Traveling With Kids Without Losing Your Mind
If you have done any traveling at all, then you know what a pain it can be. Packing, loading your car or van, driving hundreds of miles, securing a place to stay at your destination, setting up a temporary home while you’re there, then conducting the whole process in reverse when it is time to go home. Now, try going through that process with a couple of young children thrown into the mix. Your day just got a lot more interesting.
Yes, parents, unfortunately, you have to take your kids with you. I learned early on that leaving a baby at home with instructions to only eat one can of baby food per day doesn’t work.
That being said, it is possible to make long distance travel bearable for everyone. As we hit the open road (or wild blue yonder) this holiday season, a few tips for traveling with the offspring in tow:
When traveling by car, make sure they are secured in their car seat the entire time the car is in motion. If I see you doing otherwise, then you can thank me for the state trooper who will shortly be pulling you over. I’ve called in and ratted out more than one brain dead parent, and wear my highway tattletale status with great pride.
Pace yourself. I’m a guy; to me a trip is getting into your car at the beginning and getting out at the end, preferably with the shortest amount of time possible between those two points. Don’t subject your kids to that torture. Drive a couple of hours and then let everybody out for a break. (Don’t forget to stop the car first).
Pack for the kids: Have a small backpack loaded up with small toys, games, books, Valium (oops, did that just slip out?), crayons, stickers, etc, and hold back a few surprises. This particular lesson was learned the first time I heard “how much longer?” 20 minutes into an eight hour drive.
Audiobooks: kids love these, and they are readily available on CD at your local library. Of course that means Dad won’t be able to play any AC/DC or other good driving music, but it will keep the kiddies occupied.
Playrooms: free play areas are available on nearly every interstate exit. Burger King and Mickey D’s both have very nice indoor play areas where your kids can blow off energy. You can also order food to go for them.
If you have very small kids, a training potty might be a worthwhile investment before a long trip. In a pinch, a plastic cup in the glove box will suffice.
I was never a big fan of car mounted DVD players until last summer. We took a six hour trip to Wilmington DVD player kept my son entertained for long periods. Don’t let them get too attached to it, though.
So there you go. I hope it helps. I’d like to think that nearly twenty years on the road traveling with kids taught me something, and as they get older and more independent, I feel it is my duty to pass along the wisdom to the next generation that felt the need to propagate themselves.
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