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During the months of summer many families take advantage of vacation days to spend time with children and grandchildren.

Often, time is spent traveling out of state or even out of the country. Because of the popularity of summer travel, one often encounters long lines, crowded destinations and delays in driving time. When paired with the heat of summer, the crowds and delays can put a strain on families with small children. A vacation that was carefully planned and looked exciting when studying the colorful brochures at home can become difficult and stressful if one has not considered heat, crowds and delays.

Families look forward to having a break from their hectic day to day lives in order to spend quality time together. Children look forward to having the undivided attention of their parents for a few days. It was once said that a child spells love, T-I-M-E when thinking of his or her parents. When a family carves out a few days from the work schedule to spend that quality time together, it is important that nothing interferes with their enjoyment of each other.

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There are things that can be done in the trip planning phase to add to the comfort of traveling. Time driving in the car can be seen as a part of the overall vacation as opposed to just getting from one place to the next. Because young children may be asked to sit and be restrained for several hours at a time, it is a good idea to have ways to entertain them and help them avoid boredom. Numerous travel games are available to occupy time and help families have fun and laugh together. Playing music in the car and singing silly songs together can add an air of lightness and humor. Having a few easy to eat snacks available will help children avoid the grouchiness that often accompanies hunger.

It can be important to get out of the car for a few minutes to stretch one’s legs and have a little family fun. Put a ball in the car on trips so that when people get restless you can pull over at a rest stop and play catch or some other simple game for a few minutes. After taking a break, the family can return to the car to continue on in happier spirits.

Family time is such a sparse and precious commodity that it is important to guard it and enhance it at all costs. A little preplanning can turn a potentially stressful vacation into one of fun and great memories.

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Kaye Frataccia is the program manager for Around the Table. This column solely represents the writer’s opinion.

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