Some quick tips for the road:

Take a break before crankiness sets in. Stop for a soft drink and a restroom break. Take advantage of the new playground areas at many fast-food restaurants. Running around on swings and slides for a few minutes does wonders for kids' spirits.

Pack a variety of toys -- ones that can be used individually or in groups. Include toys that encourage dramatic play and the use of imagination. Small building sets and paper and pencil activities are also fun. Include cards, board games and books.

Take ice water, plenty of cups, paper towels for those inevitable spills and a few nutritious snacks that can be easily handled in the car. Pack pillows and a blanket.

Help your kids wind down at the end of a busy day with a swim in the pool, a bubble bath or the luxury of watching a favorite television program in bed. Put your feet up, too, and relax with them.

Eat regular meals. Supplement your diet inexpensively by buying fruit or vegetables.

Let the children have a voice in the day's planned events. Let them feel that their opinions do count toward the family's decisions.

Consider the age and attention span of your youngster before attempting a sightseeing vacation. Although maturity levels do differ from child to child, babes in arms and toddlers could not -- nor would their parents -- enjoy this type of holiday. Kindergarten-aged children should have the necessary energy and attention span. Ultimately only you know when your child is ready for such a trip. -- Susan Livingston