Traveling with Kids… Not Vacation ImpossiblePublished 4:22pm Monday, August 12, 2013
My husband likes to travel, so our adventures aren’t limited to the summer—our kids have flown to both coasts and visited Mexico (so far). Traveling with little people can be a lot of work, but with the right planning can also be very rewarding for everyone.
Going any distance with attention-challenged little people can be trying, and of course we have learned things by trial and error. We have learned that an 18 month old really doesn’t want to be a ‘lap child’ on a plane, and the cost of the extra ticket is TOTALLY worth it after 20 minutes in the plane—this can also be said for renting suites or condos, the extra cost is completely made up when you aren’t forcing little people to eat in restaurants 3 times a day.
Each of our kids has their own carryon backpack that I keep a few toys, books & coloring books (ColorWonder is brilliant!) out of sight so they are ‘new’ whenever they travel, and a bag for the car that they pack themselves with things to keep busy. We have resorted to using some technology, but try to limit it—there is a lot to be said for letting kids stare out the window with glazed over eyes, counting the number of train cars or cows that we pass. And the vacation tradition we started keeps the “I want its!” at bay a little—we all spend our shopping time looking for the most tacky and ugly picture frame we can find to hold our family picture from the trip.
The more I think about traveling with kids, I keep coming back to one main idea: stay in the moment. It sounds easy, but I don’t know how many of our trips, especially the early trips with just one child, were based on what we used to do for vacation either when we were kids or adults before kids. We have had disastrous flights because we didn’t schedule long enough layovers, and exhausting trips because we didn’t plan on sticking to our routine enough. So ‘staying in the moment’ also means realizing what will make the trip the best for everyone, not what is glamorized in our memories as the “best trip EVER!” or a vacation that we fantasize will be most memorable for our kids. Our best vacations have been spent on a beach or in a tent, maybe doing one or two local touristy stops during the whole week, and just reconnecting. Vacations are a time to see new places, of course! But we have learned that the best memories our kids have are really of the time spent with us, and whatever we can do to make it more pleasant for everyone makes it even better. So enjoy the moments with your family, whether it is someplace exotic or squished into a one-bedroom cabin—the destination is only a place, the true vacation is in the memories made.