Whether it's camping, road trips or riding the rails with kids, we like to hear everyone's strategies for a stress-free trip.
Road trips can be among the most challenging and the most rewarding of family vacations. At FTF, we’ve learned over the years that, with kids, getting there has to be as much fun as arriving. And when you’re on your way to someplace as exciting as Disney World, that’s a lot to ask for.
Here are two strategies from other families that are worth sharing.
Road Trip Essentials Reduce Worry
by Anonymous, North Carolina
We are a military family with four children, ages 12, 11, 4 and 5 months, and travel a lot. What I have found when picking your hotel or camper park, pick one with a playground and/or a pool. This will help the little ones wind down after sitting in a car seat for a few hours.
We also invested in several kids’ tapes — stories as well as songs — and this keeps them entertained better than you think. It also helps the smaller ones with word pronunciation.
We also keep in the van, at all times, a blow-up potty, which you can get from most baby catalogs. This, and a supply of plastic bags from the supermarket (don’t forget the toilet paper), will save you a lot of worry. We all know how bad public restrooms can be, and trying to get a small child to use the woods while camping can be impossible.
Snacks are a must — and don’t forget the wet wipes. If you can fit a small cooler with some bottled water in the car, do it! It’s a lot better than wondering if the local water is okay to drink.
Disney World by Rail
by Barbara Jamilik, New Haven, Connecticut
In November my family traveled to DisneyWorld by car. We decided to add to our adventure by using Amtrak’s auto train from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia for the return trip, which would save us over 900 miles of driving.
Our children are ages 3 and 7. We boarded the train at 2:30 for a 4:30pm departure. We quickly found that we had been placed in a car with other families with young children, and it wasn’t long before both parents and children began to talk and share. Included with our ticket price was a movie in the lounge car and a dinner seating at either 5:l5 or 7:15pm. The children were ready to get to sleep at their regular bed time and didn’t awake until morning. They were happy and refreshed; for them the trip was a success.
Mom and Dad did not sleep as well. With the lounge car next door, there was noisy and smelly traffic throughout the night. Also, one of the Dads had brought a TV onboard for the purpose of watching football. Although earphones are required, the conductor did not ask him to turn off the volume. It was very painful to have to listen to the static from that TV — not to mention the noise from the football crowd which then gathered.
Overall, we would consider future rail travel for our family, but would probably ask for seats farther away from potentially noisy areas.
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