Transportation For Family Trips
Transportation For Family Trips
Dorothy Jordon (Family Travel Expert) gives expert video advice on: What are some tips for a successful family road trip?; How can I reduce stress during air travel with my family?; Are trains a viable option for family travel? and more...
What things can I bring on a family road trip to make it more enjoyable?
Road trips can sometimes be really horrible. I am not a good car driver, so I didn't think my kids would be very good car drivers, either. And they weren't. During our first car trip, my son, at twenty-third street, said, "Are we there, yet?" I knew that we were going to be in big trouble. But what we started to do is, we got big maps, and we drew the route on a map, and then we would point them out, and show them where we were. As they got older, they each had a navigator hat, and one person would wear the navigator hat, and would actually navigate and tell us where we were, because they could read the signs and share information. You need to make sure that your kids are comfortable - that is number one. My kids learnt to sleep in cars, and in planes. They slept between here and there. I had a writer for me who said we were going to go on a fabulous trip to do leaf-peeping. I said, "That sounds wonderful, but how do you think John will take it?" He said, "Oh, he's okay in the car." I said, "Yeah, but kids don't get turned on by scenery." It doesn't really affect them the way it affects adults. We played lots of music, we played lots of word games. We were not people who let our kids turn off. A lot of people give their kids iPods and earphones, and the kids turn off. But for us, it was a time when we could actually listen to our kids, and we could answer their questions, and we could talk together as a family. It wasn't always so easy, but we would bring toys and games along. We told them not to pack the family hamster, but otherwise, we let them pick the toys and games that they brought along, regardless of the mode of travel.
What is a 'boredom bag'?
A boredom bag is what happens when the kids didn't pack the right things to bring in the car, so you pull out something new, something that will keep their interest. Maybe it is something they wanted all along - maybe it's a book, maybe it's a coloring book, maybe it's a video game, a hand-held video game - there are lots of things that kids want. It doesn't have to be expensive - for 79 cents you can get some of those little things that you draw on, that we drew on when we were kids, like the Magna-Doodle has a little travel Magna-Doodle, or a small Etch-A-Sketch. There are lots of little things you can get. But a boredom bag is for when the kids didnt bring the right things, and they really are bored, and you don't want to have to entertain them. You want them to entertain themselves a little bit, and so you bring them out something new.
What are some tips for a successful family road trip?
We always packed plastic bags. There might be shells at the beach, or there might be rocks. I can't tell you all the collections that we ended up with. But, as long as your kids are doing something, that's important. It's easier if you make stops multi-purposeful so that you don't have to keep stopping all the time, because that can become aggravating. Do a bathroom stop and combine it with something to eat. But, if you want your kids to get some energy, get takeout food and have a picnic. A lot of people like to pack the car the night before. If you do pack the car the night before, I think that is a nice idea, because you know how much room you are going to have for all the last minute things that your kids forgot, and that they just have to take along.
Are trains a viable option for family travel?
Trains are a terrific mode of travel. Among other things, they give kids a little bit more freedom than you have on any other mode of transportation, because they can walk around. However, one thing I have learnt is that buying a ticket does not necessarily guarantee you a seat - it guarantees you passage, but you want to get there early so you can make sure that you can get a seat on that train. If possible, if they have seat reservations, make sure that you make them in advance.
What is a 'sleeper car' on a train?
If you are taking an overnight train, you might want to book a cabin that has a berth, which is a sleeping berth that actually pulls down so that the kids can sleep on the train. I remember doing that when I was a kid, and I thought it was so exciting. It's a separate compartment - sometimes it even has a little bathroom - and if it's a very fancy train, you have your own little bathroom. But it has berths that come down, and you sleep on the berths. They have both high and low berths, so you can actually book - there are singles, there are doubles, and there are quads.