Are we there yet?
Those four words make any parents’ shoulders rise and their molars grind. Whether they're still in the car seat phase or not quite a teenager, taking your youngsters on trips can be tricky. I have two girls, five and eight, and I've been traveling with them since before they could walk. Over the years, I've found that the key is to keep them entertained. Follow these steps, and with a little luck, the vacation will go smoothly…for EVERYONE.
Let Everyone Have a Say
At all cost, get in the planning process early. Not only is it important to pick a destination the drivers will enjoy, allow the little ones to have a say too. Narrow the search down to three options, preferably the favorites and then make the final decision. This way everyone is happy.
Birds of a Feather
The next step is to stress the importance of sticking together. Now, I'm not suggesting having family shirts made. You know, the ones that are color-coded and have the last name at the top like a football jersey (unless your family is major sports fans). Instead, I like to take the ‘wolf pack' approach, clarifying that mom and dad are the leaders, but no cub goes unnoticed.
Food, no matter what age your kids are, is essential for any trip. Smart meal options can lead to saved time and money. Stopping at a grocery store when you first arrive at a destination is a good rule of thumb. Purchase what I like to call "cry snacks," (don't we all get upset when we're hungry?) like granola, gold fish, cereal or even yogurt.
Book a Hotel with Breakfast Included
The Grand Floridian is a great example of a family-friendly hotel, which worked well for my family on our last Walt Disney World vacation. However, if it's a smaller trip, I'd suggest looking for a Holiday Inn option, where breakfast is included. Essentially, it was killing two birds with one stone since I was able to earn more IHG points, while also having the expense of breakfast covered before even departing for the day.
Tips to Keep Kids Engaged
Keeping kids engaged while sightseeing has a lot to do with getting them involved early in the planning. Highlight a few points of interest either before departure. This way, you can make a checklist of items that you know they will see on the trip. If your children are anything like mine, they usually love seeing new things that I get excited about, therefore include spots that appeal to you too.
One thing that helps keep my kids more occupied are the small notebooks I bring along. Decoration is encouraged and so is a list of attractions they liked to see at each place. This way, they can actively cross out the things we've seen. The notebooks can also be used to write down things they would like to buy. Instead of just "buying the souvenirs to keep them quiet," I say that there will be many items they'll want to buy, but set some limits. I give them a daily budget. For the things outside of their price range, I suggest they just write them down. This way it's easy to keep the items in mind for the next holiday or birthday (which I promise is right around the corner).
Traveling with Teenagers
The only thing different about traveling with teenagers is the additional ‘slack’ parents are willing to give. Even though my girls aren't at that stage yet, my friends who do have teens say they want more free time to explore on their own. Society considers them young adults, so parents should keep the "embarrassing" moments to a minimum. If you can gain approval points from the older ones, you can bank on more precious Kodak moments in the years to come.
Bottom line: plan, plan, plan! I can't say it enough and with the holidays fast approaching, a "Clark Griswald" persona is always appreciated, just make sure to not go overboard.
Provocative? Yes! True? Also, yes! And if you were in need of an extremely unique and somewhat controversial reason to take a vacation, this is trip for you. Recently, a new restaurant in Paris opened it’s doors where diners are required to eat in the nude. You heard it here first. Upon further research, this is NOT the first restaurant offering this unique (and maybe a little chilly?) dining option. However, it’s Paris, so it just makes sense. Therefore, I have detailed a lovely itinerary (listed below) where you and your special someone can take a trip with at least one activity you WON’T want to have any pictures from. Read more about the new restaurant here.
First, you’ll be spending two nights in New York City, my hometown and one of the greatest cities in the world. The two nights include overnight accommodations at one of my favorite hotels: The Barclay Intercontinental Hotel. You’ll be seeing the wildly successful off Broadway production of “Naked Boys Singing” and dining at a personal favorite restaurant of mine...The Palm.
Next, you’re on your way to Paris! Five nights in arguably the most romantic city on the planet. Yes, you’ll be taking a short sightseeing tour to see the highlights and visiting that famous lady at The Louvre Museum.
Sound too good to be true? Nope. I’ve estimated the costs for a two person trip (departing from New York) on a seven night vacation in May 2018.
