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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!
 

rousseau

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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?

I recall growing up doing similar on our journeys to Myrtle Beach, Tennessee, and Florida. I'm not sure where they came from but we were given activity books that included 'looking out the window' games. One of them was to find all the US state license plates.

I like the idea as I'd like to raise kids who are viscerally connected with the real world - technology as a tool, not completely dominating their reality.
 

Loren Pechtel

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'merican here. I like spikepipaqueak's description. They mirror those of this 'mercan's experiences of trips through Montana and Wyoming. Burma Shave y'see'nsay. Cars and road kill y'count'nplay.

Loren Pechtel people not from Bundy land you discount?

I was joking. It said "cricket"
 

Toni

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As a kid, my family made several long haul trips, once to Washington DC and a few to the Miami, FL area --which included at various times, camping in the keys (do not tent camp in FL--from someone who spent her childhood weekends in a tent) and Disney World. This was pre-seat belt days, 4 kids, a station wagon (or the trips I remember we had a station wagon by then) and no bathroom breaks until one of my parents had to go or took pity because youngest sibling was 8 years younger than me so 'little' meaning needing more bathroom breaks. No complaining was allowed--although none of us was actually hit for fighting or complaining because basically, we knew the threats would be followed by swift action. No DVDs, no cds, just whatever radio came on if Dad was in the mood. LOTS of looking out the windows, playing car games, and singing songs. I'm sure I read a lot as well because for the most part, if I was sitting anywhere not at the dinner table, a book was in my hand. I really loved watching the landscape go by, noting the differences in terrain, trees, farmlands, even the difference in the color of the soil.

As an adult, I always lived anywhere from 250 miles from my parents' homes to close to 800 miles, at always at least 500 miles from my inlaws. We made at least annual trips to see The Family (both sides) every summer and sometimes a pre-holiday visit, depending on when the actual dates fell and school calendars. Because we did not have much money, this ALWAYS meant going by car. First trip, our oldest was about 5 months old and we were taking him to meet his grandparents (both sides, 250 miles away from each other) over the holidays. He was a real trooper, mostly breast fed but also accepting formula as I was back at work 7 weeks after he was born and we couldn't afford a breast pump. Second child: we continued the trips over the summers but holidays were getting difficult as it was hard to manage both families in that short a time period and it was hard to alternate families. Since my parents were divorced, visiting my family involved splitting time between my mother's too small and very overcrowded home and my father's home with whoever he was married to at the time. Not always fun, as we added kids. Expectations were more rigid. Inlaws were easier because they had more room and were more relaxed about having us and my MIL really relished the stereotypical grandmother role.

Later, as kids moved into teen years and summer jobs and summer sports, it was harder to manage these trips, especially when I was working full time and had little time off. Trips became more sporadic.

The kids were all good travelers and good sports about being expected to adjust to vastly different diets (during their childhoods, we were vegetarians and neither family was either vegetarian or interested in making even a tiny adaptation in their own dietary norms) and schedules and expectations. Again, all pre-devices era, so it was playing with small toys, games, books, stories, looking at the landscape, etc. One kid had a 3-4 year period when on any family vacation, he would be car sick within an hour of home. We still cannot figure that one out as the trips all started out on very familiar roads that we traveled routinely and he never had an issue on those trips. Just those few years when, at some point, we were going to have to pull over, and he was going to puke and then we would continue onwards.

Our oldest was born when hubby was in grad school so we really had no money. I mean no money. One year, my sister decided the family Christmas present would be two tickets plus child to visit home over Christmas holiday (not the BIg Day itself). Hubby wasn't able to go so it was just me and firstborn, flying out together. He was about 2 and a half, a real trooper, proud of his 'wings' handed out by the flight attendants. We were truly fortunate in having him as our first born as he was a natural born flirt and very outgoing so he was happy to chatter with the flight attendants and other passengers and smart enough to find other targets if anyone seemed disinterested. Honestly, he was the world's easiest kid--which was good because we were such young, idiot parents.

I am not certain why our trips went so well--whether it was simply our assurance that they would go well and the kids would behave and we'd stop when anyone needed a bathroom break (unlike the strict rules with my father). We never even had to threaten to pull the car over if anyone was getting a bit too rambunctious. Maybe my parental backwards in time gazing glasses are very rose tinted and the kids remember things differently. Maybe the kids were just unusually good at traveling? IDK, to be honest. I will say that we stopped trying to visit over the holidays after one visit where, on the 500 mile trip home from my inlaws, we discovered--the hard way-- that my brother in law had likely been telling the truth about having a stomach bug and was not merely sleeping off a hangover. Not a fun trip home.

One thing that my family noted is that although they only saw them once or maybe twice a year, the kids always knew them as family and never acted like they were strangers or strange (and to be honest, some things were a little strange). Until a couple years after our youngest was born, our kids were the only grandchildren on either side of the family so they really had the chance to soak up a lot of attention. By the time my eldest niece was born, the oldest was starting into the summer sports/ summer job phase of his life and it was increasingly difficult to manage to get everybody in the car to go anywhere. My nieces all take after their mothers and tend to be much more shy and introverted than even my own shy/introverted child who , as an adult tells me that they recognized in their very quiet aunt and cousin a kindred spirit. But we traveled as a pack so they were never the odd ones out and remained in their comfort zone.
 

fromderinside

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'merican here. I like spikepipaqueak's description. They mirror those of this 'mercan's experiences of trips through Montana and Wyoming. Burma Shave y'see'nsay. Cars and road kill y'count'nplay.

Loren Pechtel people not from Bundy land you discount?

I was joking. It said "cricket"

I'm not. You come from the land of baseball, cricket sped up. And because the players are americans they


are soo stupid.

 
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