- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 6, 2003

Hitting the road this holiday season? Here are some family-tested travel tips to make the going smoother for everyone.

Keeping babies busy

• Put bubble soap in a non-spill container. Blowing bubbles (while someone else is driving, of course) may calm a baby if he is fussy.

• Link small toys to the baby’s car seat so they won’t get lost.

• Consider a car-seat activity center. This toy attaches to the seat in front of the child or to the car seat and can keep the baby interested for a while.

Traveling with toddlers

• Bring a bag of surprises. Prepare plastic or paper bags of items to be given out every 25, 50 or 75 miles — marked on a map with the location.

In each bag, put a wrapped item, usually a small toy. Then in some of the surprise packages, you can add juice or a snack, stickers and a piece of paper or something pertaining to the trip that you can discuss.

• Make travel tickets. Use some colored construction paper to cut out some “tickets” for your trip. Give your child a pre-counted baggie full of tickets. Every half hour (or every 30 miles) your youngster can turn in one ticket to you. When the tickets are gone, the trip has ended.

This really helps young children get an idea of how much time is left on the journey.

• Model with aluminum foil. Give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil. Have your children mold their foil into anything they want: animal shapes, Frisbees, balls, jewelry, crowns, headbands, necklaces.

• Bring drawing boards. Bring along a Magnadoodle or Etch-a-Sketch. These are great creative toys that will not make a mess.

Amusing older children

• Make a trip journal or scrapbook. Give everyone a big spiral-bound sketch pad and a box of crayons or markers. Each day of the trip or for each event along the way, draw a picture of what you did that day or draw a map of where you went and write about it. You also can paste in souvenirs.

• Get a good songbook with all the lyrics. It may be surprising how many songs you think you know, but you don’t really know all the words. Have a singing marathon and learn the old classics by heart.

• Give your children an allowance for a day. Tell them that this money is for snacks, treats and souvenirs. Help them learn to budget their money and make good choices.

• Lend your children a map. Show them how far you have come and how much farther you have to go and let them mark it with a crayon. Every time the children ask, “How much farther?” let them see for themselves. You also might like to get a compass and show them how it works along with the map.

• Play the license-plate game. This is an oldie but goodie. Print a U.S. map off the computer and color in the states as you see license plates from each one.

• Bring magnetic board games. Old favorites such as chess, checkers and Chinese checkers are available in small magnetic versions for the car.

• Play Legos. A large plastic baggie or shoe box full of Legos can occupy building enthusiasts.

Containing car mess

• Bring diapers. Even if the last child is out of diapers, store a couple of ultratrim disposable diapers under the front seat. When someone tips over a big drink or the cooler leaks, a diaper will soak up the liquid neatly and quickly. This is much better than a pile of soggy napkins.

• Bring along a handful of window cleaner wipes or computer screen wipes for cleaning fingerprints and smears from inside car windows.

• Stash gallon-size plastic bags in the car. They are great for holding soiled or wet clothing. Bags also can contain the clutter of crayons, markers, trading cards and other small toys.

Navigating airport security

• Don’t put film in checked baggage, as screening equipment can damage it.

• Think carefully about the personal items you put in your carry-on baggage. Screeners may need to open bags and examine the contents.

• Consider putting personal items that are in the carry-on in clear plastic bags to reduce chances that a screener will have to handle them.

• Do not lock checked bags. In some cases, screeners may have to go through your bag to screen it. If the bag is locked, the screener may have to break the lock, and TSA is not liable for damage caused to locked bags. If screeners open your bag during the screening procedure, they will close it with a tamper-evident seal and place a notice in your bag alerting you that screeners looked in your bag.

Sources: Transportation Security Administration; AAA Mid-Atlantic; momsminivan.com, a Web site created by a mother of three; and Piggy Pack, a company that sells car-top luggage carriers.

MORE INFO:

BOOKS —

• “AAA TRAVEL TIPS YOU CAN TRUST,” BY ANNE MCALPIN, AAA PUBLISHING, 2002. THIS BOOK, PUBLISHED BY AAA, IS A THOROUGH GUIDE FOR SMOOTH TRAVEL, ESPECIALLY WITH CHILDREN.

• “ROADFOOD,” BY JANE STERN AND MICHAEL STERN, HARPERPERENNIAL, 1992. THIS CLASSIC BOOK CAN GUIDE TRAVELERS TO OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH RESTAURANTS.

ASSOCIATIONS —

• AAA, 701 15TH ST. NW, WASHINGTON, DC, 20005. PHONE: 800/763-9900. WEB SITE: WWW.AAAMIDATLANTIC.ORG. AAA MEMBERS CAN GET VALUABLE SERVICES FROM THIS TRAVEL ASSOCIATION, INCLUDING ROADSIDE SERVICE, TOUR BOOKS, TRAVEL DISCOUNTS AND PERSONALIZED MAP BOOKS.

ONLINE —

• MOMSMINIVAN (WWW.MOMSMINIVAN.COM), FOUNDED BY LAUREL SMITH, A TRAVELER AND A MOTHER OF THREE, HAS LOTS OF IDEAS FOR KEEPING CHILDREN BUSY AND HAPPY ON LONG ROAD TRIPS. THIS SITE INCLUDES GAMES TO DOWNLOAD AND PLAY IN THE CAR.

MTHE TRAVEL MOM (HTTP://THETRAVELMOM.COM), FOUNDED BY EMILY KAUFMAN, A MOTHER OF TWO AND AN EXPERIENCED TRAVELER, HAS DESTINATION IDEAS FOR TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN.

• ORBITZ (WWW.ORBITZ.COM), A COMMERCIAL TRAVEL SITE, HAS MANY TIPS FOR FAMILY TRAVEL, AS WELL AS ONLINE SERVICE FOR BOOKING HOTELS, CARS, FLIGHTS AND SPECIAL PACKAGES.

• FAMILY TRAVEL (WWW.FAMILYTRAVEL.COM), ANOTHER COMMERCIAL SITE, HAS DESTINATION IDEAS AND PACKAGES AS WELL AS TIPS FOR SMOOTH FAMILY TRAVEL.

• THE SITE OF THE FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (WWW.TSA.GOV) HAS INFORMATION ON NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES AND PROHIBITED ITEMS.

• THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION’S WEB SITE (WWW.FLY.FAA.GOV) HAS INFORMATION ON AIRPORT DELAYS.

• ON MAPQUEST (WWW.MAPQUEST.COM) OR YAHOO (WWW.YAHOO.COM), TRAVELERS CAN DOWNLOAD PERSONALIZED MAPS TO THEIR DESTINATION.

• PIGGY PACK, A COMPANY THAT SELLS CAR-TOP LUGGAGE CARRIERS, HAS GREAT CAR TRAVEL TIPS ON ITS WEB SITE (WWW.PIGGYPACK.COM).


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