June 20, 2011 04:00 ET

Plan to Be Spontaneous This Summer With OFF!

Tips for a Great Family Trip

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Jun 20, 2011) - (Family Features) For many families, summer is the time to hit the open road and see the country. However, there is a lot of pressure for parents to take their children everywhere, see everything and keep a tight schedule, according to "Family Adventure Mom," Deborah Geigis Berry.

"The one thing many of us do wrong is over plan -- I used to be guilty of that as well," Berry says. "I remember once I tried to take my family hiking, out to eat and whale watching in just four hours. It was crazy."

Since great summer memories can be among the most important moments for your family, it is crucial to make sure you are ready to enjoy them when they happen.

"When traveling with kids, spontaneous moments will lead to the best summer memories," Berry says. "But believe it or not, you have to prepare to be spontaneous."

Berry shares travel tips that can help make great summer memories on your next family vacation:
-- Bring a VIP
Be prepared to enjoy any type of adventure with a VIP, or "Very Important Pack." Berry's VIP includes a wide-brimmed waterproof hat, beach ball, card games, map, photo album of family members if headed to a family reunion, and some pre-addressed labels and stamps.
-- Ban Bugs
Ensure your family and your precious summer moments are protected from mosquitoes and other biting insects. Whether you're headed out for a weekend camping trip or taking the kids hiking, there's an OFF! insect repellent available to make sure you can enjoy your outdoor moments. "When we head to the beach I make sure to pack OFF! Clip-On Mosquito Repellent because it can be placed on my beach bag or lounge chair and within minutes creates head to toe protection," says Berry.
-- Plan for Change
It's important to remember that an itinerary should be used as a guide, not a directive. Know going into the trip you likely won't be able to do everything. Focus on one highlight per family member to guarantee there's something for everyone.
-- Consider Missing the "Must-See"
Costly adventures don't necessarily equal happiness. Children often enjoy a day at a little known bike path as much as a crowded, overpriced "must-see" attraction.
-- Limit "Plug-In" Time
Limit the "plug-in" time for the children when watching movies and playing electronic games in the car. When time is up, engage them in family conversations, have them write a letter to a grandparent or keep a journal of the trip.

Though it takes a bit of organizing to pull together these items, it's certainly time well spent. A little planning upfront ensures that your family will be prepared to make unseen bumps or detours just another part of the fun.

Berry has one last bit of advice for travelers as they hit the road: "If you set your family trip up for spontaneity by bringing the right items along, even a simple road trip will be a blast," she says. "And remember, skip the schedule -- get on the open road and enjoy yourself!"

Get more travel tips, secrets and fun road ideas at and more information on insect repellent at

As a mom who has taken her children on more than 30 adventure trips, Deb Geigis Berry is always on the lookout for summer fun. Berry is known for her travel expertise, and has covered family life as a writer and editor at national magazines like Parenting , Outside, and Scouting. Her travels have taken her everywhere from crossing the Kansas prairie in a covered wagon to feeding sharks in the Dutch Caribbean.

More Travel Tips
Here are more tips from the "Family Adventure Mom" Deb Geigis Berry:

Break in New Gear -- Before you hit the road, make sure that you've sufficiently broken in or tested any new gear and equipment. This is especially important for new shoes or hiking boots. Test new tents, two-way radios and portable grills before you go, and remember to re-stock your first aid kit.

Establish a Family Collection -- Select an item that you and your family can collect together. Rocks, local recipes and instruments are just a few fun ideas. "My family likes to collect candy bars from around the world and then we taste-test them all at family events," Berry says.

Shop Local -- Keep pit stops fresh by shopping for food at farmers markets. Stash a picnic basket with plates, utensils, napkins, cups and a ground cloth in the trunk for spontaneous outings.

Vacation Integration Night -- The end of a vacation can be a letdown. The evening you return, have a Vacation Integration Night, where you and your family hold off answering mail and messages. Instead, use the time to share favorite memories and view photos from your trip.

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