Traveling With Kids
If you have small children (I’ve got three!) then you know that traveling with kids can be a nightmare. Sometimes it seems like a better idea just to stay home. But the grandparents want to see you all and it’s nice to get out of town and feel like you have a life, too.
Here are a few easy steps to help make everyone a little less crazy:
Resist the temptation to do everything. Remember that when you’re little, there’s a lot that’s new out there, and this takes time and energy for the brain to process. If you’re going to Southern California, don’t do Disneyland, California Adventure, and Legoland all in the same weekend.
Take care of the essentials. Traveling with kids can be stressful, but make sure you take care of everyone’s basic needs first—food and rest. That means the adults, too. If you normally eat dinner at 6pm when you’re at home, try to shoot for the same timeframe on vacation. Same thing goes with bedtime, too. It might be fun to stay and see the fireworks, but use your best judgment. If it’s already 2 hours past little Joey’s bedtime, chances are, the fireworks aren’t going to be a whole lot of fun for anybody.
Schedule some down time. If your critters take naps, let them take those naps. Just because you’re traveling with kids in tow doesn’t mean that you have to give up your time to read a book, or take a nap yourself. If your critters are beyond their naps, then have an hour or so of ‘quiet time’—time to read, draw, or play quietly. Watching television doesn’t count. Studies have shown that it’s not really relaxing, and it’s no good for helping kids (or anybody else) go to sleep. But that’s a whole other bag of worms, and a blog post for the future.
Keep in mind the attention span of your kids. When I was 10, I could handle a 6-7 hour car ride to go on one of my dad’s cross-country trips. But I worked up to that. My 10 month-old twins declined to sleep in the car on a recent road trip, and an hour and a half was quite enough for everyone. You know what your kids can and can’t handle and what they’re used to– now’s not the time to stretch their boundaries. If you’ve got one of those nifty DVD players in your car, then you might be able to keep everyone mellow for a bit (see aforementioned TV notes and links) but allow for some time to just stare out the window and enjoy the scenery.
After all, getting there can be half the fun.
Thanks to digitalart for the cute car photo. Note that this is not my family, though I wish we owned a purple surf board.