Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tips: Seeking Travel Mom Balance

I'm a mom. I'm a mom who likes to travel. So I guess that makes me a Travel Mom. But, I'm always a mom first, traveler second. How can you take that much-needed kid-free getaway and feel confident that your children are secure and happy in your absence?

Follow these 5 Cs of Travel to achieve
Travel Mom Balance.
  1. Consult Calendar. For me, it's easiest to travel when my children are in school. Then, Grandma or Dad (or whoever is watching my children) can have the day free. However, to minimize scheduling delimmas, check the calendar to make sure you won't be traveling during standardized testing, sports playoffs, the science fair, or a band concert.
  2. Communicate. With a bit of advance preparation, you can communicate with your children in creative ways. You can pre-write daily notes that remind children of their schedule and update them on your itinerary. Children look forward to opening a new note each day. You could also send an email update each day to describe your activities. If you're traveling with your laptop, upload photos you have taken and post them on your blog or email a few to your children. Call home at a specific time each day to check in. (Take note of time-zone differences.)
  3. Cram. Most of my kid-free trips are weekend getaways. These short jaunts are less disrupting to our family's schedule and are easier to coordinate. Plan ahead to make the most of your time away. Before you leave, research the "must see" attractions, then choose 3 to 5 places you plan to visit. Buy tickets or make dining reservations ahead of time to ensure availability and to prevent waiting in long lines. If you're flying, book a nonstop flight to minimize travel time.
  4. Stay, calm, cool, and collected. It's normal to worry while you're away. Most likely, your children will be fine without you. If you seem nervous before you leave, your children may feed off your energy and become nervous, too! Before your depature date, hold a planning meeting so your kids can be a part of your trip. Also, discuss their schedule ahead of time so things will run smoothly once you leave. Consider buying them a small gift (such as a DVD or storybook) to enjoy while you're away. Or let them plan a special activity (a movie or dinner out) with their care giver so they don't feel left out of the travel excitement.
  5. Company. Sometimes, you may want to rethink your trip plans. Is the destination suited for families and children? Consider making the trip a family trip. Take advante of "kids stay free" or "kids eat free" offers to stretch your travel budget. Sometimes witnessing the excitement of your children and seeing a destination through their eyes is as invigorating and as rejuvenating as an adult-only getaway. Sometimes a change of scenery, rather than a "sans children" trip, is what you really need. (And may be what your kids need, too.) But notice, I did say sometimes!

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