My Tips on Traveling with Kids

Sep 10, 2006

The Bottom Line Be creative and patient.

This was first written and posted June 1, 2000. It was deleted long ago. I dusted it off for jeavinl's Go West Write Off. She is moving from New Jersey to California. She wants help. Good luck, Jeanne.

To benefit all some of this is not age specific to Jeanne's toddler.

We started traveling with our children when they were 3, 5 and 8, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

1. They will certainly fill a backpack with their favorite toys, games, books, etc. I bought "surprises." They would consist of inexpensive items like play dough; silly putty; new coloring books or connect-the-dot type books; and a couple of the small travel games - travel checkers, travel trivia depending on the children’s ages.

2. I would get rolls of nickels, dimes or quarters. The price increased as they got older. I don't believe in punishing bad behavior (unless it is harmful to someone else, property or the child himself); I believe in ignoring it and rewarding behavior that is appropriate. Based on that philosophy, the children would get, let's say a nickel when they were young, for each hour their behavior was appropriate. This money could be used to buy souvenirs, candy or whatever they wanted at our destination. This, of course, would be adjusted depending on, as I said, the ages of the children, the length of the drive, and the behavior in general. A two-year old without siblings will be happy with a play penny!

3. A wonderful game they loved to play is "find the letter." Obviously your child has to be able to read, but you can help. You start with A and they have to find something in a road sign, license plate, anywhere visible from the car that starts with A, then B and so forth. I don't suggest prizes for a game like this. It should be fun in my opinion; not stressful or overly competitive.

4. As soon as my kids were old enough, they had what at the time were called a walkman. They are worth every penny. There's nothing more annoying than having 3 kids want to listen to 3 different stations, none of which you want to hear, none of which are, of course, loud enough in the back, but too loud in the middle and deafening in the front!

Doing a search for what's new in the toddler world I came up with the following!

"Fisher-Price has kindly provided us a sign of the impending apocalypse. Their iTod is an MP3 player designed for toddlers...."

5. We had a couple of instances of car sickness so you want to make sure (Even if your children aren't prone to it, something could cause it.) you have a container and clean up items. Always have clean clothes available so you don't have to go hunting through everything. Children are usually upset after they have been sick, so you want to try to make it easy for them to recover.

6. If there is an issue with who sits where then they take turns. That isn't negotiable. We were lucky that we had a mini-van with a larger back seat and a smaller middle one. The larger one was always for the girls and the middle one for the boy. Everyone was happy with that situation. If you do need to rotate, make sure that is worked out ahead of time and everyone understands the rules. You don't want to be fighting about whose turn it is every hour!

7. Even if it takes 4 extra hours, stop as often as you need to. If it means every rest area, then so be it. It would be wonderful if we could regulate people's bladders to be on the same clock but we can't. We can try, but it doesn't always work. So stop when they need to stop; and even if they don't, it's a great excuse to let them run off some energy, have a picnic and just regroup.

8. When we traveled (Too bad this didn't carry over to "real life".) we went around the table at dinner wherever we were and said something nice about each other. Believe me that could be a challenge, but even the most stubborn and challenging of the three always came up with something.

Happy Trails!

July 10, 2006.

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