Saturday, June 7, 2014

Summer Travel with CHILDREN!

In 1972 the thespian Alice Cooper released one of his biggest hits, School's Out For Summer. A bit goes like this: 'School's out for summer, School's out forever . . . '

Mr. 'Patriotic' Cooper
The very talented musician had it wrong since even when that summer bell rings releasing smiling and screaming children school is not often over forever sadly. Nearly 60 million of those running, jumping, and squealing adolescents will be returning to the 'hum-drum' of classroom life in late August or early September. The lyrics should have read - 'School's out for almost three months . . . ' But then again, those words wouldn't seem to carry a tune so we'll let Mr. Cooper have the final word on his monster release from 42 years ago (where did the time go?).

Some school districts have ended for the year and some will be ending very soon but no matter the exact date parents, grandparents, care givers, and others are excitedly planning trips to entertain those little munchkins who have been pardoned for the summer.

We at J and L seriously hope, being mainly a travel blog, that these tens of millions of children do have plans with family, friends or camps to get outside and do some exploring. Adventure is what inspires and young people need this activity from getting sedentary, obese, or simply bored.

Sitting on a couch texting, watching the same movies over and over again, having ear buds glued into the depths of canals, and playing violent video games is not what summer is all about. No, it's a time to pack up lunches and head to the beach, take hikes in the mountains, swim in rivers, visit museums, or take a road trip to explore.

Having experience raising four children J and L know perfectly well the 'trauma' that is often times associated with taking children on trips, either nationally or internationally. Every moment was nothing short of wonder - okay, back to reality. We had fun but some simple rules do apply so the driver and co-pilot do not end up in prison for something they did after hearing "are we there yet?" "Why can't I sleep the whole way from California to Canada?" "She's touching me!" and other lines over and over and over and over again. Annoying, yes to the umpteenth degree.

We argued about some simple enforceable rules at first which but once the trip started those tantrums seemed to drift away as the asphalt melted into the rear view mirror. It also works when the tarmac slips into the jet stream.
1. No electronics or they will miss Arizona or the Atlantic Ocean.
2. Look out the window - L was forced to do that as a youngster while traveling with her family and now understands why she can tell which part of the country we're in by just seeing the vegetation or rock formations.
3. Discuss/communicate where you are and why you are there.
4. No sleeping in the car or RV all day - plenty of time to sleep when the sun goes down and they will miss a lot.
5. Plan some stops at parks, museums, historical sites - a bright child is a wonderful thing.
6. In the hotel or campsite play board games - reconnect with the children.
7. At night review what was experienced during the day.

These are just some tips from travelers who have experienced the wonderment of traveling with children. It truly is fun to watch your child's eyes widen when they see the Grand Canyon for the first time or watch them as they actually touch the Eiffel Tower.

Travel in your own back yard or a back yard thousands of miles away. But travel with your children and they will appreciate it as they become adults and look back on all those trips and 'silly' rules with relish.

Our children do and that was one of the points of being parents - to explore and to have them explore in turn.

Summer is here - start exploring as a family.

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