This has been a fun series to write - one of my favorite topics. We are nearing the end - next week I'll showcase a few examples of some of our recent trips. Today I thought I'd share some miscellaneous tips.
1. Read guide books - this is a great way to get ideas of things to do, places to go, etc. Don't buy them however, get them from the library. They are typically updated annually, so why spend money on something that will be out of date in less than a year.
2. Keep a file for future trips. Whenever I find an article about a place I'd like to go, I rip it out and put it in my vacation file. Then, when it's time to plan a trip I pull out the file and see if there is anything useful. I do clean this file out annually to keep it from getting too big!
3. Involve the whole family. If the kids (and spouse) are involved in the planning, they will be more excited about the trip. This also takes the burden off of you as sole entertainment provider!
4. Go with the flow. It's good to have some things scheduled, but it's also fun to just go with the flow sometimes. Often the best memories are unplanned - and a little flexibility can make for less stress and sometimes more fun!
5. Ask the locals. I know I've mentioned this in past weeks, but I can't emphasize it enough - you can get such great tips on everything from where to eat to what to do - information you could never find on your own. Plus, you will meet some interesting people along the way.
6. Try something new. Just because you haven't done it, eaten it, etc. doesn't mean it's not fun. Vacations are a great time to step outside your comfort zone - your kids will love it!
7. Don't overpack. If we are gone for more than a week, I'll still only pack a week's worth of clothing (or less). It is easy to find a laundromat (if your lodging doesn't have one) and it only takes an hour to do laundry. I send the kids off with hubby, get a coffee and read a book while the clothes are being washed. It's relaxing and so much easier to have less stuff to lug around.
8. Take pictures. These are the best souvenirs. We will usually buy each child one item on the trip - we encourage them to look at everything and think about what they want - it's often a $5 stuffed animal versus the $50 lego set - lol!!! Then we take lots of pictures. When we get home I'll scrapbook some and sometimes make a photo book at CVS or Meijer with the rest.
9. Speaking of souvenirs, buy ahead. On our last few trips to Disney, I've shopped the Disney store for clearance items in the months before the trip. I'll also pick up a few new DVD's or CD's on clearance here or there. Then, I wrap them up and pack them in my bag. The kids get a nice little surprise and I'm not paying an outrageous price for it.
10. Check out the outlet mall. When we go to Orlando, we always visit the outlet mall - there is a Disney outlet located there and we often find great gifts for the kids, Christmas presents, etc.
11. Do the unexpected. Have ice cream for breakfast, pack a picnic lunch, let the kids stay up late for fireworks, say yes when they ask for that $1 treat at the gas station, go to McDonald's if that's where the kids really want to eat. Vacation is a great time to break the routine and do things you would never consider at home - it's fun, the kids love it and it creates great memories.
12. Just go! Even if you can't afford a long trip, try to create something close to home. There are deals out there - camp at a nearby State Park, stay overnight at a local budget motel with a pool, whatever you can do, just do it - the memories will be priceless.