Mom In Charge: Tips for a Great Family Vacation

So this is a first for me. I've never really let anyone guest post on this little space of mine. Mainly because it's sort of our family scrapbook and my attempt to record memories, the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly.

However, when Kendra Thornton contacted me about sharing tips for having a great family vacation, I thought it would be something y'all would enjoy --- especially those with young children. And perfect timing as people plan their last vacay of the summer before the season is officially over. Kendra is a thirty-something mother of three who resides in Chicago. She is also the former Director of Communications at Orbitz - so she's been able to travel a great deal - 28 countries on 6 continents, wow! 

So I'd say she probably knows a bit about traveling. Here are her awesome tips for a great and stress-free family vacation. Thanks for sharing, Kendra! And if we ever make it to Chicago - someplace I've never been but always wanted to go - I'll be in touch :)

A vacation is the ideal way to rest, relax and bond with your loved ones. It's a wonderful way to spend time together, but little hiccups along the way can become cumbersome. Even though it may be late in the season, a little planning ahead can make for a fun and memorable experience for the whole family.

Tip #1: Lists
To-do lists and packing lists can be a lifesaver. Write down everything that needs to be packed for each family member and check it off as it's packed. If written lists aren’t typically your thing, try out an app for your mobile device like Packing Pro, which lets you create the list right on the device. Don't forget to include activities for the car or the plane. Also, remember things that need to be taken care of at home, like hiring a pet sitter.

Tip #2: Choosing Your Accommodations
Select hotels and resorts that cater to families with children. Many have child-friendly activities, like horseback riding and crafts. Some even have indoor waterparks, or a waterpark nearby. I always take this all into consideration. Last year while traveling to Florida, I used Gogobot to find a list of some of the top ranking Orlando hotels that were also very family friendly. Once you've narrowed down the options, bring in the kids. Having a voice can help them get more excited. If you have younger kids, consider places with babysitting services, giving the kids the chance to socialize, go to the pool, watch TV and play games while you and the hubby get the evening to yourselves.

Tip #3: Play The Destination Game
This game is perfect for road trips. Avoid the inevitable, "are we there yet?" by stopping along the way at an interesting location. Get the kids involved by letting them choose some of the stops. There are tons of exciting roadside attractions all over the globe, so do some research ahead of time and figure out what your family would enjoy!

Tip #4: Routine
Maintain your typical daily routine. Schedule activities around regular naptimes and mealtimes, or face the consequences of a cranky child. For mealtimes, pack a lunch so that you can eat on the go. Also, bring some lightweight snacks with you when you’re away from the hotel just in case your meal times get pushed back later than usual. You can also use meals and naps for a natural break between types of activities, giving the kids a moment to catch their breath.

Tip #5: Flying
You know that horrible ear pressure that occurs during take off? It's annoying for adults, but can really hurt kids' eardrums. Make sure to bring chewing gum and a light snack or drink for the children. Drinking through a straw can also help remove the pressure. Candies that are gummy or chewy can also cut down on the pressure.

The summer is winding down, so be sure to start planning now so your family can still enjoy a great vacation together! I hope these tips come in handy, and that you have a wonderful end of summer!

Thanks again, Kendra! Happy traveling to all :)

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