If you are like me, you have perfected the business travel situation — I pack light, navigate security like a pro, and even find time to grab a coffee and catch up on emails before boarding. Now enter “airport mom.” This woman is a mess. She is mean at times, unforgiving of delays or disruptions of any kind, and quite frankly unrecognizable from my ordinary persona. While slightly less of an agitated mess, there is also “road trip mom.” Long weekends like the one coming up for Memorial Day or July 4th usually find us packing into the car on some beach or lake adventure. Whatever the method of travel or the destination, something comes over me when preparing for and executing travel with the family…
As summer approaches, whether you are planning long flights abroad or weekend trips to the Cape or Maine, know that you are not alone in your mix of excitement and anguish as the trip commences.
Over the years, I have found that there are ways to alleviate some of the agitation and uncertainty that often plagues family travel. Here are three fairly simple things to help you get ready, and eventually, relax and enjoy.
- Get Informed. Do your research. If you are traveling to an international location, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (‘CDC’) website to find out about any infectious diseases to be aware of or any vaccines or medications your family should get before traveling there. Also, visit the State Department website to get a general sense of the state of things in the country you are traveling to – are there any areas to avoid, what are the tips for remaining safe, are there preferred options for travel and lodging within the country, etc. If you are traveling domestically, check out the state and local websites. If it is a touristy type destination, they will often have helpful travel tips and information front and center. Basically: situational awareness is key.
- Be prepared. For example, if your children have allergies, you can print out a form online that has the names and explanations of the allergies in the language spoken in the country you are traveling to so you can present this information to medical personnel if something occurs to prevent miscommunication. You can also find a list of doctors on the country’s consulate page that speaks English in case of an emergency. And whether domestic or abroad, do your children know the name of the hotel or location of the homeshare where you are staying in case you get separated? Do they know how to call the authorities where you are located? These are simple things that can be the difference between a minor mishap and an emergency.
- Be smart. Wear seatbelts, swim only in designated areas, don’t eat/drink questionable things (I am all for adventure, but there is a limit!). Just because you are on vacation does not mean all normal rationale and everyday precautions should go out the window. Approach choices with the same common sense you would at home, and encourage your children to do so as well. And keep important documentation and money protected – whether that means keeping copies of passports alternate locations, or stashing some extra cash in a hidden zippered section of your luggage, it is just good practice to have a backup plan to ensure you and your family have the access to the things you need.
These are just a few of the things I focus on to remain in control as “airport mom” begins to rear her ugly head!
Happy Memorial Day to all. Travel Safe.