Let’s be real here: traveling with young kids is no picnic.
Sure, there was a time in my life when I looked forward to long car and plane rides with my kiddos. In the car we’d play games and listen to all our favorite tunes while counting license plates along the way. And on cross-country flights I’d have a sweet child nestled sleepily in my lap as the flight attendant came by offering more drinks.
And then I actually had children. And I realized the error of my ways.
These little people don’t always fit into the peaceful vision of parenting and travel that I’ve kept tucked away in my mind. In fact, fairly quickly after I gave birth to our first child I realized there truly was no such thing as vacation with a young child. There was just the act of going some place different.
Armed with that daunting little piece of knowledge our family has continued to travel the country multiple times a year. As a former military family, our friends and family are scattered across the continental United States; and as a photographer who takes travel commissions, so are my clients. Traveling with small kids comes with that territory.
On our most recent day of flights back to Alabama from California, we stumbled upon something marvelous – something that truly made at least part of our travel day enjoyable. We were faced with a three hour layover in Dallas after a three hour flight from California, and before a two hour flight home. We were in for a long day. About half an hour before we boarded our first flight I was struck with an idea.
What if we turned our three hour layover in Dallas into an epic airport scavenger hunt? Our oldest child can now read and write (thank you kindergarten!) so she was up to the task of creating a list of items to find. And since there are two children in our family, she would need to copy it again so they would each have one. So guess what she did for the entire first leg of our journey???
Once we landed the kids scrambled off the plane, excited for the adventure ahead. We stopped for lunch before the official start of the game, but the kids couldn’t resist. They started checking off items immediately while still in the restaurant.
For the next hour we crisscrossed the Dallas airport looking for everything from a wheelchair to a lady in a green dress (and when we found her, my was she confused about all the pointing and hollering!) to a real bird.
It ended up being an absolutely lovely day of travel for our family. One I won’t soon forget.
In fact, they were so tuckered out by the game that when we finally boarded our last flight they each swiftly fell asleep in our laps.
So my husband and I asked for another drink.
What are your best traveling-with-kiddos ideas? Summer vacation is fast approaching so let me hear it!