Family Trips Are Supposed To Be Fun!

It’s nearly time for spring break, and some of you may be planning a trip. Family trips can be stressful, but with a little planning, they can be memorable—in a good way.

A couple of years ago, when Mary Ellen was in kindergarten, we took her to the Fossil Rim Wild Life Center near Glen Rose, Texas. The primary objective of the 1,700 acre conservation center is to save endangered species. They have over 1000 animals, approximately 50 species. You can drive through in your own car. However, we chose a guided tour in an open bus and were glad we did. The guide was outstanding, and we had our hands free to take photos and feed the animals—except the ostriches. They bite. We were fortunate that the Amarillo school district’s break that year didn’t coincide with most of the other districts in Texas. We hadn’t checked that but will next time. Apparently the roads were packed the week before. For more information you can go to www.fossilrim.com.

Here are a few ideas for traveling with a youngster. We drove, but some of these suggestions would also work for flying. Have available in the vehicle: a first aid kit, towels, water and healthy snacks, a trash bag, and entertainment. Depending on the child’s age, you might want to include a special doll or stuffed animal, a pillow, and a blanket.

Again, depending on the child’s age, road games can pass some of the time. When I was a kid, my family had fun looking for Burma Shave signs. I miss those. Mary Ellen taught us the car bingo game—bingo cars are yellow. You can vary that by making up your own rules to look for any number of colors. I spy with my little eye drove me crazy, but she loved it. And older kids can look for license plates.

Usborne, www.edcpub.com carries some great activity packs. We took along “Step-By-Step Drawing” and “100 Things To Do On A Trip.” The latter contained a marker and 50 two-sided heavy, wipe-off cards, each with a different activity. They also have a number of travel activity books for school-age children. Sticker books are also great. I’m not a fan of sharp objects in a car, but if you’re willing to risk pretty colors on the back seat, crayons and a pad of paper can entertain for a long time. Storage boxes with easy lock tops can be found in many sizes.
There are several websites that offer suggestions for family vacations. One is www.travelwithkids.about.com. Some—but not all—suggestions in many of these sites are quite expensive, so set a budget ahead of time. You can quickly weed out a lot of destinations.

If you have ideas for a reasonably-priced trip, preferably with a short travel time from your town, please post it in the comments. I would like to create a page dedicated to good, inexpensive, family vacations around the country. I need your help.

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