Just in time for summer, here are 10 great tips on family travel from our book, 'The Smart Traveler's Passport: 399 Tips from Seasoned Travelers.'
Every summer, we drive out West from Pennsylvania with our two kids. To avoid that infamous road trip question ("Are we there yet?"), I give each child a map with our route highlighted on it. Along the way, they can match up the town names with road signs we pass, and that way, they always know exactly where we are and how much farther we have to go until we'll get there. --Machell McCoy, Carlisle, Pa.
Give each child his or her own small carry-on bag. Fill it with new, surprise treats to occupy the downtime--layovers, long flights, time in hotels--as well as a few familiar items from home. Include a notebook and encourage your child to keep a travel diary. --Joan White, Dallas, Tex.
If you're on a road trip with young children and you're looking for a place to let them blow off some steam, check out the playgrounds at local elementary schools. They almost always have equipment that your children will love to explore. It will also give everyone in the family a welcome chance to stretch their legs. --Heather Fitzgerald, Little Compton, R.I.
Put toys within kids' reach on road trips. Hang a shoe organizer on the back of the passenger seat so children can keep stuffed animals, books, and games organized in the pockets. Having everything close at hand may help prevent meltdowns along the way. --Jennifer Casasanto, Newton, Mass.
When my husband and I would stay in a hotel with our two-year-old, a full night's sleep was out of the question. The minute our son opened his eyes (at 2, 3, or 4 a.m.), he woke us, thinking it was time to play. We now pack a pop-up tent and set it up in a corner of the hotel room with books, a blanket, and a few small stuffed animals. The tent folds down to a 14-inch circle and weighs about a pound. It works great! My son has his own "room" to sleep in when we vacation, and we all get to sleep through the night! --Geri Kronyak, Boonton, N.J.
It can be difficult for parents to find a place to bathe their infant while on vacation. Showers obviously won't work, and the miniscule sinks generally found in hotel bathrooms aren't appropriate either. On our last cruise, we eliminated the whole problem by packing a small, inexpensive inflatable bathtub. (Ours cost only $7.99.) When we arrived, we blew it up and placed it in the bottom of the shower for an instant, safe baby bath. --Maria Diekema-Zuidema, Lewisville, N.C.
At a theme park, tie a brightly colored scarf to the handle of your stroller before you enter a ride. When you return, you'll be able to quickly pick out your stroller from a sea of look-alikes. --Katrina Shelton, Beaumont, Tex.
Before we went to London, I created a personalized booklet on our computer with fill-in pages like "the new foods I tried were," "best candy," "words I learned," and "most fun/boring museums." My daughter, who might have been daunted by lots of blank journal pages, had a blast answering the questions and filling in all the details. --Mary Cronin, Harwich, Mass.
Give your children a coach's whistle in case they get lost; put it on a ribbon so they can wear it around their neck. The piercing sound may be annoying, but you'll definitely find them quicker! --Chandra Huang, Honolulu, Hawaii
When my husband and I travel with our children, our luggage is weighed down by diapers, formula, and other necessities. To save space and hassle, we now ship ahead most of those items to our hotel. We also came across a Web site called babiestravellite.com, where we can order supplies and have them shipped anywhere in the world. --Mina Camera, San Gabriel, Calif.
Check out The Smart Traveler's Passport for more great reader tips. You can buy it at bookstores everywhere and at barnesandnoble.com. And if you have a good tip of your own, please send it to us at Tips@BudgetTravelOnline.com.