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Your experiences traveling with kids

rousseau

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With our first-born, and a planned second coming soon partner and I have started discussing how this will affect the travel we'll do. We're both of the opinion that exorbitant trips are pretty much lost on small children, and will likely travel mostly in the surrounding area when they're young..on trips for them

However, I wonder about trips we do that are mainly for us, and not for them? In your experience, is there a good time in your kids lives to go on more adult-oriented trips with them?
 

Bronzeage

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When I was young and my children were young, traveling meant riding in the back seat of the car. It was pretty boring and the only distractions were books and magazines. I've been on trips with my adult children and grandchildren. They have DVD players a foot from their face and hand held video games. If we drove through a buffalo herd, they might not notice. That's just the transportation part of traveling.

The best kid trips are to someplace where they can be outdoors to explore and discover stuff. This means parks with trails, beaches that aren't filled with people, creeks that can be waded, that sort of thing.
 

Rhea

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We likewise feel that there was a calculation of whether the kids would get anything out of the cost and effort for young kids. When they were very young we tended to only choose things that maximized our time and attention on each other.

In the first two years or so, it was mostly stay-cations. Taking a week off to build a fort in the back yard, or a slip-n-slide, putting up a tent in the yard and sleeping outside, then taking a bike ride on some trail and picnicking. Local hikes, nature centers - the kind of thing that can be done in one day.

When the kids were about 2-8 we took a lot of supported overnight rail-trail bike trips. Sleeping in a tent for several days, biking all day, stories, singing. They had little books in the trailer. The longest trip was 8 days, riding from DC to Pittsburgh. There would be occasional weekend excurions to include a beach, the butterfly conservatory in Ontario, Climb Mount Monadnock in NH (a 4-mile hike but lots of elevation), lots of campfires and campground exploration. We hit some historical sites, Concord Bridge, Baltimore shipyards and the like. We had to just plan that their attention span was less than ours and we would not get to read all the plaques. Making them go our pace spoiled the fun for everyone, so we decided to instill a love of travel rather than instill our needs. There were also trips to visit relatives, so again more kid/family-centric.

After 8 was when we started doing cross-country road trips. I did them as a kid and remembered the destinations fondly and don’t remember being too bored, even the trip in the station wagon from Boston to Guadelajara, MEX. So we started taking ours out. It was always tent camping, always by car (minivan) and usually more than 4 weeks. We picked up camp nearly every other night and went someplace new. We had them do the “Junior Ranger” programs at National Parks, which allowed us to linger over the signs more. :)

I just asked my daughter, now 18yo, what she thought of the long drives, and she says she doesn’t remember being bored. She liked to read and look out the window (start them as babies having soft “books” in the car! Being able to read in the car is a treasure.) We had a joke that a parent would shout out, “Beautiful View Alert!” And the kids would look up from their books and say in unison, “oooooh! Aaaaaahhh!” And go back to reading. We also had a rule, “No Books in National Parks, look out the window”; because they would just keep reading.) She also remembers how we stopped at rest areas regularly and always (it was “required”) had running races for the full length of it several laps before getting back in the car. She said that was key in breaking up the day when we had a “long drive” like the sprint from Pennsylvania to Missouri when the goal of the trip was the pacific coast, or the northern prairie stretch from Montana to Minnesota. She also said having a vehicle where you can easily and broadly see out the window is extremely key. She got bored in the station wagon when we took it to visit relatives because the seats were too low to see out. Get a minivan.

We went on a month-long mega-trip 5 times, eventually hitting 47 states, 5 Provinces and 2 Mexican states and climbing 25 (so far) state high-points. And the kids say they have fond memories and want to do more. We’d try to stretch their capabilities with longer and longer hikes, so by the time of the first cross-country trip (ages 8 and 10) they were ready for a 9-miler in Glacier National Park. We did have actiities in the car, for example every time we crossed a state line, one of the kids had to read the size, population, state bird and flower, etc. from the atlas, and the other read the entry from “How the States Got Their Shapes”, and the license plate game and playing alphabet with signs, and roadside bingo.

We started doing “City” vacations only when they were in their teens. And my youngest was 14 or so before we took the first airplane vacation and they were taken to LegoLand and DisneyLand, and she was 17 before we got to Hawaii.



