Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Summer Vacations...It's That Time of the Year Again

With May almost behind us and June quickly approaching it is quickly coming to be that time of the year, when school lets out and summer vacations begin. Last year we decided to do a summer getaway in beautiful Amelia Island. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island, and it was fabulous. While our stay at the Ritz Carlton was wonderful, I missed the flexibility and some of the comforts of home that come in handy when vacationing with a young child. That is why this year we decided to rent an amazing vacation home with our closest friends, and their children in Hilton Head.

Now, in a perfect world I could just blink my eyes and I would have the perfect summer rental (that's child proof) in the perfect location to meet everyone's needs. Well as we all know the world is not perfect, but I was able to find a great resource with This is a great site that allows you to research and locate amazing vacation homes at various price points. I highly recommend this site whether you are vacationing in the states, or some far off exotic location.

So now that we have a great summer rental secured, it is time to start planning all the other important details to ensure a great summer vacation.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you start to plan your fun filled summer holiday.

1. Be Flexible: Traveling with children can be a wonderful experience (with a lot of alcohol, just kidding) if you go with the flow. Your toddler might get bored having to sit still or sightsee for long periods of time instead of being able to run around and explore at her own energetic pace, so keep your itinerary simple. Limit it to one activity a day and you'll find it much easier to make last-minute adjustments if your child gets tired or just wants to spend time splashing in pool or playing in sand on the beach.

2. Pick a Family Friendly Destination: Choose a relaxing destination that's used to young visitors, so you don't have to sweat the details. Some ideas include a lazy beach retreat, family camps, nature resorts, or similar kid-friendly places. Skip the crowded, over-stimulating tourist destinations, places without shade (sorry Mickey and Minney), and other spots that will pose an added challenge when you have a young one in tow. You can also keep your summer vacation on budget, by looking for family-friendly hotels and resorts that let kids stay for free in their parents' rooms and provide free meals to children or buffet-style breakfasts included in the price.

3. Don't Forget to Pack Snacks and Drinks:
Make sure to tote along plenty to drink and a bag of snacks on any trip. Children can get dehydrated during a flight, and toddlers can't always wait for food service (or they refuse the airline meal when it arrives). You might be able to pre-order a children's meal — check with your airline to find out. Whether you're in the air or on the road, best bets for toddlers include easy-to-pack snacks like baggies of whole grain cereal, precut fruits and vegetables, small cartons of fruit juice, animal crackers, and other age-appropriate nibblers. Dispensing snacks at pre-announced intervals will give your toddler something to look forward to. Consider bringing along moist towelettes and sanitizer for easy cleanup. Lastly, don't forget your On the Fly Bottle Warmer.

4. Plan Frequent Stops: If you are driving break up your trip so your toddler can stretch her limbs and move around to blow off some pent-up energy. Pack a rubber or foam ball for rolling or kicking around and some simple board books for quiet time. Pick out parks and picnic areas on your route by using an online mapping service such as Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, or MapQuest, or city guides like GoCityKids or CitySearch. End your driving day early so all of you have time to unwind after a long day on the road.

5. Think Safety First: When you pack for your toddler, be sure to include a basic childproofing kit to use at your destination. If you're taking a road trip, make sure your child's car seat is properly secured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up to 85 percent of car seats aren't installed correctly. Use removable window shades to keep the sun off your child. You may want to dress your toddler in a brightly colored outfit so she's easy to spot in a crowd, and put a small card with identification information on it in one of her pockets in case you get separated.

6. Pack a Goody Bag: A good way to keep kids content on a trip is to take along a goody bag filled with more toys and doodads than you think you'll need. Your toddler might like an array of puzzles, dolls, action figures, puppets, brightly colored paper, nontoxic crayons, books, and favorite toys. Wrap some of them before you leave and present your child with a surprise every once in a while. Start building your toy cache a few weeks before the trip.

7. Take Some Proactive Trips: To get a feel for what works and what doesn't when you're on the road and away from home, you might try leading up to a big trip with some short day trips or weekend getaways. The trial runs could provide key insights — about things like what supplies you should pack, how long your child can last in a car seat, and which toys keep your toddler happy (or drive you nuts).

With these tips, hopefully your summer vacation with be fun and full of great memories. Remember, traveling with small children like life is full of great unknowns, preparing ahead will allow you to make the most of your vacation and time with your family.

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