1. Vacation with family &/or friends: other playmates keep little ones busy. And family members are usually willing to watch the children so you can have a break.
2. Bring a busy bag to restaurants: nail polish, cars, string, magic markers, silly putty, play dough, wind-up toys, paper dolls, etc.
3. Create boundaries both physical and mental to maintain routines in every location. Bring the spanking spoon and/or time-out timer as a visual reminder that discipline will happen on vacation. Example: we don't touch things in stores. You stay on your side of the bed. It is now nap time! No demands; say please and thank you. No, we don't have candy for breakfast.
4. Listen to audio books in the car: Adventures in Odyssey, The Box Car Children, The Willoughby's, JungleJam and Friends, The Jesus Story Book Bible, the Bible Living Sound, The Adventures of Raindrop etc. These stories are for school-age children, but my 3 and 5 year old understood them enough to listen quietly in the car.
5. Create a busy bag of activities and snacks for the car ride. Be sure the children can help themselves to the bag without your help: magnet board, cars, pipe cleaners, paper and pencil, stickers, magic markers, books, etc. Be sure they understand that if they drop something, it's gone. You aren't going to spend the car ride picking things up for them. At each stop, put items back into their bags.
6. Keep a running list of all the blessings you encounter in the trip. This helps put mishaps in their proper place. And there shall be mishaps.
7. Tell yourself that this vacation is a chance for you to show your children a lovely time. It's a time to kick back a live a little. Show your kids you can be wild and fun too. IT IS NOT A VACATION FOR YOURSELF. Say this every hour every day and chances are you'll have a lovely time too.