7 Ways to Simplify Travel with Kids
By Sandy Schroeder
You may be thinking about summer travels and booking destinations. If you will be traveling with kids, take a few steps to make everything easier for you and them.
Kids have a way of slowing down just when you are speeding up, and zooming ahead just when you are collapsing. Planning ways to absorb their energy and preserve yours can make all of the difference.
When my kids were small, like 4, 5 and 10, we flew across the country, rented cars, and toured New York City and Washington D.C. Somehow we all survived and returned with everybody intact and pleased, but it took a lot of planning and a fair amount of luck to make it all work.
Recently New York Times writer Ondine Cohane provided some good advice to avoid disasters and maximize trips. Here are some of her tips and my notes.
Be ready to blow off steam - Allow time along the way for kids to run and play. Parks and swimming pools can provide the breaks kids need from cars and planes and structured tours.
Approximate home schedules - New York Times writer Biba Milioto, who travels with two children, ages 3 and 5, said, “What we do is basically try to approximate our normal life at home, but with a different, hopefully more beautiful, backdrop.” On a recent trip to Paris, Milioto and her family did one special excursion each day, interspersed with pony rides and adventure parks.
Know your kids and plan accordingly - Carefully pick reservations and destinations. Hotels and motels that cater to families, and restaurants with comfort food menus, may be wise choices. A room with a balcony can give parents a little alone time after a long day.
Provide ways for kids to participate - When you are traveling and touring, encourage them to take pictures, and make suggestions.
Have lots of backup - On the plane, in the car, and after a long day touring, make sure their favorite blankets, stuffed toys, and storybooks are there to help everybody relax and sleep better.
Stay flexible on vacation - Limiting iPad time at home may be a wise choice, but long flights or drives may be a lot more tolerable with unlimited use for a 7-year-old.
Pack and tote strategically - I always had a large handbag that produced small surprises at critical moments in the airport, on the plane, or after a long drive. Each child had a small light backpack with a change of clothes and small toys. Meanwhile, irreplaceable stuffed animals, blankets, and other treasures were all carefully kept in our bags to avoid painful losses. On planes, doing a survey of everything about an hour before landing helps, too.
Enjoy your travels. You may be amazed at all of the things your child will remember.
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