Another winter day is upon us and I begrudgingly bundle myself and my two-year-old for grocery shopping. I can feel the scowl on my frozen face as I walk into the store. Grabbing the stash of tissues to wipe my son’s leaky nose, I noticed a new display in the clothing section of the store: swimwear!
Quickly my frown turns upside down as I’m reminded of our upcoming getaway! I can’t help to get excited thinking about the warm weather, the meals I won’t have to prepare, and the time away from it all. In my mind, I’m already shedding the winter layers for sunscreen, heavy boots for flip-flops, and white powder for white sands.
What I conveniently forget are all the disaster moments we’ve experienced when travelling with kids: the race against time for a flight we almost missed, the inconsolable infant on his first flight, the lost luggage, and the cancelled flight leaving us stranded in a strange city for 12 hours. Did that actually happen? Ah, who cares! We got through it, right?
We never paid attention to all the nay-sayers who told us our travelling days were over once the kids came along. Instead, we took full advantage of the free infant-in-arms flights and the kids-under-five discounts. We just travel – differently.
High on our family-friendly vacation priority list are convenient and direct flight times, the resort’s proximity to airports, locations with well-rated kids’ activities and, yes, reluctant employees dressed up as TV characters. We plan to keep our vacation days busy with our high-energy boys but we also make a point to drop them off at the kids’ club for a couple of kid-free hours to ourselves. We’ve come to accept that while traveling with kids might not be the most relaxing of vacations, it is definitely worth it. The family time is more focused, it’s a break from our routine, and the memories truly are magical.
Preparation is definitely key. Snacks, wipes, extra clothes, and all forms of entertainment options fill our carry-on bags. Survival instincts take over during travel and I throw away all my rules about limiting technology. I remind myself that I can’t prepare for all situations and that being flexible is my biggest strength (sound advice for pretty much all parenting!).
By now, both my son and I are humming our own versions of Madonna’s Holiday in the grocery store as I pick out some new swim trunks for the boys … and one for myself.
Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two sons and special education teacher for the local public school board. When not parenting or educating, Frank enjoys cooking, photography, movies and gaming.