Tag: Disney World

Traveling With Children: Part II

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By: Dennis Breier

In our first post we discussed some strategies for taking your gaggle of children on a long road trip.  I have five, so that’s what I mean by “gaggle.”  However, traveling with any number of children is tough.  Why would you take children on a long road trip in a car?  So you don’t have to fly them in a plane, which can be exponentially worse.  Plus – and this is key – you can scream and yell at your children like a crazy person in your own car. On an airplane you have to act like Mother Theresa the whole time so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of 130 strangers.  So you’ve decided to take the brood on a plane to save some time, here are some ways to do it right, and maintain your cool.

1. Know What to Expect

You are going to get stared at and given dirty looks, especially if you have one or more children under the age of two with you.  This process will start when going through security and get worse as you enter the aircraft.  As you walk down the aisle of the plane to board, you’ll see the horrified look on everyone’s face that says, “If they sit next to me I’ll jump out the emergency hatch at 40,000 feet. Please God let these idiots keep walking.”

Don’t sweat it.  Frankly, these people all forget they weren’t born yesterday and they were, once a child.  You have to get where you’re going with or without your children, don’t let a bunch of people who only care about themselves ruin your fun, for a second.  

2. Dress Appropriately

We forgot to consider this the first time we flew somewhere and it was a nightmare.  You have to basically disrobe your children when you are going through security.  Shoes, belts, stuff in pockets, jackets, everything.  Do not put them in anything that is hard to take off.  For shoes, I recommend crocs that slip off.  Don’t put them in a belt because you have to take it off them.  By the way, don’t put them in belt ever. even for a regular day.  What kid wears a belt?  Belts are for professional baseball players and certified public accountants, neither of which describes your child.  Plus, they look stupid, and they look like you forced them into a belt.  Anyway, I digress, no belts, easy shoes, no socks, no coats, basically just bring them in a onesie and you’ll fly right through security.

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3. Save the Food for After the Trip

Ever try to bring a bunch of formula bottles and children snacks through security at an airport?  Sweet Jesus, all of sudden you’re standing at the end of the conveyor and the damn place turns into a chemistry lab.  They have to test the formula with some kind of acid strip, they have to open all the zip locks bags and check those.  It’s insane, and it takes forever, and you are one step closer to a full cavity search, which is not a place you want to be.  If you can help it, wait to grab your children their coveted fruit snacks until after you get off the plane.

4. Use Your Stroller as a Life Line

So basically you can’t bring anything on a plane with your children, but a stroller you can roll right up to the door.  Take advantage of this.  Put your carry-ons in it, your coats if you have them, toys for the children, iPads, whatever.  Everyone else has to carry all their stuff but you have a rolling shopping cart to take advantage of, so do it.  I don’t know what they do with your stroller once you get on the plane, but It shows up right outside the door when you get off, so I personally don’t really care if they have tied up to one of the wings.  

5. What Happens if There is a Breakdown, Or Worse, A Terrible, Terrible Smell

First things first, never apologize.  I see people do that all the time.  There kid is going nuts and their like, “I’m so sorry” to the people around them.  What the hell are you sorry about?  It’s a small child in a cramped space, his or her ears feel like they are going to explode, they can’t hear anything, and they can’t turn on any electronics yet.  Don’t worry about it.  There is no where you can go, so try to calm them down, realize you won’t see any of the people around you again, and think about how awesome your vacation is going to be.  Half the battle on a plane is not getting worked up.  There is really no reason for it.

The one thing you need to take care of right away is a hot steamy dump.  No one wants to smell that in an airplane.  Retreat to the lavatory immediately and take care of it.  I hate when you’re on a plane, and some kid has clearly ripped one-off in their pants and it just lingers in there.  Don’t be that person, please.

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6. Enlist the help of the Stewards/Stewardesses

These people are usually great with children on a plane.  It’s their job all day, every day.  If one of your children are having a breakdown, take them in the back and ask the Stewardess’ if they can see where they keep the food or something.  Believe, they’ll do it, they don’t want your kid screaming either.  If you need help, or have to take someone to the bathroom and are worried about your other children somehow ejecting themselves from the aircraft, ask the stewardess’s to watch them or something.  They are there to help you.

