girl splashing in hotel poolKeeping family travel plans a secret from the kids is a fun way to see the surprise on their faces when we take them to a new place or to visit a favorite relative. It’s also handy when travel plans don’t go as planned or are disappointing.

We recently had arrangements to travel to an attraction our three- and five-year-old would (and have in the past) loved visiting. However, due to a miscommunication, we were unable to go. If we had told the kids first, their disappointment would have put a damper on the entire weekend trip. But, since we hadn’t told them we were going, we didn’t tell them what they missed and went on with the rest of the trip.

We did, however, feel compelled to make the trip extra fun for them, to make up for what we had originally planned.

Other ways to deal with a change in plans include the following.

Make Family Travel Fun with Special Activities

Our original plans included a hotel stay, which the kids always enjoy. We still went to the hotel and spent extra time splashing with them in the hotel pool, another activity they love. Then we went back up to our room and enjoyed a movie on the DVD player, complete with popcorn.

Relax the Rules for Family Fun

When we travel as a family, we try to relax the rules a little bit for everyone to have more fun. Instead of worrying about eating healthy, we might indulge in dessert or an extra helping. We also popped the aforementioned popcorn, something we usually don’t give the kids due to the possible choking hazard for the little one.

Bedtime is also a little later when we travel; everyone stays up a little later to play or relax and enjoy the time away from home.

Have your plans ever changed and made you unable to do something your kids were counting on? How did you – and they – cope?

Teresa J. Shaw is editor of the Free in 50 States section and writes about traveling as a working mom for Traveling Mom and on her blog Working Traveling Mom. Follow her on Twitter at @TeresaShaw