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Five Keys to Smart Travel with Smart Kids

More than 175 million trips will be taken in the U.S. this year with kids in tow. Wow! That s a lot of "I m boreds" and "are we there yets." On the contrary, imagine this fantasy: the cherubs in the backseat, quietly learning at every mile; parents with a feeling of peace and relaxation, gathering the will to go even farther next time.

Holly George, founder of The Mind Preserve, a company established to promote smart travel with smart kids while preserving parent sanity along the way, offers these 5 travel tips.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Seriously. Proper preparation promotes a positive travel experience, so these 5 tips focus on things to be done before leaving the driveway.

1. Let kids plan their own activities. Give each child a backpack, and let them fill it with whatever they think they ll want to do in the car (that s to do, not to eat -- no food). Give them ideas like crayons, workbooks, DVDs, Leap Pad and books, and a stuffed animal. They can take only what fits in their backpack.

2. Plan learning surprises. Interject kids chosen backpack activities frequently with preplanned learning activities. All of the following product recommendations provide great fun, while going the extra mile to promote learning along the way. Explore chosen subjects with "Flip Flash States & Capitals" (spiral bound flashcards) or "Presidents Audio & Book." Enhance language
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 skills with "Magnetic Hangman" or a Spanish video. Expand small children s imaginations with magnetic playsets. Or build problem solving skills of school
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 age kids with "GridWorks" or "Visual Brainstorms." All items mentioned here can be found at http://www.themindpreserve.com/products/, or search local educational stores for similar products.

3. Try new foods. What better time to try star fruit, dried apricots or Gouda cheese? And, yes, tote some fruit snacks and Teddy Grahams, too. Whip out a new snack item every 60 miles. Kids must eat that snack, or they don t get anything for another 60 miles. Alternate the "new snacks" with "favorite snacks." (Don t forget drinks.) And let kids help track the miles leading up to the next snack time by counting towns or exits.

BONUS TRAVEL TIP: Establish a small cleaning caddy with baby wipes, Windex wipes, anti-bacterial wipes, a towel and garbage bags.

4. When tension rises, be ready to declare "crazy time." Break out Crayola Window markers (found at any discount store); let them color all over their windows; give them each a Windex wipe to clean it off. Or try playing an interactive game like "Name That Sound;" choose someone to make a sound; others guess the sound (creative sounds will lead to crazy outcomes). Or see who can make the best elephant noises while eating a bag of nuts; or the best monkey noises while eating a banana; or the best shriveled up granny noises while eating a box of raisins.

5. Organize. This is where parent sanity comes in. A couple of days before a trip, start a list of things that can't be forgotten. Consult it when packing and right before going out the door. Things for parents to do on the road are a must, too. The driver should take books on tape, favorite CDs and a cell phone to catch up with friends (hands-free, of course). The passenger should pack magazines, pedicure stuff and a 3 or 5 pound weight to get in a strengthening workout.

Yes, it s possible to return home with inspired kids, a peaceful feeling, and a will to go again soon. Here s to successful travel.

About Holly George:
Holly George has logged over 120,000 travel miles in 7 years with her husband and three children; she is a travel marketing expert and the founder of The Mind Preserve. For more great travel tips, products, deals, and an excellent step-by-step guide for planning trips, visit http://www.themindpreserve.com.

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