yet?"

The Secret's in the Planning

Pack light. You don't need to take your whole house along with you. Check ahead to see what your hotel will provide. Most hotels provide irons, hair dryers, crib and smaller personal items such as shampoo. Just ask. Also find out if the hotel has a washer and dryer. Many do. Packing less clothing really saves space. Unless you're going to a very remote area, you don't need to pack bags full of food. Grocery shop when you arrive. If you forget something, don't panic. Most items can be picked up at your destination.

Plan ahead. Travel at your child's naptime, or at night. This shortens the journey for your child, and may make it a lot more pleasant for you too.

Pack medications that you might need. It's also a good idea to bring along a mini first-aid kit. Planning ahead will save you from needing to search high and low for an all-night drugstore.

Encourage each child to bring a backpack. They can fill it with some of their favorite books, quiet toys and games. Include a few non-messy snacks, such as juice boxes, bottled water, ziplock style bags with cheerios, small pretzels, graham crackers, granola bars, bagel rounds, etc.

Keep busy. Kids don't like too much down-time. Take a walk, go swimming, toss a football, tour the local sights. This will immediately reduce the stress level. Let your kids work off their energy outdoors, rather than jumping from bed to bed in your hotel room.

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