• Posted on 06/16/2011

Eileen OgintzEnjoy this special post by syndicated travel writer and mom, Eileen Ogintz:

Face it. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you spend you can't do it all. Not in Orlando.

There's just too much to see and do. So whether it is your first trip or your 15th or 50th, make it your mantra to relax. You don't want to be that grim-faced parent we all see in the theme parks determined to get their money's worth, no matter if the kids are cranky and everyone is exhausted.     

You don't have to spend every day racing from roller coaster to show to character opportunity. It's about the memories, after all. It's about having fun. Head out early and come back and play in the pool. Skip the parks entirely one day. Go shopping (did you know Orlando is one of the nation's five top shopping destinations?). Let the kids go to an organized hotel camp while you go to the spa, play tennis or golf. It's your vacation too!

Remember you don't have to stay in lockstep either -- especially if you are with a big family group. Give everyone permission to head in different directions and meet for dinner -- or not.

The most important thing is to stop fretting about what you can't do (the lines that were too long, the restaurant you couldn't get a reservation at) and focus on what you can do -- with a minimum of stress.

Don't fret about money either. You are on vacation, after all. You've earned it. And you can stay on budget with a little effort. Families tell me if they are staying at Walt Disney World, the meal plan really helps. Others swear by accommodations with kitchens so they can save on breakfasts and some dinners. 

One parent I know gives the kids gift cards with the amount they can spend on souvenirs. That helps from giving in to impulse buys.

Let each of the kids pick one must-see attraction for each day you are heading to the park. Alternate who gets to hit theirs first. (And yes, parents get a pick too!)

Feel better? See you at the pool.

To read more family travel tips from Eileen, visit takingthekids.com.


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