Enjoy the Ride
● By Style
Over the holiday season, many local families will be on the road, or possibly in the air, traveling to see friends and loved ones.
For some, it may be their inaugural outing with children, filled with anticipation of the unknown. But have no fear! We travel veterans have learned that the secret to trip survival is the “three Ps” – Planning, Preparation and Patience.
When traveling with children, no matter their ages, the amount of pre-planning you do can make or break your vacation.
Organization ahead of time is key. Collect your identification, extra cash, maps, tickets, phone number or directions to your hotel or relative’s home, etc., in a central location to avoid the stress of searching for needed documents later.
Timing is important, too. Depending upon the ages of your children, it may make sense to travel early in the morning while they are still groggy, versus in the afternoon when a needed nap might be missed in all the excitement.
If flying, plan to arrive at the airport at least an hour before you would if traveling alone. And make sure to research the extra steps needed with kids. For instance, current federal laws require you to remove your infant from her car seat before going through security. So, it may be best to postpone that bottle-induced nap until after the checkpoint is cleared. Once checked in at the gate, you can take a stroll, watch the planes, ride the escalator or grab a nibble to peacefully pass extra time.
When traveling by car, build in time for rest stops and potty breaks to break up long rides. Try to choose locations with grassy areas so kids can stretch their legs as well as their attention spans.
Clothes aren’t the only items that should be packed for a successful trip. Even in young travelers, the “wow” factor that accompanies boarding an airplane, or even a train or ship, can fade a bit throughout the trip.
Make sure and pack an activity kit with a variety of entertaining items (see sidebar) to reduce boredom. For older kids, let them pack their own backpack to carry with them. Also, allow kids to bring along a favorite pillow or stuffed animal to provide comfort in a strange place.
Finally, savvy parents know to bring along medicine, water and snacks in case someone gets sick or the journey becomes longer than anticipated.
Understand that taking a child out of his or her routine can be challenging. So, above all, bring your patience, and help teach your child the important life skill as well.
Young children, and many teenagers too, have no real concept of time. So, saying, “We’ll arrive at Grandma’s house in four hours” has little meaning to a 5-year-old. To avoid the age-old “Are we there yet?” plea, try discussing the trip in a sequence of events or visual milestones. Use your car’s clock if needed to show lapsed time.
Also, play games like “I Spy”, “20 Questions” or “Count the Cows” (a personal favorite on southbound I-5) to make the trip go more quickly for parents and kids alike.
Keep in mind, children who learn to travel at a young age will be good travelers the rest of their lives. So, remember the three P’s and you’ll likely enjoy your trip and your kids a whole lot more.
- Books, picture collections
- Stickers, coloring books, sketch pads
- Word jumbles, crosswords, jr. Sudoku
- Small electronic game devices
- CD or DVD player or mp3 (with headphones)
- Deck of cards
- Magnetic travel games
- Pens, crayons, markers