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Graeme McRanor’s girlfriend, Suzy, and son, London, on a train trip.
Graeme McRanor’s girlfriend, Suzy, and son, London, on a train trip.

Stop putting it off: Here’s how to travel with your kids Add to ...

What was your worst moment on the road?

My husband took our motorhome to Florida ahead of time and I was to fly down and meet him with my 11-year-old stepson, my two-year old and my infant. Four hours before we were to leave I was hit with the stomach flu. The tickets were non-refundable so I took way more Immodium than I should have and headed to the airport. I put a lot of responsibility on my stepson that day and he rose to the occasion beautifully. I also wasn’t afraid to ask WestJet employees for help holding my infant while I ran to the bathroom or helping us get to our connecting flight. I laugh now at what a hot mess I must have looked like with three kids in tow.

How do you justify taking your kids out of school?

I’ve honestly never felt I needed to justify it. I’m a firm believer that not all lessons can be taught in a classroom. Last year my girls missed 26 days of school and they came home with great grades. That being said, we always give notice to the teacher and I make sure that my kids are studying when we’re at the airport or driving to our next destination.

What’s your favourite destination for kids?

Without a doubt Florida. The east and west coasts of Florida offer world-class beaches. The Everglades and Homosassa Springs offer truly unique eco-experiences. Finally, the Florida Keys are the most un-American place in America. As soon you cross from Miami into Key Largo the vibe becomes very chill.

MAUREEN DENNIS

For more than 10 years, Toronto-based Maureen Dennis has been travelling with kids in tow. She shares her adventures on WeeWelcome.ca. Chat with Maureen on Twitter @weewelcome.

What surprised you most during your travels?

I am always surprised by how much my kids enjoy simple experiences. Hanging out on the beach, walking around a city, exploring a forest all get top marks from my kids. Add an ice-cream cone at the end of the day and they couldn’t be happier.

What is your top tip?

Talk to your kids about what is expected of them in advance. Before your trip talk about the plane ride and how they are expected to behave. Before you go into a restaurant remind them of the rules of eating out. Excitement will be running high so a gentle reminder before each step of the trip calms everyone down a bit and makes traveling a lot less stressful.

What was your worst moment on the road?

In a car, on a plane, kids have a nasty habit of barfing during travel. Dealing with it starts with knowing your kids: I have one that can’t eat fruit in the morning and travel. Be prepared. If you have a child who gets motion sickness be sure to give them some Gravol before you leave. Also pack an extra set of clothes in their backpacks … and don’t forget one for you, too.

What do you wish you’d known before your first big trip as a family?

I wish I’d known how to balance a trip like we do now. Scheduling every moment of a trip exhausts everyone. Now we each pick one thing that we really want to do on the trip and we set out each day to accomplish one of those goals. That way, when my kids find themselves on a winery tour in Sonoma they roll with it. They know they spent yesterday at the aquarium, which was their goal.

How do you justify taking your kids out of school?

Thankfully, I haven’t yet run into a teacher that doesn’t see the value of the experience of travel. I also don’t ask: I just let the teacher know that my child will be away for that time period and my excited kids fill them in on the trip. To any teacher I may encounter in the future who doubts the value of travel I will be happy to show them my daughter’s second grade project on Italy where my shy girl proudly presented her first-hand knowledge of the food, the clothes, the climate and the view from the Colosseum thanks to our family trip to Rome.

What’s your favourite destination for kids?

We love travelling to famous cities such as San Francisco, London, Rome, New York. Just walking around the city is an adventure. Seeing landmarks in real life and making history come to life only get more exciting as our kids get older.

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