Recommendations for traveling with a kid

Old May 6th, 2022, 01:54 PM
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Recommendations for traveling with a kid

So my wife and I are childfree, but we do have nieces and nephews.
This year we decided to take my oldest niece and nephew on our summer trip, we usually roadtrip regionally during the summer and this year we just moved to a new province in Canada so we are ready to explore it during our summer vacation.

For the past year our niece and nephew had had a very hard life, sure the pandemic was bad but this was more on the side of their parents just not having a good time in their relationship, the kids have taken the hit and we really want to take them for a fun time away of so much drama and adult-stupidity. But one of the things that's happened is that they also require a summer filled with academic lessons so they can catch up. My nephew used to be an excellent student and now his grades have gone down and he barely speaks (good thing is his relationship with me is still fine), my niece on the other hand is younger and since their parents have struggled for so much time it is noticeable in the lack of attention they have put in her education since a young age. So they both need to study during the summer while we are adventuring, and their parents sure won't help even if they stayed at home.

My wife is an excellent teacher, so we are gonna use all this time with them (approximately a month) so they can forget about their troubles and also, so they can have some fast refreshers in their academics. My wife will be in charge of the academics while I will be the roadtrip driver, so she has asked me if I could look for some extra materials that I think would be fun for the kids (since she has the bias of wanting to be an structured teacher)... and so I came here to ask, does any of you has kids while traveling with you? and how do you keep up with their academics?

I had the idea of using Kahn academy but it's just too serious, so I was looking for similar stuff and found this app called studypug that has materials similar to khan, like a math tutor or math help kind of thing, but looks a little more entertaining since it uses pretty graphics with a little dog... but honestly, I would love to have something like game apps and such that could complement my wife's lessons and having the kids entertained during our long driving days.
Any ideas of educational games, math help app or similar? (Looking for apps for android phones)... anyway, also, tips in general for roadtripping with kids?
My nephew is 15 while my niece is 10, this is the first time we get them alone for a long period of time, so I am excited but also kind of nervous...
All your suggestions and info are greatly appreciated!

- Alex
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Old May 6th, 2022, 05:11 PM
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What a wonderful Uncle and Aunt you are to want to do this!

Your goal is lovely and I am sorry this is not what you asked, but I have have traveled with my kids, nieces, friends’ kids and my GD, so some experience. Still, it is only my personal perspective and others may think differently.

There are a lot of things to consider so you can anticipate issues. If they were your own kids, you would all be used to each other, know expectations, emotional reactions to things, etc. However, they are not, and may have reactions and behavior you do not expect or find irritating. Kids can seem very excited about an idea, but the reality can be quite different. True for adults too.

Give serious thought as to whether this trip can still be what you and your wife want or a trip primarily for the kids.

A very big consideration: lodging. Will you have separate rooms? Will your nephew be comfortable in the room with you and your wife?

It is not likely it can be a trip that meets all of your needs, wants, expectations. Of course, it won’t be all about them, but honestly, at their ages, much of it should be geared to their ages and interests, and you will likely find that interesting. What are their interests? Photography is great if they have any interest.

It is obviously well meant, but thinking this will be a work/study trip will be, IMHO and IMHE, nothing short of pure misery and frustration. It will add stress to kids who are already stressed. You may want them to study, but trying to do work in a moving car can make for a mean headache, and once stopped, kids will want to walk, swim, stretch their legs, not sit right down to a table and work. If you can forgo hours of car travel and stay someplace for a week at a time you could structure a couple of hours of study time each day. If not, then get a tutor for part of the Summer at home and make this a shorter, just vacation trip. That may be more valuable to their emotional well-being.

A month is a very long time. Is the ten year old ready emotionally to be away from both parents for long? Even though our 13 year old GD stays with us for days at a time, and has since she was three, about a week away from her Mom and her cat does it for our Her. A day or two home and she is ready to go again, but she still needs that day or so back with Mom. Five days with her Aunt and she is ready for home. When my niece was 12 and stayed with us, she was excited to come, but after a week she was homesick. Same when my girls visited friends and family at that age. It is typical and normal. No matter how things are at home or how much you love them, it might be stressful for them and for you and your wife. Can you break it up into two trips? Can you start with a one week trip closer to home?

Do not be surprised if the ten year old takes a lot of toys and stuff. It is their security when away from Mom. Our GD still has one suitcase of clothing and one of books and dolls in the car.

Have they been on road trips before? Our GD absolutely hates being in any car. Three to four hours of driving, even with stops, is all she can ever tolerate being buckled into a seat, unable to lay down, relax, etc. Her legs go to sleep. She gets terrible migraines and carsick if she is in motion for long or exposed to traffic fumes. So, we try to have stays at the beach, a pool, etc. not too far away.

Trips with more physical activities like swimming, rather than looking at landscape from a car window, work well. A cabin at a lake for a few days with hikes, canoeing, etc. might be fun. A city for a few days with a museum or two might be fun.

