Traveling in the summer usually means battling the crowds. With preparation, however, you can avoid long lines and sold-out signs.

Theme Parks

Before you arrive at a theme park, go online and research whether the venue has a free, automated system that issues timed tickets, or a premium fee to put you ahead of other guests. Ask everyone in the family what rides they want to go on, allow 45-60 minutes of wait time per ride, then plan accordingly.

In general, Tuesday through Thursday are the least crowded days at theme parks, and May, June and the week before Labor Day are the least crowded travel periods.

Check with AAA, a local supermarket in the area and online ticket sites for discount coupons. If your family loves theme parks, consider a season pass to one of the Six Flags parks. That pass gets you complimentary entry into any of Six Flags’ park all year.

Attractions

Attractions and tours at Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, Baltimore’s National Aquarium and San Francisco’s Alcatraz can sell out in advance. If you haven’t ordered tickets prior to visiting, arrive first thing in the morning to reserve your place. If you’re traveling just to see an attraction, venture online for hotel packages because they often give the best value and tickets are guaranteed.

What to Carry

Hand bags are an aggravation everywhere. Security bag checks take time and locker rentals eat money. Tie beach towels around waists and pack snacks in fanny packs. In general, the less you have to carry to destinations and day trips, the fewer problems you will have.

What will you carry out? Be sure to establish a souvenir allowance with every child.

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Are We There Yet?

Packing smart to thrive on family vacations.