Do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? I find very little time to relax, nor do I really want to when I’m out in the wide world traveling with kids. Things to see, places to go and all that. I asked a few pretty amazing folks for tips to maintain some semblance of sanity on the road with little ones and found a vast array of resources and advice, just in time for summertime vacations.
By the way, this is the first article I wrote on travel while I developed the Inspired Vacation Journal. Back then I had no blog or readers. Now that I have an official BLOG and some amazing subscribers, it seemed appropriate to publish it again where it can be helpful to all those families I have met who will be traveling this summer with their kids. I advise you to check out a link or two to some of these folks who are making travel easier for all of us!
TRAVELING WITH KIDS FROM A TO ZEN
Steve Brenner advises parents to understand that kids “don’t suspend their lives like we do. When we travel, we put on our zen hats and try to be more tolerant of stuff that goes wrong. We try to relax. We have a lot at stake generally as it’s costly and we don’t have much time to spare to do everything we want to do. For them, this approach means nothing. They still get bored, frustrated and cranky, just as they do at home. Understanding this and taking it slow is helpful. “
Owner of the BeeHive, Rome B&B and Cross-Pollinate, Accommodation Agency
Ruth Grau describes travel with kids as an “incredible education kids can’t get in the classroom. It will shape and grow them in ways they cannot get by staying at home.” Her three top tips for parents:
1) Pick a family-friendly destination – Choose a relaxing destination that’s used to young visitors, so you don’t have to sweat the details. We recommend a lazy beach retreat, family camp, nature resort, or similar kid-friendly place.
2) Keep your itinerary simple — limit it to one or two activities a day — and you’ll find it much easier to make last-minute adjustments if your child gets tired or just wants to spend the afternoon playing in the hotel’s pool.
3) Age matters. 2 years olds want to do different things than 15 year olds so if your family includes a broad range of ages be sure to plan something for everyone.
President, Springboard Vacations, Inc.
Jen Sieve-Hicks advises parents to remember the snacks! “The best thing for keeping even tiny travelers engaged: snacks, snacks and some more snacks. When they were little, I’d let my babies nurse for whole flights because it kept them happy and quiet (and asleep). Now that they’re older, a variety of bite-size, crumb-less snacks is where it’s at! We like little fruit bites, cheese cut into tiny cubes, grapes; the smaller the better because it keeps tiny hands occupied longer.”
KIDzOUT, Co-Founder: a map based app for families on the go
Keli Washburn rates technology high when it comes to traveling with her 5 year old daughter. “The iPad with both educational and fun apps” keeps her entertained for hours. Her low tech option is paper and crayons, she advises, “It is time tested and works! Plus it encourages kids to use their imagination.”
Independent Travel Agent, Kingdom Magic Vacations, Inc
Mary Dixon Lebeau advises ambitious grandparents who travel with their grandkids to “avoid vacation slip-ups” with these 5 tips:
1) Keep the little ones on “a schedule you can all live with.” Think wake up times and naps.
2) Avoid disappointment by asking everyone what is a ‘don’t miss’ on their list. You don’t really know what is important to the kids unless you ask.
3) “Take another adult along to help out. You may have singlehandedly taken your own brood to Disney World, but that was a generation ago. And these aren’t even your own kids. Besides, she advises, two heads are better than one, and at least you’ll have someone to commiserate with over coffee after the kiddies are in bed.”
4) Forget the old adage, “I can spoil them if I want. I’m their Grandma. Lock it away with all those other ideas which have proven downright awful over time, like Milli Vanilli, tofurkey…” Rules are rules for good reason she cautions.
5) “It’s a good idea to review the children’s medical history, including any problems, vaccinations, allergies or the need to use glasses. Make up a safety pack including an insurance card and a letter from mom or dad authorizing medical treatment.”
Denine M. Anderson-Regan traveled out of the country with two small children. “We let each of them pack their own backpacks with items that they’d like to play with on the 5 hour plane ride. Naturally, we helped guide their choices – but by giving them a say in what went into their bags, they made sure they packed items that would keep them happy. The beauty of it was that they packed things that I would not have packed – and in the end, we had a really lovely, almost-tear-free trip!”
Blog mom, We know Stuff
Jill Seman recommends planning ahead. She stresses the importance of knowing, “How to find the nearest bathroom in the moments before the accident happens, getting to the nearest kid friendly restaurant or coffee shop before the kids get too hungry and pandemonium breaks out, or finding the nearest park or playground – one with working swings – before the wiggles completely take over!”
Developer of Mom Maps: a mobile app that finds kid friendly places on the go
Corinne McDermott admits that although hesitant at first, the “iPad is a game changer for us. I’m not certain we could have survived our 4+ hour delay at the airport last night without it!” Bonus tip: “What good are those handy-dandy snack packs, travel games, or stash of DVDs if you can’t safely reach them from your seat? Who wants to be scrambling when a spill inevitably happens? Prepare a bag specifically for addressing these needs while en route and make sure you know exactly where it is.”
Founder of Have Baby Will Travel Blog
Peter Grubb says the best tools for traveling with little ones are “…your ears. Listen to what they want and respond accordingly.”
Jacqueline Curtis “The best tip I can offer for flying with kids is simply to relax. There are always going to be some hiccups, but nothing you can’t handle. In a worst case scenario you’ll be delayed – so if you have babies, be sure to carry on enough diapers and formula for 24 hours in case this happens.”
Jacqueline Curtis, Contributor at Money Crashers Personal Finance, Money Crashers.com
Kati Elliott, whose son is seven, is on his 29th trip! Her toolbox includes, “books, little men figures that he can battle with, cars, crayons and paper, and now that he is older we travel with IQ Twist which is a single player travel game. It keeps him entertained for hours and sometimes we play together.”
KEH Communications Baltimore, MD
Kim LaCroix, M.Ed, Ed.S, encourages families to “write it down” so they can share, record and remember those amazing journeys, and develop a love for writing along the way.
Author of the Inspired Pencil. Visit at www.inspiredpencil.com
FINDING YOUR SENSE OF ADVENTURE
When the wanderlust when it hits your family, zone in on your sense of adventure. To travel with children you need three things: humor (when don’t we need this?), flexibility (because you never know), and resourcefulness (aka the ability to anticipate every pang of hunger, boredom or tiredness and head it off!). Your thoughtful approach to vacationing with children will pay off in spades when you have that snack or activity ready, and know when to say when during a long day of activities.
What do you do out there with your kids to maximize the experience and minimize the frustration?