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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

Easy New Year's Travel Resolutions That Will Make Your Family Trips Better

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Ahhh… the often-hackneyed New Year’s resolution list! But you won’t find this one telling you to exercise more, eat less and drink wine in moderation. Instead, this list of New Year's travel resolutions is to help make your family’s journeys for 2020 and beyond even better. And unlike the oft-repeated “eat more superfoods”, they are realistic ideas and things you can actually accomplish. May your 2020 and the next decade be filled with adventure, wonder and joy no matter if you are trekking in your backyard or exploring the world!

1. Enroll kids in frequent flyer programs

I still kick myself for not doing this sooner and missed out on thousands of miles by not signing the boys up for frequent flyer programs with the first airline miles they flew. Even if you just pick out the two airlines you expect to fly the most, it is worth the five minutes to enroll them. The next step, and even more important, is to make sure you put their FF numbers in a safe place where you will remember them or add it to your address book. One of my New Year's travel resolutions is to locate all of their numbers and put them in a place.for easy access. You don’t want to be scrambling to find them when you find that great deal to visit your in-laws in Phoenix (a 3244- mile round trip flight for us).

2. Get passports for the kids (and for you if you don’t already have one)

U.S. passports are good for 10 years, and you never know when that once-in-a-lifetime deal to Paris or a cheap fare to Mexico is going to pop up and change your spring break plans. It happened to us two years ago. We had planned a road trip to Coastal South Carolina, and a $400 fare to Tokyo magically appeared one Sunday morning that we couldn’t resist. Thank goodness we already had passports for the boys. The paperwork doesn’t take too long to fill out, but you’ll need birth certificates and about six weeks for processing. The $110 fee may seem expensive, but if you average it out over the 10 years, that’s just $11 a year. It’s also a unique gift for a special occasion - perfect for a graduation gift, birthday or wedding present.

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3. Make Photo Books of Trips

I know, I know. This is easier said than done, and is the bane of existence for many moms (well, it is for this one), but with websites like Mixbook where you can simply drag and drop your FaceBook, Instagram and Google Photos pictures into your account. You don’t have to be a scrapbooking master or take three years to do it. There’s even an option for travel books. Once you import your photos to your account, you can choose to autofill directly into the book, which literally took me one minute to do. Have wi-fi on your flight home? Do it then! I have a girlfriend who builds in time post-vacation to make the books and gives them to her kids for Christmas. They love it – and everyone enjoys reliving the memories of when they got caught in the rainstorm while hiking the Canadian Rockies or when they met Ricky Martin in a handicraft store in Tokyo (true story).

4. Roam close to home

We often forget about the unique activities and attractions that are in our backyard (or within a few hours of our house). Sure we hit the zoo and big museums often, but what about checking out obscure finds like the world's largest rocking chair or mailbox (in Casey, IL), visiting bison on the prairie, or searching for the biggest pork tenderloin sandwich in the United States at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the Indiana-Illinois state line? A journey is all about what you make of it and the memories that it creates, so get out there and be a tourist in your own state. You’ll be amazed at the fun you’ll have and have a better appreciation for where you live.

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5. Create a family travel bucket list

We’ve been talking about our 2020 travel plans for the last month or so, and still haven't decided on our summer trip. Belize was on the list for a while, but now we’re thinking the boys should be a little older when we go. Oh, what about Vietnam or Vancouver for 2020? Nick wants to visit Normandy. The boys want to head to Hawaii, and mom is interested in Morocco. Having a bucket list with ideas of where to go and when can help solve this conundrum and help you plan. I often say, “it’s all in my head”, but actually writing down our goal vacation destinations will make for easier planning. Plus, if you see a great deal pop up to somewhere on your list (I am still waiting for that deal to Marrakesh), you can grab it immediately and be on your way.

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