We're home, we're in the process of unpacking, and while doing so, I jotted down a few things that I want to remind myself of before we venture out again, whether for a weekend or another road trip. Thought I'd share them, maybe someone else would find them useful or have something to add as we wind down summer vacation season.
1. Know that your traveling companions will be the same people on the road as they are at home. If they don't like to get up in the morning at home, they will not care what time people start queuing to get into the Colisseum on vacation. If they don't like eggs at home, they will not eat them in a restaurant, no matter how much you pay for them. If they argue over the window seat in your car, they will do the same on the plane, train, taxi, bus, and subway, too. You will also be the same person. If you are grouchy before coffee, make sure to pack instant coffee or that there is a coffee machine in your hotel room.
2. It’s vacation – let them eat cake, and ice cream, too. Just do it at lunch, not after a late night dinner.
3. Bring any and all medications that you may possibly need. Prescription medicines are a given. But don't forget over-the-counter medicines, too, because, just like at home, your migraine will not start while you happen to walk past a pharmacy that sells the brand of painreliever you like. And children have a habit of getting sick in the middle of the night or on the road, somewhere far, far away from the drugstore. Also pack hand wipes, hand sanitizer, bathroom wipes, band-aids, and Neosporin.
4. Pack an extra shirt for everybody in your carry-on for emergencies. Maybe not today, maybe not all the kids, but someday, someone will need a new shirt.
5. Give each kid a spending budget. They will make different ("better"?) choices when they know that huge pencil is coming out of their own money.
6. Going through the airport? Check the kids and their carry-on backpack before you get to security. Kids always have some type of contraband (scissors, a bottle of water, plastic airline wings).
7. Take a break from the "must-see" places in the tourist book to enjoy regular stuff. Stop for ice cream, run around at the playground, wander thru the bookstore (even in a different language), eat at McDonald's.
8. When it comes to dining, don’t even bother with the guidebook. Those restaurants will be too expensive and the menu to culinary to enjoy with a group who would prefer having crayons on the table.
9. Collect something during your trip. It could be something physical or an experience. My son collects keychains and came home with his backpack jingling with reminders of our trip. As a family, we search for the best ice cream – no regular, franchise ice cream either, just the home-made, fresh-made, good stuff. It could also be something healthy like running a mile in each city or every day of vacation.
10. Give each kid their own camera. If they don't already have one, either buy a low-cost digital (because it will probably get dropped, broken, or lost on the first trip out and they can work their way up to an expensive one) or a disposable one. You’ll enjoy seeing the vacation from their eyes when you get home.
11. Enjoy your time together.
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