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Preplanning tips

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Traveling with the whole family in tow can be quite a challenge. Just ask anyone who has already gone on a family vacation recently. Here are some travel survival tips that will help make the experience more enjoyable for all. Whether it's a cross-country trek or weekend getaway, a little preparation goes a long way toward making family trips pleasant for parents and kids alike.

  • Investigate the places where you will be going. Send for brochures and visit the library to gather information. This will help build enthusiasm for the trip and give children knowledge about where they are going and things to look forward to along the route.
  • Involve children in planning the vacation. You can't expect them to have a great time on a trip that's planned only around your interests. Continue their involvement during the trip, too, by encouraging them to help plan each day's activities.
  • Let your children help with the packing and let them have a say in deciding what clothing and other items they bring along.
  • Plan on alternating museum tours with amusement parks, playgrounds, or fast-food restaurants.
  • Don't be bound entirely by your itinerary. Leave some unstructured time each day, and allow leeway for spur-of-the-moment side trips and unexpected discoveries.
  • On road trips, bring along a mini flashlight for looking at maps in the dark.
  • Pack a portable cooler with plenty of snacks like raisins, pretzels, crackers, fruit, Cheerios, cookies, popcorn, and something to drink.
  • Have traveler's checks or cash on hand for buying souvenirs and snacks -many small-town shops don't accept credit cards, particularly on small purchases.
  • Don't forget addresses and stamps for sending postcards to friends and relatives.

Before you leave…

  • Stop newspaper
  • Stop mail
  • Stop deliveries
  • Notify local law enforcement
  • Call alarm company
  • Make pet arrangements
  • Notify neighbors
  • Unplug computers, phones, appliances and other electrical devices
  • Turn off hot water heater
  • Shut off the gas
  • Adjust/turn off sprinklers
  • Empty trash
  • Shut off water to icemaker
  • Shut off water to washer
  • Check stove and oven
  • Water plants
  • Close drapes and curtains
  • Set light timers
  • Adjust thermostats
  • Set security system
  • Lock house
 
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