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Traveling with Children– Safe and Sane At the Same Time!

I think it’s easier for parents to travel with their children than at any other time previously. For one, there are more amusements and entertainments geared toward children than ever before– not only places to visit, but amusements for children during those long arduous car rides. I remember traveling with my parents as a kid, all 6 of us kids stuffed in the back of a station wagon. The only thing for children to do on long road trips was to either read a book or fight with each other. I would have gladly read books, but doing so made me viciously car sick. So guess what we wound up doing? :-p

There are now a vast array of family vacation ideas and amazing little inventions for travelers, designed especially to keep the parents sane make the children happy while traveling: portable travel games, handheld computer games, cell phones, and even portable DVD players. I like to take a more social stance with my kids– we discuss the historical significance of where we are going (obviously my kids are older), bring doodle pads and markers for scribbling, and some of my kids can read in the car and not turn green! Here are a few time-tested travel tips that have worked for us:

1. Coloring books with WASHABLE markers or colored pencils. I would avoid crayons, because they melt in a hot car and we don’t want a nice little rainbow on the car windows, now do we?

2. Portable games: my kids loved Battleship and checkers. Most portable games are designed to withstand vehicles bouncing over railroad tracks and potholes, but I always warned the kids when bumpy roads were ahead.

3. Social books: Mad-Libs were a favorite! I loved doing these with the kids, and it also sneaked in a little education on nouns, verbs, etc. We also got comic books (Snoopy, Calvin & Hobbes) for short attention spans.

4. Play music or a book on tape. One of my young daughter’s favorite story was Bread and Jam for Frances. We played that tape over and over and OVER again. I heard it in my sleep, even!

5. Frequent stops to interesting places, not just to bathrooms. Sometimes we’d see a historical marker or a beautiful pond, and stop to stretch our legs and enjoy the little discovery. It really makes a difference.

I’d have to say that perhaps the damper in traveling with very young children are the car restraints. When I was young, we didn’t have these– we were free to roam around the back seats, playing leap frog and somersaults all over each other haha. When I look back and think of my poor parents…. oo! But car restraints are hated by children. I don’t know of any child who loves them. And the initial ones that came out in the 80s (when New York State passed its child restraint laws) were hard and uncomfortable! I’m amazed at all the toys, baubles, and amusements for babies as well as the plush, cushy car seats, booster seats, and baby backpacks that available today. It can be a tad confusing. It helps to shop around and compare information and reviews. That’s the beauty of the Internet- you can do that online. A good website for this is BabySafeTravel.com. They are essentially a one-stop baby travel shop. They have articles on traveling with baby, a nice boutique, travel tips, baby blogs, and even a way to find a baby-friendly hotel/motel and make your reservations anywhere in the world. They have some excellent tips on traveling with very young children, and choosing a safe and comfortable baby travel seat.

Traveling with babies and children need not drive you insane! It’s easier than ever because we now have tons of accessories, ideas, and safety information at our fingertips!

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

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