Introduction: A Brief History of Travel and Some Ideas That May or May Not Help You Keep Your Sanity While Taking Trips With Your Offspring
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
Step 1: Some History (skip to Step 4 If Interesting History Doesn't Interest You)
Since the dawn of the human race, we were nomads. Travel was a way of life and it has almost always sucked whether you've got your kids tagging along or not. Moving from one place to another was necessary as weather changed, as food sources lessened, as water became scarce, and of course to have a nice vacation from the everyday humdrum of trying to discover fire, hunting mammoth, running from saber-toothed cats, grunting at each other, and other monotonous activities.
The invention of the wheel and axle, the use of tools, and the domestication of animals soon allowed for swifter travel. Unfortunately, even at this early stage of our existence, that travel was still filled with freaking whining!
Step 2: Some More History That Might Be True
Ships allowed us to cross the oceans. However, at first, it took months to do so. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time commuting half an hour to work and I don't even have to worry about food, disease, pirates, or sinking. No thanks, I'll pass.
We have also had the ability to cross great distances on land thanks to the "Iron Horse". The great locomotive. That's Spanish for crazy motive. Doesn't sound promising.
The automobile has become the most common form of transportation in most of the world. Packing the car and heading out on a nice trip can often start out with the best of intentions, but your vehicle will quickly become a breeding ground for boredom and anxious kids. Throw in some things like I experienced when I was a kid (100+ degree heat, no air conditioning, vinyl seats while wearing shorts, an older brother that liked to use you to hone his punching skills, parents smoking like chimneys, etc.) and you literally have a moving Pandora's box. I've seen people go ape poop for less.
And let's not forget that modern marvel, the airplane. We can now travel the globe in a matter of hours. As great as conquering the skies has been, we have still not conquered one of the most horrific things that has ever plagued our society. And it just happens to manifest itself on airplanes. This modern day plague is usually seen in infants or small children and is characterized by loud outbursts that annoy everyone within earshot. I am referring to CRAP. Otherwise known as Children Repeatedly Are Pestering disorder. You may also know it as SOAPS or Screaming On A Plane Syndrome. Not unlike the "soaps" you see on television, this condition is known for producing abundant amounts of unnecessary and unbelievable drama. If that's not enough to make you think twice about booking your next flight, consider this public service announcement:
Okay, I have covered a lot of negative things so far. With that said, I think it is important to take a step back, be thankful for what we do have, and remember...
Step 3: Be Thankful
IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE!!!
*By the way, the Titanic picture reminded me of the movie with Leonardo. Is it just me, or do you think there was plenty of room for Jack next to Rose on that plank of wood she was floating on. If she would have just moved her butt over just a little bit. Just sayin'.
Step 4: Look at Those Noisy Little People! Help Is Here!
Okay, I said I would help you. This collage I made tells the story most of us know all too well. When you travel, this is what you usually get from your cute widdle wuvable kiddie pies. You threaten to pull the car over, you offer soothing words, but nothing seems to help. You even try some of the awesome instructables entered into this contest, but to no avail. Never fear! There ARE solutions! Oooh, the anticipation is almost palpable! Hurry! Click on the "Next Step" button for the answers you've been looking for.
Step 5: Tip Numero One (Spanish for Number One)
Behold! THE PACIFIER! The binkie. The peacemaker. A chew toy for young children! Pure GENIUS!!! So easy to use too. When a child cries, you take the pacifier, preferably clean, and insert it into their mouth so they can't make noise. Simple as that. I know what you're thinking, "I wish they made these for adults so I could use them on my co-workers, family members, or maybe even random annoying strangers". More good news! Through my extremely extensive research for this instructable I found that they DO IN FACT make pacifiers for adults. There are ADULT BABIES out there. That's right. ADULT BABIES. It's a little strange, but I'm not here to judge. Just know that large binkies are available.
Ok, now the bad news. The almighty pacifier is a temporary fix. First of all, the child can spit it out. Secondly, they will still make noise and bother you when they rudely think they need to eat or need to have their diaper changed.
Step 6: Other Sanity Saving Tips
So, your children are a little older now. You're on a journey in your car. There's all kinds of great scenery out there and your kids don't want to look at it. They won't be quiet and read a book. They definitely don't want to sing-along to your "old people" music. And once again, none of the other instructables you've seen in this contest, no matter how great, are working.
Enter the modern day babysitter. A telecommunication device for transmitting moving images usually stored/recorded on an optical storage disc. The TV/DVD combo. Sweeter words have never been spoken. This awesome technological wonder can occupy your kids for hours on end, leaving you with the soothing sounds of their laughter and/or silence. (Aaaaaahhh.)
I'd like to tell you that this device is infallible. That it has no Achille's heel. But, that would be untrue. Unfortunately, their small undeveloped minds can get bored of this activity. There can also be arguing over what movie to watch. This is where you might have to use some parenting skills, but really, who wants to do that?
The back-up plan in this case is the portable gaming system. Why should you pay attention to your kid when they can immerse themselves in mind-numbing video games? You'd be a terrible parent if you didn't allow them to hack the heads off zombies, riddle enemy soldiers with bullets, or race cars at extremely high speeds and crash them. This is just another weapon in your arsenal or tool in your toolbox to achieve traveling bliss.
I'm going to reach deep into my bag of tricks for this next one. We're going to be covering traveling with....teenagers.
Step 7: Teens
Do you recognize this creature? It's the common teenager. Also known as Semper Complainus (Latin for "always complaining"). They are mysterious, foreboding, opinionated, scary at times, and believe they know everything. Yet, surprisingly, they can be easily dealt with as you will see in the next step.
Step 8: Teens Are Sooo Easy
These beasts can haunt your dreams, but you want to share activities with them because soon, if all goes well, they will become responsible adults and move out of your house. YEEEEESSSSSS!!!
Most studies show that these are the easiest people to handle while traveling. By this time, they have learned what is important in this world. That's right. Money. This solution is to be used as a last resort and should only be used in dire straights, but if you are at that point (you will know when), offering some cold hard cash to get what YOU want can be very effective. Usually, it does not need to get to that point, though. Here are a couple things that can be used to achieve what you want before it gets out of hand.
The first line of defense is to make sure your teenager has an iPod or some other MP3 player. Music tames the savage beast. This allows them to tune you out and listen to their favorite tunes. This means you can listen to your favorite tunes or have a conversation while they learn about life from positive influences like Snoop Dogg and Eminem.
Two words that could save your life. Cellular Phone. Your teen probably has one. Cell phones are teen crack. They are like catnip for young adults. If you are going on a long trip, it is advisable that you make sure they have their phone with them as they will go into withdrawals without it. It ain't pretty! The benefit of the cell is that they can spend hours upon hours texting their friends (silently) about how the trip you are on sucks! And you don't have to hear any of that until later!
See? They aren't so tough.
Step 9: Words of Caution
Disclaimer - Disclaimer - Disclaimer - Disclaimer - Disclaimer - Disclaimer - Disclaimer
Beware!!! Too much of any of the activities I've covered could have negative results! Use with extreme caution. These pictures are a graphic example of what could happen with over stimulation by television, video games, cell phones, etc. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Good Luck And Happy Travels