Depending on how the pandemic ebbs or surges, that may be akin to scoring tickets for the Red Death Masquerade. But we’re entering our third year with COVID, and I’m tired of indefinitely pausing childhood milestones in hopes of “normal.”
Likewise, I hope you and your family get to go somewhere this spring or summer.
Over the past few years, my family and I have jaunted through aquariums and zoos, hiked national parks, made the pilgrimage to (ostensibly) the happiest place on earth, and even got to Sesame Street.
I’ve traveled a lot with these kids and only learned ONE TRAVEL TIP worth sharing.
Get a stroller. Or a wagon. Something with wheels. Bring one. Rent one. I don’t care if your kids are 6 or 16.
If you have two kids, rent a double stroller. If you have three kids, make your oldest push the double stroller. If you have four or more kids, how are you affording this vacation?
The stroller or wagon serves three crucial purposes:
First, your children’s endurance will fail them at the least convenient moment. Maybe you’re struggling to get to camp before sunset, or you have dinner reservations across the theme park. The exact moment you need to hurry is the instant your child will announce they can’t walk anymore.
Sure, if you were some sort of workout guy, then you could just carry your kids the remaining four miles. But for the rest of us, the stroller is the solution.
Second … well, before we get to my second point, a bit of back story.
I got lost a lot as a kid — at zoos, waterparks, a mall in Toronto. I eluded my parents so often that I befriended the folks at the Geauga Park Lost & Found. They even knew my juice box preferences.
My kids have inherited my wanderlust and lack of situational awareness. I’ve never lost one of my kids. But I’ve almost lost my kids a lot. (Don’t tell my wife.)
Consequently, it’s useful to have a wagon. Because if my kid is there, I know where they are. That sounds like a small thing, but a lot of parenting is spent not knowing where your children went. You might think they’re waiting in line for the slide by the otter pool, but they’re busking for french-fry money four exhibits away. And if that sounds like an overly specific example, well …
But your daughter is never lost as long as you have a stroller to hold her. (Of course, now you have to remember where you parked it.)
Finally, strollers can serve as tiny rolling prisons if your child misbehaves.
There are different methods of punishment, and I like sending my kids to their rooms. It gives them time to reflect while I sweep up the shattered glass. But you can’t send your kids to their room if you’re in Orlando.
I don’t care where you’re going this summer: Cedar Point, Yellowstone, or Bogota. If you take one thing with you, make it a stroller. It’s transportation, organization, and a portable punishment.
If you take a second thing, you should probably bring your family.