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Planning Age-Appropriate Vacations

Ask almost any mom and she will tell you that planning for a vacation can be an arduous task, especially if the age ranges of the children are varied.  Trying to make sure that everyone from the two year old to the twelve year old has a fun and memorable experience can challenge even the best travel agent.  And, for a toddler to have an enjoyable time, it’s important to maintain as much of your normal routine as possible.  With some careful research and planning, however, you can arrange a vacation that everyone will enjoy.

Enlist help from your kids:  Ask each of them what they would most like to do on vacation.  Take into account their hobbies and interests.  If your son is a history buff, Boston or Washington DC might be a good bet.  If your daughter loves horses perhaps this is the year for a trip to a dude ranch.  Select a location where there will be something to interest everyone.

Make it toddler friendly:  Nothing will spoil a vacation more than an overtired, over stimulated toddler.  Make sure that you thoroughly research your destination to make sure it is baby friendly.  While Disney is crowded in the summer, it is more than accommodating for small children.  Baby Stations offer a quiet, cool place to take a break and feed the baby while older children can play in an adjacent room or watch TV. Private rooms for nursing are also available.

Avoid the “Mommy are we there yet?” nightmare:  If you’re planning a road trip this summer, build in time for numerous stops.  An eight hour drive under normal circumstances can easily turn into ten to twelve factoring in lunch breaks, potty breaks and leg stretching.  Sometimes it’s easier to make the trip in two days rather than start the vacation stressed out over the car ride.

Understand the restrictions: If you’re going on a cruise, make sure it is family friendly.  Many ships have pre-selected seating times for dinner – some that might be after your children’s normal bedtime.  Also make sure they have high chairs on board and ask if they have Pak-n-Plays.  While many offer kids camps and kids clubs, there are usually age restrictions so they might not accommodate your three year old.

Don’t skimp on accommodations:  When traveling with your toddler or infant it’s best to keep as normal a routine as possible.  This means scheduling naps and meals at their regular time.  The best way to ensure this is to reserve a hotel suite with a kitchen or rent a house where ever you are going.  This will allow you to prepare some quick meals for your children while saving some money on pricey restaurants.  Little ones will also be able to take a nap in the bedroom while allowing the older kids to play games or watch movies in the sitting room.

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