Traveling with Littles
When I have my first meeting with new clients, I always ask what their dream life as a mom and woman would be like. I kid you not, every single one of them includes travel in their fantasy life description. It blows me away, because of all the fantastical things we aspire to as mothers (well-behaved children, clean houses, nutritious meals all the time, peeing in privacy...) this is the most attainable one, and the one that most moms feel is totally impossible. It really doesn't have to be that way.
And, by the way, 3 times in March, I am leading a free parenting masterclass on how to get ALL the stuff in your dream life to actually happen - not just the travel bit - I really can't imagine why you wouldn't register. Check it out here.
Mike and I used to joke that traveling with kids isn't a vacation; it's a change of venue. But, I have evolved from that cynical perspective and there are definitely ways to travel and make it really fun, no matter what age your kids are...no, really! Here are my best tips:
1) Strollers are for Suckers!
It is a giant pain in the ass and slows you down at every juncture. Use a baby carrier instead (Moby wraps or an Ergo are my favorites, depending on the age of the baby). You will go from clunky gear-laden traveling circus to smooth, free-moving jet-setter instantly.
2) BOTH a Borrower and Lender be!
Depending on where you are going, family, friends or your hotel/resort can supply things like cribs, carseats, high chairs, etc. When we used to travel with really little babies, we'd just make a little bed in our suitcase, believe it or not!
3) Carseats in Planes are SO Lame!
Schlepping that thing through the airport and then wrestling your carseat into an airplane seat is a complete waste of energy in my opinion. I don't see it keeping your baby any safer, to be honest (maybe during extreme turbulence). If the plane goes down, a carseat isn't making a difference (sorry to be morbid!). And let's face it, your fantasy of placing your baby in the carseat and having your lap to yourself is, frankly, hilarious. Save the cost of an extra seat on the plane and check the dang carseat (or better yet, see tip #2).
1) Lighten Up!
The more you act like it's an adventure and not a colossal buzzkill to schlep through the airport or drive across the country, the better attitude everyone will have. Narrate what's happening, keep it light, and ask lots of questions ("how many chairs in the waiting area? What trips do you suppose everyone is going on? What are you looking forward to about our trip?")
2) Whig Out!
A toddler is a spring loaded freak-out machine, so plan accordingly. When we do long car drives, we stop every couple hours and mommy makes an 'obstacle course' that the kids have to follow. I started this about 8 years ago, and now even my teenagers ask me for it whenever we do a pit stop. You can do this in airports and train stations too.
3) Slow Your Roll!
Get to the airport or train station early so you can be totally relaxed and go at your kids' pace.
FOR SCHOOL AGED KIDS AND TEENS:
1) TV Time Out!
I remember our first international flight; I tried to limit the kids to 1 movie and make them go to sleep on time - yeah right! It was a total waste of time! It was an 8 hour flight and our sleep/wake patterns were already destined for destruction because of jet lag; what what I trying to prove?!?! Rule of thumb - if you're in a situation where sitting still and being alert is going to be hard for you, it's going to be 100 times harder for your kid. Sometimes letting your kids be screen zombies is the best thing for everyone.
2) Be Boss, Not Bossy!
Let your kids help plan stuff and make decisions. Offer a few choices that fit with your overall plan for the trip (eat in the hotel or go out, walk or take a bus, beach day or city day, etc.).
3) Keep it loose.
One or two activities per day is usually plenty. Read your audience and preempt meltdowns and anyone turning into a pumpkin too early.
4) Home Alone It!
When your kids are old enough, consider leaving them in the hotel for 1 or 2 grown-up activities. Imagine going out to dinner all on your own for once on your vacation! It's an attainable dream, I promise!!!
Speaking of attaining your dreams, have you registered for that free masterclass yet? I'll be live coaching throughout the class, so bring me your travel (or any other) questions. See if you can stump me!!!