Have you ever tried to go on an extended outing with a big group of kids? And by "big group," I mean one or more, and by "extended outing," I mean 20 minutes or longer, or any outing that requires that you and the kid(s) have to get out of the car. If you have, then you know that traveling with kids requires you to be flexible, prepared, and ready to have fun.
Traveling with kids almost always requires flexibility. You never know when your child will need to eat, sleep, drink, go to the bathroom, or just run around a bit. One time I was in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico with my family, and my 5 year old and I were going into town to pick up dinner for the family. We were standing at the bus stop right across the street from our hotel when my son, who I was holding, threw up all over me. No warning. No reason. He just puked. We were flexible though, and no longer hungry. Instead of heading out to get dinner, we had something light delivered, and all plans for the evening were canceled. We put the kids to bed early and spent some quality time playing cards on the balcony. Our flexible attitude kept us from feeling the evening was a complete loss, and we enjoyed some time alone looking out over the pacific ocean . . . not a bad deal.
Traveling with kids requires you to be prepared. After the puking incident in Mexico, while I got in the shower with my son to clean up, my wife was able to start washing our clothing in the large bathroom sink with the little bit of laundry detergent she had packed "just in case." There were no laundry facilities available at the hotel, and we were a bit out of town, so this little preparation she made kept us from having to throw away two sets of clothes (my son's and mine), and kept the smell to a minimum.
You may not always need laundry detergent in your purse, but planning ahead can keep unexpected events from becoming disasters. Even though we don't have kids in diapers anymore, we still keep wipes in the car. A first aid kit is often needed as well. We live in the desert, so we try to always have water and hats in the car. If you live in a rainy place, remember the umbrella. My wife and I always try to anticipate the longest time we could be gone and what the kids will need during that time, rather than assume we will be keeping to a tight schedule. The next time you are in a bad situation with the kids, instead of getting mad or frustrated, think about what items you could have brought with you to ease the situation, and make note of that for next time. Keep your solutions general so that they will apply to many situations and you don't have to carry so much. Remember to learn from experience rather than just get through it.
Finally, be ready to have fun! Living and traveling with kids can be full of unexpected frustrations. But instead of moaning about everything that goes wrong, keep your spirits up and go with the flow. Your kids will learn to be flexible and accept circumstances happily if they have watched you do it.
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