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Family Vacations -- a Working Moms' Survival Guide

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A family vacation often feels like work to mom and dad. But with some shared family expectations and planning, even the adults can enjoy a trip to the beach or that staycation in the hometown you thought you knew inside and out. Here's a working moms' survival guide to family vacations, to tide you over from May to September.

1. Involve Children in Family Vacation Planning

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You'll enjoy more cooperation from your children during travel if you include them in planning your family vacation. Start early enough in the year that you can brainstorm different vacation ideas.

When you're on your trip, consider giving the kids a day or two to decide the schedule. Whether it's picking which Irish castles to visit or whether to hit the boardwalk or beach, they'll relish having control of the decision -- and won't fight in other arenas. You can always coach them by asking whether they thought about a certain aspect of their plan. Use a light touch!

2. For Family Vacation Fun, Eliminate the Work

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How many times have you vowed not to take work on vacation with you, only to wake up early one or two mornings to check email -- or to stay up late finishing that one last project. This summer, refuse to be drawn into the madness. Instead, boost your productivity ahead of vacation so that you can relax once you finally get away.

Several weeks before your family vacation, prioritize your remaining tasks and divide them into those that must be completed before you leave and those that can wait. Assign a specific number of hours to each task and if you end up short of time, delegate something or delay it until you return. Communicate to your colleagues your vacation plans and the status of ongoing projects. Then, force yourself to unplug!

3. Find a Cheap Family Vacation

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There's nothing like money stress to put a damper on your dream getaway. Don't let your eagerness to get away -- or misplaced mommy guilt -- convince you to spend more money than you can afford. Budget carefully for all aspects of your family vacation, from travel and lodging to food, entertainment and souvenirs. It's easy to get carried away once you're relaxed.

One option for saving money is to take a working vacation, by combining a business trip with a personal adventure. Just be sure to block out personal time on your itinerary, so it doesn't become all work and no play.

And for any kind of vacation, the earlier you start to plan and budget for the vacation, the better. You'll sleep easier on those hotel beds if you aren't worrying.

4. Packing Secrets and Travel Tips

packing suitcase for kids
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Now, the logistics. Of course you'll want to plan your packing so you bring everything you need -- but not enough to push you over any weight or volume limits. Again, let your kids help pack so they can be invested in the trip. Not to mention, children who pack a suitcase can find their own items and can help unpack at your family vacation destination! They most likely will want to pull it through the airport or hotel lobby, also easing your load.

Whether you're traveling by car, plane or boat, if children are involved, you'll need snacks and activities to occupy them. It doesn't need to be an elaborate in-car movie system, but you'll be happier if you put a little thought into fun car games for kids or buy a couple of new coloring books.

5. End the Summer Camp Angst

summer day camp photos
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Of course, the summer lasts 11 or 12 weeks, and you probably don't have that much vacation from work. So you'll need to plan some kind of camp or child care for your child during the remaining weeks.

Summer camp planning can begin as early as December, but you can often find good last-minute options if your children are school age and you live in a reasonably sized city. When it comes to sleepaway camp, some parents start planning a year in advance, so their child can visit the camp in session -- not just during preview days. From screening and choosing to packing and preparing mentally, the resources to ease your summer camp struggle abound.

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