Being a veteran traveler with children is both pleasure and pain. Since I am still a child at heart, I enjoy many of the things that the kids want to do. Here are a few tips to make your trip more fun and less hassle.
1. Lower your expectations. The younger your children, the less you will see/do/accomplish, so just enjoy the small moments. If you can still afford to travel after they go to college, return to see what you missed.
2. When taking photos, think in terms of what will make the most entertaining image for your holiday cards. Say yes to quirky! Hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or sandwich Mickey between kids kissing him on both cheeks. Have fun with it. Your memories will be great.
3. When you’re flying, get to the airport early. You’ll have plenty of time to get through security even if there’s a long line, and you can get a snack and encourage the kids to run or jump in a quiet gate area (some airports also have a playground).
4. When you’re sightseeing, you might need to divert to a playground, an amazing bakery, or something else that catches your child’s eye. Allowing extra time means that you can follow their whim and still squeeze in the sites that you wanted to visit.
5. Let the kids bring their gadgets. MP3’s, mini DVD players Gameboys etc……
These items will hold their attention on long drives when you are about to pass out from playing the license plate game for the 900th time.
6. Don’t forget easy and non-messy snacks. Granola bars are a good bet. So is trail mix and fruit snacks. Try to avoid anything that might get too “melty”. Nothing like cleaning the leather seats after a long car ride and finding a caramel candy wedged under the armrest. Yum.
7. Make friends with their favorite restaurant. Sure you’d like to go to a fancier eatery but the kids won’t find anything they like on the menu and they will be crabby and hungry. So suck it up for the week and let them do most of the choosing. You can hit the gym when you return.
8. Always check your departure times. Nothing can put a bad ending on a trip like having to rush like a madman through an airport to avoid missing a flight, except for maybe actually missing it. Forewarned is forearmed.
9. Most important of all is to have fun. Lets the kids play and enjoy themselves. If you try to cram too much in, they will grow to dislike family trips and make your experience miserable. Try and remember what you wanted to do at their age and just go with it. The trip will be more enjoyable for all involved.