The Travel Trenches

We just got back (okay, it's been a week and we needed every minute to recover) from a ten day vacation visiting family in Massachusetts and a little side excursion to Rhode Island for some sight seeing.

By and large, the trip was a resounding success, but it was by no means without its moments of pure and unmitigated insanity.  I've never traveled with kiddos without my spouse so it was certainly a learning experience for us all.  With peak travel season upon us, I figured I should depart some well earned wisdom upon my friends and followers.

Lessons learned in the travel trenches:

  • First and foremost, do not under any circumstance travel with small children without your spouse.  If you only have one child, go ahead...brave it…but you best have a child leash and some tranquilizers.  If you have more than one, spare yourself some serious agony and stay home.
  • If, like me, you feel perfectly well equipped to handle it on your own, well intentioned advice be damned, make sure your trip is to visit family or you have a family member going along with you.  Trust me, you will need another set of loving arms to take them off your hands before they become wrapped around someone's neck.
  • Completely let go of any allusions that you will be well rested at any point on the trip.  Chances are, you will all be bedding in one room and that makes bedtime look something like this:  
    • Put the baby down.  (Score!) 
    • Eventually wrangle the preschooler into something resembling a bedtime routine and in the process, wake the baby up.  (Fail!)  
    • Try to put the baby back to bed while the preschooler whines, wiggles, or cries making your goal of putting the baby back to sleep virtually impossible.  (Grrr!)
    • Somehow manage to get both children in bed without gagging sobs (anymore) and sneak out of the room. (Vodka!)
    • Come to bed yourself later that night and a) wake the baby up again, b)wake the boy up, or c)wake them both up and wish for death.
  • Leave the toys at home and save that space for something you actually need, like medicine (they will get sick and you will need to dose them right now) or a white noise machine to help them sleep.  They will be far more interested in raiding the dog's toy bin than playing with whatever boring home toy you managed to squeeze into your one bag.  
  • Do what you gotta do and don't give a damn about the opinion of others.  Let's suppose that your 3 1/2 year old has a complete and total meltdown over some toys that don't even belong to him at a bar that was supposed to be a fun pit stop but instead resulted in both of your children screaming their heads off while you wrestled your oldest into the stroller and threw money at the waitress for your beer while high tailing it the hell out of there.  Just as an example.  You simply must not give one shit what those strangers at the pub were thinking as your entire family blew up in flames in front of them.  You will never see them again.  Do what you gotta do.  
  • Utilize the latest parenting trend, CTFD, by any means necessary.  For me, it required daily day drinking, hitting my yoga mat late at night, and a total disregard of our normal daily schedule.  
  • Give your kids a ton of leeway.  I know, I know, you can't just let them run amuck.  But you have to remember that travel is hard on grown ups.  I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to throw myself on the airport floor and scream bloody murder.  I'm an adult and don't do that (often) but when you're traveling, your kids will.  Count on it.  It doesn't mean they are suddenly terrible misfits you can't bring out in public.  It's just hard on them and you need to be flexible. 
  • Forget rules about screen time, dessert, or any other potentially bribable activity or treat.  If you can avoid a loud scene on the plane by letting him tap tap away for the entire damn flight, let him!  If the promise of a brownie means you can get through the meal without back talk, whining, or worse, bribe it!  This is vacation people and you need to relax.  You can fix all that mess when you get home.
So fasten your seat belts courageous and crazy parents.  You're in for a wild, and totally worth it, ride.  

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