The Gray Line Tour

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2001


Summer vacation ideas for survival Summer is on the horizon and with it, the family vacation experience. These helpful suggestions may help parents survive the experience of traveling with small children. No matter how often the children use the facilities prior to starting on a long drive, they will have to “go” within an hour. No matter how well you think you packed for yourself and the children, you’ve forgotten something the children just cannot survived without – such as a favorite toy. Entertaining the children while on a long drive is always a challenge. Find a game such as spotting out-of- state plates and each child keeping a list of who spotted which first. After an hour, call an end and buy the winner an ice cream sandwich. Once that version is done, switch to counting Volkswagens or Jeeps or some other distinctive vehicle. If you have two children, the back seat is divided evenly between the two. One idea would be to mark the sides with a duct tape border. If you don’t do that, you’ll hear hours of “He’s touching me! Stay on your side!” One van manufacturer cut a deal with Disney for a special-edition van including a VCR, loaded with Disney tapes. Not a bad idea, if you can afford it. Otherwise, load up on books, magazines and coloring books for the children. One boon is the advent of personal CD players. With earphones, you can bliss out the child with their favorite music and not disturb the driver. Another blessing for parents of small children are power locks on doors and windows, giving you that extra edge of security. The other major boon, of course, is the law requiring small children to NOT ride in the front seat. It’s common safety sense and good parenting. Please, whatever you do, avoid traveling with pets. If anything, they can be disruptive and, at worst, loud and smelly. Pet sitters are always a good move. The best move in traveling with children is to keep them either busy exercising their imaginations and thinking process. The other best move is to get them so bored, there’s nothing to do except take a long nap. Besides, watching a sleeping child helps remind parents why they have children in the first place. I remember long drives where I skimmed my hand outside the window, pretending I was flying myself. That’s against the law nowadays, so keep an eye on that. Vacationing with small children can be one of those precious memories both parents and family can appreciate and remember for years to come. Carry a portable telephone and snacks. You just might survive the experience. LEONARD GRAY is assistant managing editor of L’Observateur.