So, summing up: We made the trips very kid centric early on to not waste time or money on something they couldn’t appreciate and would cause frustration because we wanted to appreciate it. I have no regrets of that - we ended up with kids who love travel, new experiences, who can appreciate slow quiet moments, stare long at the world around them and really SEE what is new and not already known to them.
 

fromderinside

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When I was young and my children were young, traveling meant riding in the back seat of the car. It was pretty boring and the only distractions were books and magazines. I've been on trips with my adult children and grandchildren. They have DVD players a foot from their face and hand held video games. If we drove through a buffalo herd, they might not notice. That's just the transportation part of traveling.

The best kid trips are to someplace where they can be outdoors to explore and discover stuff. This means parks with trails, beaches that aren't filled with people, creeks that can be waded, that sort of thing.
OK so you updated my experiences. You don't remember signs, car colors, makes, number of cows, sheep, number of persons in cars, bridges, streams, cataracts, mountains, ocean views, Number of bottles of beer on the wall, etc, etc. because you had electronic stuff?

How narrow is that.

My experience with travel and kids is that kids should be of an age where they demand to bring pets along on the trip. Worked for my parents and worked for us. Its then when their interest extends beyond their bellies and excretions. Hell when we had kids all it took was to turn on rock and roll or the blues and the kids shut up, listened, participated and cooperated.

I agree with interesting place - to them - stops as a must do with kids.
 

Tharmas

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My daughter and her husband brought their kids to visit when they were two and a half and four. This entailed a three and a half hour flight to Austin, where they spent four days with one grandparent and lots of childhood friends of my daughter, then a three and a half hour drive to visit my wife and me for four days, then a flight back to New York. They agreed it turned out to have been doable, but stretching the limits. However both kids remember visiting us and had a great time so the bonding was worth it.

The following year (kids now three and a half and five) they took them to Costa Rica, where my daughter also has history, for nine days. This time they said the kids travelled well and had a great time.

Generally they take them upstate by car to stay at a farm for a week or two in the summer, which is always a hit with the kids.

Both my kids had trips to Europe with their grandparents when they were teens. Very much worth it. My son spent 6 weeks alone enrolled at an Anglo-French music school outside of Paris when he was sixteen, also courtesy of the G-Parents, and also very much worth it.
 

spikepipsqueak

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Read all the thread, but read Bronzeage and Rhea's posts twice.

When my 2 are with their Dad he instantly puts on a movie and they miss some interesting stuff out of the window. When they are with me I talk to them as I drive and point stuff out. I think that's better, only time will tell what the kids think (when they have some of their own).

When my son was tiny I could travel in hot weather with a supply of nappies and not much else, because he was breastfed.

Do you know the rules of car cricket?
 

spikepipsqueak

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It's only oncoming traffic. You can't count anything on side roads, or anything you pass.

Each car is a run. A truck or a bus is over the boundary for six. We have modified the game so that vans and towed caravans are boundary shots for four but that isn't the original game.

A red vehicle is Out!

You take turns, and can have any number of innings. Cumulative totals. You can't declare a winner until everyone has had the same number of innings.

It's great for kids who are just becoming familiar with number. I'm 63, and I still enjoy it on a long trip. YMMV. :)
 

Rhea

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It's only oncoming traffic. You can't count anything on side roads, or anything you pass.

Each car is a run. A truck or a bus is over the boundary for six. We have modified the game so that vans and towed caravans are boundary shots for four but that isn't the original game.

A red vehicle is Out!

You take turns, and can have any number of innings. Cumulative totals. You can't declare a winner until everyone has had the same number of innings.

It's great for kids who are just becoming familiar with number. I'm 63, and I still enjoy it on a long trip. YMMV. :)

Oh, that sounds like fun!

I think I need to learn the rules of cricket, first, though. :D
 

Loren Pechtel

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It's only oncoming traffic. You can't count anything on side roads, or anything you pass.

Each car is a run. A truck or a bus is over the boundary for six. We have modified the game so that vans and towed caravans are boundary shots for four but that isn't the original game.

A red vehicle is Out!

You take turns, and can have any number of innings. Cumulative totals. You can't declare a winner until everyone has had the same number of innings.

It's great for kids who are just becoming familiar with number. I'm 63, and I still enjoy it on a long trip. YMMV. :)

Unamerican thinking detected! Begone!
 
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