Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Traveling with kids...

I still remember the time that my parents were getting ready for our summer holidays, loading our car until the wheels looked almost flat from the extreme weight of our stuff and me trying to squeeze myself on the back seat having to battle with the falling hats, beach chairs, umbrellas and other summer paraphernalia. Sandwiches and some cold drinks for the road, and for entertainment the scratchy music of the broken radio signal or from a favorite /boring cassette of my parents. Windows open, no AC at that time, and ready to roll to our destination. No planning ahead from my parents for what to bring to keep me happy, no worries if I am going to get bored in the car, no stress about how they will keep me entertain. Some books and magazines, dolls when I was younger, and maybe a Walkman (and for the younger audience Walkman means small portable cassette player similar (not) to cd player, to mp3 or the smartphones/iPad now) were the only options and of course actually looking out of the window to the scenery around me. But traveling with kids now is a total different story and sometimes if you are not well prepared can be scary and painful... for you and the others around you!

And suddenly the word boredom has become the fear of every parent who is getting ready to travel with the kids. The planning for the actual trip is less complicated, than the planning of how you keep your kids happy, not bored, and quite for the duration of the trip, no matter the mean of transportation you are going to use. Of course every age has different needs or so you think... You would think that an 11 year old kid will have the patience and maturity to stand a long journey without complaining and whining, in contrast with a 2 year old that has no perception and filter? Right? Oh well not always! Both can start feeling bored and soon become cranky and unhappy and again bored.... and the trip is doomed...

There is a reason that there are tons of Pinterest ideas and articles at parents blogs that giving you ideas on "How to entertain your kid for a car trip, plane trip, train trip, etc." There is a demand and parents are sharing their experiences so you can stop needing that glass/ bottle of wine so to recover or to survive the flight 😉
So here what it worked for us on our recent trip, where we had to travel to USA through Iceland with an 11 year old young man and a toddler, and we had to be on the run for about 15 hours in total. And of course to repeat this on the way back to The Netherlands.

My "Mary Poppins bag" as I call it, and of course our best friend, the IPad, some books and some favorite toys were our weapons to kill the scaaaaary boredom.

What is the "Mary Poppins" bag?
A bag full of small inexpensive surprises and a loooot of snacks where you can pull out at those difficult times. In similar ways with the famous nanny. Because boredom and hunger are the biggest enemies of any trip! Especially if you are traveling with boys with big, and constant appetite.

So a few days before the trip I went to "Action"- a store here in the Netherlands with inexpensive things for the house and also a good toys section - similar to dollars stores or 99cent stores. Savior also for birthday parties, small bribes for good kids, and other sticky situations 😀  Well, there I spend no more that 10 euros for 3-4 toys that made my younger son very happy and excited on the trip and I also found things like oversized playing cards for my older son, so to unglue him from the IPad and a mini table game we could play together.
Important note the gifts were presented one by one when a wave was about to come to shore, and I mean when a tantrum from tiredness or boredom was about to hit.

Then came the Snacks. No matter if there is food on your flight or in any other mean of transportation you booked to travel, do not underestimate the scale of hunger that kids can have or the pickiness will show the moment you do not need it. Also you never know if there is going to be a delay and some disturbing waiting time. So a mixed bag with any favorite snack of the kids or fruits, cut carrots and cucumbers together with salty and for sure chocolate snacks in our case did the trick. Even my third big boy, my husband, was needy and very hungry at times too!

As for the technology part. Netflix app was a good companion with some much needed movies, cartoons and favorite sitcoms, together with other fun apps, educational or not. Their comfy blanket and a small pillow can also be handy when mr. Hypnos, god of sleep, decides to visit the kids.

But to be frank the stressful traveling has an ending period, so there is hope you people, usually it lasts between the 1st birthdays and until the 4th year of the child. That is the time that the kid is curious, wants to explore, cannot stay still for a long time. From that age and up things are getting easier to handle and trips can be more on the fun side and less about planning and drama.

So happy holidays everyone who is traveling soon, and remember to breath and to ignore the critical glances of the fellow co passengers by remembering that they also had kids at one point or for sure were kids themselves. Smile, breathe, repeat and... enjoy the journey!

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