In my several years of marriage and being a stepfather to her four kids, two things really stood out as harrowing and mind-altering experiences. The single biggest was our cross country move from Wisconsin to Florida. So when we prepared to travel back to Wisconsin a couple of years later to visit my wife’s mother, we put extra effort into planning the excursion with them in mind.
It’s not that we didn’t put effort into coordinating the cross country move with them in mind, we just assumed it would have been a lot less of an ordeal. We purchased, what we thought at the time, were necessary and sufficient wares that would keep them placated until we made it to the hotel at the halfway point of our trip.
That half of the trip was fine. They were entertained, quiet and polite to one another, despite being crammed in a minivan full of boxes, bags and pets. What my Wife and I didn’t factor was the second half of the trip. By the time we were into that portion, entertainment outlets were exhausted, tempers were beginning to flare and nerves were starting to fray.
So, as our trek back north to Wisconsin rolled around on the calendar, my Wife and I were armed with the knowledge of what would and would not suffice in the child department. Now, I have to add that my Stepchildren were all over ten years of age at the time of the trip so I can’t speak for those with infants or toddlers.
Things We Learned #1
This may sound like a no-brainer but make sure you bring along a deep variety of entertaining this-and-that items for them. A couple of puzzles, books and games will not suffice. As most kids’ attention spans are very short, they’ll certainly be bored with one option and will move to another quickly. These days, we’re more technological savvy. If your children have music players, make sure they’re fully stocked with a wide variety of music. A portable DVD player is a very worthwhile investment also. Several DVDs can keep them occupied for hours. The point is, kids like variety and when it comes to keeping them focused on those things, it’s good to have plenty for them to do while confined.
Things We Learned #2
Speaking of electronics, most kids have phones, music players or some other type of device these days. Bring plenty of batteries, sets of earphones and never never leave without car chargers, or adapters for them. It’s no fun listening to an upset child while you are driving through the middle of the Smoky Mountains because they forgot their charger back home. Sometimes it is just not convenient to pull off and make a stop to buy one, nor is it always cheap. It was helpful for us to designated a small box for electronics before we left.
Things We Learned #3
One thing is a given when traveling, vacation or otherwise and that’s having to eat. Dining at fast food restaurants are not only costly but they’re not always that conveniently located either. This takes time and money, which might be tight. I recommend packing plenty of snacks and beverages, especially if you are on a long trip. A hungry and thirsty child is a testy child and that ultimately leads to a testy grown up as well and it’s not all that safe to have squabbling and bickering inside that small space you’re in.
Traveling can be a nightmare in its own right but traveling with your children doesn’t have to be. Being prepared is step number one. Knowing what you are getting into is step number two.