I envision a future in which I take my kids all over the world. Since at present they’re only 2 and 4 (with one on the way), for now I settle for leaving the house occasionally on an excursion more adventurous than our local park. Most of the places we go are within 100 miles of where we live, but I’m satisfied. Once or twice a month we go someplace “exciting” like to a restaurant, museum (grown-up or kid-oriented), state park, theme park, zoo, or cultural center. We’ve gone to the ballet, children’s theater performances, and Disney-on-Ice. We’ve traveled by car, train, and bus. We even took a 6 hour plane ride across the continental U.S. with our first child when he was 17 months old (with no tears!…okay, maybe just a couple when I accidentally bashed his head on the overhead compartment before take off).
By and large our adventures turn out amazing. I think it’s a fairly common phenomenon, but our kids are actually happiest and most well-behaved when we leave the house (generally. Let’s forget about that one time at Costco when the 3 year old screamed for 10 minutes straight because he REALLY needed a Spiderman blanket). They love going places and I love taking them places. However, as you may have realized, I’m a planner. I don’t leave my success to chance. Whether we’re going on a 5 hour road trip and staying in a hotel for a few days or going to a doctor’s appointment, I come prepared. I always bring snacks and diversions based on the ages and tastes of my kids. Frequently, I don’t even need to use them. However, whenever things start to fall apart, I’m ready.
The more kids I have, the less I rely on prepared distractions to keep my kids entertained when we go on short trips. I just don’t worry about it as much anymore. (I think really I’ve just come to terms with the fact that sometimes my kids are going to have meltdowns in public and it’s not the end of the world. It’s not even that stressful anymore.) However, particularly when we go on longer trips, or when I know I’m going to want to have some adult conversation time, I still pack a bag of diversions. Here are some of the travel toys and other items that have worked for me.
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