By Cathy Thurber
After spending a week in the tourist trap that is Florida, and being trapped on a long car ride with my kids (and husband), I felt it beneficial to pass along some tips to remember for all you summer vacationers.
1. In all instances possible – try to fly to your destination. It’s a much shorter time spent in one small place with your entire family. That way, when your 9-year old continually asks “How much longer ‘til we get to Florida,” your response will be under the 4-hour limit.
2. When you cannot fly because your spouse believes in driving everywhere, make sure you take a few items along for your safety. This would include motion sickness bracelets, plastic bags, paper towels, and wipes. For those of you that have a car-sick child, you understand where I’m coming from. Let me just say, the motion sickness bracelets I bought were a saving grace. Even my hubby – who initially told me I was wasting my money – had to change his tune when we did not have a sick child at all, even after driving through the winding mountains.
3. Speaking of driving, make sure your car is all set to make a long trip. Top off all your fluids, check your tires and be sure that your air conditioning works. Nothing is worse than driving for a long period of time under a hot sun in 98 degree weather and your air conditioning is not working correctly. If that happens I strongly suggest everyone showers the second they check in at their hotel or home. Nobody wants that smell to linger.
4. Pack snacks. Lots of snacks. They are very important when your child or spouse is whining that they are hungry yet you don’t want to stop for food. Not to mention it will save you a little bit of money. Try to get both salty and sweet foods, and include healthy choices like apples or bananas. Even if you don’t eat the healthy stuff, at least you tried! Trust me, there are never enough snacks.
5. Over-budget on your food. No matter how much you think you are going to spend on eating, you need to double that amount, especially with kids since they are always hungry. Not to mention if you are going to be walking around a park on a hot, sunny day, it will cost a family of four at least $40 to drink bottled water. You’d think it was a scarce commodity with the prices that are charged. Either that or they just realize the Florida tap water is HORRIBLE so they can command that price.
6. Shop at Walmart or a souvenir store for t-shirts. You can shave at least $10 off the price of a shirt instead of buying it at Disney. Unless you truly feel the need to spend around $30 for a shirt with a mouse on it.
7. Keep as much patience as possible. And I’m not just talking about patience with your children. Have some with yourself and your spouse, especially when you miss your exit (because the “navigator” told you not to get off there) and have to turn around. Only to pass by the restaurant you were heading to and have to turn around again. When they jokingly start calling you “turn-around,” remind them that eventually you will be unbuckled and you move faster than they realize.
8. Research where you want to go before going there, that way you have an idea of the money you’ll be spending and when the best days to go are. But most importantly – remember with all those places you want to see that you still need to have some time to relax. Don’t pack every day with something to do. Sometimes the best memories happen when they are unplanned.
I hope these tips help! If you are going on a vacation this summer, stay safe and have a wonderful time! Even if you’re just hitting a campsite for a night or two.