When you are a parent, every day is an adventure for you as even the simplest and most trivial of tasks hold a special charm. Of course, it is not all rainbows and the sunshine. You are responsible for the physical emotional, intellectual and psychological well-being of your young one. This doesn’t just include sending them to school and taking care of their meals but also giving them the freedom and support to explore the world and make their own perceptions.
This is why every year during summer holidays I make it a point to take my kids out on a trip to a different city or country. The kids love exploring the diverse cultures, meeting new people and seeing new interesting places and I get to learn a lot with them. Making travel plans has always been a messy noisy affair in our family of five as everyone has a different destination in mind. So it is not really a surprise when I was a little apprehensive about taking a weekend trip with my kids to New York. Thankfully I traveled to NYC with a touring company and we had the best time of our lives there.
The last few weeks before travel day was a rush of activities. However, with time, I had grown out of my paranoid phase of being the incorrigible over-packer. From preparing a checklist of items to actually packing them in suitcases, everything had to be meticulously planned and executed. However, travel planning doesn’t have to be a drag.
I usually assign a list of duties to each person in the family which includes packing their personal things and carrying them. This inculcates a sense of independence in the children who are now used to taking care of their belongings. There was some initial resistance from my 8 year old daughter Kary, but she started enjoying the ownership of her stuff pretty soon. Even my youngest daughter (who’s 6 now) has her own small bag of belongings that she’s responsible for. Including the kids in the packing process sure gets them all pumped up and excited for the trip!
A week before the trip I lay out the stuff that needs to be packed, including clothes, shoes, stationery, first-aid box, meds, a Polaroid camera, and toiletries. It is also when I call and reconfirm the travel arrangements and make a travel itinerary. A day before the journey is when the actual packing starts. It starts with stuffing snacks followed by packing electronic gadgets, chargers, comics, DVDs, clothes and other small necessities into duffle bags. I usually pack the dry clothes, underwear, and socks in dry zip bags and label them accordingly so that we know exactly what the pouch contains.
Before leaving we have a long talk with my kids explaining them the ground rules and instructions for them to follow during the trip. Once I have double checked each item off the list and have it packed safely in the car, we begin our adventure. Family trips and vacations are a great time to bond and spend some quality time together. The trip last summer to NYC was a pleasant experience indeed as we had managed to pack all the bare necessities and a few other things that we could possibly need.
Now, about a year later, when I look back at that trip, I recall not the tall skyscrapers and the bustling shopping malls but the sparkling eyes of my 10-year-old son when he first saw Central Park. Traveling with your kids is an enriching experience indeed as I realize it’s not just they who’re growing up but me as well.