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Sandcastles and Sunshine

Sandcastles and Sunshine
by Jennifer LB Leese

Every year millions of families go on a summer vacation. And every year something usually goes wrong. Here are a few tips on how to have a smooth-sailing summer adventure with your family so everyone can enjoy the sandcastles and sunshine.
Traveling with your children, no matter what age, can be stressful. However, including children in the summer fun doesn't have to result in a catastrophe or for that matter, financial ruin.
Plan Ahead:Thorough planning and patience are key to having a memorable family vacation. For parents willing to invest a little extra time and research into planning a vacation, rest and relaxation are easy to find.
Reserve, Reserve, Reserve: Make reservations as early as possible. This way you're sure to get what you want, when you want it and where you want it. Lean toward large suites and hotels that cater to families and children. Today's hotels and resorts offer a slew of family-oriented packages. If you have access to the Internet, most hotels give virtual tours. Don't forget to check newspaper advertisements and vacation specials through car rental and car insurance agencies and credit card companies.
Before making your reservation, ask about childproof rooms, access to rollaway beds and cribs, TV channels, kids' programs, etc. Find out the specific room policy of the hotel where you are staying.
Travel Agent: Family travel is a flourishing industry. Reputable travel agents can be extremely helpful in retaining a dream vacation that your family will always remember.
Choose Your Destination Wisely: When planning your family vacation, talk it out with the family. To avoid the "Are we there yet questions", try choosing a destination that's easy-to-reach or for one further away - one that entails a nonstop flight. Convenience and avoiding troubles is a necessity when traveling with children.
Traveling by Airplane: Be prepared. Arrive early. Dress your children in comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes. Be sure to have toys, books, etc. to keep them busy during the flight. Pack their favorite snacks, extra batteries, and be srue to pack chewing gum - this'll help alleviate cabin pressure. Try to get a seat near the restroom, and remember, little ones like to not get seats in the exit row ask for bulkhead seats. They'll just be kicking the wall in front of them and they'll have plenty of room to move around.
Now security check points are another question - understand the basic rules. Toiletries for you and your children must fit into a quart-size re-sealable bag and no item can be more than three ounces. This rule applies to each passenger, so each child can have one of these plastic bags.
What's Nearby: Find out if there are parks, museums, kid-friendly restaurants in walking or short driving distance.Research. For the drive, even research to see what is on the way. Stop at a few museums, parks, or kid-friendly attractions and take a break, eat and drink.
No matter where you plan to go...remember, something will always go wrong. Have fun with your children. Pick a vacation that's affordable - this'll ease tons of stress right from the beginning.
Summer vacation historically originated at a time when most of the USA's population lived in rural areas, and children were required to labor on the farms during the summer months.
Fortunately, life for children is no longer that way. Summers are now time to sleep in, play all day in the summer sun, have pillow fights, roast marshmallows, laze around in the grass, and spend the evenings catching fireflies.
The first days of summer vacation are usually the hardest as many try to squeeze everything in while trying to adapt to the freedom of summer vacation. Freed from the constraints of a calendar, our days are a flurry of activity, whether we're out and about all over town or the country, or lazing around in our backyards and neighborhoods--summer vacation is for BBQs, family, relaxing, and making memories.
As adults most stories to our children or grandchildren, revolve around our summer vacations as a child--places we went, things we did, and the people we spent time with.
Vacations give parents and children memories that will last a lifetime. For many, our children will not remember the ordinary events of day-to-day life--they will remember the exceptional occasions.
Fun family vacations are events that are supposed to be remembered.
A vacation gives everyone in the family a chance to share the same experiences, to laugh together, play together, and just be together. A vacation is not the same thing as a trip to a certain place--it is more of an attitude than distance. Not all vacations require travel, two weeks, and big bucks. Staying at home can be a vacation with imagination and forethought.
Vacation is an adventure. And they don't always work the way we want them to, so remember that being together is the most important part of this shared time.
Find the "child" in yourself and share the adventure with their kids. Ten years from now, remembering the things that went wrong will be your best laughs.

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