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I Think I Need a Vacation From My Kids

September 8, 2010

Now that I’m back from Serbipalooza ’10, I’ve had some time to reflect on lessons learned while travelling with children for 21 days – aside from the obvious one of not attempting it in the first place (this wisdom courtesy of Ironic Mom). Here are some of the biggies:

Do not order special meals on the plane
I’d been on flights before where they ran out of the tastier meals, so I thought I was being clever getting the low fat and children meals, reasoning that we’d be fed first. Unfortunately, this meant being stuck sitting with our food trays for an extra half hour, and the kids needing to pee, while everyone else was being served. Not to mention the mortification of having flight attendants bellow, “Low fat? Low fat?” as they came down the aisle with our meals.

Bring snacks
My son is only seven, yet he is almost five feet tall and eats like a linebacker. My 3-year-old daughter is tiny, but loves to snack all day long (hmmm…wonder where she picked that up?). I originally brought granola bars and other treats for the plane, but they really came in handy every night around nine o’clock, when my son would be ravenous, regardless of when or what he ate. Also, nothing distracts a pre-schooler (or her father) from a tantrum quicker than fruit gummies.

And bug spray
Regardless of the location or season, mosquitoes and other critters find us. My daughter’s maple syrup-infused blood is like crack to Bosnian bugs and the results were pretty gross. Although we sprayed her constantly, people thought she had chicken pox.

In the unlikely event of a tetanus shot…
The doctors in Sarajevo were more concerned with my daughter’s mosquito bites than the alleged cat bite we had them examine; however, the experience drove home to need to bring vaccination records for the kids. I’m happy if I remember to brush my teeth most days, so there was no way I could recall her immunization schedule. I always bring their health cards and our insurance information, but will now add their little yellow booklets to the list.

Forget those studies about TV killing our kids and charge that DVD player
After my son started the hippy school (more on that later), we initiated a no TV/DVD policy for our kids and the results were tremendous. I reluctantly dusted off our portable DVD player and borrowed some movies from a girlfriend, reasoning that they’d watch them only during the long plane rides. By day two, that plan went out the window and the DVD player became the go-to reward (“Stop saying ‘fart’ for 10 minutes and you can watch a show”), threat (“Get that out of your mouth or no show for you!”) and babysitter (“How would you guys like to watch a show while mommy and daddy enjoy a cocktail on the balcony?”). My children can now recite the entire script of Cars, Monsters vs. Aliens and Up. (I can hear you seasoned parental travelers laughing from here.)

Bring some comforts from home
I’m all for immersing myself in a different culture and trying new things…to a point. As you may have read, I had some wicked allergies while on the road and finding a box of Kleenex became an epic quest. Most stores only sold little packets, generally carried by grandmas, which hold 5 tissues. My nose can annihilate one of those in less than 2 minutes, so I often skulked around with a roll of toilet paper (I know…classy!) that was so rough I could use it to pumice my heels. As a result, my nose now feels like papier-mâché and my upper lip looks like it’s been tattooed with liner.

My hair and lips are surprisingly similar to Sandy B's chola makeover

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2010 1:55 pm

    Lori- Welcome back. I understand the DVD player. I am ashamed to admit I have even brought into restaurants on vacation if we were going to be at a late dinner with more adults than kids… Never said I was perfect!

    Also, I bring my kids pillowcases and throw them on the pillows wherever we are. The world is a better place if my son has Batman and my daughter has pinkj polka dots.

    • September 10, 2010 4:29 pm

      Paige – that is such a good idea about the pillowcases! And I’ve seen people at restaurants with DVD players and been all judgey….never. again.

  2. September 8, 2010 6:25 pm

    Welcome back! By the sounds of it you had a great trip (not unimportant, I would think) and don’t worry about those dvd’s… the more mummy’s use them, the less guilty I’ll feel when I have to resort to them when/if I have kids! 😉

    • September 10, 2010 4:30 pm

      Yep – I’m totally cool with it – although my kids are still quoting from the movies, trying to recapture the good ol’ days of unlimited tv…it will be interesting to see how long that lasts.

  3. September 8, 2010 9:03 pm

    It’s quite the experience this traveling with children thing. I remember learning some of those same lessons – especially the bit about dvds and the need for the carrot and stick. Welcome home!

    • September 10, 2010 4:27 pm

      Seriously – what did people do before DVD players?!?! I used to be dragged camping every weekend as a kid and I think I’ve just blocked out the car rides from my memory…

  4. September 9, 2010 1:42 pm

    Don’t fret! I traveled a lot with my youngest when she was an infant and toddler. I totally depended on the DVD player. Now that she is a pre-teen she travels on her own and opts out on bringing her DVD player because she says talking to strangers on the plane is much more interesting. I probably should be worried….

    • September 10, 2010 4:26 pm

      Ha – I think my daughter will be like that, but my son becomes a zombie in front of a toothpaste commercial…he loves his tv!

  5. September 15, 2010 12:17 am

    Hail to the portable DVD player! I bought one before I took my first trip with Emma. I literally made her practice watching it the week before the trip. She had never watched TV and didn’t have much interest in it. I knew though, that it was going to be my only hope for a slightly bearable six hour flight. Let me tell you- all that practice really paid off. I’m almost considering buying an extra battery for ours in case the one we have now craps out on us mid-flight. The thought is terrifying.

    • September 15, 2010 10:07 am

      I love that you put your kid in basic training for tv watching – awesome!

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