Traveling With Kids

by Marilynn Halas on May 24th, 2013
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Remember when a vacation meant things like relaxing, enjoying a good book or sight seeing in some exotic locale?  Remember when you could indulge in gourmet food and the ultimate luxury…a good night’s sleep?  Me neither, but I read about it somewhere.

For those of us who travel with kids, vacation is like a cross between a marathon and concert tour without the roadies, or groupies for that matter.  Very few of us arrive where we are going to the adoring looks of our traveling companions.  Take four kids on a plane; I dare you.

The kids will be polite and well behaved, but the pained looks from the other passengers and even some flight attendants will make you cringe.  One man even asked me if I didn’t have a TV?  I’d like to print my reply, but I am trying to be a more positive and forgiving person.  That’s why I forgave him for his adolescent remark about the fact that I have four kids.

It is especially gratifying when these same smart alecks compliment us on the way off the plane saying they had no idea traveling with kids could be so easy.  Easy for them to say.  Traveling with kids is like traveling with anyone, it has its ups and downs, and unpredictability.  Even so, there are some tricks of the trade that really help, so as the summer travel season kicks off I thought I would share a little of what I’ve learned so far.

The single most important thing to bring on any trip is a well-developed sense of humor.  Believe me, you’ll need it before you even get out the door.  Perfection is an illusion so do your best and then accept the inevitable unexpected.  Remind yourself and your kids that traveling is a privilege AND an adventure and no adventure is complete without a little of the unexpected.

Things are forgotten, people get sick and overtired happens.  These things are just as true on vacation as when you are home so remember, like running a marathon, vacation with kids is all about pacing yourself.   If you can pace yourself, manage everyone’s expectations and laugh you will have a great story to tell no matter what.

Some of the tips that really simplify life for us are about organization.  I think if you organize before you go, you can be more flexible when you arrive.  Begin at the beginning.  Make your lists.  One for crucial contact numbers like pediatricians, local pharmacies and prescription refills, not to mention hotel, airline and passport numbers.  We all hope you will never need this list, but if you ever do, believe me you’ll be glad you have it.  Next, make a list for packing.  Bring enough diapers for the first two days, a changing pad, nail clippers and the almighty Q-tips.  Older kids may make their own lists but it’s better to discover someone’s sandals don’t fit before you go than to lose a day shoe shopping on your trip.

Next tip is to ship everything you can.  Ship luggage to the hotel, (most airlines charge you anyway, so why pay and schlep when you can just pay and have it delivered?)  Also try to ship your stuff back home.  Laundry will wait for you, I promise.

Also, make sure your carry-on has a change of clothes for everyone, a toothbrush and entertainment for the trip.  Electronic entertainment is best for these purposes.  There is nothing as delightful as fishing crayons out of the plane crevices, ask me how I know.   Again, no one wants to need the change of clothes, but if you spill, er…something, at 35,000 feet, it’s great to not be sticky the rest of the day.

Lastly, please don’t medicate a healthy child.  I know it’s hard to having a crying baby on a trip.  My 15 month old once cried her way from New York to Dublin, but please don’t take a chance of an unexpected reaction when you are far from help and far from home.  It is an utterly avoidable risk.

Okay, so that’s it, a few ideas and one big suggestion and off you go.  Make some memories, have a great trip and don’t forget your sense of humor is the best thing you can take anywhere.

Be well, be safe and be happy with your face to the sun.


Categories: General