7. Miscellaneous Wisdom and Product Tips

If you are traveling with children over five, you need an iPad, or iPads.  Those things are like crack to a 5-10 year old.  I mean, if you’re into crack I guess, which I’m not.  Anyway, make sure you download some movies they like – and this is key – download the standard definition movies, not the HD ones.  They are cheaper, look just as good to me, and they take up way less memory so your children can still download Minecraft upgrades like it’s their last day on earth.

Great things to bring on plane in terms of food that won’t get treated like a threat to national security are fruit snacks, granola bars and my personal favorite, Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusks.  Those rice rusks quiet down a screaming toddler in a hurry, and when they dissolve they turn into a sticky cement like mess that you can leave on the seats to spite the airline for smashing you and your lap baby into the smallest seat ever.

There are only two products you need as an adult while traveling with your children that will make it seem like you can’t hear them.  Beats Audio Headphones and whatever beer they are serving on the drink cart.  You can’t hear a damn thing with the headphones on, and the beer says, “I’m on vacation, so…whatever.”  When you look over and see your kid screaming bloody murder, you can just act like you can’t hear anything while you enjoy your favorite tunes and catch a little buzz.  

Lastly, you might have a kid that’s potty training and you have to take a four hour plane ride.  Forget about the potty training and buy Pampers Easy-Ups.  I swear to god those easy-ups hold more urine than a kid could possibly unleash.  I took one-off my son after our last long trip and it looked like a water balloon on the cusp of explosion and the lad was perfectly dry.  Ridiculous.  Plus, your kid will enjoy reverting back to his infant days, you don’t have to find the smallest bathroom on earth, and you can re-potty train him the rest of the trip. Yeah!

In conclusion, don’t sweat a trip on a plane with your little children.  Most people get all defeated and worked up beforehand which makes it worse.  Most people know what you are doing is hard and will be understanding.  For those that aren’t, who cares, you’ll never see them again.  Good luck on your next trip and hang in there!

Traveling With Children: Part I

Traveling with Children: Part I

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By: Dennis Breier

Remember when you wanted to go on vacation and you just called up your boss, lowered your voice, thought about something really sad, lied about someone in your family being ill, and took off with nothing but a backpack and a hundred bucks?  That was fun.  Now, enter your gaggle of children.  Suddenly, taking a trip requires months of advanced planning and is more reminiscent of a journey through the seven circles of hell than to paradise.  When traveling with children there are many more decisions to make:

Should we fly or drive?
How many times should we stop?
How will we keep these kids entertained for eight hours in a car?
What happens when one of them has a mental breakdown on an airplane?
What happens when one of them has explosive diarrhea anywhere?

These are things, as a parent of young tots, you must think about and prepare for.  Luckily for you, I have vast amounts of experience in this department, mostly from taking four kids (now it will be five) on a 26-hour sojourn to Disney World every year.  I’d like to provide you a brief guide to making your next trip with children enjoyable, relaxing and fun for everyone.  Today, we’ll address the age old question: How to make a ridiculously long drive work with your kids. Stay tuned for part two, which will discuss how to fly on a plane with kids and not be committed to a mental institution afterward, and part three, which will discuss some ways you can save money and be happy when you arrive.

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If you are driving somewhere really, really far away, be familiar with the three phases of a trip for young children.

Phase One – The “we are really excited about this and are fully ready to behave” phase.

This phase lasts for about two hours.  The kids know they are going somewhere fun, they’re comfortable, they have some entertainment ready to go, DVD’s, iPads, whatever, and they are determined to be good little soldiers.  However, what they don’t know is that you are about 20 hours from your destination at this point.  This phase quickly wears off and you’ll probably start hearing your first “are we there yet” about an hour and half in.  Be ready to make a smooth transition to phase two in order to avoid mental breakdowns early in the trip.

Phase Two – The “we are already sick of this, but if we stop at some gas station for food, we’re good” phase.

