from Samantha Brown, host of "Samantha's Places to Love"
If you have kids, you don’t have a lot of time to read. My pet peeve is a long-winded blog about family travel that’s light on tips, but just full of funny anecdotes. You just need the tips. So here they are, quick and dirty.
Bring Balloons to Inflate
You can work off a lot of kid’s-been-in-a-car-all-day energy at the hotel. Yet an inflated balloon doesn’t travel far and won’t break anything.
And While We’re at It, Bubbles
Blowing bubbles helps with the same thing, especially at airports, and it’s totally worth taking precious ounces of what the TSA allows you to bring in liquids.
How to Fly with Young Children
Parent No. 1 uses pre-board to load in gear and sets up shop. Parent No. 2 waits with children and boards absolutely last. This way you wear them out, don’t expose them to the most stressful part of the trip – the boarding process – and they are not constrained an extra 45 minutes (or longer) for the flight to leave.
Never Feel Bad about Going to McDonald’s
Or any fast-food restaurant for that matter. Being a quick and stress-free meal is exactly what these restaurants were made for.
For Mom’s Sake, No Buffets
Moms are required to do all the getting up and down, assembling, pouring, cutting, spreading and still leave a tip.
Use the Ironing Board in Your Room
No, not to iron, but use it for more counter space or a TV dinner table. Lower it to make an activity table.
Two Words: Duct Tape
Use it to childproof outlets, tape drawers and toilet lids shut and wrangle dangling cords.
When you walk into any new space (like a hotel room or cruise cabin), drop everything and check windows are locked, balcony doors shut and anything else that could be potentially dangerous for a wandering child.
Seek Out Restaurants with Booths
Children relax more in them and even fall asleep. This old-fashioned seating can be found at Denny’s and Perkins. Yep, the food may not be fancy, but at least I get to eat that food.
Long Day Sightseeing?
Throw a pair of thin flip-flops into your handbag and some baby powder. At lunch or on a break, take off your comfy shoes (they won’t be after 6 to 10 hours on your feet), slip on the flip-flops and sprinkle your feet with BP. Instant feelgood.
Never Leave a Location Without Using its Bathroom
Your children will say they don’t have to go. They lie.
Dress for Battle
For those of us still helping children onto the potty, let’s be honest: You are going to be spending more time than you want crouching on a bathroom floor. A PUBLIC. BATHROOM. FLOOR. I like wearing nylon hiking pants from Columbia, which I can easily wash off with a paper towel drenched in Purell. They have articulated knees for easy bending and a high waistline.
Pack Your Real Life, Not Your Imaginary One
Just leave the book, fashion magazine or a crossword puzzle at home. You won’t get a chance. Trust me.
Ditch the Wheels, ASAP
I once asked a father of two sets of twins (TWO!) for his best advice. He told me to get them out of the stroller and used to walking. It was a painful process, but I stopped pushing a stroller when they were 3 and now at 5 they can go anywhere and keep up with me.
Build in a Siesta
No matter your age, we all get tired and cranky from around 2 to 4 p.m. Build in a break, nap or low-key time for kids to color. OK, maybe you can bring that fashion magazine after all.
“Samantha Brown’s Places to Love” on PBS takes viewers on a discovery of the emotional heart of travel by highlighting the people who are changing, challenging and strengthening a destination to deliver a decidedly refreshing and enriching travel experience.
Learn more at AAA.com/SamanthaBrown
Go to AAA.com/FamilyTravel to start planning your family vacation today!