1. Keep your destination a surprise! It's okay to tell them yes, bring your bathing suit, but they don't have to know whether they are visiting the beach or the water park. Kids love mysteries!
2. Have an ace in the hole. On a recent weeklong trip to Florida, it rained three days. I had cranky kids on my hands. So I figured it was time to whip out the video game I had secretly packed away. You don't want to bring it, obviously, because this is supposed to be a vacation, right? So keep it a secret until/unless you need it. At the very least this will keep them occupied until the weather improves.
3. Play traveling games with your kids. Search the Internet for fun games you can play on your trip, like License Plate Bingo, I Spy, etc. If you have time to do the research ahead of time, turn your road trip into a scavenger hunt, and let the kids pick up small items to fulfill the scavenger hunt list (simple things like a postcard of the Grand Canyon).
4. Kids need to have fun, yes, but there's nothing wrong with having fun AND learning something in the process. Take Colonial Williamsburg, for example. Where else can kids join in a fife and drum parade or go on a haunted tavern tour?
5. And finally, save a trick up your sleeve for the return trip home. Kids can get just as irritable after a vacation as they can before one. My favorite is to start with the letters of the alphabet and have each one name something that begins with their letter that they enjoyed on the vacation and why. It helps to reinforce memories of the trip and helps them see smaller things that are just as important as big ones. For instance, the letter C might be answered with "cabin" and then the person shares something they liked or disliked or will always remember. It enhances the trip for everyone!
Those are only 5 possibilities. I'm sure you'll come up with lots more!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the Williamsburg Tourism and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.