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Preparation is the key to a successful trip... and planning can make all the difference.
Involve your kids in the trip planning. If your kids are old enough, let them help you plan the trip. Teach them how to read a map. Allow them to choose some of the stops (you may want to see the Ball of Twine... they may want to see The Toilet Seat Museum ). Find a book they can read about where you're going.
Check and double-check everything. Remember the movie "National Lampoon's Vacation"? Could you relate when the Griswolds arrived at Wally World and found out it was closed? Don't let this happen to you! Figure out where you want to go and call to make sure you've got the hours, locations and availability all confirmed.
When will you be leaving on your trip? Your first instinct may be to get an early start, but, you'll want to be careful to avoid rush hour. It doesn't do anybody any good to get up early and leave the house only to sit in traffic as you try to get on your way.
Work around your kids' schedules instead of expecting them to change everything for the big trip. Think about setting out right around nap time or bedtime; the kids will sleep in the car and you'll have some peace and quiet. If you leave during playtime or right after they wake up, you'll have restless kid with lots of energy to spend on your hands.