Traveling with children can be a wonderful experience. The mantra I will continue to preach is you and your children will look back on these moments with fondness and you will both cherish them always.
Unfortunately, there are times when traveling can become stressful. Some of the problems can set in even before the vacation has begun. To reduce some of the stress, I have adopted the philosophy of holding off on telling the kids about the planned vacation as long as possible. This may sound crazy but below are some reasons I have run into personally that validate my point.
- SLEEP! Do you value it? Once you tell them about the big vacation, forget about sleeping in. Especially as that day draws closer, they will wake up earlier and earlier until the day of the vacation when they wake up at 4:30 am and you don’t have to be out the door until noon. “Dad….Dad….DAD!”
“I can’t sleep. I’m too excited”
“Oh I forgot to tell you, vacation got cancelled.” You tell them this half asleep, thinking this will get their mind off the vacation long enough to let you sleep a little longer.
A brief moment of glorious silence and then.
“WHAAAHHH!!!” The neighbors hear crying as though your child jumped off your bed and landed face first on the buckle of that belt your wife told you to pick up three days ago. The wife shoots up from her slumber and yells, “What the hell?” You spend the next hour reassuring the child that the vacation is still indeed on. Once you convinced them of that, they finally go back to sleep. A few minutes later the wife whips the covers off, “I can’t fall back asleep.”
I guess I’ll get up now.
- They will start packing. Immediately. The first suitcase they can find will come flying out and they will start packing anything they find that they think they will need.
Three different swimsuits because one might be still be wet when you want to swim again and that would be icky. A pair of flip-flops for walking in the sand. A pair of dress shoes for any “formal nights” we might have at the restaurant along with a flowing dress for such a night. Sunglasses, blanket, Joey (her stuffed monkey), crayons, coloring sheets, 5 pair of shorts, pair of socks, 2 pair of underwear, forget the tooth brush and pajamas(no time to pack that). ZIIIIIIIPPPPP. Packed in 10 minutes for a 7-night stay that is 2 months away! My daughter even packed peanuts in case she didn’t like the ones on the airplane.
“Ummm..honey? We are only going to Wisconsin. In January. I don’t think you will need shorts or flip-flops”
Two minutes later, shorts and flip-flops are spread all across her floor and she has replaced them with snow boots and 5 sweaters.
- The vacation is no longer yours to plan. You had planned on only stopping at one amusement park and the rest of the stops will be educational or scenic in nature. Not any more. Anything they see or hear will be implanted will be open to possibilities.
“Dad, can we stop at Disney World?”
“No, we won’t be anywhere near there.”
“Where will we be? Show me?” They ask so you point to a map where you are going and then you point to where Disney World is.
“That’s not that far, that’s like this much” she says spreading her fingers about 2 inches apart.
“Oh Dad. I told Sally where we are going and she said there is this really cool water park there. Can we go Dad? Huh? Can we?”
You’re work as vacation planner has now been outsourced to a 6-year old who will work for free but will wind up costing your family corporation more money in the end.
- Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE will know where you are going. What day you are leaving and the time you are expected to be out the door. What you are planning to do there and your outsourced vacation planner will even tell people things you are doing that you were not aware of yet. They will tell their friends and teachers about as much as details as possible because they are so excited. For all I know the teacher at the school knows what sort of underwear I will be packing (I guess that may explain a few uncomfortable looks I’ve received). If you were Marv and Harry from Home Alone, you’d have no problem knowing when we were leaving if you were planning on robbing the place. Heck, the kid might even tell them the security code and make it easier on them.”And when we leave my dad will hit 67893 on the security buttons and out the door we will go!” (Urrr….That’s not my real code by the way so urrr, ummmm…don’t try it)
- There’s nothing better than waking your kids up suddenly one morning and telling them to get dressed we are leaving on vacation. The surprised look on their face is great! At first it is disbelief and you may even have to get a stern with them in order to get them moving so they start getting ready. But once it sinks in and their face lights up, that whole day for them will be one like out of a dream. Imagine going to bed at night thinking you are going to work the next day like any other day. Someone wakes you up and you dread them telling you it’s time to get ready for the day but instead they say, “Take a shower, put on comfy clothes, our flight for Mexico leaves in an hour.” Now because you are a kid, multiply that feeling by 1000! And because you are a parent who loves their child, your joy is multiplied by 1000 as well.