TRAVEL TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES
By Ellyce Field
raveling with children instills fear and
dread in even the most stalwart of par-
ents. But veterans confirm that a lit-
tle bit— O.K., make that a lot— of
patience and planning can go a long
way. Or at least as far as Grandma's
The Family Travel Mind Set While
there are many words to describe family trav-
el, such as funny, busy, unpredictable and, to
get really euphemistic, memorable, the words
perfect and peaceful do not come to mind.
And herein lies the basic rule of family trav-
el. Throw out all expectations of a perfect
Ozzie and Harriet-type family trip.
Imagine, instead, noise, chaos, clutter,
stress, whining, barking, fighting, melted
crayons, lost keys, granola bar wrappers,
wrong way turns. Got the picture? Good.
Now before you fold the first article of cloth-
ing, pack your sense of humor, your patience
and a sense of perspective. Remind yourself
that this is a chapter in the life of your family,
and you should make the most of it. The kids
will never be this age again.
Ellyce Field writes a column on family travel and entertain-
ment forThe Detroit News and is author of Kids and Cars:
A Parent's Survival Guide to Family Travel (Mellus Pub-
lishing, 1988) , and Kids Catalog of Michigan Adventures.
long trips is
but some smart
lessen t e
increase the fun.
Traveling By Car Somewhere be-
tween one and two hours of drive time, the
backseat revolt begins. To undermine it, ap-
proach the car trip as an integral part of your
overall vacation adventure and plan several
stops along your route. Stop every two hours
to go to the bathroom, stretch legs and
change drivers. Let the kids run around, ex-
plore an on-the-way site or splurge on an ice
cream. The added fun and good humor are
worth the hours you will add to your trip.
Busy kids are less likely to whine and fight
Bring lots of activities to keep them occupied.
(This is true for airplane travel, too.) Carol
and Rick Borson, West Bloomfield parents of
four girls— 5-year-old triplets and a 3-year-
old— encourage their children to pack indi-
vidual activity bags. "Each girl packs a few
dolls, books, pads of paper, scissors, coloring
books, stencils and travel games," explains
Carol. "They each have an inexpensive set of
headphones, and they bring music and story
tapes. Before each trip, I buy them each new
markers, travel games and activity books."
Writer Petey O'Donnell, a Baltimore moth-
er of three, ages 7, 6, and 2, is always on the
lookout for games, toys and activity books,
like dot-to-dot, that will be suitable for the car.
She also uses time in the car to foster her chil-
dren's love of music and expose them to fa-
mous classical pieces. "I take along light
classics, like Vivaldi, Ravel or 'Peter and the
Wolf,' and we'll talk about the music and pick
out the instruments. We also do a fair amount
of singing. Since none of us can carry a tune
in a slop bucket, I put on a tape and we sing
Both the O'Donnells and the Borsons mes-
merize their children with the latest must-
have electronic car toy— the one-unit
VCR/nine-inch color television with an
AC/DC plug that hooks up to the cigarette
lighter. Radio Shack carries a Memorex unit
that sells for $500. 'We drove five hours to
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