“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
- Greg Anderson
Whether by plane, train or automobile, summer travel — and, therefore, possibly traveling with kids — is upon us. And while we’re taking the time to talk about the dates, destination and dining of our family vacations, we should also take a moment to plan the actual traveling part of the trip. We’ve all been kids ourselves and we know that it’s the “getting there” that can make or break the whole adventure. (Anyone here ever see the movie Vacation?)
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Both Mel and Michele’s children have done their fair share of traveling since they were knee high to a grasshopper. In Mel’s case, her parents live 10 hours away so she’s had to acclimate her little people from the beginning to make the drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s in Boston. In my family, we just like to travel. I grew up that way and it’s the one big expenditure our family takes on annually.
How do we keep our kids busy, happy and safely in their seats until we get there?
Mags, age 5 - Mags likes audio stories, so Mel burns a few free podcasts to a CD beforehand. She finds that these family-favorites have the power to strike up interesting conversation long after the story is over. Mags is also a big fan of activities like Look-and-Find books and coloring pages, but her hands down favorite is a rousing game of I SPY. Not only does it help to keep her engaged, but it’s also a great way for her take in the scenery around them.
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Tuck, age 7 – Since Tuck is able to read independently, he will usually choose a few chapter books to bring along. While he enjoys hearing the audio stories with his sister, he also has the option of putting on his headphones and listening to music or audio stories of his choice. His favorite travel game is Categories. For example, someone says “Name a food that is green!” Then, everyone takes turns answering until you’ve exhausted the category. The responses can get pretty wacky at the end.
Vivien, age 10 – Vivien LOVES music of all kinds. So we make sure her iPod is fully charged and ready prior to leaving. And we encourage her to download a little new material before traveling to keep her interested. Of course, to keep the peace, earphones are a must. However, if we’re traveling by car, we can always expect a little serenading and possibly a family sing-a-long or two. So be sure to download a few selections that everyone will enjoy.
Dean, age 13 - Recently inducted into teenhood, Dean is learning to demand the time and space required by other kids his age. Unlike his sister, he doesn’t need to be occupied every moment with hangman and word games. It’s better for us to grab a few age-appropriate sports magazines (he might as well enjoy what he’s reading, right?) and just let him chill. It’s actually a great opportunity to catch up with him. And when else do you have your teenager’s uninterrupted attention for hours at a time?
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Now, don’t think for a minute that our kids don’t take in a DVD during the road trip or dive into their gaming devices from time to time. The secret is not letting that plugged-in existence dominate the entire traveling experience. Enjoy each other’s company while also respecting each other’s space and you should be good to go.
Oh, wait! And did we mention snacks?!!?
Michele is the founder and editor of Old Dog New Tits, an award-winning blog about whatever craziness crosses her family’s path. She is a freelance writer for various websites, magazines and newspapers and is always looking for new projects. She hopes to publish some of her independent work in the near future. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Arts Administration. As a married mother of two from New Orleans, she is actively involved in her children’s lives and has served as everything from Room Mom to Brownie Leader to even PTA President. She loves cheese almost as much as her children and thought it imperative that she include that fact in her biography.
Melissa is the founder and editor of According to Mags, a blog about her children’s silly antics that keep her and her readers entertained. She also co-produces with her husband a children’s story podcast called Night Light Stories. Melissa is the proud mom of a seven-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. She holds a Masters degree in Special Education and is in her thirteenth year of teaching. Mel has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. Currently, she is a supervisor for student teachers at Walden University as well as a Homebound Teacher in the evenings.