Pricing is for two people
New York (2 Nights) - Paris (5 Nights)
May 1-10, 2018
Estimated rates researched in December 2017
Total: $5,750 (all listed)
Two Nights at the Barclay Intercontinental Hotel on E. 48th Street in New York City - $400.00
Two Tickets to “Naked Boys Singing!” (Off Broadway) - $200.00
Dinner for Two at The Palm NYC - $150.00
Round-Trip Airfare for Two from NYC to Paris on Air France (business class) - $3,000.00
Five Nights at The Opera Cadet Hotel Paris - $1,400.00
Two Tickets to The Louvre - $50.00
Paris One Day Sightseeing Tour: $400.00
Dinner in the Buff for Two (reservations required) at O’naturel Paris - $150.00
Of course I’m having a little fun here, but as you can see, a Paris trip (with our without the naked dinner) may just be exactly what you and your special someone need in 2018.
The outcome of air travel has a lot to do with the attitudes of the parents. Visiting an airport and flying can be fun…if you make it so. Flight delays can happen but if the parents remain in a good mood, chances are the kids will too. Keep it positive and follow these tips to reduce the stress of flying with kids!
Don’t Over Schedule
Getting from point A to point B can be long, so I try not to schedule any important events during a travel day.
Book transportation as early as possible
This includes the flight and car service (both ways). Making reservations in advance, not only allows you to budget the expenses beforehand but also eliminates walking time. Seeing a driver dressed in suit and tie, holding a sign with your name on it would make anyone feel special, including your kids. Maybe the driver will even let one of them wear his shiny black hat. If this happens, parents are awarded bonus points.
Plan for Security
If you haven't done TSA pre-check before, traveling with children is the time to do it. Lines are shorter through airport security, eliminating the hassle of standing for long periods of time, which is helpful when the kids are getting too big for that handy-dandy stroller. Slip-on shoes for everyone are also a good idea, especially if you're asked to remove them.
I allow my kids to pack a small carry on (yes, mine have the Frozen backpacks), for a change of clothes, their swimsuits, coloring books, iPad, a deck of cards…etc. If it fits, pack it. If I'm on my game, I sometimes prepare a route map for them and even an itinerary, so they can follow the course. Don't forget anti-bacterial wipes for the tray tables and chewing gum to help with the altitude changes (ear popping) often experienced during take-off.
Seat Kids Near the Windows
Not only do little ones like to look out the window, but you also keep them away from the food and beverage cart, where hot coffee and water could easily spill.
Budget or Bring Snacks
A budget for snacks or light meal on the plane is my usual protocol. Kids love to order from the menu, especially if it's out of their routine, so give them some freedom to the items you know they'll like and most importantly eat. Other parents I know pack easy, low-sugar finger food such as string cheese, Cheerios, pretzels, carrot sticks, and granola. You don’t want to bring anything too messy, but boys are these options helpful when your kids are hungry.
Do you have other tips for air travel with kids? Let me know in the comments below!
Our inaugural “Erik The Travel Guy Radio” show kicked off this past Saturday (12/2/2017) and went off without a hitch. Each week, we will post the audio here and include links to the topics we discussed during the show. My thanks to my guests that appeared and thank you for listening. Each episode is also available on iTunes as a podcast.
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I can’t tell you how excited I am to start a new year! While I’m not the most reflective person, I do enjoy taking a moment in December to glance back at the previous year and think about the highlights.
Sure, like most of us, your year might have had some adversity. While you might have had to overcome some tough times, didn't you also have moments of fun? Did you spend time with your family? Save a little more for retirement? Laugh out loud with your friends? Did you travel? Get a promotion at your job?
No matter where you are in life, a new year is upon us and I say, it’s time to start living! If you haven’t made New Year's resolutions in the past, this is your year!
How do you break old habits and resolve new ones? Start here: Picture yourself having this moment of reflection in 12 months from now.
Think of your life as a paint-by-numbers picture. Now is the time to draw the lines of the picture you can be proud of; you have 12 months to paint in the colors. It's okay to acknowledge that you might not be happy with some aspect of the analysis. That's normal. This is the year to resolve to act and make improvements in that area!
I suggest including travel in your 2018 plans. Get out there and explore a new corner of the world. Drive, take a cruise, or hop on a flight to your next great adventure! But remember, you will need to be proactive. Look ahead six months, nine months, and a year to make room in your schedule. Personally, I like to have some sort of travel adventure (even a simple weekend getaway) to look forward to every three months. Next, begin a budget and start setting aside money each month for this adventure. But get the planning started today. Because once you do, then you’re more likely to take the trip you planned.
Oh, and as a last note, you never know which vacation will change your life, forever. It’s true! I receive emails and calls all the time from people regaling me with the stories of vacations that forever changed their lives.
The 2018 train is leaving the station... are you on it?
Happy New Year and happy travels in 2018.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!