On the road again - FamilyEducation

On the road again

March 13,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

The kids and I are hitting the road on Saturday--well, hitting the train tracks, actually. We're headed to the D.C. area to visit with my family. Yet again, Scott's Spring Break didn't coincide with ours, so he'll stay home with the pets and his pile of grading. I'll take mine with me (the grading, not the pets), and I'm looking forward to a stretch of a few days to sit, visit with my family, and watch my kids play with their cousins. We have an afternoon of orienteering planned with my brother and his kids, a trip to the zoo, as well as an outing to L.'s favorite museum in the whole world. I've logged many travel hours with the kids, and posted many tips on how to keep them busy during long car, train, or airplane trips. As my kids get older, though, it's becoming easier and easier in some ways to travel with them. This trip, for instance, T. is finally big enough to carry her own backpack as a carry-on. I'll fill it with light things like a new coloring book, and a pack of crayons, and a stuffed animal or two. I think the days are gone when I have to travel bowed down like a pack horse with a backpack bursting at the seams. But gone, too, are the days when play-doh and new Matchbox cars entertained L. for hours. Now a pre-trip visit to the library is a must for us, so we can stock up on Hardy Boys and books on aviation. What else is going with us in our backpacks, you ask? T.'s stuff Have you discovered the Wonder Pets yet? I haven't shown T. the coloring/sticker book, or the Color Wonder set. I always pack at least one surprise for the trip, and this is the one for T. L.'s stuff This is L.'s surprise--a sketch book and mechanical pencils. Last train trip he spent an hour and a half designing innovative modes of transportation for a planned city he dreamed up. Dollar deals You've GOT to love the dollar section at Target for stickers. They keep little hands busy on trips. Wiped out Never, ever, travel without lots of wipes. Train toilets are yucky, as are airplane ones, and rest stop ones. Smurfs Look what I found for $7.99! I always let the kids watch one DVD on a train trip, so I know we have at least a 60 minute block to sit and "rest". I can't believe I found the Smurfs--I might have to watch this one myself. Grab bag Do you always wonder what to do with all those pesky goody bag party favors your kids bring home from birthday parties? I stash them in a larger bag in my closet and when it comes time to pack for a trip, I pack a "grab bag" filled with them. They're cheap, entertaining, and if they fall under the seat in front of you and get lost, it's okay. Note: What we're NOT packing--Legos. I once spent a tearful (I was the one in tears) 30 minutes rooting around under the seat in front of me trying to locate a tiny but critical piece of a space ship L. constructed. Did I find it? No. But I vowed never to ever bring Legos on the train again. We're also not packing this stuff, which I thought would be neat for T. last trip, but which ended up all over the floor. I don't think even T.'s charms won the train attendant over when he saw the mess. Wish us luck! I'll be back on Monday, with tales of our adventures... Happy Weekend!