7 tips for a fun family vacation

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Here are seven tips to help you plan that perfect vacation for you and your family.
1. Involve the kids. Your ideal vacation may not be what your children have in mind. It’s a good idea to get the kids’ input at the very start of the planning process so they will have a stake in making things go right. Above all, make sure everyone is on board with the destination.
2. Do your homework. The better your grasp on where you are going and what you want to do there, the more enjoyable the experience will be. You don’t need an itinerary carved in stone, but you really must have an outline. The Web is a great place to get up-to-date information, as are travel guidebooks.
3. Build in some downtime. Flexibility is the key when travelling with kids. Everyone will have a better time if each has a chance to do his own thing, whether it’s reading a book or hitting the beach. “Alone time” is greatly underrated in family travel planning, as is “grown-up time,” so take advantage of a kids-only movie night to share a special dinner with your special someone.
4. Watch your budget. It’s easy to overspend while on vacation, but by keeping an eye out for incentives, discounts and other special deals, you can have a great time for less.
5. Book smarter. Travelling in the off-season (or the almost off-season) can help rein in those costs and keep the crowds down. (If you make your escape during school time, remember to get a homework pack for the kids.) Also ask your travel pro to keep an eye out for family-friendly specials, which often are not advertised to the general public.
6. Lose the crowd. If you choose to go on vacation at a busy time, look for ways to avoid the worst of the crowds. Here’s a trick: Go left when you enter a national park, museum or other crowded venue — most people will go right. And go deep — most visitors stop at the first thing they see. This strategy also works very well in the grocery store!
7. Expect the unexpected. The plane is late, someone left the oven on, your room is not ready, someone gets ill, the rental car gets a flat tire, the guy sitting next to you really smells. To help with the rough patches, bring along some activity packs for everyone.

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