Attention, all you folks waving boarding passes!
You've got your tickets in hand, but there's still a lot to do before you catch that cruise or ride off into the Rockies. Grab a highlighter and check the list below to make sure you're really ready to head out the door.
CHART YOUR COURSE. What's the agenda once you dock, land or pull in the driveway?
* Call the local chamber of commerce and have an information packet mailed to you, or research your destination on the Internet.
* If you're taking the kids, is on-site childcare available so you can enjoy some quiet time with your spouse?
* See if there's an Entertainment coupon book or similar money-savers available for the area you're visiting. Also, check with your spouse's employer to see if any discounts are available through work.
LOAD 'EM UP AND MOVE 'EM OUT. What do you really need to take?
* If an item costs the same there as here, buy it there. Now you only have to pack it one-way.
* It's the little things that count - like the hidden extra car key, the emergency credit card, the baby's prime pacifier. Don't, however, bring an irreplaceable favorite toy. Losing it will doom a trip.
* Stock the kids' backpacks with small toys, crayons, notebooks, games and disposable cameras.
GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN. Or not, depending upon planning.
* Coincide nap time with drive time whenever possible.
* When driving, schedule stops at regular intervals. Get out a Frisbee or football to toss around. Encourage kids to run, jump, scream - anything to wear them out and increase that aforementioned nap time.
* Carry cold drinks and snacks in a small cooler.
* Outfit each of your travelers with a personal tape recorder with headphones; check out books on tape from the library.
* If your vehicle accommodates a TV/VCR combo, you are truly blessed.
PREPARING FOR TAKEOFF. Before they fly the friendly skies, know your airline's rules on children traveling alone.
* How much extra will they charge for keeping an eye on Junior?
* Make sure the person picking up your child has proper identification.
* Visit the airport before the actual travel day to minimize pre-flight jitters. Watch planes taking off; introduce kids to uniformed airport personnel. Go over safety rules.
* Stock their carry-on bag with fresh fruit and snacks. Include medications, health insurance cards, eyeglasses and money.
If your kids are staying home with a sitter or are traveling with others, do some role-playing to let children know exactly how you expect them to behave.
* Use pre-paid phone cards to ease separation anxiety. Encourage kids to call whenever they wish.
* Pop cheerful postcards in the mail. Time one to arrive your first day apart.
* Sneak gifts into their bags, like a new set of pajamas or a book.
SPILLS, PILLS AND CHILLS. Always provide complete medical information whenever you leave the kids, including a list of their doctors and medications.
* Provide children's insurance cards and a notarized power of attorney.
* Write down directions to the doctor's office and emergency room.
* List any allergies and dosages for medications.
* Furnish caregiver with a small first-aid kit, including pain/fever reducer, adhesive strips and ointment.
YOUR HOME'S ALONE. Remember to protect your property while you're gone. One of the best burglary deterrents is a house that appears occupied.
* Set interior and exterior lights, radios and televisions on timers.
* Don't put your mail or newspaper delivery on hold. Instead, have a neighbor pick them up for you. The fewer people who know you're gone, the better off you are.
* Make arrangements to have your walk and driveway shoveled if it snows.
* Consider hiring a housesitter to stop by a few times a day to open and shut blinds, water plants, and tend to pets.
Are you a cat lover? Try installing motion sensors. As the cat passes from room to room, it will trigger some lights, making it confusing for a burglar scoping out your house.
CHECK YOUR LIST AND AWAY YOU GO. Keep these tips in mind to make your holiday vacationing run as smoothly as possible.
Comments? Write [email protected] or visit her website at www.homebodies.org. Cheryl's books, "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom" and "Stay-at-Home Handbook: Advice on Finances, Parenting, Career, Surviving Each Day & More" are available at your favorite bookstore, or you can order an autographed copy directly from Cheryl by following this link: http://www.gospelcom.net/homebodies/bookstore/orderSAHH.htm