Travel is a treasured tradition. It’s a great time to bond, loosen up, get away, and enjoy time together. For many parents, travel can also be stressful. As a mom of two, and the CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., Kim Schaefer knows all about traveling with kids: the good, the bad and the really great. Recently, Mashable asked Kim to share some of her best tips to help parents make traveling with their children easier. Once she started sharing, she just could not stop. As summer winds down and we begin to look ahead to holiday getaways, we hope Kim’s tips will help make your next trip one to howl about:

  1. Plan ahead. Spontaneous travel always sounds adventurous and fun, but it can be more expensive. Go during an off-peak time of year. Surprise your family with a mid-week getaway, or start your stay on a Sunday.
  2. Stop along the way. Plan your drive to include time for quick meals as well as places to burn off energy. Letting your kids run around a playground or park for 30 minutes can give you a couple hours of quiet time in the car
  3. One size really does fit all. Pick a destination that offers entertainment for everyone in the family. At Great Wolf Lodge, our indoor waterparks include toddler play pools, attraction the family can do together and high-thrill water slides for teens. Everything is under one roof, so we’ve taken the stress out of planning, and created a place the entire family can enjoy together.  
  4. Snacks. Snacks are a traveling mom’s best friend. Whether its drink boxes, or sippy cups, finger treats and crackers or fruit such as grapes and apples, sometimes the best entertainment while en route, is a snack. Snacks can also help minimize how many stops your family will make along the way.
  5. Take it old school. While it’s very easy to hand your kids iPads and portable DVD players, the same car games you played as a kid are still just as fun. The license plate game and the “I’m going on a trip” memory game are both examples that get your kids talking. Technology can work in your favor, too. “Heads Up” is a favorite for everyone – just make sure the driver isn’t playing!
  6. Wipes, wipes and more wipes. Cars are tight spaces and kids can be messy. Having wipes on hand is not just for changing diapers. You never know when you need to wipe sticky fingers or quickly clean up a juice spill. It doesn’t matter if you are in a car; traveling with wipes is just smart travel.
  7. Don’t pack the kitchen sink. Think about what you really need, and what is provided at your destination. In our waterparks, towels and life jackets are provided free of charge, so families don’t have pack them or figure out how to bring damp towels back home.
  8. You can keep your schedule. Naptime and bedtime routines are important for children, and your schedule can be kept while on vacation. Consider booking a hotel with separate sleeping area for your kids. At Great Wolf Lodge, our themed kids’ suites offer children their own space, right in the suite. They can go to bed on time, and you don’t have to sit in the dark.