September 6, 2009
Tips on Traveling with Kids
One summer. Two kids. Four road trips. Eight airplane rides. This is what I learned:
ARMIES MARCH ON THEIR STOMACHS: Bring healthy snacks along, everywhere. Airlines don't offer complimentary food, and children are hungry often. Come prepared. (You may feel like a dork, but visiting the grocery store as soon as you arrive can do wonders for the rest of your trip.)
FLIGHT DELAYS: Remember to check your flight status before heading to the airport. In all of the chaos of getting the family ready, this is a basic travel rule that you don't want to miss.
KEEP THEM BUSY: Pack books and activities to keep kids busy on the plane, train, or at your destination. We follow the COLOR * PLAY * CREATE * DISCOVER formula for our activity kits, and they have saved many a day!
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: If you are traveling with another grown-up, designate one adult to head out on 'reconnaissance' missions. Dragging everybody down to town just to find out the restaurant or activity is overbooked leads to chaos.
AVOID CROWDS: If possible, go early, or go late - but try not to go when everybody else is going. Kids and lines/long-wait-times aren't the most peaceful combination.
TURN SIGHTSEEING INTO SIGHTDOING: Grownups like the views, children like to climb. You know where I'm going with this - get interactive!
PLAYMATES: It pays off to intersect with family, friends and cousins - children love to play together, and it makes your job more fun too.
TRAVEL BUGS: Illness happens. Set realistic expectations and be prepared with a plan in case barf is on your horizon. Come equipped with basic meds, handiwipes, hand sanitizers, first aid, and knowledge of the nearest medical facility.
LET GO, AT LEAST A LITTLE: The point is to have fun. If sometimes that means an extra travel treat (i.e., lollipop) to keep the team smiling - well, there are worse things.
REST AT NIGHT: Your days are full. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Crabby parents are no fun!
RE-ENTRY: If possible, take time to unwind, do laundry, and settle in after the trip. The thought of traveling all day, and then hitting the ground running the very next morning, has a tendency to unravel my vacations.
Got more tips? Let me know, I'm always in the market for a refresher course.