The Wonders of Traveling with Kids
Did that first image dupe you? That’s a stock image I got from a photo service website. The picture to the left is actual reality and it’s from a trip we took with my kids back in May. I had to laugh at the situation, hence the “Whinefest” caption, otherwise I may have succumbed to a bad mood. If I took a poll, I’d be willing to bet that at least half the people reading this blog post have kids and out of those that have kids, 100% of them have traveled (whether near or far) with their kids in tow. My two kids are under the age of five and they are super adorable. SUPER ADORABLE. That’s what I repeat to myself anytime we have to go somewhere, whether it’s the grocery store or 500 miles away.
Travel seems to bring out both the best and worst in kids and adults alike. I enjoy going to new places and experiencing new things and before I had kids, it was a breeze. Now, a simple day at the beach requires about a month and a half of prep work. First we have to make sure the weather is right because we don’t want to waste time going somewhere we can’t enjoy. Then we have to coordinate nap times so that the kids can get actual rest in their beds so they won’t be cranky when we arrive at our destination. Then the packing begins: sunscreen, swimsuits, towels, special kids’ sunscreen, umbrella, four changes of clothes (just for the kids), 10 extra towels, baby powder, baby wipes, diapers, swim-diapers, flip flops, cover-ups, beach toys, a cooler packed with juice boxes, milk, diet coke (for me) crackers, cookies, fruit snacks, apples, etc. Does this list ever end? It’s like coordinating a space launch to get out the door at my house. Spontaneous adventure? Whatever. It’s more like an epic quest and I need magical powers to complete the journey.
Next week, I’ll be taking my kids on a 290 mile trek to my parents’ house and I’m going solo. Yes, that means I have to do all the driving, all the potty breaks and all the refereeing all by myself. I’ve done it before but it’s been a while and I always think to myself, “how bad can it be?” Then we get in the car and my kids start whining and crying within the first 20 minutes and I start to get angry that scientists aren’t focusing on making teleportation a reality. Is that too much to ask? The thing is, I understand why kids get so unhappy when they’re traveling. I believe it’s the car seats. Don’t get me wrong, I have my kids buckled in the way they’re supposed to be and they remain buckled while the car is moving. I’m a firm believer in seatbelts. However, I grew up without car seats and really didn’t have to wear a seat belt in the backseat either. We took VERY long car rides during vacation and I really didn’t have any complaints because I could stretch across the backseat and take a nap or lounge against the window while I played with toys or read a book. My kids don’t have that option and while we do have a DVD player to entertain them, that only lasts for so long before they’re ready to revolt.
Regardless of the hassle, I still enjoy traveling, taking a road trip and taking my kids to visit new and different places. I believe traveling is good for the body, soul and mind. Taking a break, escaping the ordinary and experiencing the culture in different locations provides a restful change of pace.
A few months ago, I read an article about how experiences make you happier than “things.” Our family is fortunate and my kids have an overabundance of things but I don’t think those things always make them happy. They are happiest when spending time with my husband and me and going places, whether it’s the water park or down the street to get ice cream. I feel that the benefits of travel strongly outweigh the discomfort of a few hours in the car so yes, I’ll drive them that 290 miles so that they can spend time with their grandparents and we can go to the zoo, the planetarium and an orchestral concert in the park. I know that the experience and memories will long outlast a plastic toy but I still wouldn’t mind if teleportation became available. Wish me luck and happy trails to those of you traveling with your kids!
-Amanda Scott, CVB Program Manager