Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Traveling with Kids

The holiday season approaches and many people will be traveling. Since we have family and friends spread out all around the country, we have done a lot of traveling since our daughter was born, including a cross-country road trip when we moved.

Here are a few things that make travel more pleasant for us:

* About a month before taking a trip, either by car or air, I stash away small, lightweight, portable things so that they will be "new" for the trip. For airplane trips, I pack thin paperback books, crayons, paper, random things that I find that are interesting, small plastic animals and toys, a favorite small stuffed animal, etc.

* Storytelling and singing are good past-times in the car. There are audio books that are appropriate for young children that can be fun for adults, as well. Games such as "I spy" are very popular with my daughter.

* Find fun things to do on stops. In the airport, look for an empty gate area to let a toddler run. Some airports have play areas or long hallways with little foot traffic. On roadtrips, some rest areas have short trails and playgrounds.

* For a couple years after potty training, we took the small kid potty in the trunk for long trips, just in case. Some highways have many miles between facilities - and some states have closed their rest stops.

* Establish a travel routine when possible on a trip. On our move, each of the 4 days was exactly the same, and while none of us wanted to get back into the car after lunch, by day 2 our 18-month old knew what was coming and made only minor objections. When we traveled overseas and hit a major heatwave with our 4-year old, we quickly set a routine of morning activity, lunch, then afternoon rest time until it was cooler outside.

* Don't forget to pack some healthy snacks and water. (Healthy snacks because no one needs a sugar crash when everyone is trapped in a small space.)

* Manage expectations. Know that the actual travel is likely to fall somewhere between passable and grueling! Hopefully, the time spent at the destination will make the travel worthwhile.

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