It’s National Travel and Tourism Week (May 7‐15), Memorial Day is right around the corner and families are gearing up to hit the road for the summer travel season. According to AAA, more than 32 million Americans traveled during Memorial Day weekend in 2010.
Memorial Day weekend trips offer families the perfect opportunity to engage and re‐connect. Jeff Siegel, author of the forthcoming book RelationTrips, shares the following tips for planning Memorial Day travels full of adventure, excitement and unpredictability.
1. Save on activities. While fuel prices have been a hot topic, remember that family trips are more about spending time together and less about the destination. For families looking to save cash, research the many free events, activities and locations available at your destination. They often provide more unique and memorable experiences than a pricey theme park or attraction.
2. Let the kids be your guide. Choose one day during the trip and let your children research and plan all the activities. Encourage them to create an agenda that includes a theme and soundtrack for the day. Families with more than one child can make it a joint effort or assign each child their own day or portion of a day.
3. Give your trip a life of its own. During the planning stages, sit down as a family and personalize your trip by giving it a name. This builds anticipation and gets everyone involved long before you leave the driveway. Incorporate your destination, family name or both into the trip name, such as “Millers In Memphis” or “The Simpson Sizzlin’ Summer Spectacular.”
4. See the journey with new eyes. If your family travels to the same location each Memorial Day weekend, take the opportunity to explore new destinations along the way. Pick out two or three new places to stop while in transit, such as a new landmark or roadside restaurant.
5. Make homework fun. School’s almost out for summer, but many kids have final projects or exams at the end of the year that can be incorporated into your family travel. Look for opportunities for destinations, side trips or activities that directly relate to your kids’ upcoming school schedules for educational fun.
6. Begin a summer-long adventure. Summer is the time of festivals, craft shows, theater showcases and a host of other creative events. These fun, outdoor activities are healthy, engaging ways to get your family moving. Pick a Memorial Day weekend destination with events that will excite your loved ones and inspire them for future travel. For an extended adventure, identify a series of events that share the same theme taking place in different locations throughout the summer and kick off your travels during Memorial Day weekend.
7. Plan for the journey. Help pass the travel time smoothly and get kids geared up for the trip with activities and entertainment en-route. Choose books-on-tape, music playlists and rest stops that relate to the activities planned at your final destination. Create your own games with references to the people, places and things that are unique to your family.
8. Remember the Minors. Baseball is America’s summer pastime and centerfield provides a perfect centerpiece for a Memorial Day excursion. While Major League games may be the most popular, some of the most budget-friendly fun can be had at the dozens of Minor League parks around the country. With music performances, game-related activities and all kinds of other fun antics, there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy.
9. Be flexible. As well-planned as a trip may be, unforeseen circumstances, such as detours, flight delays or attraction closures, inevitably arise. Turn these challenges into “teachable moments.” They are a great opportunity to showcase problem solving skills, creative thinking, patience and manners.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!