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Travel tips: 10 ways to...

Whenever a family vacation looms on the horizon,all of that quality bonding time looks a bitdaunting. How can the same trip be wonderful forpeople with different needs and interests, especiallywhen they"re wedged into tight quartersand spending more time than usual together?

1. Abandon traditional hierarchy //Make family travel a joint adventure. Planningshould not come just from the top,says Annie Fox, educator and co-author ofToo Stressed to Think. She advocates thatevery member of the family be allowed todecide what the group will do for part ofeach day, exposing everyone to differentadventures.

2. Travel as a team // "Respect the ideathat we don't have a lot of physical spacefrom one another when we"re traveling together,"Fox says, "but we do need psychicspace." Family members need to give oneanother a little breathing room.

3. Find balance within every day // Beaware of children's energy levels, Fox says,and schedule time for snacks and rest. Kidsneed structure when it comes to mealtimes and bedtimes.

4. Remember the big picture // Californiachild psychologist Don MacMannisemphasizes family growth as the goal forthe trip. "Consider making learning, lovingand living in the moment your highest priorityrather than getting to a particulardestination," he says.

5. Plan for variety // Don't impose a restfulbeach retreat on your children whenthey want to bungee jump. And don't letthem just bask by the pool when there's anew culture to explore. Fox suggests takingpublic transportation and shopping in localmarkets to give your children a real feelfor any place.

6. Let your trip have balance // Childrenand spouses can feel bullied if thereare ironclad must-see lists, says ThomasGreenspon, author of Freeing Our FamiliesFrom Perfectionism. Negotiate what's importantto each person and what can bedumped as travelers become weary.

7. Plan outlets for relaxation // Thepros say that the family togetherness onvacation demands some individual relaxation,whether that's with a Game Boy, abook or an evening out for the parents.

8. Share appreciation and praise //Families do best when everyone feels appreciated,MacMannis says. Take time topraise your kids for the good things -- aimfor a 5-1 ratio of positive to negative statements.

9. Keep a family travel journal // Atthe end of every travel day, Fox wouldtake dictation from each family memberabout his or her most memorable moment;the family still reminisces overthose journals.

10. Chill out as a parent // You're still incharge and everyone knows that, butyou're on vacation too. "Lighten up, parents,"Fox says. "Chill. Enjoy."

[From the Los Angeles Times]

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