Since they are not close in age, your niece and nephew might not be great company for each other. The single thing that makes a difference in the trips for my GD is having a friend with her for three or four days. We have taken different friends for three days to a resort and to the beach. It was absolutely joyful for all of us.

Another thing that might be lovely for all of you would be their Mom or Dad or both meeting up with you someplace for three or four days, a place parents and kids could just de-stress and “play” together. You and your wife could have some time to yourselves too.

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Old May 6th, 2022, 08:46 PM
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Sounds like a lovely time and adventure. I would also suggest to consider renting a cabin on a lake rather than a roadtrip. That way you could have more room for everyone to feel "at home" and be comfortable, have a daily routine, not have to squeeze into motel rooms, not be in the car for long periods of time. Just something to think about. You and your wife like to roadtrip, but would these kids/teens like it really? If you weren't driving so much would give more time for both studies and R&R for everyone!
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Old May 7th, 2022, 10:36 AM
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Just noticed your other thread on the Canada Forum,
So, obviously some of my suggestions about staying closer to their home or the parents joining you won’t work.

However, seeing that the children will be coming from Mexico is even more of a concern. This is based on a lot of experience, my own children being girls, my GD, all of her friends, nieces, etc. I know you love them, but IMHO, a month is just too long for the ten year old to be on such a trip.

A ten year old who had stayed at my home with my GD went on a trip with us. It was great for four days. Then we all needed a break. As a teacher, I took kids on Spring Break trips. Some could have stayed forever. Others were really homesick after a week. My 12 year old niece, who was excited to visit us, and had a great time, cried so much the first few nights, I almost put her on a plane back to her parents, so they came and picked her up after a week. Even though she was staying with us, and my GD was fine during the day, she cried herself to sleep every single night she was away from her Mom on her first trip. We cut the trip short, to less than a week. Ten is very, very young. You may have some good times, but IME, this will prove to be frustrating and difficult. I am going to say very bluntly, unless she is currently in an abusive situation, this is not a good idea.

You also need complete power of attorney from their parents and check on insurance for them in Canada. One of my students got very sick in Spain and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance. My GD tripped and fell and had a concussion right here at home. It was a scary day in an emergency room away from her parents. Another time, she was playing, fell and broke off a tooth. Luckily, her Mom was close and took care of the emergency Dental stuff. In Spain, my neighbor’s child stepped off a curb and hit just wrong, fell and broke her leg. We were in Germany. My DD, got very sick and within a few hours had a raging fever. We cancelled the rest of the trip and got her to a hospital in Frankfurt.
If this all sounds overly cautious, I am sorry. It is not. With kids, so many things can happen. One minute they are fine. The next, they are not. Your whole trip could go without incident or tears, and everything could be perfect - but it may not.

This travel tips forum does not get as many readers as others. You might post more info on the Canada forum or on the US, just asking for input on this thread.

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Old May 7th, 2022, 12:15 PM
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A lengthy road trip is just a horrible bad idea

I really can't add very much to (especially) Sassafrass' great posts but also suze's. IME/IMO a road trip in the situation is about the VERY last thing I would even consider. If everyone concerned is 100% on board with you having the children for a month . . . either have them in your own home and maybe do some fun day trips - OR - split the time between your home and a rented cabin or lake-side house for 1 or 2 weeks. Not only would that be less disruptive and give them a stable structured month, it would make the schooling requirements a whole lot easier. I would definitely 100000% not take them on a road trip of any kind for all the reasons Sassafrass mentioned. If you are meant to be a 'soft place for them to land' - make it so and invite them into your home and not traipse all over hill and gone. AND be prepared for everything to go pear shaped and have plans B & C in place for reuniting the kids with their parents if it does.

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Old May 7th, 2022, 01:47 PM
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Janisj, The “soft spot to land” is most appropriate. Your advice about “home” is exactly right. I am so glad you posted. Sometimes I worry about seeming too negative, but I have had so much experience with this and see the likely pitfalls. I also know that “doing” things with them, cooking, building a tree house, fishing, canoeing, sewing, weaving a pot holder, erecting a tent in the back yard, are all much more beneficial than “showing” them things. I like to travel with GD, a little “showing” is fine, but “Doing” builds skills which create confidence and make memories.
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Old May 7th, 2022, 11:01 PM
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I know for a fact all I cared about on a family vacation when I was 10 years old, is if we got to stay in a campground or a motel with a swimming pool.

Strongly agree about activities (and down time) instead of riding around in the car all the time.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 07:24 AM
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This works when I travel with my children

These items will help you for the activities you might have together so as not to be bored and to entertain you during a long trip or long flight, remember that you are generally entitled to carry one carry-on bag weighing 10 kilograms in the cabin and your personal belongings bag.

highlighter: good for word search games
Small animated book
Zip-lock bags (in case of any unforeseen events)
Puzzle (jigsaw) distracts them for a while
Tablet with pre-loaded content according to your child's likes and dislikes
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