Monday, May 13, 2013

Kids and Travel

We have 2 boys, ages 5 and 9.  Do they like to travel?  Well...hmm. Not nearly as much as I do. And I have occasionally heard the complaint, "I want to stay here this weekend!".  I don't know when kids develop a desire to see "sights", but it certainly isn't yet.  No, travel with kids this age involves a lot of compromises, and a lot of slowing down.  Here's some of the things that make it work better for us:

  • Screen time.  Normally, at home, screen time is pretty limited.  But on trips, when we're in the car, or flying, it's like an all-you-can-eat buffet of games and movies.  The old iPad is pressed into service, as well as the Nexus that was supposed to be mine, and occasionally, my phone.  
  • Breaks!   Lots of them, and frequent.  Take a little break, open the snack bag, sit down for a while.  Basically, do things at the kid's pace.  
  • Candy.  What more can I say?  I have a little container that I fill with Skittles, which I call "walking pills".  When Peter gets tired of walking, a walking pill will pep him up considerably.  Then negotiating when he gets the next walking pill can consume the time until the next real break.  
  • There's things my boys can spend hours doing. For instance, throwing rocks into a lake.  Go ahead, spend an hour or two doing just that.  The museums can wait.
  • Bring toys.  Whenever we go on a longer trip, I have the boys both bring a small mesh bag with little toys, like little Lego characters, etc.  They can spend a remarkable amount of time playing with them.  
  • Books.  I bring Kenny's Kindle along, and also load some children's books onto my Kindle, to read aloud to Peter.
  • Games that can be played while walking.  For instance, "I'm going on a camping trip and I'm going to bring a ... ".  Each person then adds one item, and has to remember the previous person's item.  It gets tricky!  Form teams as appropriate for the younger kids.  Another favorite was going through the alphabet, trying to think of an animal name that starts with each letter.  And the perennial favorite, 20 questions, made a easier for little kids by choosing a category (like fruits, or animals).

Things that are important to me, are not important to them, and vice versa.  For instance, Peter saw an old bent earring on the sidewalk.  At first I told him not to pick up that old dirty thing, but then I reconsidered, and he happily played with it, washed it at the next fountain we saw, etc.

It's interesting to note the kind of things that kids remember.  For instance, there was a particular cafe we went to in Lyon, at the Basilica of Notre-Dame.  When we went there the second time, he remembered that the first time we were there, he had his favorite "Twisty" popsicle for the very first time.

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