Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Travel with Young Kids (or in my case, wild, loud boys)

This past weekend I drove myself to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and back.  The drive was nice, and I actually looked forward to it.  It's ironic, because I remember there was a time when I used to dread long car trips by myself.  I would get nervous and feel dread and make myself special "mix tapes" to stave off boredom.
My, how things have changed.  Now I view a long car trip by myself as a luxury.  Hours to myself, with no one to bother me?  Being able to listen to whatever music I want?  Or call whoever I want? Or opt for silence, if I so choose?  Ahhhhh.  Heaven.  

I suppose it's the contrast to travel with my children that makes a solo trip so enticing.  

We are a family that travels fairly often.  All three sets of grandparents live other states, as well as aunts and uncles and cousins and friends.  We also like to take vacations when we can, and I try not to limit myself based on the burdens of the journey alone.  We haven't flown the kids to Europe (yet), but I won't let a longer flight or drive keep me from going somewhere.  

But that doesn't mean it's not painful at times.  

The older the kids get, it seems the more unpleasant it is.  They now are able to articulate questions such as, "Are we there yet?" They are able to kick each other from across the car seat (or airplane) aisle.  They are able to throw food and tantrum and fidget and demand bathroom breaks at inopportune times.  

Why am I always the one that ends up in between them?  
I've looked at blog posts and articles about "how to entertain your kids while traveling," and none of them have helped much, to be honest.  They all seem to be geared towards well behaved, calm, long attention spanned types of kids, that will actually sit and color or look at a book or play with stickers for more than 2 minutes at a time.  My two boys?  They aren't the sitting kind (and I don't think either one has ever once voluntarily colored anything, unless it is a wall or furniture).  

As part of the OTC Safety series I write, I've been asked to discuss some tips for travel with young children.  And so, for better or worse, here are my top 3 "tips" for travel with young kids: 

1) Television.  Lots and lots and lots of television.  A constant stream of television, in fact, and I'm not one bit ashamed.  When we are on car trips, we have a DVD player already installed in the car.  For air travel, we bring a portable DVD player.  And that thing runs, and runs, and runs.... But sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes, even Big Bird in Japan won't cut it.  And then?  Then I turn to #2.

2) Bribes.  These bribes are shameless, and most often, unhealthy.  They usually involve sugar.  And they usually go something like:  If you're quiet for another half hour, then you can have a lollipop (okay, two lollipops).  If you stop kicking the seat in front of you, you can have five M&M's (okay, 8 M&M's).  If you don't stop spitting, you're not going to get your lollipops or your M&M's.  Sigh.  

3) Time it well. When possible, we always try to time our car trips or flights around nap times (or bed times).  Because the only thing better than traveling sans kids is travelling with sleeping kids. Oh, the beauty of sleeping children.  

Unfortunately, my children have an uncanny ability to either stay awake through their nap times during trips, or to fall asleep, quite literally, as the plane is touching down in the destination.  AS THE PLANE IS TOUCHING DOWN.  

Given that my travel excursions are at times painful to say the least, I have considered, how should I put it, the "drugging of the children."  I mean, I drug myself, when I fly.  Why not my kids?  The notion of making my kids sleepy and cuddly on drowsy inducing medications is enticing, I have to admit.  And I'm not alone - in a recent Parenting article, a survey revealed that 18% of moms medicate their children before a long flight or car trip.   

I've never bitten the bullet and done it, and after reading some information from OTC Safety, I am glad I haven't.  Specifically, OTC Safety advises that: "As a parent or caregiver, you are in charge of your child's health.  There are many over-the-counter (OTC) options available to help make your child feel better when he or she is sick, but be careful to only use a medicine that treats your child's specific symptoms.  OTC's are real medicines and should only be given to your child according to the label instructions.  Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child."  

Okay, okay, I know.  But if only there was a magic pill...

In the meantime, if any of you readers out there have any travel tips for loud, fidgety, wild, boys, I'll take them.  I am considering taking the kids (all THREE of them) to London in March.  I may be crazy, but at least I'll be well traveled.  

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of the CHPA OTC Safety Ambassador Program.  All the opinions reflected here are my own.  


  1. This post is HILARIOUS. I always end up in the middle seat too. How does that happen? #WTF
    I totally agree with your list. I am a huge believer in the power of the bribe and the lollipop. Also, we took my oldest to Europe when she was just 2.5 and learned then the hard way of the BATTERY LIFE issue on those portable DVD players. SO thankful now for the iPad.

  2. I always have and still do hate traveling with my kids. We have a kindle fire and thank heaven's for that. Not sure if it'll work on boys (and my husband absolutely detests it) but when in the car, Kidz Bop keeps the girls entertained as well as books on tape (though they're always too short. Runaway Pancake is a favorite), while my son's itouch keeps him preoccupied.

    F*ck moms who seem to think that stickers will work on a long plane/car ride (or at any time, for that matter)

  3. I read your blog but have never commented! Anyway, I saw this article on Jezebel tonight and immediately thought of some of your blog posts. I personally thought the article was incredibly inflammatory, but my bigger take away was that woman just need to stop judging one another, no matter what their decisions regarding traditional work vs. staying home. http://jezebel.com/quitting-your-job-to-be-a-full-time-mom-is-probably-a-b-1054423380


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