Sunday, October 19, 2014

The remaining ten percent

Now I'm not an expert.  By any means.  But I think we've done our fair share of traveling with kids.

In a little over three years we vacationed in ten European countries, crossed the Atlantic eight times, and only lost the children once (each).

So as you might imagine, I am often asked for advice on braving the road with little ones.  And by often I mean one time.  But it's my blog, so I'm going to pretend that people are always asking.

So without further ado, here's the advice you're all asking for all the time.

My tips for traveling with kids.

#1 Don't travel with kids

I don't actually know what this is like.  But I assume it's much easier than traveling with kids.  So unless you're stuck or you have a husband who loves traveling with kids or you're one of those annoying moms who whines about how much she needs a break and then misses her kids like crazy the second she steps away, then seriously, take off without them.

But if you can't...

#2 Invest in good buckles

Not the kind they can squirm their way out of and you have to keep turning around and shoving their arms back through the holes.  There are few sounds I love more than the click of a toddler's buckle.  It's really the only acceptable time to strap down your child.  I mean, once your children are properly belted in, they can't move.  They can't climb up on chairs or find stray markers they'll use to color your floors or hang on your shirt until you literally fall over.  They're stuck.

This alone is reason enough to travel with kids.

For hours at a time, they just can't move.  And on top of that, you have no choice but to sit.

Which leads me to...

#3 Get yourself a cup of coffee

Yes, I'm aware that some of you don't drink coffee.  I don't get it, for sure.  But I'm trying to be open-minded.  So maybe a tea.  Or some hot chocolate.  (Oh my gosh, those last two lines were painful to write.)

Turn on some soft music and enjoy the first 30 minutes of your children staring excitedly out the windows like little cherubs because soon...

they're going to need stuff.

#4 Bring loads of snacks

It doesn't matter that they just finished breakfast as you left, they will want to eat, almost immediately.  And then it's like When You Give a Mouse a Cookie, only car trip, horror story version that you think will never, ever end.  Because for the next six hours those pretzels will make them want a drink, and the drink will make them have to pee, which will remind them that their butt hurts, at which point they'll whine and whine until you...

#5 Give them the stinking iPad

We try to hold off as long as we can.  We really do. But as long as we can is like 15 minutes, or as soon as the baby falls asleep.  I do miss the good old days where we could read a book for ten hours in the car while my mom periodically passed around the bag of chips.  But the problem is my kids can't read and sometimes I look at the clock and I throw my head back because I thought an hour had passed, but really it was only five minutes, and I'm afraid this trip will go on forever.


#6 Enjoy the 10%

90% of the trip will be wretched.  Really, pull-your-hair-out, will-this-ever-end? wretched.  Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit.  But it will be work.  And not all that fun.  Believe me.

But about 10%, give or take a bit, will be filled with smiles and laughter, joking and awe.  Treasure those moments.  They're the ones you'll remember afterwards.  They're the moments that will somehow erase the other 90% and, months down the road, render you crazy enough to do it all over again.

Yesterday our 10% looked like this...

Fart jokes.  Two sleeping kids.  Our first view of the Slovenian Alps.  Chocolate-drizzled ice cream and a salted caramel latte.  Finn staring wistfully across the sparking water saying (with a sigh), "It's good to be in Slovenia."

It is good to be in Slovenia.  Even with my kids.  And, perhaps even more so, because of them.

I guess it's not so bad after all.  Especially when the 90% fades so quickly.

Because these kids come alive when we travel.  And so do we.  And sometimes it feels like we're stopping for the first time in a long time and really getting to know each other.

And enjoying each other.

And driving each other crazy...

But making memories while we do it.


  1. I'm glad you are focusing on the 10%. Our kids love to travel as adults. I hope our trips when they were growing up contributed to that love.
    I have great memories of those trips.
    On the other hand traveling without kids is great too!

    1. Sometimes I don't know if I want my kids to love travel as adults or not! Our poor parents:( But, in the end, I think the memories will be worth it.

  2. My favorite part is having all three car seats next to one another, where they can all touch one another... because then, you know, nobody sleeps without being woken, there is a lot of poking and hitting and throwing... I like #1.

    1. Haha! I still remember when we had just one and we'd whisper to each other in the front seat. And if we even heard him stir our whole bodies would freeze until he settled back down. No chance of that now!