Fun tips for family travel

by DaniGirl on October 9, 2012 · 1 comment

in Away we go, Reviews, promotions and giveaways

Now that Thankgiving and an awesome surprise visit from my brother’s family is out of the way, I have officially started the obsessing planning phase of our pending family trip. While we have done endless kilometers of road tripping, a family vacation that includes air travel is something new and somewhat intimidating. And the idea of changing planes in LaGuardia after almost missing not one but both connections on my trip to Mexico in August gives me a bit of a belly ache, so I’m trying to be as prepared as possible.

Trying to see the adventure from the perspective of the kids has helped me remember that this is supposed to be a fun adventure and not something to stress over. We’ve been having fun talking about the places we’ll visit, the sights we might see, and of course the amenities on the cruise ship. I’m delighted that they’re old enough to enjoy and remember all of this, and their natural enthusiasm and wonder makes me less stressed about the details and more in touch with the sheer joy of travel.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve been googling for tips about travel with kids. In all the reading I’ve done, I haven’t come across tips as unique as the ones I got in Mexico this summer from Fisher Price’s play expert Dr Kathleen Alfano. She gave us some excellent ideas for engaging kids with travel and making the experience even more memorable for them. (Is the graphic big enough for you to read them clearly? You can click on it to see a larger version.)

I particularly like the idea of sharing the planning process with the kids and letting them have a bit of say in the decision making, even if it’s as simple as “should we sit here or there” or “should we go to the beach first and then the museum” or “what would you like to make sure we do today”. I find the boys are a lot more receptive to mom’s crazy plans if they feel invested in the process. 😉 This goes hand-in-hand with tip 9 when getting kids to buy into your plans — they will feel a much greater sense of control if they have an idea of what to expect over the course of the whole vacation but also on each day if you lay out some of the highlights in advance.

Tip number 7 is a part of our regular daily routine. We often take turns describing our favourite part of a day out and sometimes it’s a bit of a surprise to hear which part of an exciting day out made the biggest impression on them. And how much do I love tip number 6, asking your children to describe how they feel or what they see in one word and then keeping track of what they say? Wouldn’t that make an awesome book, to have a photo and the one-word caption to go with it? I was already planning on letting the boys document the trip from their perspective with our Kid Tough Digital Camera . But how fun would it be to make a photo book at the end of the trip with a mixture of their photos and mine, all captioned with the one-word they used at the time to describe what they were thinking or feeling? Hmm, I wonder if I’m organized enough to actually DO this?

Speaking of travel memories, here’s another great graphic from Dr Alfano with some fun ideas for keeping those vacation memories alive:

Anyway, all that to say we are pretty darn excited right about now. Some time this week we should be getting a detailed itinerary and information about our accommodations on the Allure of the Seas. We’ve already had the globe out, tracing the path of the ship from Florida to Haiti to Jamaica to Mexico and back to Florida. I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm and our flight information saved to several electronic devices. (Speaking of flights, on our New York to Florida leg, we couldn’t pre-book our seats so we’re hoping that the airline takes mercy on us and is able to seat at least one of us grown-ups with Lucas. I was sick with anxiety about this until a more seasoned travelling friend mentioned that it’s also in the airline’s best interest to have children seated with their parents.) Aside from those details and the actual packing, I think we’re ready to go!

Care to share any sanity-saving family travel tips? Better yet, give me something new to obsess over and tell me your WORST family travel story!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Linda October 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

Okay, worst trip ever (sort of): My teenage daughter and I did a Mexican Riviera cruise for her last spring break before graduating. Had a lovely time and were eager to return home. Our arrival at LA airport for flights back coincided with a computer system breakdown for our airline – all flights could not go ahead as passenger lists were not available. We waited in line at the airport for hours with masses of other people as even more people arrived for later flights, unaware of what had happened. Word came down the line eventually that they were booking four, five and six days later for new flights home. A frantic call to my husband back home resulted in him securing a flight for us the next day to Calgary with a connection the day after back home on an affiliated airline. We got a voucher from our original airline for a hotel that night in LA and we thought we were set. When I checked in with the affiliated airline that evening to ensure all was well, I discovered that the Calgary flight wasn’t actually booked, just reserved, and they had no record of a connecting flight the day after and, oh, by the way, all connecting flights were fully booked now so we would have to go standby. Even so, we were ecstatic to be able to now book the Calgary flight and leave the next morning, but arriving in Calgary we were greeted with snow – and us with only sandals and flipflops and light sweaters. After securing another hotel voucher and spending the night thawing out (no sightseeing for us!), we did get home later the next day – certainly a trip we won’t forget!

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