In the book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, author Karl Pillemer distills wisdom from over a thousand elderly Americans into thirty practical lessons we can all use to be happier now. One of them was to travel as much as possible, if necessary sacrificing other things we spend money on to do so. Travel is that valuable an experience.
What better gift, then, could we give our kids? And what sweeter memories than to experience new places together? Today in The Motherhood, Jodi Grundig of Mom’s Favorite Stuff and Family Travel Magazine was joined by Leigh of Hines-Sight Blog, Corinne of Have Baby Will Travel, Deb of Just a Mom’s Take on Things, Maria of Very Busy Mama, Mel of Mama Buzz, and Sherry of Baby Pop to talk about traveling with your kids–especially where. The when? Is now.
Corinne pointed out that we really only get eighteen summers with each of our kids; we need to make the most of them. So how early do you start traveling with your kids? Jodi says that she started traveling when her daughter was seven months old. Mel started when her oldest was around four or five. It’s nice for them to remember the trips you take them on, of course. But as Corinne noted, “I don’t think it matters if they don’t remember things, because YOU will never forget.”
Traveling with kids sometimes feels a little more like a National Lampoon Vacation movie than a Norman Rockwell painting. As Deborah so aptly phrased it, “It’s a TRIP, not a vacation. If you realize this, you won’t be disappointed in the little bit of relaxation you actually get.” Keep your expectations reasonable or you and your kids will end up annoyed and frustrated. These are not the memories you wish to cultivate.
But there are things that can make travel with kids easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Leigh says, “A DVD player is a must with kids. I can’t believe we held out for as long as we did.” And Sherry says that for road trips, headphones for the kids’ entertainment are important “so you can have some quiet. It is your vacation too.” Deb recommends “lots of stops along the way–don’t try to be in a hurry, but try to enjoy the drive and what you’re seeing.” Mel summed up many people’s advice when she suggested, “Take lots of snacks; have things to do on hand. Be ready to stop and get out to see things, even just to get them out of the car for little bits at a time. Travel with an exploring, inquisitive attitude.”
If you’re flying to your destination, Erin has heard that the best (cheapest) time to book a flight is Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. Jodi says, “I like using Bing’s fare predictor. It tells you if it’s a good time to buy or if you should wait. They purchased the technology from a small company based in MA and I’ve found it to be accurate.” The money you save on airfare can go toward enjoying your destination a little bit more.
How do you decide on a destination? For a lot of people, returning to the same place year after year is a tradition that builds layers of memories. Others want to keep covering new ground. Deb knows of a family whose family vacation each year focuses on a different part of the USA. They’ve driven through most of the states, flown to Hawaii and cruised to Alaska! Many of us are in-between: the annual long weekend at Grandma’s lake cottage, plus a trip somewhere else we’ve always wanted to see. Jodi says, “To be honest, we have a hard time going somewhere new – we like returning to our old favorites. So we try to do a mix.”
How many of the places on this list would you like to travel to with your family?
- The Grand Canyon
- Route 66 (for some, the ultimate road trip)
- Prince Edward Island
- South Africa
- Washington, DC
- New York City
- Disneyland or Disney World
- Quebec City
- Mt. Rushmore
- Asheville, NC
- Niagara Falls
- Phoenix, AZ for baseball spring training
- The Great Smoky Mountains
If this list inspires you, check out Jodi’s Travel Bucket List…and get started on your own! Go to as many of them with your kids as you can. You’re not just taking them somewhere. You’re giving them memories that someday will take them back.