This post was written in collaboration with travel expert, Kendra Thornton. Enjoy!
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Though parents everywhere might feel a bit beleaguered when putting together a majestic family vacation, the stress does not have to be overwhelming. By taking care of a few simple tasks beforehand, the grand road trip should be one for the ages. Whether you will be soaking up the sun on the beach or hiking through the mountains in search of a hidden waterfall, a bit of planning can come in handy.
1) View Cheap Hotels with Suspicion
If you are heading off to Orlando or Los Angeles for a few days, you may be looking to hit some of the wonderful theme parks in the region. Don’t be cheap, however, when it comes to hotels. Many low-cost hotels are inordinately loud at night, which means that your toddler will likely not sleep well. Be ready to spend a bit more money to stay at an upscale establishment. I personally enjoy using Gogobot to find hotels that are not only of great value but also give me great-added information. For example, I found an Orlando hotel that ensured a quiet hours policy for my children and one that offered free continental breakfasts for kids!
2) Re-create Home Sleeping Environments
Kids often have trouble falling asleep in new environments. To head off this problem, take along some blankets, books, pacifiers, stuffed animals, and other comforting toys your little one is familiar with. For kids with special sensory needs, be sure to bring whatever sensory tools they may need in order to create the most familiar, calming environment possible. This may include items such as weighted blankets, weighted stuffed animals, fidgets, special music, a white noise machine, noise cancelling headphones or earplugs, a Therapressure Brush (do not use unless you have been trained by your child’s occupational therapist), or a sensory calm down bottle.
3) Press Your Kids to be Travel Enthusiasts
As a parent, you will also want to encourage your kids to develop a passion for unfamiliar places, foods, and attractions. Children who collect postcards or magnets from the cities they’ve visited will likely remain curious about the world as they grow up. When eating out, you might also order a platter of exotic foods. Trying new things is always good! However, if your child is a picky eater or is sensitive to new experiences, don’t force them to try it. If it helps, you can motivate them by having them put together a “brag book” with pictures of new foods or experiences tried while on your trip. Let them know they can show their pictures to a proud teacher, therapist, or family member when they return, and perhaps they can even earn a prize when they get home.
4) Allow Extra Time for Unforeseen Events
All full-time parents will likely realize the value of getting to the airport ahead of time. Kids can throw tantrums at any moment or may realize they’ve forgotten a favorite toy in the car just as you’ve stepped foot into the airport, and you might soon find yourself racing to the departure gate with little time to spare. These issues can be especially difficult for kids with autism or sensory processing disorder. Try your best not to rush. If your child sees that you are stressed, they may be more likely to become stressed themselves. By leaving earlier, you allow yourself some flexibility to deal with unexpected events or delays and things should run more smoothly.
5) Give Yourself Time to Recover
You may also want to give yourself a full day of rest once you’ve returned home especially if you have changed time zones. Instead of jumping back into the usual household tasks right away, leave the cooking and the cleaning until later in the week. By slowly decompressing, you can gradually reacquaint yourself with normal life once again. This is true for your children as well. Try not to book a busy day for your kids right after you return from your trip. Give them a chance to rest and recover while they ease back into their regular routine.
Once you have put together your itinerary, you should be ready to head off on your trip. By booking a room at a secure hotel and allowing extra time to get to your destination, your family vacation should be a rewarding one. You and your children will be able to cherish the memories for years to come!
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Kendra Thornton is a travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. She is a long time travel expert who has been packing her bags and traveling the world since she was 3 months old! She has found that her utmost desire in life is right in her own home. She has mixed her excitement for travel by bringing the taste of authentic cuisine to her own home with some of her unique recipes and sharing some of her personal traveling tips. Follow Kendra and all of her adventures on Twitter (@KendraThornton) and her website (http://www.thorntonpr.com).
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