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Summer vacation tips for traveling with kids

When visiting a theme park, make a plan

When visiting a theme park, make a plan beforehand that includes lots of breaks for the long day. Credit: TNS / Joe Burbank

Summer vacation season is here, and that means many of us will be logging long hours in the car — or in the air — with our kids. Here are some tips for making the experience more enjoyable.

1 DON’T OBSESS ABOUT THE CAR SEAT If you’re renting a car, you might consider gate-checking a car seat on the plane. Your airline won’t charge you for it. Just make sure the seat is labeled with the wording “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”

2 DON’T SKIMP ON FOOD For some reason, kids consume several times their body weight every day when they’re on the road. They’re bored, so they eat. Stay away from anything sticky, crumbly or overly carby and go for natural, unprocessed foods. Apples hold up really well on the road. So do carrots. Most dried fruit can survive several road trips.

3 DON’T OVERSCHEDULE YOUR TRIP This is a theme-park no-no: starting the day at 8 a.m. when the park doors swing open and powering through until the last firework pops at 9 p.m. Plan lots of breaks, including a long and leisurely lunch. Choose a handful of the best attractions instead of trying to see them all. Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld will still be there next year.

4 DON’T GO THERE Las Vegas. Baden-Baden, Germany. Macau. These are not family travel destinations, so don’t take your family there unless your kids are older than 21. Face it, you’re on the road with your family, there are places you won’t want to go and where they won’t want you. Find something age-appropriate.

5 DON’T FORGET TO PACK YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR If being chased out of a Vegas resort while pulling an 8-year-old behind you or wading through an inch-thick layer of soggy cookies on the floor of your SUV isn’t comedy material, maybe you didn’t bring a playful attitude. If you can see the levity in these inevitable screw-ups, you won’t stress out on the road.


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