Traveling with children will be a memorable event ? the question is
"What kind?" Your chances of a lifetime memory you will cherish increase
significantly with some advance communication and preparation.
The book, Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever, outlines a
five-step process you can apply to organizing any area of your life ?
including traveling with children of any age. Make the children a part of
the trip by letting them help you plan. Your children will enjoy the trip
more if they feel they have some say about the agenda. Get books from the
library, or do an Internet search, on the area you plan to visit. Give
them some options of what to do and actually use some of their
suggestions. Who knows? You may enjoy their suggestions more than you
Here is a guide to vacationing with children, using the 5 steps:
1. Design your vision.
The first step to happy memories is good communication. Start
scheduling family meetings to plan ? the earlier the better. At the first
meeting, ask each member of the family to describe what he or she would
like to have in order to have a wildly successful vacation. It's a great
idea to put some structure into this discussion. Use a flip chart and have
family members take turns recording answers. Subsequent meetings can be
used to work out each of the next steps.
2. Eliminate your obstacles.
Mark Twain is credited with saying "Progress starts with the truth."
Certainly that applies in this situation. For example, some teens simply
do not think it's "cool" to travel with mom and dad. If you want your
teens to enjoy their travel experience, make sure you understand what they
like and dislike. With young children, keep in mind "less is more." A swim
in the hotel pool may be a much better choice than another two hours at
the theme park.
3. Commit your time.
There could be several issues here. If your teens are working, they may
resent having to miss work ? or they may be delighted. In either case,
find out their preferences, and see what you can do to accommodate them
without jeopardizing your own needs. One of the issues likely to come up
is the daily travel schedule itself. Young children need naps, teens may
want to sleep late, while parents relish the idea of "getting an early
start." Compromise is probably the best solution here.
4. Select your tools
Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, one of the things my daddy taught me
was "Half of any job is having the right tool." While you may think it's
ridiculous to think about "tools" for a vacation, it is really essential.
For example, if it is impossible to reach a compromise about the music on
the car CD player, headphones for individual players could be a godsend!
Tools can also include systems for the way you handle situations. One
of the major keys to success in organizing any activity is focusing on
individual strengths ? if one child is particularly adept at photography,
make them the official family photographer, while another might be a great
5. Maintain your success
At the end of each day, take a few minutes for a "Check-In" session.
What was the best thing that happened that day? Why? How can we make sure
we have more like it? What didn't work? Why? How can we eliminate the
situation in the future? Make sure you use this process at the end of the
vacation ? make some notes and put them in your GO System File (LINK HERE
GO%5FSEMINARS&new=true&leftnav=true&lid=66) for next year's planning.
Here are some general tips you can use to ensure a great vacation:
? Choose age appropriate destinations. This doesn't mean every trip has
to involve a theme park or sports event; it simply means keep the trip's
educational value at a level they can comprehend and appreciate. If your
children's ages span a wide range, have at least one activity geared to
each child. Picking a hotel with a pool can make a big difference!
? Lay the ground rules early. Before you even leave the house, make
sure your children know what is and isn't acceptable behavior on the road.
As elementary as this may seem, if you don't tell your children what you
expect, how can they oblige?
? Let the children pack their own suitcases as much as possible. Make
sure each child has a small carry-on bag for which they are responsible.
Include things they can do on the road or in the air--a walkman and tapes,
comic books, handheld video games, etc.
? Decide ahead of time about seating arrangements and make contingency
plans in case requested seats are not available.
? Establish a meeting place at each stop. Nothing could be worse that
having a child get lost in an unfamiliar environment. Whenever you visit a
location, identify a spot where the family can meet if you happen to get
separated, or carry cell phones or pagers.
? Carry current photos of your children. That way others can help you
locate your lost child. If your child can tell time, make sure they take a
? Pack a first aid kit. Face it. Kids will be kids. That means scraped
knees, bug bites, and cuts and bruises. When traveling with children,
always keep a first aid kit handy.
? Check for children travel specials. Pre-planning can save you lots of
money. Many airlines, restaurants, and hotels offer discounts for
children, whether it's a "kids stay or eat free" deal or a "half-off
children's rate." Let Internet-savvy children put their mouse to work for
a happier vacation.
The most important thing to remember ? flexibility. Traveling with
children of any age is always a challenge. Spend more time enjoying the
precious memories you will be creating and less time fretting over what
could go wrong. Keep your sense of humor in full swing and happy
© Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger
at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or
Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity
Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a
productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their
lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be
reached at 800-427-0237 or at