To bring you some great tips on traveling with children, we interviewed Debbie Dubrow from DeliciousBaby.com.
Jazz Hostels: What are the benefits of traveling with kids?
Debbie: Our lives are very scheduled during the school year, between school, extracurricular activities, meetings, birthday parties and all the other activities that crop up, there isn’t much time to connect as a family. When we travel, we try new things together, and that helps us get to know ourselves, and one another better. Traveling is great for the kids – even if they aren’t old enough to understand all the history or cultural nuance of a destination, they start to understand that people can look different, do things differently, and even speak another language. Instead of seeming scary, those differences are interesting and fun to discover.
Jazz: What are the greatest challenges of traveling with children?
Debbie: Kids are unpredictable and travel is unpredictable. That’s a tricky combination! Sometimes the activity you thought they’d love turns out to be a bust, and other times you round a corner to find an amazing musician or fountain or other attraction that you can all share together. Pacing can be difficult, we know that the kids can handle one major activity per day, and that they need downtime every few days, but it can be hard to stick to that when you are in an exciting new destination.
Jazz: What are some essential items to pack when traveling with kids?
Debbie: Most of the items are pretty obvious, their clothing, some spare diapers, etc. Bring your child’s rest time comfort (a lovey or blanket) and try to bring a spare if you have one. There’s nothing worse than being in a strange bed without your lovey. I also like to carry an inflatable ball in my daypack so that we can play whenever we find an open space.
It’s helpful to keep a checklist that you reuse from trip to trip, and I have an exhaustive packing list that you can start from here: Packing for a trip with kids
Jazz: How do you keep kids entertained on long airplane, train and bus rides?
Debbie: Before I break into my busy bag, I try to be creative about using the things around me as entertainment – for example, the SkyMall catalog can be a lot of fun, and you can make puppets out of the barf bags. Take a good look around you and see what’s entertaining – or toddlers and very young children almost anything new can be explored.
When I buy travel toys, I look for toys that are inexpensive, don’t have too many small parts, can be played with in multiple ways, and aren’t so precious that you’re heartbroken when a part (or the whole toy) gets lost. I’ve gathered a list of my Favorite Travel Toys here.
Jazz: What kinds of attractions provide the best experience when traveling with children?
Debbie: Zoos, waterparks, playgrounds, and beaches all work well when you travel, just like they do at home. But you’ll probably get a little tired of seeing just the zoos of the world. I like to look for for museums that have a hands on section, farmers markets, living history museums, and other attractions that help us connect with the destination we are visiting.
Jazz: What are your favorite kid-friendly attractions in New York City?
Debbie: I’m a fan of MOMA. Not only is the collection engaging (though you shouldn’t expect your child to see it all), but the restaurant works well for kids too. During the school year the museum runs classes and kids activities, and there are a few options during the summer as well. You can check out the museum’s website for details.
Central Park is fun for everyone, of course.
For older kids, the Tenement Museum is a great way to step back in time and understand the immigrant experience.
For more ideas, you can check out my Guide to New York With Kids
Jazz: Thanks, Debbie![guestinterviewfooter interviewee=”Debbie Dubrow”]Debbie Dubrow is the founder of www.deliciousbaby.com. DeliciousBaby is for parents who want to travel with their children, but don’t know how to start. On the website she shares her own travel stories (in the US and internationally) and her best tips. Her kid friendly city guides help you find great things to do with kids in cities around the world.
Debbie’s new iPhone app TripDoc helps you plan your trip by putting everything you want to do on a single map. Once you are at your destination, you can see which of your places are nearby, get directions, and take notes about what you liked. You can even send your favorite places to friends in email.
Debbie lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and three children (a 5 year old, a 3.5 -year old and a 1 year old at this writing).[/guestinterviewfooter]