Traveling, traveling, traveling.
I spend a lot of time wishing I were traveling. I get jealous often, in a not-mean way, of folks like travelher, who make it a priority. I have entire summers off. But my partner does not. And now I have two kids. So I could travel alone, leaving my honey with two children. That doesn’t seem very fun, unless there were some way to do it guilt-free. I could travel with the family for not-long periods of time. Or I could travel less often. All of these options kind of stink. Though, I do remember my mother, who at over age 65 goes abroad at least once a year, all over the world. I can do it eventually.
For now, we are taking many short trips. I don’t love this because the part of travel I like least is the actual transit. When you are going for the weekend, much of the trip is the actual trip. This month we’re taking three weekend trips in a row. This weekend we went to my cousin’s lake house. This coming weekend we’ll be at Sesame Place and staying with my step-mom. The weekend after, we’re trying out Rehoboth Beach. (I hear it is very gay, yet family-oriented. We’ll see what that means. I’ve never been.)
Though my honey and I are not very adventurous about traveling with the kids, we have picked up a few tips from the few trips we’ve taken. I’ll share them with you.
1) If driving for less than five hours, leave around bedtime. The kids will (read: might) sleep the whole way, leaving you bathroom-stop and puke free. Driving back from the lake house on Sunday night, I took a wrong turn which added an hour to the trip. There was driving rain which caused most of the cars on the highway to put on their hazard lights and slow to almost a stop. There was lots of traffic. That trip was much much easier than the last time we drove home from the lake house during the day, when Trucker cried for an hour, we stopped and ate my very last EVER meal at McDonald’s and Cakie had to pee four times. I think he may have also puked. Leave around bedtime. It rocks.
2) Books on tape, get one. If you are driving at night, your whole family might just conk out on you. We stopped by the public library and borrowed this gem the day before we left this weekend. It made the driving fly by.
3) Bring a bag of surprises. This is not a new idea, but it is a good one, especially if you’ll be traveling by plane with layovers. I got it from my crafty and ingenious momtourage friend, Kris. Fill a small backpack with new toys from the dollar store. Bring the toys out slowly, building to the big guns (you may not like electronics, but big guns in my family means the portable DVD player. Other people upload photos onto their ipods or games onto their ithings.) Kris suggests new race cars for the time waiting in the airport. M&Ms for the time before take-off. They are small and keep the little mouths busy. Even if you are a no-sugar kind of parent, this is a special treat. Then the rest of the toys slowly, only take out a new toy when the old toy has lost its appeal.
4) Pack lightly. Ha ha ha! Just kidding. I once went to South America for a month carrying only a bookbag-sized backpack. Those days are gone. But my honey and I spend a lot of time thinking about and organizing baby gear for trips. We try to get as much of the stuff to be already there as possible. When we go to Florida, my mom is going to borrow a friend’s car that already has a carseat in it. We will carry only one car seat with us. This does make for a terrifying-but-legal cab ride to the airport with Cakie riding with only a seatbelt. The other option is to drive and park, leaving the other car seat in the car. We bought this nifty carseat instead of a booster for Cakie when Trucker was born. It is heavy, but it folds flat, so we just bungee it onto a luggage roller for the airport. We like it better than our Britax, and it is just as highly rated for safety. Ask if the place you are visiting already has a pack and play, booster seat, etc. I even usually ask the grands to pick up a box of diapers for us, so we don’t have to carry too many with us. Though I do always carry more than we need for the flight, in case it gets cancelled.
5) Make the journey the destination. So I said I hate the transit part. But I try to be zen and make the travel the fun part, too. If the trip is really long, break it into two parts. If your car trip is longer than five hours, stop at a zoo or a park in the middle for a picnic and a frisbee toss. (Or, perhaps if your child has Cakie’s travel sickness, a cookie toss.) Have a long meal at a restaurant in the middle and let the kids run around outside for a bit. I try to keep my spirits up during the travel and remember the funny things that happen. When we went to New Mexico back when I was pregnant with Trucker and before Cake was potty-trained, he announced to the whole plane “I made a poop! I pooped! I made a poop in my diaper,” as folks were deplaning. I think people may have even walked off the plane a little faster than usual. 🙂
I’d love to hear what other folks do to ease travel. For those of you with very small babies, take heart. They eventually develop what I call the car trance. Cakie zones out and must be meditating or something whenever we’re in the car for more than ten minutes. Trucker is just beginning to develop his car trance skills as well. Since they are not staring at a tv, I’m hoping the car trance is a good thing.
What do you guys do to ease travel with wee ones?