A few years ago, my wife and I were sitting in a restaurant discussing an upcoming trip.. A gentleman at an adjacent table, who must have overheard our conversation, chimed in that when he and his wife went away with their kids it was called a trip, but if they were alone it was a vacation. While there is a lot of truth to that, I have also come to learn that there are ways to turn those family trips into memorable and happy family vacations.
1. Plan out any car route with your stops in mind, and if at all possible, book your accommodations ahead of time. Try to book a rate with a flexible cancelation policy rather than saving a few dollars for a non refundable advance payment.
2. Stay in a reliable chain that is family friendly such as Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express that include a breakfast buffet. Starting your day with a hearty breakfast will make everyone happier and more relaxed. It also means that you don't have to worry about where to eat each morning, and it helps make budgeting easier.
3. Staying at a hotel with breakfast also allows you to take a cup of coffee with you or muffins or fruit for later.
4. Bringing your Ipad, tablet or portable DVD player with headphones is a great way to keep the kids entertained on route. My wife also had us buy a multi headset connector so that both kids could listen to the movie simultaneously. The simplest and cheapest Ipod was great too. If you have multiple Apple devices the song can be downloaded into your cloud so each device has the same one.
5. Trust Trip Advisor reviews! We recently stayed in four different hotels from different chains based on our needs, the reviews, availability and price, and each one of the four was very good to excellent. The Trip Advisor app also allows you to search for availability and price for specific dates.
6. Choose restaurants with an extensive kids menu and preferably offering something for them to do. also pack a small backpack or one for each of your kids with crayons, coloring books, and books to read to keep them occupied.
7. Visit places that are not only going to amuse the kids, but the parents too. On our most recent vacation trip, two places that we went to that everyone thoroughly enjoyed were Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania and the Strong National Museum of Play. Natural wonders such as an ocean beach or Niagara Falls are also fun for everyone in your party.
8. My wife had us pack two coolers, one large one for the trunk or cargo space and the other, a small one for inside the car. The small one contained little snacks for everyone and the big one contained bread, peanut butter (or soya butter), jam, and juice boxes in order to prepare quick lunches when needed. This not only will save you a ton of money and time finding a place to eat, but it lessens the automatically high vacation intake of junk and fast foods!
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