Eight weeks before a trip is a great time to head to the internet and plan the itinerary. I enjoy using tripadvisor.com. Top rated attractions and reviews of these experiences are available to read. This is extremely helpful when visiting a new area or wondering if a particular attraction is suitable for children. Trip advisor often times has a link to the attraction website making it easy to see pricing and availability.
Why do this so early? I found that many attractions were less expensive if purchased beforehand. Other attractions, such as the Lion King in London, sell out quickly. If tickets aren't purchased early...out of luck. And still there were several venues that did not sell tickets at the door.
Some key things to keep in mind while planning an itinerary is that traveling and sightseeing with children is different than with a group of adults. Here are some tips that help us.
1. Keep in mind that this trip is for the children. Don't plan anything the first day. This gives children time to adjust and get settled especially for oversees adventures.
2. Flexibility is an absolute must. When children get tired or overwhelmed, take time to find somewhere for them to be kids and relax. For example, playing at the park, people watch while sitting at a street cafe, simply wandering around getting to know the surroundings, etc. Some of our funnest times are the result of doing just this. If you can't get all 10 museums in, that's ok. Some of the funnest memories may end up being the time they climb trees with kids in the park in Germany.
3. Have several options available on the itinerary. I highlight the one thing I really want to do each day. After that I list a couple other options. I have learned that things don't always go as planned. Sometimes the kids don't want to do something we had planned or they are too tired. This way we have other options to look at. Other days the kids do great and want to see more than I thought they would be able to handle. Either way, we are prepared.
4. Involve the kids in the planning. Give them 2-3 options and ask them what they would prefer to do. This helps build excitement and allows them to feel some responsibility. Willingness to attend the attractions and have fun increases and it almost always eliminates any negative feelings about wanting to go. My kids excitement doubles when they help with the itinerary.
Planning now helps reduce stress later. Flexibility helps maintain sanity. Not over scheduling keeps everyone smiling!