The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Scooby had Shaggy (and, really, Scrappy, too). My sidekicks when I travel? My daughters, L and R.
I’m on the road with at least one of the girls a minimum of twice a month. Sometimes we fly. Sometimes we drive. Sometimes—especially when we go away on weekends—Powerwoman (my wife, their mommy) joins us, too.
Despite all of these miles, my reality as a frequent family traveler never fully dawned on me until I prepped for my most recent solo excursion (to Seattle, last weekend). As I furiously threw clothes into my trusty overnight bag, in random pouches I discovered stashes of puffs, Honey Nut Cheerios and whole-grain goldfish tucked in Ziplocs and tiny Gladware containers.
This “Eureka!” moment got me thinking about other telltale signs of life as a family travel junkie. Some of the items that made my list:
- You find a roll of scented diaper disposal bags in the pocket of the jacket you haven’t worn since last winter.
- You feel naked checking in for your flight without at least one carry-on full of toys and games.
- You add random gifty tchotchkes and stuffed animals to your ritual pre-flight purchase of Junior Mints and US magazine.
- You instinctively ask flight attendants for extra bags of pretzels and peanuts.
- You totally check out other families’ strollers (and associated gear).
- You have more kids’ books than grown-up books on the Kindle Fire.
- You catch yourself humming Taylor Swift (or Justin Bieber or Choo Choo Soul) songs while working out solo at the hotel gym.
- You subconsciously make yourself aware of what channel is Disney Junior on the hotel television.
- You can’t fall asleep in the hotel room without listening to your children’s favorite white noise on the sound machine app for your Smartphone.
- You smile the knowing smile at parents traveling with kids, as if to say, “I got your back.”
Of course this list is only the beginning; the more my daughters, my wife and I travel as a clan, the longer the list likely will grow. And, for the record, the list is not intended to be self-deprecating; instead, these are everyday realities that we family travelers should embrace and appreciate.
Friends have told me that traveling with kiddos changes hardened “road warriors” forever. To them, I ask: Is that really so bad?
If you’ve got something to add to my list, feel free to do so when you leave a comment below.