Going on a family vacation should be a fun and stress free time, not one where we’re upset and as parents trying to keep the peace. Although we have flown a number of times, most of our trips are done in the car. We have a DVD player, comfy seats and lots of space to relax.
When our daughter was just an infant, we began traveling and it was so easy. She slept, we drove. She was in her stroller, was nursed, and/or ate anything we gave her and slept wherever, whenever. As a toddler, she was a happy traveler too. She loved seeing new things, having her photos taken and even sleeping in her car seat. As she grew, little issues came up, she would begin asking the age old question, “when will we get there?” and saying, or whining, “I’m bored!”.
That’s when my husband and I used some of the old tricks our parents used. Here’s our top ten family vacation tips:
- Talk, actually discuss things during the drive. You’ll be surprised how much fun and laughter you’ll end up having. Sometimes, some serious issues may come up that your child wouldn’t likely open up about otherwise.
- Sing together. You may need the radio to get you going with this, but there’s nothing easier to bring a smile to everyone’s face when you’re singing, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”. You may end up singing Old MacDonald after that!
- Plan your trip together. Even though we’ve probably gone over what we’ve going to do in advance, it’s still a lot of fun to discuss last minute plans or just go over our plans.
- Play some games. Remember car bingo? Yes, we still play that. We also read billboards and find odd color cars, like orange. Prizes? A desert when we stop for food or a souvenir for $1.
- Choose a place to eat. We try to save money on our trips so we do a lot of eating in our hotel room, but we do plan on eating out a few times each trip. Each family member gets their choice of a place to eat (within some limits of course). If you don’t need reservations, you can do this during the drive.
- Bring a camera or two. This sounds logical, but we also have our daughter bring her own camera. It’s an inexpensive digital made for children. She can take the photos she wants and keep them for her memories. She even uses it in the car.
- Take time to soak it in. Don’t schedule every minute of your vacation. Plan some down time so you can just hang out, go swimming, stop to see something unusual or interesting. This can make the most memorable moments of your trip.
- Don’t spend too much money. Some people think that going on luxurious vacations is the only way to have a good time. This is the farthest from the truth. Some of our favorite memories are stopping at a quiet rest area and eating a picnic of sandwiches that we packed.
- Find unusual souvenirs. Sure there’s tons of coffee mugs, key chains, stuffed animals and t-shirts, but look for things that may not even have the name of where you’re visiting. Find something in the woods, or by the lake, or in an old country store. Let your children choose an item that reminds them of something you did together, like a photo that you can make a frame for at home.
- Go with the flow. The weather may be awful, your hotel room may turn out to be a mess, but being together is what matters most. Go to a museum, find an out of the way motel, talk to some locals and learn what they do for fun. Enjoy!
- This post is being written as part of a contest at TwitterMoms. I along with other bloggers were asked to write about our top ten ideas for a fun, distraction free family vacation. Alamo is providing $30 gas cards to the first 50 bloggers who enter. I am also entered into a contest for a $100 gas card.
(Alamo Rent A Car is a value-oriented, internationally recognized brand serving the daily rental needs of airport leisure travelers. Alamo offers low rental rates and a fun, hassle-free customer experience at the most popular travel destinations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific Rim.)