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Mom’s Travel Guide

Take the kids from Disney to the slopes

Will work for travel. That was a life truth for me through out the 90’s as I explored Europe and several islands in the Caribbean. Then, in 2003, Carmen came along. Three years later, Gage arrived. For my husband and me, it didn’t seem practical or even desirable to take off to exotic locales lugging two small children and enough gear to ratchet up the price of our plane tickets.

These days a vacation is not so much about spending a week in a far away place as it is about getting to the destination with as little hassle as possible and targeting surroundings that cater to adults and children.

When Carmen was small we scouted killer off-season deals at resorts that offered activities for children. One of our favorite memories is of a beautiful resort in the Mexican Riviera outside Cancun, where my husband Andy and I could engage in activities with Carmen but there was also a kid’s care center that allowed us to take advantage of some R&R for ourselves.

When Carmen was 2½ we tried out a cruise and while the food and accommodations were great the activities for children were really geared for those four and older, so much of the vacation was spent entertaining her. I learned that you need to find out exactly what children’s activities means before booking.

After Gage was born, we simplified our vacations even more. We discovered Treasure Island and began taking off for long weekends at the beach. We made sure to choose a resort within walking distance of restaurants and a playground. We also turned Orlando into an annual four-day vacation destination rather than a day here or there at one of the theme parks. We go in the off-season, which gets you a two-room suite for a bargain and there are no long lines or heavy crowds.

These short trips are easy on me as I pack up their clothes, favorite snacks and a few things to occupy them during the drive. I’ve discovered catering to their personalities works best when you’re on the road for more than an hour.

Carmen is our artist and reader so a couple of new books, clean paper and crayons will occupy her. Gage avoids the art scene all together, so I may pick up a package of mini racecars or download fun preschool learning games onto my phone for him to explore.

One trip I refused to give up was our annual spring skiing vacation. Getting there requires one or two planes and a car ride. For the past three years, we’ve taken Carmen alone while Gage, who recently turned 4, went to Grandma’s house. We simply felt it would not be fun for him or for us to drag him out to California or Colorado until he was past the toddler stage. Typically, we enroll Carmen in ski school for half a day. That gives Andy and I some adult time to explore the steeper slopes on the mountain and enjoy a long lunch at one of the mountainside restaurants. Then, the rest of the afternoon is spent on the bunny slopes or sledding with her.

I daydream of traveling to Rome with my husband, but until my babies are older, I relish the mini getaways and the fun memories we are creating.

Family Traveling

  • Pack a goodie bag of new loot for car or plane rides.
  • Pack less and less. Your 10-year old does not need 18 blouses for a two-week trip and neither do you.
  • Bring a child friendly first aid kit.
  • Dress your kids in bright colors, especially if visiting amusement parks.
  • Childproof hotel rooms.
  • Pack essentials, such as snacks, toys, blankets and wipes, in a carry-on bag when traveling by plane.
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