Traveling Entertainment Systems
Parents willing to spend a bit more for peace may consider investing in a portable or in-car VCR or DVD player for long road trips. Some DVD players are so small that they’ll fit in a purse. The Toshiba SD-P1200, which is about the size of a hardcover book even with the battery in place, has a 7-inch screen and costs $599. It’s got a small screen which may be ideal for traveling by plane.
Personally, I’d like something more versatile for my money. I’d love to splurge on the Audiovox D1212 ($800), which is too big to carry on a plane comfortably but fits nicely in my minivan, functions as a lovely computer monitor, and is a great second TV/DVD player for the home. It’s small enough to tuck into a closet or drawer when not in use but large enough to use for watching a movie comfortably.
Still, there is only so much time that entertaining toys will buy, which is why flying is such a challenge. Before a car trip I log onto the McDonald’s website. Their trip planner (you’ll find it by first clicking on Restaurant Locator) tells me where every PlayPlace on our route is located so I can plan breaks every two or three hours. Younger kids need frequent stops and physical activity, so while my family doesn't normally go much for fast food, while on the road we have a drink and play in PlayPlaces wherever they are available. If we have time to take more of a diversion along the way, BabyZone’s Regions will tell me about historic monuments, museums, parks, or other attractions on our route.
Touring the City
When my children graduated from strollers, I thought that our days of taking walking tours of cities were over. But then we took a trip to Charleston shortly after the kids each got new scooters. The scooters transformed our trip from a tour of the city’s playgrounds to a walking tour that we adults enjoyed. My daughter was only three but quite capable of maneuvering on her little three-wheel scooter. And my son, at five, was an expert on his folding Razor scooter. It didn’t matter to them where we went as long as there was pavement. Once we had established clear rules about how far ahead of us they could go and that they had to wait for us at corners, we all had a blast. Ava recently mastered a 2-wheel scooter so we plan to take two Razor scooters (they fold up nice and small) to Europe with us this summer.
Yes, you heard that right: Europe. A couple of months ago, we all enjoyed a whirlwind tour of Washington DC. And this summer we are going to Italy for a wedding. We have a punishing two-day travel schedule on the way there and on the way back, and we plan to tour Italy and London. (I’m using my Audible.com account to download Italian lessons, and both kids can already ask for ice cream in Italian). Many of my friends with small children look at me like I’m nuts. But get this: I’m looking forward to it.