Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times to travel in the entire year. As proof, Denver’s airport expects 1 million travelers to pass through its concourses between now and early next week! Christmas is right up there, too.
Travel can be largely a “hurry up and wait” enterprise no matter how you do it. For air travel, there’s waiting in endless security lines, waiting to board, waiting for take off, sitting for hours in a cramped chair, waiting for luggage and then often a long drive once back on the ground. For car, bus and train travel, there are hours of preparation followed by hours in a small space or the back seat.
Journeying by any means can be challenging, but it can be even more so with children in tow. They get bored, and begin squirming and whining, and then set about figuring out something to do for fun. It’s a given that what they come up with will add to the stress of traveling.
What’s a parent to do?
We recommend that you do what we hope you do when you are at home:
- Read to your children
- Talk with them about what you read
- Relax and have fun!
So when you’re preparing to travel, invite children (and adults) to bring an ample supply of self-selected books with them on these adventures in boredom. Particularly youngsters from about age 7 on can carry a chapter book to read alone or aloud for everyone within earshot to enjoy. Picture books are required for small children to “read” on their own, but even preschoolers can understand the language and ideas in most primary books read aloud, so sharing within the family can make short order of the miles and the hours.
Children who are a quarter of the way into a long book embrace the quiet hum of travel as it gives them permission and time to blissfully sink into that wonderful story or informational book completely, coming up for air only at rest stops and meals. Some children (and adults) who are INTO a book won’t even stop reading then. “I’m not hungry. I’ll wait in the car.” is code for “Wait! I’m at a really good part! Do we have to stop NOW?!”
I rarely go anywhere without a book tucked under my arm. I have learned to actually relish waiting. REALLY! Even for as little as five minutes. I don’t mind waiting for a table or for my food at a busy restaurant, waiting to be trimmed at the barber shop, waiting for my doctor’s appointment, waiting in limbo due to a late plane arrival…all of the times when life puts us on hold. While others may find such delays unbearable, I find them unbore-able!
I encourage you to look at wait times in the same way. If you and your children learn to love books and reading, you may never again hear, “Are we there yet?”
In fact, for book lovers, vacation fun starts almost as soon as we leave home. For us readers, in just a few moments into our travels, we are already THERE.