As you pull off the highway about two and half hours into the trip you might see a dirty, dingy, highly questionable gas station with a McDonald’s attached to it.  Remember however, your kids see a land of endless adventure where bathrooms need to be opened with a magical key and chicken nuggets fall from the sky.  Be sure to make this stop.  It breaks up the trip, gets the kids focused on something else, mainly food and gas station tchotchkes, and typically leads directly into nap time.  If you play this phase right, you’ll have an hour of lunch, two hours of naps, and most importantly, three hours or more to drive in peace.  When nap time is up, make sure you stop again, get some beverages and gird your loins for phase three.

Phase Three – The “why did we decide to go on this trip?” phase.

Phase three is inevitable.  You just need to know that upfront.  At this point you’ve been driving for probably seven hours, and traveling with stops for eight maybe nine hours.  From here you need to power through one more hour.  I would not recommend driving with multiple young children for more than eight hours at a time unless you are glutton for punishment.  After seven hours the kids will be uncomfortable, bored, and similar to a caged up sheep dog, they just want to get out and run.  There is no really good advice here, just get through another hour, threaten to turn the car around a couple of times, and then find your hotel for the night.  

Given the steps I laid out above, you should be able to leave around 8 or 9 a.m. and arrive at your hotel at around 6 or 7 p.m. at the latest.  It will have been difficult, you will have a significant headache and probably swamp ass.  But, you made it and your kids will be excited to check out the coolest Quality Inn and Suites they’ve ever seen.  

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So I’ve told you what to expect, but what happens if the unexpected happens?  Let’s look at a few examples:

1.  What the hell is that smell?

So you just made a stop and there is clearly a devastating steamer in someone’s diaper. You don’t want to stop again and the gas station bathrooms are never a good place to change a kid, but the urge to vomit from the smell is intense.  So what do you do?  Simple, pull off on the side of the road, put your emergencies on, take the child out of the car in the car seat, place the car seat on the side of the road, and drive away.  I’m kidding, don’t do that.  Do pull off, put the emergencies on, take the child out of the car seat, lay them down in the front seat and do a quick change.  This saves you at least 20 minutes of trying to find a place, driving there, and getting in and out of the car.  

2.  Oh Christ, Traffic

Occasionally traffic will come to a dead stop.  This can throw off the whole trip, making the travel time longer and the tidy little plan I laid out above non-existent.  The best thing to do here is to start playing some games to pass the time while the car is moving at a crawl.  Maybe you brought some board games or something, or you can play some sort of game you make up, like finding license plates from different states.  One game our family really enjoys in traffic is to stare at people in the cars next to us and make up elaborate tales about who they are and where they’re going.  For instance, one time a 90-year-old woman in a Prius pulled up next to us.  We proceeded to concoct a 15-minute-long story about how she was a ruthless witch driving to the salt flats of Utah to cast a spell on all the children of the world, while at the same getting amazing gas mileage and protecting the ozone layer.  

3. Flat Tire/Car Break Down/Utter Disaster

This is just about the worst thing that can possibly happen on a trip, ever.  You, changing a tire by the side of the road, with your fleet of children standing next to the car – traffic whizzing by at 75 miles an hour.  This is the stuff nightmares are made of.  If you are taking a lengthy trip with children you HAVE to purchase roadside assistance.  You can get it from AAA, Allstate, or a variety of other companies and it ensures that in the worst case scenario you can sit in the car and sip your latte while some dude comes out to tow you, or help you, or whatever.  No kid wants to see mommy or daddy on the side of the road screaming for help okay? It’s traumatizing.

Lastly, what about you, the parents?  Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you enjoy an eight hour drive, it sucks.  So what can you do to pass the time?  One good method is to change the speaker setting in your car so they only play in the front not the back. This way the kids can do their thing and you can listen to something other than The Little Mermaid’s greatest hits. Also, there is great app called TuneIn Radio that allows you to get pretty much any radio station anywhere in the country on your phone.  This is great if your favorite team is playing but you are obviously way out of range to pick it up on the radio.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks for a long car ride with kids, stay tuned for part 2!

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