Monday, March 31, 2014

Traveling with Kids: Really Big Kids

We've always traveled with our kids even when that meant carrying diaper bags. This spring we reached a milestone in our travels. Not only did we take our four kids but also a new spouse and a significant other. This was a learning experience for everyone. Wonderful trip filled with compromise, adjustments, wine and laughter.
We learned a lot on this trip:
*Find a location near an airport so people can arrive and leave independently. We created a time frame, invited our kids and let them fit their times and travel into their jobs and lives. The thought of moving through an airport with all eight of us gives me nightmares.
*Rent a house if possible for at least part of the trip. Having a house with lots of separate bedrooms, and really important, lots of bathrooms is a wonderful stress eliminator. Again it gives freedom of movement, ease of access to a kitchen-early breakfast for some-midnight snacks for others. The addition of a pool was a real bonus.
*Cars. We rented two, again we're all about flexibility. Also we did mixing and matching as to who rode with who depending on mood and departure times.
*Driving. This was one of the trips biggest transitions. We handed over the keys!!!  We let the kids have the fun and stress of driving a standard transmission on European roads, of getting lost, trucks honking and drivers gesticulating. The back seat was remarkably comfortable.
*Money. Talk with everyone BEFORE the trip and be very clear about what you are and are not paying for. Avoiding this discussion in a restaurant, hotel lobby or sandal store is priceless.
*Location. If possible find a place which suits your family, for us it was history and beaches, great food and nightlife, sunshine in an exotic locale. Options keep everyone happy.
*Relax. Flights will get changed, irritations will occur, someone will get sunburned, someone will get a stomach bug but with enough latitude built into the trip the minor problems won't dominate because not everyone needs to be in the same place at the same time dealing with the same problem.  
Now we've done this, had a wonderful trip which included everyone and we hope to do it again. 
However our next trip may be just the two of us. I think my husband wants the car keys back. ~Jean

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