Thursday 27 September 2012

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Things I've Had to Teach My Kids About Traveling

My kids are a lot of fun to travel These days we've got the routine down, and when it's time to get going, everybody knows what they have to do and when they have to be ready. Sure things still go wrong, but usually it's just life throwing curves at us, not our unpreparedness for the situation.

It hasn't always been like that though. There's been a learning curve, a steep one at times, as my kids discovered the little nuances unique to the world of travel. Some things they picked up on their own, but occasionally I had to sit them down and reinforce the more select rules of traveling as a family. These were the toughest lessons for them to grasp:

The plane is not a school bus. It will leave without you.

Early morning lessons are always the toughest to learn, and I do have this nasty habit of booking the first flight of the day. The biggest problem for the kids is that they can get away with being a few minutes late getting out the door to school in the morning. I think it came as a bit of a shock to them that the plane wouldn't just idle outside the gate and honk it's horn at them to get them to hurry up.

The TSA wants your real name, not your make-believe one.

Despite what the media loves to report, I've always found the people checking ID's at the checkpoint to be very friendly and accommodating when it comes to processing families. I'm sure they've seen plenty of kids who prefer a name other than their given one, but at some point before you proceed, you're going to need to acknowledge that the name on your passport is yours. Only answering to "Pikachu" doesn't speed things along. Demanding to be addressed as "Princess Pikachu" doesn't help either.

Only customs is allowed to "color" in your passport.

When the kids first got their passports, we explained to them what an important document it was, and how it was important to keep it safe and to not damage it in any way. Then, the first time we flew into a different country, the customs agent put a giant stamp in their passport and in my kids minds, it became a coloring book. A coloring book that, for reasons they couldn't understand, only grown-ups were allowed to color in.

Not everywhere we go has a Jack in the Box. 

When we're on the road, our fallback place to eat is usually Jack in the Box, mainly because they serve breakfast 24 hours a day and while my youngest can be incredibly picky with her food, she's always ready for a plate of mini-pancakes. Sometimes however, when we've wandered close to the edges of the world and left civilization far behind us, there is no Jack in the Box available and unless you want to starve, you're going to have to eat something else. Like Mexican Cheetos. We're all about nutrition you know.

Being president of the 3rd grade does not qualify you for the Presedential Suite.

When we first started traveling with our kids, we were lucky enough to be upgraded a few times to some very nice suites. While Lori and I were thankful for the extra space it gave us, our kids took it as a sign that we were obviously the most important people on the planet, and it came as a bit of a shock to them when we weren't given the penthouse suite every time we checked in. They've traveled with us enough now that their expectations have been (drastically) lowered, but for a while there anything not on the top floor of the hotel was a major cause for complaint.

Written by Steve Pratt