Finally, you can head out to get the mail without putting on a winter coat. If you're lucky, there may even be a brave robin on a still-bare tree branch practicing his high notes. Spring hasn't quite sprung, but you can smell a change in the air. After a long, rough winter (and this one was a beast for many of us) it's nice to treat the family to a change of scenery -- one where you can spend time outdoors and get your vitamin D from sunlight instead of a daily supplement. Spring break isn't just about wild, sun-worshipping college students. It's about introducing your family to a whole new season of fun and exploration. You may be headed south to Grandma's house in Boca Raton or taking in the newest amusements at your theme park of choice. Whatever your destination, these tips will help make spring break easier for you and safer for your brood.
Prepare for the Weather
Of course, you'll definitely remember to pack lightweight clothing and sunscreen for everyone, but there are still a few changes from winter to summer that you should take into account:
- It's easy to lose sunscreen protection when your kids are in and out of the water or perspiring. Apply a broad spectrum, waterproof sunscreen a half hour before going outdoors and reapply it every couple of hours.
- If anyone in the family is wearing sunglasses, make sure they offer full UV protection, too.
- Have footwear at the ready. That stroll along the beach may be just right to warm your tootsies and give them a refreshing sand bath, but the walk back across the asphalt to the car could get hot and dangerous. The same goes for that nature walk or poolside swim. Foot protection could save someone a painful accident. Avoid hot, hurt feet by being prepared.
- Your warm weather destination may not cooperate for the entire trip. Early spring days can start out temperate and turn chilly fast. Make sure to take along clothing your family can layer to stay comfortable.
Be Prepared to Travel
You may have a vacation scheduled that calls for a plane trip or are planning a staycation that involves short hops to local fun spots like the zoo. Kids want to get where they're going fast, and trips that involve long rides that never seem to end can be torture -- for everyone involved. For a child, even a relatively short car or plane trip can be an eternity of idle frustration, and even fear or confusion. Whatever your plans are, make transportation safety and travel sanity a priority. To make sure you don't find yourself wishing you'd never left the house (and have every stranger in the vicinity feeling the same way), observe these travel dos:
- If you're traveling by car, give your vehicle a checkup before you head out. Make sure your insurance is current and you have emergency equipment, like a first aid kit, flares and a cell phone with you. Pack plenty of water and necessary items like snacks, formula and diapers for the journey, too.
- If you're taking a young child on a plane trip, discuss child restraint system options (CRS) with the airline. Your lap is not the safest option for your child. Some airlines provide CRS seats and will help you arrange for connecting flights. A CRS will have to be installed in a window seat, so advanced planning is required. You may be able to avoid paying extra if you travel at off-peak times when there are typically extra seats available. These days, most airlines run a majority of their flights at or near capacity, so it's important to understand your options.
- Bring entertaining diversions and snacks. Be creative. A long trip may require lots of distractions.
- Explain the travel process to your child. If she has never gone on a long trip or traveled on a plane, bus or train, take the time to walk through the process with her. The more prepared she is for the journey, the more smoothly it's likely to go. It may even be worth a trip to the airport, train or bus station for her to see what everything looks and sounds like beforehand.
Make It Educational
Holiday fun can be more than visiting one expensive venue after another. If you make your excursion an educational journey as well as an exciting adventure, you can have almost as much fun planning your holiday trip as you will have experiencing it. What types of animals are native to the locale you'll be visiting? What's interesting about the history of the area? After you arrive, museums, parks, walking tours and libraries offer lots of rich opportunities to learn more. Giving your holiday an educational slant can be a fun and economical way to enjoy a well-rounded trip.
Keep Your Home Safe
Make sure to keep your home secure while you're away:
- Stop mail and newspaper deliveries.
- Ask trusted neighbors to watch your property while you're gone.
- Don't discuss your trip around strangers, and caution your children to avoid exposing your plans on their favorite social networking site.
- Make sure to lock your doors and windows before you leave -- all of them.
- To make your home look like it is still occupied, consider installing a timer to turn your interior lights on and off on a regular schedule.
- If you plan on parking your vehicle at the airport, remove your GPS device and leave it at home. If your vehicle is broken into, the GPS could give robbers directions back to your unoccupied and vulnerable home.
Stay Safe on the Road
Traveling on holiday will give your children a better appreciation of the world around them and get you all out of the house to enjoy some fresh air. To make sure you're as safe on the road as you are at home, observe these precautions:
- Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.
- Be vigilant in crowds and keep your children nearby and in your line of sight. Never leave your valuables, like your handbag, wallet, luggage, keys or identification unattended.
- Avoid traveling with expensive items like high-end electronics or valuable jewelry.
- Don't give out your personal information or reveal your plans to strangers.
In the excitement of holiday fun, it's easy for children to forget about safety. Discuss activity specific safety measures with them before you head out for an event. Whether it's about safe practices around strangers or making sure there's a lifeguard on duty at the pool, remind your children about the rules. You want them to have a terrific and safe holiday.
Consider a spring break staycation if money is tight this year. Learn how your family can have fun with these 10 spring break staycations.
- 10 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation
- 5 Tried and True Family Travel Games
- 10 Great Snacks for the Plane
- 10 Tips for Finding Family-friendly Hotels
- 10 Tips for Handling Tantrums on Vacation
- Save or Splurge: 10 Suggestions on What's Worth the Spend When You're on Vacation
- 10 Family-friendly Pool Games
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